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Management of Non-Profit Organizations

"Focus On What You Do Best and Farm Out the Rest"
By G.A. Taylor Fernley, President & CEO

With the pressure of business conditions forever looming over our heads, we must continually evaluate our association's existing business model and determine if it is what we need to meet the association's current goals and position it for a strong and successful future. At one time, association executives were driven by the mantra to be "all things to all people." Those days are forever gone! Association executives today must be focused, bottom line- and results-oriented individuals who need to get the most out of the limited resources they have available. In addition, members need to justify the value their companies receive from their dues investment. For many associations, outsourcing has enabled them to do more with less and provide their members with programs and services that increase their return on investment.

Have you ever asked yourself why outsourcing has become so popular? Answer: Because the world around us has been altered significantly and, to maintain or improve our position within our industry, we have been left with no alternative other than to focus on what we do best and farm out the rest. That is where outsourcing has enabled so many associations to not only maintain their position, but improve it substantially.

Companies, large and small, have outsourced for years. No great revelation. The fundamental concepts have changed little. Outsourcing traditionally has been confined to a few fundamental areas to help businesses lower costs, to access niche providers who offer the best solutions and to job out noncore activities.

Today, the definition of outsourcing has been expanded to include a diverse range of tactical and strategic processes such as forecasting, organizational development, human performance and resource planning. This allows associations to focus on their core competencies by tapping the expertise of other firms that are more efficient at providing specialized, noncore solutions.

Think about the association management company or AMC concept for a minute and why we were put on this great earth. Use whatever words you want; however, it all comes back to AMC's being "outsource providers of management services," It just so happens that AMC's focus on the associations market. Couldn't it just as easily be to corporations or other markets?

AMC's are uniquely positioned to help associations grow and prosper by virtue of the fact that they have a wide variety of expertise and a business (outsourcing) model that works. Even standalone associations with dozens of employees and budgets ranging near the $20 million dollar mark look at AMC's as a preferred alternative. There's a message here.

Business thinking has forever changed, and with it, the traditional "all things to all people" mindset is gone forever. Progressive, forward-thinking association leaders arc taking a hard look at their traditional forms of management and are excited with the prospects of what the association management community brings to the table. Whether they start out by outsourcing projects and programs or full-service opportunities, a growing number of associations are experiencing the true value of what AMC's bring to the marketplace.