Archive for April, 2020

How Organizations Can Cope With the Financial Fallout of COVID-19

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Just weeks into mandatory stay-at-home orders, conference cancellations, and new laws requiring paid leave for coronavirus, many associations are wondering how to stay afloat financially. Two experts offer some tips.

Associations reeling from the economic impact of the coronavirus—from cancelled events to new sick and family medical leave requirements—are wondering what they can do to make sure their doors stay open. I spoke to two experts who offered some options.

Andrea Wilson, partner at BDO, an international accounting and tax advisory firm, said associations should look at their finances realistically and assess where they are and where they’re headed if the current trajectory holds.

“You have to ask the questions: What happens if we lose 20 percent of our funding, 30 percent, 40 percent?” Wilson said. “That way you can predict the impact on people. You know at what point we have to furlough, and you have identified in advance points when you have to act.”

How an association acts will depend on its individual finances. “I don’t think there is essentially one silver bullet for everyone,” Wilson said. “People in finance need to go through and do that contingency planning and ask questions like, Do you tap into the reserve?’”

Dipping into reserves has many variables, Wilson said, including investment allocations and expected financial need, which advisors can help the association understand. Wilson said it’s also important to understand how reserve access is structured at your association. “Does that require board approval?” she asked. “If so, how are you engaging your board throughout this process so that they are ready?”

In addition to association-based resources, the government has help. The newly passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act offers some benefits for associations. Jeffrey Tenenbaum, an attorney specializing in nonprofit law, created a resource sheet to help organizations understand which benefits they’re eligible for.

The most lucrative portion of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program, provides loans of up to $10 million that are forgivable if spent on operating costs, including payroll, rent or mortgage, utilities, and group health premiums. PPP is available to some businesses and 501(c)(3) organizations, but Tenenbaum noted that 501(c)(6) groups are ineligible for the program.

Since some 501(c)(6) associations have related foundations that file as a 501(c)(3), I asked Tenenbaum if those associations would be able to get a little relief by applying for a PPP forgivable loan to pay foundation staff. However, Tenenbaum said that’s generally not going to work. “Most associations that have a related foundation have all the rent, mortgage, payroll, group health in one entity—and it’s the association,” he said. If those expenses are housed in the 501(c)(6), PPP can’t be used.

However, if your association is a 501(c)(6), don’t panic. ASAE and other associations are calling on Congress to add more economic relief for associations. Within the CARES Act, there are a couple of options. If you need a quick hit of cash—even if it’s not a lot—apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance.

“That’s a $10,000 loan that does not have to be repaid if you spend it on paid leave, payroll, or paying economic obligations,” Tenenbaum said. “While it’s not huge, it’s certainly something.”

For longer term needs, look at Economic Injury Disaster Loans. “While it’s not as beneficial as the Paycheck Protection Program, most notably that the loans are not forgivable, it is still a very beneficial loan program,” Tenenbaum said. “You can get a loan up to $2 million.” The loan term is 30 years and interest rates are low: 2.75 percent for nonprofits.

In addition to the loan programs, the CARES Act also includes tax relief if an organization has not used PPP. The Employee Retention Tax Credit is a 50 percent tax credit for wages paid by the employer, up to $10,000 per employee. The CARES Act also allows employers to delay payroll taxes between now and Jan 1, 2021, and those taxes wouldn’t have to start being paid until December 2021.

Tenenbaum noted that there is concern these programs might run out of money, which is why he recommends applying as soon as possible.

What is your association doing to deal with the financial hurdles created by the coronavirus crisis? Please tell us in the comments.

The post How Organizations Can Cope With the Financial Fallout of COVID-19 appeared first on Associations Now.

Five Ways to Create Better Engagement During Virtual Events

Written by anijmeh on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

Taking your conference virtual doesn’t mean you have to lose the networking and interaction that occurs at your in-person events. Some ideas for building better online engagement. 

As more associations convert their in-person conferences into virtual ones due to COVID-19, many are concerned about the ability to replicate the interaction, networking, engagement, and hallway conversations that are staples of face-to-face events.

On an ASAE webcast earlier this week called “Tips and Tools for Creating and Awesome Virtual Event Experience,” the two presenters said it is definitely possible—you just need to be thoughtful and creative.

Here are five ideas that 360 Live Media Director of Experience Design Beth Surmont, CMP, CAE, and Matchbox Virtual Cofounder and CEO Arianna Rehak shared during the webinar:

Prepare your speakers. “It is extremely difficult to present to nobody,” Surmont said. “A lot of speakers feed off their audience. So, the first time you present to no one, it is very strange experience and it can throw people off.” That means associations need to talk to their presenters about what to expect—and also what they can do to deliver the best experience to attendees. If they’ll be on video, that includes having a clean background (“think newcasts,” she said), wearing clothing that is not distracting, and having front lighting.

Get your audience ready too. “It’s very important to bring a specific level of intention to your virtual event to help your audience understand how they can have the best experience,” Surmont said. Tell them how to engage. “For example, submit your questions here. Raise your hand this way,” she said.

Surmont  suggested thinking of engagement through four dimensions: physical, physiological, intellectual, and emotional. For the physical dimension, for example, consider where people are participating from and offer tips on how they can create the best environment for themselves: “Keep your door closed, or put a sign on your door so you won’t be disturbed,” Surmont said.

Build a virtual environment that’s conducive to conversation. “While pre-recording sessions often gets a bad rap,” Rehak said, doing so allows speakers to engage actively in the conversation that is going on while attendees are watching their session. “The speakers love this by the way,” she said. “They are seeing their content come to life.”

If you do go this route, Rehak recommends having chat animators who “create a positive conversational environment that signals to other that they can join,” she said. “That can be as simple as being the first to say, ‘Hey, really excited to be here and get started.’ That will set the right tone.”

Host virtual roundtable discussions. “If you want attendees to dive into a specific topic, you may want to consider video chat breakout rooms,” Rehak said. “It’s really a way for folks to meaningfully connect with one another.”

To make this happen, have a designated facilitator in each room so the conversation stays focused and gets people talking. If your association is unable to provide multiple facilitators, Rehak suggest supplying each room with a list of guiding questions. “You want to give them a sense of purpose around their interaction together,” she said.

Offer a little bit of fun between sessions. Create moments between sessions that capture people’s attention. For example, you can provide additional content during breaks, such as meditation or a trivia game. Or if you have awards to present, consider playing short videos of the winners. “Really, the world is your oyster in terms of that you can offer attendees during these breaks,” Rehak said.

What ideas have you implemented for introducing engagement and conversation during your virtual events? Please share in the comments.

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