Doing the Impossible

by Beth Quick Andrews and Greg Brooks

“It is kind of fun to do the impossible!”

Anyone who has taken a Disney Institute training program knows this quote well…Walt Disney uttered these immortal words many years ago and they resonate as much today as they did back then.

At the onset of the pandemic, there were so many things that seemed impossible.  How are we going to work together, but remotely?  What do we need to do to protect our clients as we navigate event cancellations?  What are we going to do with all this office space?  What is the appropriate level of staffing to effectively meet client needs?  The list seemed endless and overwhelming.  Imagine if you were the Executive Director of a stand-alone association…what would you do?

Association Management Companies (AMC’s) are reporting an increase in the number of inquiries from stand-alone associations seeking virtual meeting expertise and other association management support. This demand appears to be driven by a number of factors related to the global pandemic and resulting economic impact. Many associations, especially those who rely heavily on conference and trade show revenue, are re-evaluating business models. A number of associations with limited resources or reserves have not filled open positions and, in some cases, have furloughed or laid-off staff.  They are deliberating what to do about their office leases.  They are negotiating future meeting contracts.

For AMC owners and staff, answering questions about how we would leverage our business model and expertise to do the impossible is nothing new—pandemic or not!  We are in a unique position to offer solutions to stand-alone associations who need flexible solutions to meet their needs.  Staffing can expand and contract as client needs dictate.  More importantly, AMCs are leaders in innovation, providing a testing ground for new ideas that may benefit multiple associations.  The risk is shared and the rewards are exponential.

Gregory Brooks, President of AMC Source, an AMC specializing in national and international professional societies, has noticed an increase in the number of stand-alone associations contacting his office for project work. “It is vital that associations continue to bring relevant value to stakeholders in order to thrive. The AMC Source team provides an adaptable and scalable solution that allows associations to deliver optimal results with the needed support on an outsourced and as-needed basis.” AMC Source is currently helping several new national association clients get through the crisis and recently on-boarded additional team members to meet this demand.

Beth Quick-Andrews, Partner at Q&A Business Solutions, noted “at the onset of the pandemic, it was imperative to help our clients and prospective clients focus on all that we CAN do instead of all the things we couldn’t do.”  This forward-focus enabled Beth and her team to seamlessly shift client meetings to virtual platforms without missing a beat.  This versatility has enabled them to take on virtual meeting production work from other small AMCs and stand-alone associations who did not have those technology resources readily available.

It is exactly these kinds of scenarios where an AMC can provide short-term or long-term solutions.  The AMC Model is flexible.  While many AMC Institute members provide full-service management, we also offer project-based services and flexible staffing on an hourly basis.  Staff specialists can be assigned to a client-association at an hourly rate or on a project basis to fit the needs of any budget. 

As AMC leaders, we have a terrific opportunity to be a ready-resource for stand-alone associations.  Ultimately, we partner with clients to ensure volunteer leaders are focused strategically on moving their association forward.  While none of us know what the future holds, leveraging what we CAN do really does make it kind of fun to do the impossible.

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