The Cupcake Challenge - Here's how it works:. . Info cards are. set on tables along with a copy of the cupcake sign, which is mounted on small dowel and. when a table raises their flag they set it in a vase filled with sand to hold it. up. The info card ...
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"AE on the Verge" - 5 new articles

  1. Fundraising Idea: The Cupcake Challenge
  2. 3 things that make me crazy at banquet events ...
  3. 6 Words that Stop Change at Associations
  4. A Return to Blogging - and "Most Obvious Lessons"
  5. 3 Association Questions found at a Yard Sale
  6. More Recent Articles

Fundraising Idea: The Cupcake Challenge

The Cupcake Challenge - Here's how it works:

Info cards are set on tables along with a copy of the cupcake sign, which is mounted on small dowel and when a table raises their flag they set it in a vase filled with sand to hold it up.
The info card includes rules: 
  • Each person at the table (who is eligible to contribute - which is a PAC rule) must contribute $5 (or other designated amount) or more for EVERYONE to win at that table
  • No one can contribute for anyone else (which is a PAC rule - but may not apply to your rules)
  • Can limit it to only credit cards or checks
  • Once all contributions are on the table - raise you flag
  • A fundraising committee member confirms and collects the donations, then delivers the cupcakes


 cupcake challenge has been held at a PAC dessert auction - but could be used for any type of fundraising.  The goal is to have 100% participation by everyone attending the event. 
A sponsor pays for the cupcakes and the association puts their logo on the back of the cupcake sign so when people raise their flags it can been seen. Buy enough cupcakes for each attendee to have one (and get them from a nice bakery).  No one at the table can get one without everyone contributing.  All or none creates enticement/pressure. Tables are encouraged to compete with each other to raise their flags first.  The flags also allow for the emcee to scan the room and call out tables that have not participated. 

It works best to assign a fundraising committee members to a table(s). They don’t have to sit there, but they are in charge of (a) explaining the rules (even though the emcee explains the challenge at the top of the program and the info cards are on the tables, people still miss it or get confused), (b) collecting the money and then (c) distributing the cupcakes.

Optional theme idea:  When the event had a Mardi Gras theme, they changed it  and had a King Cake Challenge.  Exact same concept except they ordered round doughnuts from a local doughnut shop and requested Mardi Gras colored frosting and sprinkles to decorate.

Thanks to Michele Holen at the Clark County Association of REALTORS in Washington State for this excellent idea, complete description and tips

3 things that make me crazy at banquet events ...

Not only do I plan events, but I attend a large number of events. Here are three things that make me crazy:

1. Centerpieces that block the view of half the table: What's the point of being seated with 8 or 10 people if you can't even see half of them because of the centerpiece, much less be able to engage them through the centerpiece? There are plenty of nice ways to decorate a table that won't block the view of others at the table.

2. Those stretchy chair covers that totally cover the chair legs: Remember when our legs didn't bounce off the chair covers at events? Whoever created those stretchy covers has turned already uncomfortable event chairs into ones that require you to stretch your legs out in front of you at a table. And forget about being able to put anything under the chair. While I know it makes the space look nicer to have covered chairs ... UGH!

3. The band that plays loudly during dinner: I was recently at an event where I spent the dinner either screaming at the person directly next to me so he could hear me or we both were saying over and over, "what did you say, what did you say" ... Whatever happened to nice, quiet background music at banquets that accommodates conversations?

Events should strive to encourage conversation at the banquet tables; and be as comfortable as possible.

6 Words that Stop Change at Associations

There are 6 words that routinely stop change at Associations: "But that will set a precedent."  With a precedent of course being assumed to be a bad thing.

Here are a few thoughts on getting past the dreaded precedent-setting:

1.  Call it a pilot program.  Then it is clear it's a test and may or may not ever apply again.

2.  Make it clear why it's one-time in an explanatory to a decision. "Due to the current market conditions ...", "due to an unexpected overage in the fund balance," or whatever provides explanation to do something even if it's never been done before or may not be an option again. Or make it clear what it would take for that same type of approval to happen again.  Seriously, doing something once does not mean you have to do it twice or a hundred times.  I also think if you do something a hundred times, you should also be able to never do that again.

3.  Let it set a precedent.  What if the precedent-setting option is actually the best approach?  If the fear is that it might be popular, evaluate the concern about doing something that might be popular.

There are clearly situations where it may not be at all appropriate to set precedents, such as with personnel policies.  But with many association programs and general association policies, maybe taking a leap of faith by trying something once won't be such a bad idea.  At least don't kill an idea just by saying it will set a precedent.

A Return to Blogging - and "Most Obvious Lessons"

The past few months have been filled with personal and professional transitions - left a job (and membership) I loved after 24 years due to a relocation, changed states, consulted, participated in a lot of association executives meetings, interviewed for a new job, facilitated a search for a new CEO, started a new job, bought a new house, and more.  Which means I have lots of association management blog topic content; so it's time to return to blogging.

My first post has to be a highlight of my good friend Judith Lindenau's blog about what she learned as an Interim Association Executive.

Here are Judith's top 6 "most obvious lessons" for association execs:

1.  It's not 'them or us.' (Cindy adds: that includes treating boards and their staff like partners!)
2.  It's also the AEs job to provide perspective.
3.  Have a good, memorable (by everyone) mission statement.
4.  Only spend money on things that enable the mission statement.  Notable quote: "Be brutal about eliminating the programs and services which don’t serve the members. One heads up trick is to divide the total expense of a program or service by the number of real, live members who actually paid money to get it." (Cindy adds: Amen!)
5.  Get the association governing docs together.
6.  Teach leadership skills.  Notable quote: "Unfortunately, most 'Leadership Conferences' don’t teach the practical aspects of leadership ... The techniques of managing meetings, setting work goals, forming communities - those essential skills are often neglected and volunteers are left untrained and uninformed."

And ... "what a wealth of knowledge and support Realtor AEs are to each other."  Judith is a wealth of knowledge and support!

Read her entire blog post here.

What I know for sure is there are hundreds of things to learn or know as an association executive.  Judith's "most obvious lessons" are crucial ones.

3 Association Questions found at a Yard Sale

Prior to selling our house this week, we had a yard sale.  There are three questions we were asked by yard sale attendees that I believe are really relevant to association management too:

1.  Are the prices firm or flexible?  Clearly regular yard sale attendees like to know if there is flexibility in pricing.  I thought it was actually really easy for them to find out, just by asking.  Anytime you get a quote for anything, ask if it's "firm or flexible."  You might get a lower price just by asking.

2.  Do you have (fill in the blank)?  Several asked for very specific things they collect - such as glassware, vinyl records, and buttons.  It makes sense to always ask if someone has (fill in the blank) if you don't see it.  The best example is in meeting planning - if there is a special dessert, a type of sandwich, a buffet item, or even certain centerpieces you don't see anywhere in the meeting planner kit or banquet menus - ask if the facility has it or can do it.

3.  Would you sell (fill in the blank) for (fill in the blank)?  Someone asked to buy the lawnmower in our garage for a specific price.  We had not considered selling our lawnmower, but might have at a particular price.  If there is something you want to buy, make an offer to whoever has it - they might just say yes.  Or at least you'll know what price it would take for them to say yes.  For example, if you're at an event and would like to use or own something that organization has, offer to buy it.

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