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Articles, Publications, Books

Resources for association management

Articles and Publications

Association Management and Governance

The Groundhog Effect by Bob Harris, CAE & Sarah Gustafson, ABR®, SRES®, CRS 
Adequate documentation avoids reinventing the wheel.

The Association’s DNA by Bob Harris, CAE (November 20-19)
An association’s DNA is the structure, strategy, sustainability, relevance and performance just below the surface. Check it periodically.

Resolutions: Looking Ahead to 2020 by Bob Harris, CAE (December 2019)
Reflections on resolutions to enhance the organization in 2020.

Lining up Leadership by Bob Harris, CAE (July 2019)
To develop future leaders, design a long-term, quality initiative.

BMI for Board Practices by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2019)
Good governance can be quantified. Best practices can be measured.

Maintaining Bold by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2019)
Be bold and avoid the comfort zone to become a better organization.

Association CPR – Commitment, Performance and Results by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
In an association, CPR may restore life to an under-performing organization.

Curbing Mission Creep and Micromanagement by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
Mission creep and micromanagement are board disorders disrupting the organization. Here are some remedies.

Your Mission Statement is Not a Holiday Turkey! by Bob Harris, CAE (Fall 2019)
Boards sometimes create a mission statement similar to how we prepare a holiday turkey

Build Upon the Mission by Bob Harris, CAE (February 2019)
Documents that build upon the mission and enhance the organization.

New Year, Clean Slate for Governance by Bob Harris, CAE (January 2019)
For some associations the governance-year begins now. It’s time to wipe the slate clean. Focus on producing results in the year ahead. Agree upon a vision.

Living the Association’s Values by Bob Harris, CAE (December 2018)
Are you living your values on behalf of your members?

Jump Start the Conversation by Bob Harris, CAE (October, 2018)
Does your association need to be jump started? A good time for the jumper cables is at the annual leadership orientation.

Good  Governance Package by Bob Harris, CAE (Fall 2018)
A compilation of articles on the subject of good governance.

Understanding the Organization Structure by Bob Harris, CAE (May 2018)
Article discusses the use of an organizational chart depicting the association structure and identifying related entities clarifies lines of authority and relationships.

Guide to Better Governance by Bob Harris, CAE (April 2018)
A two-page Guide to Better Governance offers smart practices to take governance from good to great.

IRS Form 990 is Revealing by Bob Harris, CAE (May 2018)
Make sure that the IRS Form 990 is properly and accurately competed in order to maintain your exempt status.

Reverse Engineer the President’s Year by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2018)
Applying a little reverse engineering to the president’s initiatives can help increase the probability of success.

What We Call the Association Staff by Bob Harris, CAE and Ellen Miller-Sharp, San Diego Bar Association (February 2018)
Simple things like what we call the staff can create a culture of respect and affect desired results.

Managing the Rainy Day Fund by Bob Harris, CAE (December 2017)
Some associations are sitting on considerable reserves, a combination of savings and property. An organization’s reserves are part of its strength. Leaving excessive funds untouched may not be the wisest decision.

Instill a Corporate Culture by Bob Harris, CAE (November 2017)
Corporate culture can be described as the beliefs and behaviors that determine how
volunteers and staff interact and handle decisions.

Association Prescription for Health by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2017)
60 cures that can improve the health, operating and outcomes for your association.

Winter Blues by Avenue M Group (February 2017)
Give your members something to look forward to during those wintery months.

Annual Performance Review by Avenue M Group (February 2017)
Performance reviews are changing. Does your process need improving?

The Power of Thank You by Avenue M Group (February 2017)
Two simple words, “Thank you”, can make a big difference.

8 Characteristics of High-Performance Not for Profits by TC North, Ph.D. (Spring 2017)
What makes a not for profit high performance?

Doomed at the Start by Bob Harris, CAE (Fall 2016)
Association scenarios that signal trouble for the year ahead.

Associations of the Future by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
A summary of association executive input on what the association of the future looks like.

What I Wish I’d Known about Association Mgmt. by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Critical aspects of association management that may have been missed in Associations 101.

Form Follows Function by Bob Harris, CAE (2015)
Are your structure and governance still aligned with the mission and strategic plan?

Inventory, Assess, Improve  by Bob Harris, CAE (A Guide to Evaluating Your Association) (2014)
Use this checklist to inventory, assess and improve your organization.

How Nonprofits Can Avoid the Legal Pitfalls of Telecommuting Employees by Jeff Tenenbaum, David Warner, Kristine Sova and Nick Reiter, Venable LLP
How to deal with potential legal issues of telecommuting employees.

The Use of Professional and Industry Speakers in the Meetings Market. Published by Velvet Chainsaw Consulting (www.velvetchainsaw.com) and Tagoras (www.tagoras.com )
A report covering the selection of speakers, what to expect from them and how their educational impact is measured.


Ban The Yearly Planning Meeting by Bob Harris, CAE, (January 2020)
It might be heresy, but maybe we should “scrub the annual planning meeting.”

Managing Board Meeting Discussions by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2019)
Meeting guidelines help produce better results from vigorous discussion at board meetings.

Technology Improves the Consent Agenda by Bob Harris, CAE, and Wil Riley, CAE (Spring 2019)
One wonders how boards get to essential business if reports consume most the time.

Taming Committee Reports at Board Meetings by Bob Harris, CAE, and Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE (January 2019)
Three ways to trim committee reports at board meetings.

The Case Against Monthly Board Meetings by Bob Harris, CAE (January 2019)
How frequently should the board meet? The best answer: When there is a reason to convene for the purpose of governance.

Innovative Agenda Practices by Bob Harris, CAE and Bill Pawlucy, CAE (Spring 2018)
Traditional agenda formats may be wasting board time. Brainstorm ways to craft a more innovative agenda for an improved meeting experience.

Craft An Agenda by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2017)
Scrap the reports, Craft a new meeting agenda that sets a starting and ending point.

Meeting Disorder by Bob Harris, CAE (April 2017)
Ideas to handle disorder resulting in better meetings.

How to Stop Putting People to Sleep in Your Meetings by TC North, Ph.D. (Spring 2017)
Make your meetings more creative and enhance interactions.

9 Unusual Strategies for Killer Meetings by TC North, Ph.D. (Spring 2017)
Some unusual tricks to have highly productive meetings that people love.

Rate This Meeting by Bob Harris, CAE (Fall 2016)
A brief form for rating your board or committee meeting.

Got the Agenda – Now What by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Agendas keep conversations on track

For Every Action there is a Reaction by Bob Harris, CAE (2014)
A guide to making and passing a board motion.



Free Riders by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Non-members claim they don’t need to join weaken the organization.

WOW! This Membership Thing Really Works, blog posting by Tom Morrison, CEO, Metal Treating Institute
Creating value that makes the paid membership model work.

Volunteers and Committees

Guide to Committee Responsibilities by Bob Harris, CAE (April 2018)
The Committee Responsibilities guide clarifies responsibilities, authority, recommendations, smart practices, trends and risk avoidance for association committees..

I Survived a Year on a Committee! by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2018)
Survival tips for being a good committee member.

Judging the Culture of an Organization by Bob Harris, CAE (July 2017)
What makes a volunteer an effective volunteer?

Volunteers Define Leadership by Bob Harris, CAE (May 2017)
How do volunteers define leadership?

Say Yes to Leadership by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Why you should volunteer in your association.

Ten Tips to Engage, Train and Retain Rich Human Resources by Beau Ballinger, CAE (2015)
How to get the most that your volunteers have to offer.


When the Board Wants Help by Bob Harris, CAE (April 2020)
Ten questions to be included in a board self-evaluation.

The Rusty Trustee by Bob Harris, CAE (December 2019)
A unique idea for helping new board members is appointment of an experienced leader to coach the board and new directors: a Trustee Emeritus or “rusty trustee.”

Wrapping Up the Board Meeting by Bob Harris, CAE (July 2019)
Before adjournment, ask “What’s next?” It’s a chance to recap what was decided and the next steps.

How to Alienate the Board by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
Avoid making a bad impression as the newest member of the board of directors.

Protecting the Board by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2019)
What could go wrong?

Instill Confidence in New Board Members by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
Instilling and maintaining confidence is the foundation for new directors.

Check the Boxes – Director Evaluation by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
Using a self-evaluation form to help board members assess how they are performing.

Board Size Matters by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
What’s the right size for an association board?

A Guide to High Performing Boards by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
New compendium of articles focuses on the and role and functioning of high-performance association boards.

Directors Wear Many Hats by Bob Harris, CAE (January 2019)
What hat are you wearing: board member, chapter director, supplier?

Board Decorum by Bob Harris, CAE (February 2019)
Insights on the importance on board decorum.

The Humble Board Member by Bob Harris, CAE (December 2018)
Is there one quality that is most respected among board members? That supports continuous success? That enhances a culture of trust? A trio of past board members suggests that Humility is that trait.

New on the Board? Ask Questions by Bob Harris, CAE (April 2018)
Some examples of board traps and how they might be addressed by a new director.

Disappointing the Executive Director by Bob Harris, CAE and Maile Ilac Boeder, IOM (Spring 2018)
If problems arise between board and executive director, here are suggestions to create opportunities to clarify and learn.

Strategic or Tactical Board? By Bob Harris, CAE (December 2017)
Boards are strategic. Staff and committees are tactical. Understanding the different roles helps avoid problems.

Keep Board Meetings Focused by Bob Harris, CAE (February 2018)
Suggestions keeping distractions from affecting board meetings.

Conveying the Role of the Board by Bob Harris, CAE (December 2017)
Not all directors know the meaning of governance. Some have experience in making administrative or tactical decisions but this is not governance. Through board development directors will better understand their governance roles.

Diversity of Leadership by Bob Harris, CAE (November 2017)
A frequent question of executives: “How do we add diversity to a board that likes being who they are?” Yet, if an association does not respect diversity they may unknowingly create an opening for the development of a competing group. Changing the image of a non-diverse well-entrenched board might take some open and frank discussions. The outcome will support a healthy association.

100+ Tips for the Incoming President by Bob Harris, CAE (September 2017)
“Don’t take yourself so seriously”…and other nuggets of presidential advice!

Board Reading List by Bob Harris, CAE (September 2017)
Good counsel for an incoming board chair is, “read to lead.” While the advice is sound it deserves explanation. Every organization has a “governance reading list.” Without exception board members should have access.

Managing Board Leaks by Bob Harris, CAE (September 2017)
The boardroom is intended to be a safe place for confidential discussions. Directors are responsible for advancing a mission, fulfilling fiduciary roles, and maintaining confidentiality. Breaching confidentiality might be an innocent slip or a malicious deed. In either case, an association should address persons who speak wrongly outside the boardroom. Consider these approaches.

Clean Governance by Bob Harris, CAE (September 2017)
Check the effectiveness of board meetings against these 12 tips. Are there any bad habits? Does the governance reflect a high performing organization? What improvements can be made?

The Perfect Board by Bob Harris, CAE (July 2017)
What makes a perfect board? Much of it is culture and understanding, coupled with structure and practices.

The Relationship between Board and Committees by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2017)
What is the best relationship of the board to committees? Are directors required to chair committees or serve as liaisons? Do committees work independent of the board?

Fundamentals of Good Governance by Bob Harris, CAE (June 2017)
The purpose of the board is to govern. Bob Harris dissects governance into five high-level areas.

Facing Founder’s Syndrome by Bill Pawlucy, CAE and Bob Harris, CAE (Summer 2017)
Every nonprofit organization was new at one time, having a principle person who drove its creation. At some point the board and the founder can be in an awkward position.

I Just Have a Question – Board Behavior and Distraction by Trevor S. Mitchell, MBA, CAE, and Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2017)
Nearly every board meeting includes several distractions that begin with “I just have a question,” taking discussions away from important agenda items. This article points out the behavior and offers tips to reduce the problem.

The ROI on Board Service by Bob Harris, CAE (May 2017)
Bob Harris discusses the benefits received through board or committee volunteering and a sample “President’s Message” for the president who needs to call on members to step forward to serve (problem every association has).

Is My Board Broken? by Bob Harris, CAE (March 2017)
Every board has good intentions, but old habits, politics and bad behaviors may hamper progress.

Evaluating Board Performance by Bob Harris, CAE, and Shawna Strickland, PhD, RRT-NPS, AE-C, FAARC (Spring 2017)
Yes, you can and should evaluate the performance of your board members. Here’s why and how.

The First Bite – Conflict of Interest by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2017)
Conflicts of interest mean trouble – legal and otherwise. Here are some tips in avoiding them.

The Empty Seat at the Board Table by Bob Harris, CAE (Jan 2017)
One purpose of a board of directors is to represent its members. How do you make that happen.

Board Quizzes by Bob Harris, CAE (Jan 2017)
Short quizzes to help your board understand associations and the role of the board of directors.

The Dysfunctions of a Board by Bob Harris, CAE, and Connie Hanner, M.Ed. (Fall 2016)
Be aware of the many dysfunctions that can affect the performance of your board of directors.

Everything Can Be Measured by Bob Harris, CAE (Aug 2016)
How will we measure performance? How will we know if we have been successful? Everything can be measured.

Advice to the Incoming President by Bob Harris, CAE (Aug 2016)
Advice to the incoming president for getting off to a good start.

Dashboards and Data Walls by Bob Harris, CAE (Summer 2016)
Visuals such as dashboards can lead to better board understanding of information.

Boardroom Courtesy by Bob Harris, CAE and Rosalinda Randall (2016)
Suggestions for keeping the governing process effective.

Board Training Manual Inserts by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Training guides and tips for nonprofit directors.

Better Engaged Boards by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Tips for keeping board members engaged and productive.

Govern More, Manage Less by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
High performance boards concentrate on governance, not daily management.

Guiding Principles and Board Values by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Organizations develop guiding principles from inception. Founding leaders instill their values. Through time, culture and environmental changes, the ideals evolve.

Favored Statements at Board Meetings by Bob Harris, CAE (2016)
Getting more done at board meetings often depends on how you phrase it.

Is the President Ready? by Bob Harris, CAE (2015)
Before assuming your new office, make an assessment to make sure you’re ready.

Power Retreats – Improve Outcomes at the Board Retreat by Bob Harris, CAE (2014)
How to improve outcomes at the board retreat.

Challenges in the Boardroom–Thirteen Fixes by Bob Harris, CAE. (2013)
Myths and misguided practices that form major challenges to a high performing board.

Risk Management for Discussion List by Bob Harris, CAE (2012)
A listing of various potential risks in nonprofit organizations.

Rely on Checklists by Bob Harris, CAE (2012)
Using checklists to detail the best ways to accomplish projects.


Strategic Planning in 4 Hours or Less by Will Graham (May 2019)
Concepts that will make your next strategic planning retreat work.

Audit the Strategic Plan by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2019)
It takes resolve to sustain interest in the strategic plan. A strategic plan audit will revive the excitement

Between the Rails by Bob Harris, CAE (August, 2018)
Avoiding distractions, derailments, and detours to keep things between the rails

Guide to Strategic Planning by Bob Harris, CAE (April 2018)
The Strategic Planning guide describes the preparation, development and implementation of the plan.

Do We Really Need A Strategic Plan? by Bob Harris, CAE (November 2017)
You might have heard, “Strategic planning is dead.” The statement is not meant for associations to abandon planning. Simply the processes and outcomes have evolved.

Implementing the Strategic Plan by Bob Harris, CAE (Spring 2017)
A checklist for deploying the strategic plan.

Terminology and Methodology of Strategic Planning by Bob Harris, CAE (Jan 2017)
The strategic plan is a multiyear roadmap focusing energy on gaining achievement. Here’s a processing for developing yours.

Strategic Plan Sherpa by Bob Harris, CAE (Aug 2016)
Your strategic plan needs champions

Cleared for Takeoff! Flight Plan for the Strategic Plan by Bob Harris, CAE (2014)

Personal Development

When Is Negative Feedback Better Than Positive Feedback? by TC North, Ph.D. (Spring 2017)
How do positive and negative feedback affect motivation and speed of improvement at different competency levels?

Feel Like a Fraud? Most Of Us Do At Times! by TC North, Ph.D.(Spring 2017)
If you have secrets that limit your success, set yourself free.

7 Steps to Reduce Your Stress Up to 40 Percent by TC North (Spring 2017)
Relieving stress may be easier than you think. And research proves it.

Stick to Just One Thing by TC North, Ph.D. (Spring 2017)
What’s the one thing? That’s what you’ve got to figure out.

Six Powerful Steps to Master Fear by TC North (Spring 2017)
When you master your fears and master your mind, you master your life!

Characteristics That Will Make You a Bad Boss by TC North (Spring 2017)
What’s the difference between being a good boss and a bad boss?


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