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A HUGE Thank You From Us To You For #EngageAssn

The refrain of Dido’s song Thank You was playing in the background… ♫♪ "Thank you for the best day of my life…" ♫♪

And it was a great couple of days in Ottawa last week as the Greenfield Services team concluded its second annual Engaging Associations Forum.

Apologies for the sentimentality of all this, but our need to express gratitude is significant.  This event brought together over 100 senior association executives, meeting professionals, speakers and partners.  They gathered at the Ottawa Marriott for a heartfelt exchange on the subject of engagement and management of non-profit organizations.  We welcomed 50% more association executives compared to last year, with true coast-to-coast coverage as we welcomed participants from BC and PEI, Alberta, Ontario and Québec.

What was also most gratifying is that almost one-third of participants who had joined us for the inaugural event in 2014 deemed it such a great conference that they returned again this year.

Event hosts Doreen Ashton Wagner and Meagan Rockett, and the entire team, wish to acknowledge the following amazing partners:
  • The Loulou Lounge Furniture Rental and chic & swell creative meetings and events team of Carole Saad, Cathy Montopoli and Rebecca Trafford, for helping us create a unique and welcoming environment where participants felt at ease to exchange and connect.
  • Robert Thompson, Alex Zubair and the technicians at AV Canada, not only for equipment and expertise, but also for their patience and support in working with a constantly changing scenario, complete with impromptu audience participation and Catchboxes being thrown around.
  • Lisanne Bourassa of Consensus Meeting Planning, for your energy and unrelenting attention to all the little details, because true engagement is ALL about the details!
  • Rachel Stephan of sensov event marketing who supported us with our website and who, in spite of a family emergency, found the time to tape a heartfelt challenge that got our audience talking during an engaging Meetings & Events session.
  •  Travel Alberta’s Jennifer Holly, and her dynamic team of partners (Banff, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer), who supported our vision for a second year in a row.  They know the true meaning of partnership because they allowed us to take risks and create an event like no other, dedicated to association executives.
  • Lorie Blackwell and Susan Saganski of Marriott International, along with the wonderful team at the Ottawa Marriott, from the General Manager, Sales, Banquet and Kitchen Teams.  You rolled out the figurative red carpet for us!  Your surprises were delightful, and you made us look good to all our participants.
  • Kelly MacDonald-Hill of Speakers’ Spotlight, thank you for bringing us the leadership insights of our opening keynote speaker, Jill Birch.  You both helped us realize how relational leadership is the foundation of everything we do.
  •  Lee-Anne Leckie, CMP of The International Centre in Toronto, you proved that you live your values of creativity and sustainability by agreeing to work with us so we could facilitate the conversation amongst non-profit organizational leaders.
  •  A passionate, lifelong learner herself, Brenda Howes of The Howes Group helped us connect with Dr. Susan Phillips, of the Master’s and Diploma programs in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Carleton University.  She is a connector and a trusted partner.
  • To our wonderful transportation partners, Lori Wagner of Porter Airlines and Kim Morissette of VIA Rail.  The fact that you guys collaborated with us is already amazing; but that you also work together makes this one of the best examples of “coopetition” we could ever find.
  •  ASI and Canadian representative Andrew Sherwin, thank you for demystifying the metrics of engagement and for providing extra value to our participants by giving them your book The Association CEO’s Guide to Improving Organizational Performance.
  • To Allan Isfan and Marie-Louise Doyle at MyEventApps, thank you for teaming up with us.  We appreciate your patience as we focused on face-to-face engagement at this event, and look forward to learning more about how we can increase engagement even further with our ubiquitous mobile devices.

And finally to our wonderful suppliers:

o    Louis Buschman of EventDawn for your wonderful Catchbox microphones;
o    Dean McGee of Xibita for the tradeshow booth that became our A-Ha Wall;
o    And Gary Taylor of for your super-duper magnetic name badges!

The dates for the Engaging Associations Forum 2016 will be announced later this fall!

5 Ways To Increase Sponsor Value

Companies get approached all the time to invest in various sponsorships.  Budgets do not allow them to participate in every opportunity that crosses their desk, and they have to pick and choose who they decide to partner with.  

Sponsors are constantly on the search for events that will showcase them in the best light:  providing exclusive access to participants, in unique ways, and are looking for partners who truly understand that ROI needs to be received on both sides of the relationship.

What could you do to better engage your potential sponsors?  Here are a few suggestions:  

  1. Engage your members:  And then, advise your sponsors.  Get to know your members, how they want to be communicated with by your sponsors, and then share the information in advance.  Your sponsors will be better prepared to remain relevant.  In turn, they will obtain the respect of your membership base, and become more effective in their communication practices.
  2. Tell your sponsors about the unique marketing opportunity:  Whether your potential sponsors are looking to partner with you for B2B or B2C purposes, demonstrate that you know your membership base (and their business) – via research, or testimonials. Sponsors want the details - are they an influencer/decision-maker, how they want to be communicated with, and what their buying cycles look like.  Just offering visibility or industry recognition no longer justifies spend. 
  3. Become a Partner:  Do not just ask for a cheque.  That is not a partnership.  Associations with successful partnerships provide access to their members.  Sponsors are able to directly communicate with them (which is why your research is key).  By becoming a partner with the companies you are looking to have sponsor/exhibit, you should focus on their success.  This can easily be done by offering value – help them track their ROI with tracking tools, reporting and member feedback.
  4. Become your sponsor’s voice:  Your members will listen to you.  Whether you are sending an e-newsletter, or through social media, you are in the unique position to be leveraging your sponsor’s ability to solve problems – whether through a product offering, time-enhancing solution, or through research that they have done that will benefit your membership.  Associations should be offering to share content through their various channels.
  5. Help them build relationships:  Being present is very important to sponsors.  And it goes well beyond the conference.  Add value to your marketing plan by offering to introduce the sponsor to your chapters, join a committee, or attend local events.  

Working to engage and develop personal, meaningful relationships is time consuming...what else are you doing to increase value?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at 

5 Ways to Engage Members

Many association executives pose the question “How do I engage my members in a meaningful way?”  The following are five ways that are relatively inexpensive and not overly time-consuming to start implementing now:

  • Maintain a blog:  Every association should have a blog that addresses key issues, provides opinions, and offers expert advice for their industry.  Your communications department likely works diligently to put together a newsletter monthly that is distributed to your membership.  But only those on the distribution list have the opportunity to read it, and the majority is likely not reading every installment.  What if you took your content created for the newsletter and re-purposed it for your blog?
  • Show off the stars:  Start a member of the month (or, week) program.  Advise your community about what they have done to earn the spot (through their volunteerism or research for the industry for example).  Have a spot on your website home page that showcases the member; and link it back to your blog for a full article.  Get your members involved once the program is up and running by starting an nomination process.
  • Educate them:  On their time.  In many cases, the professional development programming is solely focused around a big conference.  Keeping programming for your conference is OK, but many of your members will not be able to attend.  Having regular webinars to help increase the chances of your members gaining their required credits, or just news regarding your industry, is a great way to keep them informed.

    It can also be a new potential source of revenue for the organization – making them available on demand for purchase by your community can drive revenue to your organizations bottom line.
  • Push the envelope:  After inviting your community to join you online in either a public social media platform or private online community, start posting questions to get people talking.  It is a great way to get your network talking to each other, sharing ideas, opinions and articles of relevance.
  • Use video:  Everyone likes watching videos, and you could incorporate this into your engagement strategy for many aspects within your organization.  Your conference delegates, exhibitors and sponsors could be on video talking about your events and why they are a wonderful way to network and educate, your Executive Director could have a monthly vlog that is only available in the members-only section of your website (or, on a private online community).  
Need help with your engagement program?  From consulting on strategy, devising a plan to implementation, we can help!  For more information please contact Meagan Rockett, Director of Client Solutions at 613-288-4517, or

#PlanHybrid Sponsorship & Marketing Refresh FREE Webinar July 30

Do you wonder each year how to make your event dollar stretch just a little further? For many events, sponsorship is the lifeblood that allows the event to happen.  But the sponsorship landscape is changing dramatically and it’s no longer sufficient to have the usual “metals level” (gold-silver-bronze) sponsorship program.  Learn from our experts how they created rock star sponsorship programs for their clients and how you can do the same for your organization.

At the end of the session, attendees will be able to:

  • How to attract potential sponsors when there are 2 audiences.
  • Understand how sponsorship can grow your event.
  • Design a sponsorship program that appeals to the new realities of the marketplace
  • Gain new sponsorship ideas.
  • Learn how to better recognize sponsors in this digital era.

Interested in attending?  Register here.

Webinar Speakers:

Justin Gonzales, Marketing Communications Manager, DoubleDutch

Justin Gonzalez manages marketing communications for DoubleDutch, the leading provider of mobile event apps. At DoubleDutch Justin creates disruptive communications strategies that drive business results by leveraging the power of marketing technologies. Utilizing social media, advertising, content and automation tools, he is passionate about creating engaging digital experiences that connect consumers to brands in ways that build strong relationships and loyalty.

Doreen Ashton Wagner, Greenfield Services Inc.

Doreen is the Chief Strategist and Co-Founder of Greenfield Services Inc., an association management and business development firm dedicated to the needs of membership-based organizations and the meetings industry.

Located in Alexandria, ON – half-way between Ottawa and Montreal – the company’s clients include the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners, the Hotel Association of Canada, and the Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada.  Greenfield helps meeting and event professionals with Event Marketing, Exhibit & Sponsor Sales, and Engagement Programs.

In addition, Doreen and her team produce unique research and events exclusively for association executives.  For three consecutive years their Pulse Report benchmarked the membership marketing and engagement practices of Canadian Associations.  In July the company will be hosting its second annual Engaging Associations Forum, a thought-leadership conference designed to elevate the education level and facilitate conversations between association peers.

Fully bilingual, Doreen graduated Cum Laude from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She has been President of two Chapters of Meeting Professionals International, in Toronto and Ottawa.  In 2013 Doreen was inducted into the M&IT Hall of Fame as Industry Innovator.  Before creating Greenfield Services Inc. 17 years ago, she was Vice President of Marketing for The Sutton Place Grande Hotels Group, and held varied sales positions with Inter-Continental Hotels, Four Seasons, Park Plaza, and the Château Laurier Hotel.

Mahoganey Leigh Jones, CMP, DES

Mahoganey Jones is a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with proven success in planning meetings and events that boost revenues and increase brand awareness. She founded Event Specialists in 2004 to help associations, government departments, and private companies to become strategic in the production of their meetings and events. From program development and accreditation to the logistics and execution, Mahoganey is able to efficiently manage all aspects of various size events. Through research and creativity, she successfully began producing hybrid events in 2012 to meet the demands of her clients. Mahoganey currently sits on the PCMA Canada East     Chapter's Education Committee and the Canadian Innovation Conference powered by PCMA's Planning Committee.

#Engageassn is around the corner - register NOW!

For the second consecutive year, the Engaging Associations Forum will create an environment where association executives have the opportunity for a true dialogue on the issues that keeps them up at night, foster learning and the exchange of ideas for the next generation of association, the association of the future.

Why?  Because things need to change.

If you have not yet registered, take a look at the program outline.  It will be an event not to be missed!

Technology: How are you keeping up with the technological advancements that impact your association?  Have you joined the #mobilesocial revolution? Or do you find that you’re barely able to keep pace?  Join former association exec and self-described geek Jim Spellos as he reviews what’s new and way cool in technology – from websites to critical augmented reality tools.

Sponsorship: Association business models are shifting and some see membership dues as an obsolete practice.  Where does this leave sponsorship?  Beyond the traditional "metal levels" what do sponsors want before they open their wallets? Hear directly from sponsors such as Porter Airlines’ Lori Wagner, Travel Alberta’s Jenn Holly and Sponsorship Consultant Ted Wagstaff; ask questions and see how your sponsorship program measures up!

Ubers of Associations: In less than three years, Uber – the car-hailing start-up – went from 0 to 160,000+ drivers and a valuation of $41 billion. Regardless of whether we view it a threat or an opportunity, this company is a disruptor. So what are the Ubers of the association world? It’s a question that Dr. Susan Phillips of Carleton University has asked in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Get ready for a lively discussion!

Meetings & Events: Associations view meetings and events as prime opportunities to engage members, sponsors and other stakeholders. How can an association build anticipation and grow their event attendance all while harnessing the power of face-to-face engagement once onsite in order to enhance and prolong the event experience year-round? Rachel Stephan of sensov / event marketing shares proven engagement techniques from her work with national meetings like CIM Convention and international congresses such as the World Congress of Biomaterials and World Congress of Food Science and Technology.

The Association of the Future: The world is changing so quickly, who can predict the future anymore?  Success in the future may be less about prediction and more about sharing and capitalizing on information now to be clear on what the future may hold. Mark Thompson of McKinley Solutions leads us through an innovative group exercise: edgecrafting, where the power of what we know now collectively can help us prepare individually for the future.

Join us July 23-24 at the Ottawa Marriott!

Do You Want to Be An Engaging #Association Executive?

For the second consecutive year, the Engaging Associations Forum will create an environment where association executives have the opportunity for a true dialogue on the issues that keeps them up at night, foster learning and the exchange of ideas for the next generation of association, the association of the future.

Why?  Because things need to change.

If you have not yet registered, take a look at the program outline.  It will be an event not to be missed!

Sustainable Leadership: Is a leader a position, or is a leader a person? Much of the thinking today about leadership is often about what needs to happen and who needs to make it happen. What we now know, however, is that a fundamental shift is required to think about how the work gets done. Presented by Jill Birch, this interactive and experiential keynote session will show rather than just tell leaders about new ways to think about their leadership.

Storytelling: The Professional Golfers' Association of Canada has implemented a unique program to leverage the unique skills of volunteers, board members and even staff, overcoming challenges and maximizing the association's success. Gary Bernard, CEO, PGA of Canada and Mark Thompson of McKinley Solutions share their experience.

Marketing & Communications: The corporate world is all-abuzz about branding and “living up to a brand.” But what are we talking about, really? How does this apply to member-based, not-for-profit organizations and engagement? Speech-Language and Audiology Canada CEO Joanne Charlebois leads the conversation with her experience – the risks and rewards – of re-branding an established association.

Strategy & Change: A “Fireside Chat” between strategy consultant Meredith Low and two association executives who have successfully navigated significant organizational change, each in their own way: Alison Dantas, Canadian Chiropractic Association and Mary Ann Rangam, Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Want more info?  Check out the full program and other details here.  Or, just join us!  Register today, there are only a few spots left for the Engaging Associations Forum, July 23-24, 2015 at the Ottawa Marriott!

Qualities of a Board Member

Back in 2012, The NonProfit Times published an article on the 7 Important Qualities of Board Members, as follows:

Integrity: Demonstrating a zero tolerance for unethical behavior, both for themselves and their colleagues.

Independence: Having no unique business, financial or personal relationships — or hoped-for-relationships — that create even the perception of a conflict of interest.

Mature Confidence: Speaking out and actively participating in board and committee deliberations.

Corporate Manners: Recognizing the difference between productively participating in discussions and counter-productively dominating deliberations through the volume or length of comments. Must be able to work with other members to create workable compromises.

A Sense of Context: Making relevant, informed comments focused on the specific aspect of the issue being considered. Must be able to stay on topic.

Courage: Willingness to do the right thing/make the right decision even if it is difficult or unpopular (i.e., no fence sitting).

Commitment: Understanding that being an effective board member requires the time, the heart, and the standards to make the enterprise successful.

Do you agree with these?  Are any missing?  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at