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"Designing (or redesigning) Your Future as Non-profit Leaders"
By G.A. Taylor Fernley

Even I, the eternal optimist, am being challenged on several fronts to remain optimistic today factoring in the economic uncertainty in world and national markets, the unsettledness of what the new administration will bring, and the impact these (and other) issues have going forward for those of us in the association and non-profit world. They never said it was going to be easy, right?

Just recently, I concluded reading a copy of ASAE's most recent "environmental scan" entitled DESIGNING YOUR FUTURE. It is a fascinating research study and effectively identifies trends, issues, and events that are likely to have a transformational impact within the association sector.

The publication itself profiles 50 trends that are likely to impact us all in the next 5-10 years and goes on to describe an additional 100 trends that are also of relevance. Rest assured, I am only going to share with you a "Top 5" (move over David Letterman) that, in my opinion, have particular relevance as we enter into 2009.

So, let's get specific:

  1. Expanding our Business Agenda: All of us as leaders must address the "triple bottom line" of people, planet, and profits. How do we get them to peacefully coexist?
  2. Demographic Destinies: Population shifts, increasing life expectancies, aging societies and a more ethnically diverse population has already had a dramatic impact on associations today. What's the next step?
  3. Generational Crossroads: Aging Baby Boomers and the emerging Millennium generation add yet another interesting wrinkle to our business... and what about those rumors about the greatest shortage of workforce talent arriving by 2010?
  4. Rethinking Our Own TET Offensive (Talent, Education, and Training): The growing talent gap, rising concerns over educational performance, and the mainstreaming of online and lifelong learning opportunities will be redefining our role as leaders going forward. Are they included in our organization's strategic objectives today? Tomorrow?
  5. A Society in Transition An Era of Responsibility and Accountability: For those who know me, this is (without exception)my favorite. Evolving social norms and expectations, pressures to serve the greater good and perform to the highest ethical standards will be the true differentiators for us as leaders. Are we holding ourselves accountable for the achievement of these standards? If not, why not?

These are but 5 of the trends outlined in this ground-breaking report. Don't miss this opportunity to get a copy, read it, and share its contents with other members of your leadership team or Board of Directors.

As 2008 draws to a close, yes, we have much to be thankful for in this country and I am often reminded of the Chinese symbol that represents both threat and opportunity. We have many so-called threats in front of us as association leaders today; however, as true leaders in our industries, we also have tremendous opportunities to have a profound impact by changing the way we think... and perform. One of my favorite quotes is "Am I learning as fast as the world is changing?" If we do, our future will be exceedingly bright.

Join me today as we set our sights ahead for next year and turn all those threats into opportunities.