Continued Insight on Communicating Targets During the Financial Planning Process

This week we have some continued insight to guide you through the financial planning process for associations, and help improve your skills when communicating targets. 

So What/Do What

Throughout the planning process, do your best to provide some line of sight between the targets being communicated, and the work that people are doing every day. The communication must make it plain to each and every person why they should care, and what, if anything they can do about it.

The Importance

Your communication must answer these questions:

  • Why is it important that we achieve these targets?
  • Will something bad happen if we don’t achieve them?
  • Will something good happen if we do achieve them.
  • How will that affect me personally?

The Accountability

Who is accountable for achieving the targets? Many people may have a responsibility to do their part to reach these targets, however it should be clear who is ultimately on the hook for their failure or success.

The Plan

Most importantly, the communication should tell everyone what plans are in place to address each specific target. Be sure to point out any gaps in the plan, or where future planning will be needed.




Communicating Targets During the Financial Planning Process

A major component of an association’s financial planning process is target setting. Targets have the ability to inspire an entire organization, and how they are set up can have as much of an impact on people as the targets themselves. Whether or not the targets will be successfully executed depends on how well they are communicated.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when communicating targets:


The numbers have to be crystal clear. This is the time to avoid ambiguity or confusion about the workings of an organization. The only thing worse than not communicating targets is communicating targets that confuse the foot soldiers about what is truly important.


The communication of targets (especially the high level, strategic ones) is a relatively top-down exercise. However, staff and managers deserve to understand the context with which the targets were created. People will be more inclined to buy-in and get behind the targets when they understand the thinking behind those targets.


Consider the Audience

Depending on the audience (highly educated or not, blue collar, white collar, internal or external), and how they are positioned will make a big difference in communicating targets well.  

The Spokesperson

Who the communication comes from tells people a lot about the level of importance to the association. Divisional level targets should be communicated by the head of the division or region, whereas high level, strategic targets should be communicated to the whole organization by the CEO or ED.

Stay tuned for more insight into improving target communication skills.

Two More Essential Principles for International Success

Last week The Planning Group’s Peter Wright gave us some expert advice for association professionals travelling abroad. This week we have two more important tips to help you avoid making these mistakes on your next trip!

Do – Notice patterns and modify your strategy.

“There have been times when I’ve started think that whenever the French are involved, my projects tend to go sideways, but that isn’t really true and starts to become an excuse.” It’s important to step away from stereotypes and look at the bigger picture. “Better yet, think about patterns or trends you have seen dealing with particular cultures and work modifications and mitigating strategies into your approach.”




Do – Above all, stay true to your ethics.

“We all know someone who has been entertained a little too much by a client the night before a big sales presentation. I myself have firmly said no to a client when a fun night of Karaoke in China ended with an offer that conflicted with my values.”

Although it is important to try to experience the local business and cultural practices as much as possible, the old adage ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans’ only works to an extent. Whenever you are presented with a situation that goes against your ethics, stay true to yourself and your values.


Essential Principles for Navigating Cultural Differences & Language Barriers for International Success

Association expert Peter Wright from The Planning Group has some practical advice for association professionals travelling abroad. In 2007 Peter’s international endeavours heated up and as a result, he now works with clients in over 20 countries around the world.

With experience comes knowledge and Peter has shared some of the principles that he has developed over the years. “I’ve made some mistakes but I’ve learned a lot about doing business outside of North America. My clients all struggle with the same fundamental planning and execution issues: How do we add value? Where do we want to be in the future? How do we get there?”




These are a few of the successful principles Peter has developed along the way:

Don’t assume that other cultures are homogenous.

From a North American perspective, it is natural to want to treat other countries as one big culture that differs from our own. China for example, has many cultures, languages, and practices that vary from one Province to another. So this assumption is not only culturally insensitive but will lead to faulty business decisions for your organization.

Don’t equate English fluency with intelligence.

This can be easy to forget when a meeting is being conducted in English where English is the second language. Remember that if someone’s English skills are not very strong, chances are they probably speak more languages than you!

Don’t gravitate to the best English speaker in the room.

In any country this will likely come off as disrespectful. There may be situations where the most junior people at a meeting or a dinner have the strongest English skills … and the association’s president does not. As a foreign guest be aware of how much time you spend with each person. Treat client interactions similarly to how you would in North America, and set language barriers aside.

Don’t be upset if people don’t always speak English around you.

“Admittedly, there were times I felt offended when a room (or car) full of people all spoke as if I wasn’t there! My advice is to think about the situation from their perspective. If we had a German visitor at a meeting here, would we all try to speak German?” Just remember that you are visiting them, and the world doesn’t always work in English.


How does your association prepare its staff for traveling over seas? What are some of the principles you have developed for interacting with clients from other countries?



Associations Can Learn from Great Media Campaigns

How does one come up with compelling keywords and hash tags that will attract notice and eventually go viral? The answer, of course, is to learn from previous successful campaigns.

This blog has already featured a post about how social media engagement is crucial for associations and nonprofits. Given how often people from all generations now use popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it only makes sense to target potential participants and donors through these channels.

But for those organizations that have never attempted such a campaign before, the prospect can be daunting. How does one come up with compelling keywords and hashtags that will attract notice and eventually go viral? The answer, of course, is to learn from previous successful campaigns.

A recent post on Nonprofit Hub featured stories about the four best nonprofit social media campaigns that were launched in 2013. Among them was a particularly creative effort by UNICEF to spread awareness of polio, which has been eradicated in the Western world but still plagues some third-world countries. The post told readers to “like us on Facebook and we will vaccinate zero children against polio,” later noting that vaccines cost money and cannot be bought with likes. By going against readers’ expectations, it proved to be an effective call to action.

Another example was a campaign launched by the Red Cross, which participated in National Preparedness Month by promoting the hash tag #NPM13 on Twitter. It had already been floating around thanks to efforts by smaller organizations, but input from the Red Cross helped spread the word—as well as many helpful tips for disaster preparation.

It can be daunting for nonprofit organizations to embark on their first big social media campaign. Luckily, there are many training programs available that can help guide the way.

Association Social Media

How does one come up with compelling keywords and hashtags that will attract notice and eventually go viral? The answer, of course, is to learn from previous successful campaigns.