Wrapping Up a Decade in Business

In January 2002, Peter and I, on something of a whim, opened Mariner Management & Marketing. We had just both left our “day jobs” (Peter as EVP and me as Membership & Marketing Director for a trade association) at the close of 2001. We had a vision to create a new model for supporting association chapters. In came out of a belief that chapters are a critical link in the member value equation that too often falls short.

Our first step was a research project to identify the make-or-break elements for a successful chapter. Our white paper, Dashboard Indicators for Chapter Success, captured the findings and a place in the ASAE Component Relations Handbook and the on-line course.

More importantly, it provided for us a roadmap for helping our management clients – all chapters or affiliates of national groups – succeed. Today, our four clients, Public Relations Society of America Maryland Chapter; Intl Special Events Society DC Chapter; Maryland Recycling Network and Washington DC Metro Chapter of the Appraisal Institute, are testimony that the dashboard is right on. The key ingredient, frankly, is appropriate administrative framework. Not all chapters are alike so there is hardly one solution. Many do not need a formal board, incorporation, Roberts Rules of Order dictate et al. Some simply must have paid staff and detailed policies and procedures. Today’s chapter – oft called the chapter of the future – is driven first by function, then by form.

Just as we started the first decade with a search, we’ll embark on the second similarly – in search of new models for association components and volunteer programs. Among the activities is an innovation peer group, begun in 2011 to bring together association professionals with an interest in learning from each other as they embark on new organizational models. We are also working with a number of associations, including SHRM, American Association of Diabetes Educators and Internet Society to explore concepts and applications.

We are equally pleased to note that we will be involved in two new ASAE programs: the launch of the Advance Component Relations on-line course (I will be co-facilitating and am pleased to have helped develop the program which includes a week on new and emerging models) and the rewriting of the Component Relations Handbook (see current version here).

And beginning next month, we’re rolling out a series of updates and add-ons to celebrate what we believe is the year of new models.

It’s been a great decade and we’re geared for an even stronger second decade.