Like most organizations, SNEB’s meetings
have a profound impact on its bottom line. In
2000, a number of event-related factors were
putting a strain on the association’s resources.
Staff members beyond the senior leadership were
educated about the problem. With this information, they were then able to more effectively
identify opportunities to cut costs while still
producing a quality event. It was the engaged
staff who came up with a strategy to creatively
package SNEB with other organizations to make
its space-heavy event look more attractive to
potential hosting venues. Because the staff felt
greater ownership in turning the profitability of
their educational programming around, they also
then felt empowered to develop SNEB’s very
successful webinar program as a cost-effective
option that also better utilized volunteer talent
while minimizing expenses.
Education of the volunteer leadership about
what truly made SNEB events profitable made
a difference in the way they made decisions.
Staff was transparent about actual costs and the
impact of venue choices and marketable sponsorship packages. They demonstrated the benefits
of considering secondary and tertiary cities. None
of this required a deep acquired knowledge of
financial theory. Rather, a willingness for open
dialogue and a mutual desire to move the needle
from where they were to where they wanted to be
established a mutual sense of accountability and
co-ownership of the solution.
Use Your Resources
We all know that admitting to a problem is the
first step toward a solution. Know and acknowledge your limitations—we all have them.
Fortunately, our associations present us with a
wealth of resources to help fill in the gaps where
needed. Don’t let your pride get in the way of
If navigating the subtleties of financial management isn’t your area of expertise, look elsewhere within your staff or among your volunteers.
The chances are you will find the help you need.
In Passi’s case, she had Williams, but she
still needed to educate other staff and her board,
involving them in the process to ensure the full
team was intelligently engaged. Williams became
a gifted and accomplished executive director
for SNEB in her own right, and because she
understood the value of continually utilizing her
resources, this has become engrained in SNEB’s
culture to this day and in no small way has contributed to the organization’s sustained financial
The Plan Drives the Budget,
Not the Other Way Around
Even when the budget is tight, keep your eyes
focused down the road. As organizations with
tight finances attempt to build their plans for
the future, an all-too-common mistake is to limit
their thinking to the current budget. Obviously,
the organization needs to live within its means,
but financing a plan for growth and change
demands a systematic approach to changing the
way things are currently done.
Does your budget reflect your strategic priorities? You don’t need to be a financial whiz to
recognize when the two are not aligned. If you expect change to happen, it is important that your
plan drive your budget. Don’t let your budget
drive your plan.
“Follow these basic concepts: Don’t go it alone; share
accountability and ownership; use your resources; budget for
the plan. Doing so not only makes the process less taxing,
but it ultimately provides you with the backup you need to