April 2017: Mutually Beneficial Volunteerism, Or Keeping Our Volunteers Happy

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 04.18.17 Jeff and Friends

A few weeks ago I received a new research study done by my professional association – the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). ASAE’s latest research is titled “Mutually Beneficial Volunteerism.” Like associations, clubs share the importance of volunteers in our organizational success, so I thought the research results might help you to spend a few moments to think about your club’s volunteer experience.

The research focuses on what factors most ensure that a volunteer makes a contribution to the organization, while at the same time, the volunteer receives personal satisfaction for volunteering. It makes sense and if this healthy, mutually beneficial system exists, your organization is likely to be more successful. What is interesting is that the healthiest volunteer environments also include:

  • A collaborative system where staff and volunteers trust and value each other;
  • A system where volunteers are well-matched with the skills for the roles they are asked to fulfill;
  • The volunteer experiences both personal and organizational satisfaction; and
  • An environment is created where the volunteer can see measurable results.

Don’t you think the above “healthy” factors would be essential in clubs too? Do you and your Board work to actively manage the volunteer experience? A big focus of the research and also a huge challenge was evaluation or appraisal of the actual performance of volunteers. Almost half of associations surveyed indicated they do not have a process to evaluate volunteer satisfaction; conversely, more than a third of volunteers said they wanted more feedback and more clear expectations. I must admit I struggle with volunteer evaluations as well as getting feedback from those who serve the Association. CMAA can do better and we will spend some time working toward how to provide a more effective volunteer feedback system in the future.

Some other take-a-ways for a healthy volunteer process include:

  • Having a Board liaison on committees;
  • Having strong cross-departmental coordination and cooperation among staff committee liaisons;
  • Having an organization-wide system to periodically invite all members to consider volunteering;
  • Having a system that ties committee work to organizational priorities or a strategic plan;
  • Ensuring there is effective communication to volunteers;
  • Having a fair process for volunteer selection and/or nomination that is based on merit and selection of the best volunteers, free from bias;
  • Having an orientation for volunteers with clear volunteer expectations; and
  • Ensuring that the schedule and time requirements for volunteers are considered reasonable.

Those who serve as volunteers also provided input in the areas that impacted their experience or noted areas for improvement:

  • Having confidence in staff liaisons;
  • Feeling valued and respected;
  • Helping volunteers feel like they’re giving back to the organization with a good sense of how the committee activities fit into the big picture;
  • Being more open and inclusive to newer and younger members serving as volunteers;
  • Confirming the Board liaison is interested and has passion for the committee’s work; and
  • Facilitating better information flow pre- and post-committee meetings, as well as during meetings.

I hope this blog topic gives you some ideas and thoughts to reflect on regarding your club’s volunteer practices. Many, including me, would say that healthy club governance creates better club environments for members and staff. Healthy club committees and volunteer experiences are certainly part of this equation.

As I end this month, I have one request: CMAA’s revamped Club Management magazine was unveiled this month. I hope you like the upgrades and additions! We want to share CMAA member, club and chapter news (promotions, interesting club projects and/or cool chapter outings) in every issue. Please send your news to goodnews@cmaa.org

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

March 2017: What’s In a Name?

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03.21.17 Understanding

In last month’s blog, I wrote about CMAA being 90 years young as we focus on the future of club management ensuring members are served with energy, enthusiasm and foresight. Did you know that the original name of the Association in 1927 was the National Association of Club Managers? It didn’t take long for that name to change to the Club Managers Association of America or more fondly CMAA. Our name has been with us ever since, but is it the right name for 2020 and beyond?  

When I came on board two and half years ago, there were several things at CMAA that made me wonder, “Why is it that way at CMAA?” As any new CEO would, I asked questions and then quickly learned why. Some things were logical and made sense; other things seemed ripe for change as the reasons no longer appeared to be relevant for how CMAA had evolved over the years.

As you can imagine, some of those things were within the staff’s control and were changed as part of CMAA’s evolution, just as you would do as a new manager at a club. Other items were discussed and included as part of our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. For me, one of the items that seems outdated is our Association’s name. Hear me out, please, before you call for my dismissal! I believe our name should be the Club Management Association of America and here is why:

  1. The new name, replacing “manager” with “management” better represents our membership as a cross-section of positions focusing on serving our clubs through excellence in club management.
  2. The focus of CMAA is the overall management of clubs and helping our club management professionals. Changing the name positions CMAA to have stronger value to clubs and their boards versus solely the needs of the manager who may be seen as a transient position at the club.
  3. While club manager is a generic industry term, we want our club managers to be seen as professionals and executives with our club boards with progressive titles and responsibilities of CEO, COO and General Manager. Changing our Association’s name acknowledges this progress.

So, in my opinion, CMAA – as the acronym – remains! However, the small nuance of changing our Association’s name could have a significant impact as your organization moves forward to serve you in the best manner possible. This matter will be discussed by CMAA’s Strategic Planning Committee and then by the National Board before it would be voted on by the membership. If you have a thought on the matter, please e-mail so I can share your comments with the Committee when they meet in May.

Before I end this month, I want to ask you if you have begun to enter your financial and operations data into CMAA’s annual survey process through Industry Insights. Last month I shared that going forward, CMAA will be funding the collection of industry analytical data using an organization called Industry Insights. This organization has been in existence for 35-plus years and works with more than 200 associations on benchmarking.

Industry Insights will be collecting data on CMAA’s behalf and will keep it secure, providing CMAA with summary analytical data to provide to CMAA members. Participating clubs will receive a complimentary copy of the report including a static Club Performance Report, which is an individually customized report of a participant’s own financial and operational statistics shown alongside appropriate industry comparatives.  Industry Insights will never contact you directly to sell you additional services or share your information to any service provider in the industry. I want CMAA to have the most robust club analytical database possible and if you add your financial and operational data, we are one step closer.

At CMAA, further Industry Insights efforts will be accessible to you via our Club Resource Center (CRC) subscription area that gives you a plethora of club resources, including online staff training, white papers, operational resources, etc. Participating CRC subscribers will also receive an interactive, online portal to compare your club’s results with others.  

Members own CMAA and members should own their industry’s data too. This 2017 CMAA initiative will make that a reality!

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

February 2017: 90 Years Young

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A few weeks ago, my wife Susie and I went to visit her parents in North Carolina for the weekend. As my father-in-law approaches 90, I am impressed by his ability to stay young. He continues to be eager about learning, trying new things and ensuring he is staying up to date. I greatly admire my father-in-law and I hope I have the same mindset when I approach his age. He is 90 years young, as there is nothing old about him!

I feel the same way about CMAA as we begin our 90th year – we are 90 years young! CMAA was formed in 1927 by a group of visionary club managers predominantly in the New England, New York and Chicago areas who wanted to learn from each other and ultimately ensure their clubs would grow and prosper. The Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) was born and as they say, the rest is history. 

In 2016, CMAA took a step forward to ensure we remain 90 years young by approving our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan.  About one-third of CMAA’s membership participated in its development. As we approached the completion of the first year of the plan, I want to pause and give you an update as we ensure CMAA is growing and evolving with a young mindset to serve you.

Those who attended CMAA’s World Conference in Orlando heard my State of the Association address during the Opening Business Session. I told you of our shared journey over my past two and a half years at CMAA and where we are headed in 2017. During World Conference we also held an open session called “Ask CMAA’s Leadership” for any members to ask questions about CMAA or get more information. I am also pleased to point you to some online resources to tell our CMAA story for 2016.  On our website you will find our annual report. I urge you to review it. Those of you that might be interested in CMAA’s financial health can also review our recently completed financial audit. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me.

One of the other items I spoke about during my State of the Association Address is our journey forward into club analytics in 2017. At the end of last year after detailed analysis and deliberation, the CMAA Board of Directors decided to end our relationship with our current survey provider to forge a new path. I want to share a bit more about our plans. Going forward CMAA will be funding the collection of industry analytical data using an organization called Industry Insights. This organization has been in existence for 35-plus years and works with more than 200 associations on benchmarking. You will recognize some of their current and former clients – GCSAA, NGCOA and IHRSA, to name a few.

Industry Insights will be collecting data on CMAA’s behalf and will keep it secure, providing CMAA with summary analytical data to provide to CMAA members and provide us with an online portal to compare your club’s results with others. Industry Insights will never contact you directly to sell you additional services or share your information to any service provider in the industry. I am excited about this change and ask you to please support this new CMAA initiative. I want every club to have access to analytical information from the largest to the smallest. It starts with creating the most robust club analytical database possible by providing your financial and operational data in the coming weeks.

At CMAA, Industry Insights efforts will be accessible to you via our Club Resource Center (CRC) subscription area that gives you a plethora of club resources, including online staff training, white papers, operational resources, etc. Participating clubs will receive a complimentary copy of the report including a static Club Performance Report, which is an individually customized report of a participants own financial and operational statistics shown alongside appropriate industry benchmarking comparatives. CRC subscribers will receive an interactive version of this report online.  

CMAA’s use of Industry Insights sets the club industry up for leveraging the insights and resources of other industries. It also sets us up for future expansion, from entry to reporting, using Industry Insights vast resources. I am so excited about this change and the benefit that it will ultimately provide CMAA members. Members own CMAA and members should own their industry’s data too. This 2017 CMAA initiative will make that a reality.

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

January 2017: Talking Millenials on Private Club Radio

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January 2017: Wishing You a Gritty New Year!

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1.17.17 - memo boardHappy New Year! Inspiration for this month’s message comes from CMAA’s elevator. The CMAA HQ building has three floors with roughly seven to twelve people on each. With a National staff team of 28 people on multiple floors, it requires some movement if you are going to run into everyone each day. This gets me to this month’s focus. One way CMAA’s staff stays connected, besides the elevator and two stairwells, is a white board in the elevator. This white board starts out clean each day and whoever has an inspiration, writes it on the board for all to see.

Some days it’s a question, like “What book are you currently reading?” or “Today is National Bologna Day” (October 24, if you must know!) or sometimes it is trash talking about our favorite sports teams. From this board, we learn about each other and informally stay connected without attribution of comments to any one individual member – although I must admit that when I learned one long-time staffer was a member of a rock band, I did have to go check out her YouTube videos. Very impressive! So during the holidays, someone asked about New Year’s resolutions.

Honestly, I was pleased to see a list of personal and professional goals and that no one put down the perennial favorite goal of “losing weight.” Goals like being more compassionate, getting more sleep and smiling more were added as personal ones. While professional ones included raising more money for The Club Foundation and doing more for CMAA members. So as we individually set our own goals for 2017, how do we make them last? A one word response sums it up: grit!

Grit is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as: mental toughness and courage. While another online dictionary defines grit as: courage, resolve and strength of character. I think you may agree it would be wonderful if we all had more grit? Those New Year’s resolutions would certainly become reality! It just so happens I recently finished a book called Grit by Angela Duckworth. The author states effort is much more valuable than the talent within each of us. Effort leads to skill in whatever we are focused on, with results and ultimately achievement coming over time. 

Reaching our goals in 2017 requires that core element of grit encompassing hard work, courage, self-motivation, resolve and staying focused on achievement. Leveraging our personal grit will allow us to move forward even during the most challenging times as well as toward success at our clubs. So as we begin 2017, my hope for you is that you will add some grit to your life, and that it will carry you far into this year toward personal and professional success!

CMAA has its own year of grit ahead as we are by your side partnering to help you succeed professionally. Best wishes for a great 2017!

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan

December Blog: CEO’s Perspective - Preparing for a Successful Future

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12.13.16 Staff Around the Christmas Tree 

Happy holidays! I hope your club had a successful year, and you experienced personal and professional prosperity this past year too! CMAA’s goal is to be your partner on your professional journey. With that in mind, your CMAA team is busy preparing for our 90th World Conference on Club Management and Club Business Expo. We recognize that a positive professional experience is linked to a happy and healthy personal life.

As we come to the end of the year, many of us conduct an inventory of our personal assets and set goals for the coming year. I do this every year because it helps me to focus on my happiness, health and fulfillment as well as ensures that I am providing the same for the others around me. Since the age of 25, I have included retirement planning in this annual inventory.

Two of my prior professional association positions were connected with Wall Street, and included work with retirement planning. When I came onboard here, I was very impressed by the CMAA-sponsored club benefit, which provides an opportunity for your club to better assist their employees with saving for retirement. The CMAA 401(k) Retirement Plan will be entering its fifth year of operation and should exceed $100 million in assets this coming year. That is impressive! Even more impressive is that many of our CMAA clubs have been able to mitigate their compliance and fiduciary responsibilities, and in many cases, reduce operational costs by using the CMAA plan. It is a program that I did an in-depth review of when I joined CMAA to ensure it was well structured for our members, and found our CMAA program to be excellent. The CMAA team and I have our own CMAA retirement savings with this plan. As a participant, it is something I monitor closely.

With the enactment of the recent Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule and the ever increasing operational and compliance concerns of providing a retirement benefit, the CMAA 401(k) plan provides an alternative to the traditional single employer plan. It allows clubs to come together as a community into a multiple-employer plan (MEP) to take advantage of larger numbers and reduced operational responsibilities. Our CMAA clubs are able to retain their individual club culture though flexible plan design by choosing to keep or enhance certain plan features such as discretionary or safe harbor match design, Roth contributions, loans, hardships, in-service distributions and vesting schedules. One of the design features of the CMAA 401(k) Retirement Plan is the ability to utilize a local or your current advisor, who is already providing an advisory service to your club. Educational programs and local client management relationships are available through our record-keeper, Empower Financial, the second-largest (based on total participants) US service provider!

CMAA’s focus on this plan is to serve your club needs. Due to federal regulations, all those involved are limited on what they can earn from the plan as intermediaries. Fees are disclosed and can be compared to your current plan. The benefit of CMAA’s plan is that by joining together as a CMAA community, your club may be able to save money in the administration of the plan and receive better retirement options. In addition, when providing your staff with a retirement plan benefit, we are required to continually offer educational opportunities. Those opportunities are provided by our ERISA 3(38) Investment Manager. They include: complimentary fiduciary reviews of your current plan as well as availability to answer your compliance, plan design and industry trend questions. Another important part of our CMAA plan is keeping you informed via white papers, webinars and in-person education. An upcoming World Conference session has been scheduled to discuss current retirement industry trends titled “The Effect that Behavioral Finance has on Participant Retirement Readiness.”

If retirement planning fits into your upcoming 2017 plans, the Club Resources section of CMAA’s website has general information to learn more about the CMAA plan, and contact information to speak to someone about your current club retirement situation.

Last month I asked you to consider a gift to The Club Foundation (CF) on the international day of giving at the beginning of the holiday season, Giving Tuesday. I would like to recognize the Metropolitan Chapter Foundation for answering that call and making a leadership donation in the amount of $50,000 for FY2017. Including this generous gift, twelve CMAA Chapters have supported CF with a combined total of $111,500 over the past two years. Thank you to the Carolinas, Evergreen, Florida, Greater Baltimore, Mid-America, New England, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Vicinity, St. Louis District, Texas Lone Star and Wisconsin Badger Chapters for their contributions to CF, allowing us to further our mission through scholarships, grants and research.

As I close for this month, I hope you will spend time reflecting on your 2016 journey and your 2017 personal and professional plans, and especially those around you who help contribute to your successes. CMAA is here to help. As we enter our 90th year, there are many things CMAA does to help you professionally, but also enrich your life personally. Please let us help you. I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan


November Blog: Millennial Outlook on Club Membership

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The 2017 US Presidential election is behind us and I am sure the vast majority of us are relieved. More than others in recent memory, this election very sharply pointed out the diversity that we have in the United States. Americans have different interests, different views and see different pathways for happiness and prosperity. Baby Boomers are at a different life stage than Millennials and therefore may have a different view of how the US should evolve. Ultimately these varying views when researched, shared, discussed and considered by our elected officials allow a path to be charted that serves the best interests of America. At least it is supposed to work this way – but you may be thinking: how does this relate to clubs?

Millennial Research Infographic - 200This month, CMAA and The Club Foundation (CF) will release new generational research that will start conversations about how clubs might need to evolve to serve the diverse needs of club members at different life stages and from different generations. Does your club need to evolve to thrive? Have you been evolving on the right path? Are there other areas of club evolution you should be considering? Millennials will have a dramatic effect on the future look, feel and services clubs offer, in the same way Baby Boomers did back in the 1990s. 

So CMAA/CF hired a consumer research company that would give us insight on how different generations perceive clubs and their value proposition, as well as give us clues on how clubs might consider evolving. We hired the Center for Generational Kinetics to do this work. For those who attended the 2016 World Conference, the Center’s CEO, Jason Dorsey, was our featured generational speaker. I am very excited about the resources that will be available to CMAA members beginning this month:

  • November 15: Full release of a white paper and infographic on the millennial research
  • November 16: Member Webinar with Jason Dorsey to review the research findings. If you missed this live, you can watch the replay on CMAA University. After you view it, it may be appropriate to share information from it with your Board or Strategic Planning Committee.
  • Until Mid-December: Jason Dorsey and the team from the Center of Generational Kinetics will be our media spokesperson on the research and help to create some media buzz on club evolution in the public media.

Millennial Research White Paper - 200I am very excited about the conversations this information might generate among your club staff, club committees and club Board. This type of unique research by CMAA and CF increases the value of your membership. I want to recognize our Corporate Alliance Partners for supporting this project, and I hope you thank them too.

If you find this type of research to be helpful and would like to see more, please consider giving to The Club Foundation. Tuesday, November 29th is "Giving Tuesday" – the day after the shopping frenzy of “Cyber Monday.” It is a day that kicks off charitable giving as we head toward the end of the year.

When you count your blessings this month, please remember to make a contribution to The Club Foundation so that we can further our mission to support growth in the club industry through scholarships, education and research. My hope would be that each of you makes a donation to The Club Foundation by year end. No donation is too small. The message you send by personal and/or club contributions to CF helps us to know that projects like generational research on clubs are important. To donate online, please visit https://www.cmaa.org/conf/register/onlinegiving/

Thanks for your consideration and I hope you have some healthy generational-based conversations at your club

Until next month,

Jeff Morgan