Staying Compliant While Remaining Relevant: The Importance of Continuing Education
One undeniable benefit of association membership is the opportunity for members to obtain continuing education at free or reduced cost. Particularly in the medical profession, continuing education is a non-negotiable requirement for many professionals to remain licensed in their fields.

Continuing medical education (CME or CE) opportunities are available in a variety of platforms. Agentis staff members are well versed in the benefits, preparation process, and execution of the following:
  • Live conferences in various formats, including symposia, practicum, lectures, and roundtable discussion.
  • Virtual, live opportunities. Webinars are perhaps the most accessible and popular CE activity format. Participants can earn CE from the comfort of their homes or offices by attending a live webinar online. They are given the opportunity to ask questions of the speaker to ensure a truly interactive experience.
  • Enduring materials, which are non-live CE activities that endure over time. Popular formats of enduring materials include podcasts, satellite broadcasts, monographs, and DVDs. Enduring materials allow the learning experience to take place at the convenience of the participant.
Agentis staff members are prepared to oversee all continuing education requirements of their clients. They ensure that all conditions are met for each activity, while writing grant applications and securing sponsorships for funding when needed. Following each activity, certification materials are sent to all participants and current records of all activities are securely kept on file, meeting all obligations to the CE provider.

We understand the significance of these activities to our professional members, and work to ensure that each continuing education application and activity will be seamless from start to finish.
Non-Dues Revenue and Mission Creep
Mission Creep: The gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization.

As associations continue the ever increasing quest for consistent non-dues revenue streams, boards and executive staff must also keep in mind potential unintended consequences. Embracing the ethos of an entrepreneurial nonprofit organization can bring significant benefits. However strategic challenges can arise if an association drifts from its original calling.

From a strategic-operational perspective, highly entrepreneurial associations can sometimes unintentionally lessen operational focus on essential directives, promoting the organizational mission and serving the needs of its membership. Of course, associations rarely make a conscious determination to take their “eye off the ball”. Rather, each successful new revenue stream comes with temptations to modulate organizational priorities. Just as long-term military engagements seek to avoid mission creep in theaters of battle, associations, even as the necessary work of becoming less membership dues reliant continues, must resolve to maintain their primary focus — the reason(s) for which they were formed. The consequences of not doing so can be the alienation of members, stakeholders and constituencies.

An additional consequence of revenue driven mission creep is the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT). Enacted in 1950 to prevent nonprofits from having a competitive advantage over for profit entities, the UBIT taxes income that derives from activities not related to a nonprofit’s basic exempt activities. The baseline for gross income generated by non-exempt activities is $1000. Income which rises beyond that level may be taxed at a corporate rate.

The key to avoiding revenue driven mission creep is to continuously assess strategic goals and objectives and to cultivate priorities, both financial and non-financial, through the prism of those core values.

At Agentis, we serve our clients by focusing on mission driven processes and developing creative solutions that translate values into action.

Increase Member Engagement with Webinars
Associations are often expected to provide educational opportunities for its members, often through in-person meetings. As these typically occur only once or twice a year, other learning options should be considered to continue member engagement throughout the year.

Webinars are a cost-effective way to provide educational content to your members. A monthly or bi-weekly webinar series can not only keep your current membership involved in your association in between in-person meetings, but also attract potential new members. The only costs to consider are typically incurred by the webinar platform itself.

Content can be developed by experts already within the association, or by vendor partners. Partnering companies are often eager to engage with your members, but it is important to prevent the webinar content from straying too far from educational territory and into self-promotion. You may also have the option to provide continuing education credit for your webinars. And, at the completion of the webinar, recordings can be archived on your association's website, providing valuable content to offer your members.
Public Policy: How To Choose a Lobbying Partner
There may come a time when you will need to consider partnering with a lobbying firm to advance your professional agenda. While a great deal of progress can be made with an active and vocal membership, it is often most effective to employ an expert in the field of Government Affairs to help navigate and target your efforts. They can act as a force multiplier, leveraging an already active membership base to achieve policy goals. These professionals often possess a great deal of behind the scenes experience on both sides of public policy, both advocating for and helping to enact it. Their experience in tracking a developing legislative issue can be invaluable in determining where to focus the efforts of an association’s grassroots activism.

When it comes time to do the research and make your decision, an AMC can be invaluable in helping narrow down the pool of eligible lobbying firms as well as crafting an RFP that distinctly outlines the expectations for both parties. Many AMCs, such as Agentis Management, have their own Government Affairs staff that have experience with lobbyists at both the state and federal level, and can help in the selection process. Having specialized staff working directly for your AMC allows for a more efficient distribution of the workload and allows the association's Board of Directors to focus on strategic objectives. Meanwhile, the lobbying team can perform at the tactical level.