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Early-bird tickets are now available for TechSmart NFP 2017, and if you’re a charity, membership body or trade association and your challenge is that you know what you need to do, but don’t know how to get started, you could save yourself 12 weeks by attending this one event.

You can also rub shoulders with industry experts who live and breathe professional membership, charity and NFP technology. And get the answers to all of your burning tech, data and digital questions by sharing the experience of over 250 delegates, 30 industry experts, 6 client case studies, and 3 keynote speakers. And all under the one roof!

Why TechSmart NFP?

Hart Square the, organisers of TechSmart NFP, provide independent consulting services to professional membership and fundraising organisations, charities, trade associations and the education and healthcare sectors. Having been in the industry for over 20 years as CRM consultants, they found that their NFP clients had continual problems making technology decisions and navigating through the tech landscape with very little guidance and support. Ironically, the technology providers within the sector had no platform to explain how, and why, to use their software in a manner that really addressed their clients’ needs. Given that Hart Square are organisers of 12 other annual educational events, they felt that TechSmart NFP was the natural next step.

What’s in it for me?


Get your business questions answered by sector experts


Learn from live client case studies and discover how they addressed their digital challenges


Join in-depth discussions on common and ‘not-so-common’ industry and technology challenges


Learn how to use technology to better engage with your members, how to get the most out of your data and what technology you should use


You could attend 4 other events and still not meet as many people in your industry as you will at just one TechSmart NFP event


Learn how to plan for your future and take action on your strategies


Learn how to mitigate the risks of your tech project – avoid overspend and overrun without compromising on quality


Your members are living in the cloud – we’ll teach you how to find them there


Discover where the sector will be in 3 years from now, and learn what you can do today to not just prepare for it, but take advantage of it.

Where’s it at?

TechSmart NFP 2017 will be at the iconic County Hall, on the riverside – next to The London Eye and opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben – with stunning views across The Thames towards Westminster.

Specifically chosen because it allows delegates, sponsors and partners easy access to all areas, the layout of the venue encourages networking in a non-pressured environment, with space for informal conversations. The food is also great!

Register: TechSmart NFP 2017, Tuesday 28th November 2017, County Hall, London


New DG for UKPIA


The United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) – which represents the interests of eight member companies engaged in the UK downstream oil industry on a range of common issues relating to refining, distribution and marketing of oil products, in non-competitive areas – is looking to appoint a new Director General. A salary in the region of £120,000 should prove quite attractive, but for the money you would be accountable to the President and Council, for effective leadership of the Secretariat as well as developing and implementing the Association’s strategic agenda on advocacy, communications and safety leadership.


It goes without saying that the appointment needs an outstanding leader, and one that understands the complex remit and responsibilities of the organisation. Go online to LinkedIn if you’re interested:


FSB: Policy Advisor – Enterprise, Innovation & Trade


The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) – self-styled experts in business – is looking for an experienced policy advisor to research, develop and communicate policy in enterprise, innovation and trade. Members, especially smaller businesses, are offered a wide range of services including advice, financial expertise, support and a voice in government. The Enterprise, Innovation and Trade portfolio will cover a range of economic, business and technological policy issues including start-ups and small business growth, innovation/ research and development, intellectual property, and other trade and industry issues.


Candidate are sought who can exercise high quality thought leadership can influence Government thinking and employ highly effective verbal and written communication skills.


The Association of Convenience Stores has responded to the publication of a House of Lords Committee Review into the Licensing Act, raising concerns about recommendations made on alcohol promotions and licensing fees.


The 168 page review recommends further restrictions on alcohol promotions (which are already in place in Scotland), whilst also recommending giving power to local authorities to increase licensing fees in their area, resulting in additional costs for local shops, pubs, and restaurants.


ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Committee has called for restrictions on alcohol promotions and siting in-store despite acknowledging that alcohol consumption is on a downward trend. While we broadly welcome the Committee’s report, calls for restrictions on alcohol promotions and siting in-store are a blunt instrument that will harm all consumers, instead of targeting the minority that consume alcohol irresponsibly.”


Commenting on the introduction of locally set licensing fees, Mr Lowman said: “We believe that licensing fees are overdue an increase but local authorities should not be given free rein to set their own licensing fees. Previous Home Office consultations have demonstrated that locally set fees would result in significantly inflated costs despite the licensing process being streamlined.”


In the review, the Committee rejected a raft of proposals that were debated extensively through the legislative review process including: introducing Health as Licensing Objective, powers to ban super strength alcohol, the introduction of blanket licensing conditions and Group Review Intervention Powers (GRIPs).


The MemberWise Network has announced the launch of a new free online community for membership and association professionals called MemberWise Connect. It will enable 4,000+ association and membership professionals to connect, share best practice, network with peers and solve challenges in a secure and private environment.

MemberWise Network Chair, Richard Gott, commented, “The time is right for the association sector to have its own online community where we can all connect and share. LinkedIn Groups seem are ‘dying a death’ based on the recent changes to online functionality and other private forums simply do not deliver the level of online sophistication and functionality associations need or expect. Today we change that with MemberWise Connect. I hope the sector welcomes this great new development.”


MemberWise provides best practice information/advice on a range of member focused topic areas including membership, marketing, communications, public/member relations and digital. Network resources include a dedicated website, video channel, blog, Member Engagement Hub, Recognised Supplier programme, and popular programme of national conferences and events.


MemberWise Connect is delivered by the MemberWise Network’s Official Online Community Partner, Higher Logic, who host online communities for high profile international membership organisations and associations including the American Society of Association Professionals (ASAE). Higher Logic President, Andy Steggles, commented, “We are excited about working with MemberWise to deliver a much needed online community in the UK/EU. We’ve been working in collaboration with network over the past year and are now pleased to launch in the United Kingdom.”


Higher Logic claim to bring people together by giving their community a home where they can interact, share ideas, answer questions and stay connected; their goal to help organisations achieve deeper engagement and meaningful interactions with members, customers and prospects.


MemberWise Connect features a dedicated online community, jobs feed, guest blog and members can personalise their online professional profiles and message other members via secure online messaging.


The British Hospitality Association, the leading hospitality industry body, has published a report which says that without future EU migration the hospitality sector faces a recruitment crisis. Claiming that upwards of 60,000 workers per year are needed in addition to the ongoing recruitment of 200,000 workers required to replace churn and to power growth. The report, published in association with KPMG, says that hospitality and tourism will be affected by restrictions to EU migration more than any other sector.


In addition, the BHA has sent the Government an outline 10 year strategy for recruiting a substantially higher proportion of its workforce from the UK, but it stresses that it will need continued – but declining – access to the EU workforce over that time.

Focusing on three main sections of the populations the strategy considers the unemployed, returners to the labour market such as older people, and the next generation. Suggestions include using Premier League clubs as centres for running job fairs under the name The Big Hospitality Conversation.


The immigration report, ‘Labour Migration in the Hospitality Sector’, commissioned by the BHA from KPMG, points out that the hospitality sector is “highly reliant” on the EU, with up to 24 per cent of the sector’s workforce made up of EU migrants. It says that the labour shortfall in hospitality, where 3 million people are currently employed, would be 1 million ten years after Brexit, if EU migration fell to zero from 2019.


The BHA also represents tourism, and estimates that there are 4.5 million workers employed across both sectors, and is the fourth largest industry in the UK contributing 10 per cent of GDP. The report points out that when taking both hospitality and tourism together, the recruitment gap would be even greater, with 75 per cent of waiters and waitresses, 25 per cent of chefs and 37 per cent of housekeeping staff are from the EU.


Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:  “It is clear from the KPMG report that hospitality and tourism face major problems in recruitment if there is any major cut in the number of workers allowed to enter from the EU. We want to avoid there being any cliff edge but the Government must be aware that in the medium to long term we will still need considerable numbers of EU workers, who have contributed so much to our industry and the UK economy in general.


“We have submitted our strategy to Number 10 Downing Street because we are aware of our responsibility to encourage more UK nationals to see the career opportunities available in hospitality and tourism. We do need the Government to play their part too, by recognising our employment needs and recognising how important this industry, the fourth largest, is to the country. We also look forward to working with the Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Education to implement our strategy as well as the Business Department.”


Download the report:


So, as a membership organisation, trade association, or professional body, your world is changing. Your role as gatekeeper to privileged information has disappeared. The internet has given free admission to sector data. Previously, when you spoke, your members listened, but not anymore!  You understand social media is the new member engagement front – or so everyone tells you –and yet a fortune spent on a CRM system, a swanky new website, shifting your brochure to Facebook, and tweeting like crazy hasn’t quite cracked it. You’re beginning to wonder if you’ve become busy fools! How can you make this surge of activity work for you? Why is everyone else succeeding when you’re not?


Well, back in the bygone times, retailers – for example – had local high street shops, and they developed a community of interest by chatting to their customers and appreciating their lives and requirements. Membership bodies did the same using print media, social events, and meetings. But now, because we enjoy less personal contact – preferring to check our phones 120 times a day – and our ‘community of interest’ may be flung far and wide, we need to use new tools to achieve the same ends.

Top brands think outside the box to develop community, inspire trust, and build on emotional connections. But don’t just take my word for it! NetXtra brought a couple of experts to their Breakfast Club meeting on 22nd March in the appropriate surroundings of the British Academy in St. James’s, London, to prove this point


NetXtra, CEO, Simon Palmer

 Introducing the proceedings, and pressing home the point about the fragmentation of community, NetXtra CEO, Simon Palmer, first tested participants’ knowledge of popular brands with a quiz, then cited some examples of associations who had successfully integrated their online presence with the needs of their clientele. Among his favourites were ABRSM, Coeliac UK, and IBD, the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. But why?


ABRSM is, in its own words, the UK’s largest music education body, one of its largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams, offering assessments to more than 630,000 candidates in 93 countries every year. Yet for Simon their current success lays in making connections and tracking and responding to trends. Firstly, through its partnership with the Royal Schools of Music, it supports high-quality music-making and learning around the world. Secondly, by collaboration they have launched Classical 100 and become ‘Classic FM’s Partner in Music Education’; among other things celebrating the role of music teachers.


Coeliac UK, on the other hand, has eased the lives of its members by using its online presence to publish diet plans, suggest recipes, and provide an invaluable ‘where to eat’ guide for those struggling with this debilitating condition. Add to that a gluten free food app, and Coeliac UK has put itself front and centre of users lives.

For IBD, social sharing is the key which – along with analysing requirements, listening, involvement, testing, and feedback – are what Simon reckons makes an engaging and responsive community.


Allen Reid, Hart Square

Allen Reid is director of client projects at Hart Square, an independent consultancy that helps NFPs select and implement CRM systems, and integrate them with existing users and structures. So his opening exclamation “Hands up those who think they’ve got a CRM system in their company that is fully integrated with their website, mailing, and membership? None! This is 2017 and we were having the same conversation in 1999!” could either be read as frustration, or satisfaction that he won’t be short of work any time soon.


The problem it seems is Bob! Bob is a risk, but also an opportunity. Bob is the average member, and Bob doesn’t care about your departments. He isn’t interested in your data silos, and doesn’t much care about his membership body. He’s either busy or lazy; definitely doesn’t like admin; will not just go to the website; and does NOT want to call you. He reads about one in fifteen items you send him, and consequently doesn’t have a very good idea of his member benefits. And frankly, he wants to spend as little time and money with you as possible!


But hang on a minute, is Bob really the problem, or is it you? Are you engaging his interest, and are you solving his problems? Are you offering emotional connection and trusted solutions? Are you offering AUTHORITATIVE advice and guidance? If not, you’d best have a look at because that – by parents, for parents – is the new normal.


But how to respond? NCMA (National Childminding Association), the Family & Childcare Trust, The Fostering Network, Parenting UK, and PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years), have all been affected to some extent by the popularity of But PACEY has applied what is has learned from mumsnet by responding and evolving. Steeling some of their clothes perhaps – by focussing on content (knowledge, and learned materials), news, jobs, events, community, and self-service – but also by opening up to non-members. And by not forgetting a warm, human, welcome to new members!


Robin Bryant, MOBAS

“A brand is not a logo, nor an identity, or a product. It is a gut feeling, based on trust, and built on emotional connections. A brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they – the audience – say it is” says Rob Bryant. Robin is joint managing director of MOBAS, an agency that creates award-winning campaigns for clients like Greene King, Mercure, Hungry Horse, and Cambridge University Press, so he should know!


There’s a simple formula too.  T = R + D or trust equals reliability plus delight. Trust comes from having a consistent personality that always delivers its promises, and meeting and beating customer expectations at every stage. But first, define your personality, purpose, and delivery promise.


If you can do all that, and connect the brand to its community, then there are five rules for ensuring that your brand travels and connects with its audience. First, stay true to your purpose. Walk the talk. Have a consistent personality, always delivering on promise. Second, build a network of brand ambassadors, because audience to audience referrals are the most powerful tool in connecting brand with audience. Next, build emotion. Seventy percent of audience loyalty and spending decisions are based on emotional factors. And, don’t forget to listen, listen, and listen! Your brand is what your audience say it is, and listening and reacting ensures you stay relevant to them. It can also help identify threats.


Lastly, evolution must be constant, because evolving – while staying true to purpose and promise – keeps you relevant and trusted. But beware, if your audience isn’t connecting with the brand it could be because it has become too self-centred, it doesn’t have a clear target audience, or its messages don’t evoke emotion. But maybe, when all’s said and done, there’s lack of engagement, your team and culture are wrong, or you are just too impatient for results!


How was it for you?

 And finally, what did a participant think on the day? Did the event live up to their expectation, provide fresh insights, and have relevance to their role? Did they go away with new perspectives that could be applied to the real world? I’ll leave it to Sarah McCandless, Senior Patient Relations and Engagement Manager, at Cancer Research UK, to have the last word:


“I didn’t know what to expect from the breakfast club. I’m not great at early starts so I was definitely hoping it would be useful. On arrival, I was greeted warmly and knew then that this was going to be a good event. I was surprised by the number of people in attendance. It was a good sized group, and there was lots of chatter happening over the tea and coffee.


I manage Your Involvement Network at Cancer Research UK. So the subject matter really interested me. The short talks were pitched just at the right level and allowed time for questions and answers afterwards. It was really interesting to hear how others are connecting with their communities and the examples highlighted were really insightful.


I certainly enjoyed listening to Robin Bryant. His talk on Brand and how it connects with an audience was like music to my ears. I work with a strong, visible brand every-day and I was scribbling away furiously whilst he talked. Lots of ideas were generated in those 20 minutes and I felt inspired to take his tips and put them into practice.


The conversations I had when the event ended have proven to be fruitful. I’ve had some email exchanges and some dates in the diary arranged!  The time and space out of the office to meet peers was really welcome.

It can be easy to sit in front of the computer and read articles. But nothing beats getting out and meeting people who are working in similar roles. We all want to connect with our audiences, but connecting with each other is really important to. So all in all, I thought it was a really great event and good use of my time…and the bacon rolls were great too!”


Enough said?


Michael Hoare

©2017 M J Hoare


Benjamin Franklin supposedly once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” whilst Thomas Edison is credited with, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Both are catchy quotes, but do they get us any closer to understanding the value of planning? Learning from our mistakes is one thing, but doing only that would be a random, time-consuming, and even dangerous way to manage!


Think of your role running an association as being the cox of a rowing eight. With your team-mates all powering away with one sole objective, it looks like you’re having an easy ride sitting at the back. But really your focus is half a mile ahead to the next bend, and beyond that to the finish line. Your team all want to get across the line, but you are the one making gentle adjustments to the tiller and varying the pace and power input to suit conditions, all with the longer view in mind. Make unreasonable demands on your crew and they burn out too soon. Yank the tiller from side to side and you collide with the competition, strike a bridge, capsize, or hit the bank. To win races you need an agreed objective, a strong crew, and a skilled navigator with a clear view of the course ahead and a vision of what lies beyond the bend!


Only trouble is, some associations lack clear objectives, or lose sight of them amid the pressures of day-to-day survival. So staying on track, let alone changing course to avoid fresh obstacles, is a challenge; new initiatives a test of stamina. So it’s hardly surprising that almost 70% of projects fail to hit target. But the reason they fail isn’t always lack of effort from the crew, but failure to do adequate research and forward planning. What’s needed are strategic objectives, wisely allocated resources, effectively managed time, and a clear change methodology. And perhaps that way we’ll stop trying to fix organisations symptomatically rather than systemically.


Of course, one of the challenges for bosses is finding the time and headspace to research and plan. And like-minded brainstorm partners! Or better still a skilled and objective third party to guide you through writing an unfettered wish list of the things you’d like to magic away. Having attributed a 1-10 pain scale to those issues, you can thin them out by trimming anything below an 8 to derive an initial agenda. Ranking these again, this time for difficulty between 0 (requiring an act of God) and 10 (easy-peasy), and having considered the ‘rocks in the road’ which will either block further progress – or stimulate a burst of tangential or transformative thinking to get around them – a final set of challenges will emerge.


Only now is it time to look at the belief system, readiness, and capability of your organisation. Break them into their component parts, and analyse the gaps between your ultimate objective and the organisation’s current readiness. Along the way you’ll also have to account for critical mass, survivability, impact on the team, and the impact on your membership and financials.

By the end of all that you won’t be in any doubt when somebody asks, “What is the process for accountability and quality of execution of your mid-term plans? Is there a process? Have you separated it from operational and everyday management? And, are the right people involved? You could, with equal confidence, break the familiar logjam of continual ‘circular’ re-examination of the same issues that so bedevils so many membership boards! Or would that be too much to ask?


Michael Hoare

©2017 M J Hoare