By Jeff Falcusan
SOS Account Executive
For associations, the decision to contract with an association management company (AMC) can be driven by a number of factors. Regardless of their underlying motivations, however, all associations that choose to partner with an AMC rightfully insist upon receiving a return on their investment. As the AMC Institute points out, associations that embrace the AMC model can expect realize a number of benefits, including:
- Improved staffing and resource allocation
- Proven best management practices and access to best-of-class resources and technologies
- Efficiencies derived from leveraging shared resources
- Improved buying power
- Reduced business risks
- Greater member satisfaction resulting from the professionalism and responsiveness of staff
- Scalability to accommodate organization growth
The AMC Institute also highlights another critically important benefit: “Freedom from daily operations that allows Boards to maintain their focus on mission and strategy.” At SOS, we often come across organizations that are seeking additional capacity after years spent relying upon volunteers (typically Board members and committee chairs) for the performance of key functions, including event planning, membership recruitment, database management, and marketing and communications.
When a trade association’s leaders are required to devote significant time and energy to the organization’s operations, there is often little time left for those leaders to do what leaders should do: exercise leadership. After all, many if not most of those leaders are distinguished professionals with full-time jobs, and the responsibilities that go along with those positions. Entering into a relationship with an association management company like SOS can free up Board members and organizational leaders to devote their limited and valuable time to addressing higher-level organizational priorities, including advancing strategic initiatives and building new partnerships.
That benefit seems especially relevant today. There is no doubt that 2020 has already been an unprecedented year, with no shortage of crises for associations to navigate and overcome. With an AMC in place to manage day-to-day administrative and operational responsibilities, an association’s leaders are in a better position to meet the challenges of the moment while advancing the organization’s mission.
Here is one powerful example: Our client, the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA), came to SOS due to a desire to shift the focus of its volunteer leadership away from administrative functions so that leaders could devote more energy to advancing policy goals. By way of background, NPhA was founded in 1947 by Dr. Chauncey I. Cooper during a period in our nation’s history when minority medical professionals were often barred from joining established professional associations. Today, NPhA remains dedicated to representing the views and ideals of minority pharmacists on critical issues affecting health care and pharmacy, as well as advancing the standards of pharmaceutical care among all practitioners.
With administrative staff support in place, NPhA’s leadership was able to focus its attention quickly on advancing policy objectives at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In April, the association pushed for and secured a seat at the table as a consortium of 12 national pharmacy organizations came together to develop and issue a set of recommendations aimed at federal policymakers. These recommendations focused on granting additional authorities and removing existing barriers in order to empower pharmacists, who are front-line medical providers, to do more for their patients while easing the burden COVID-19 has placed on the nation’s health care system. Working together, NPhA and its partner organizations have secured important policy concessions from various agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which later in April authorized licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, our nation has recently been engaged in an overdue reckoning with systemic racial inequality. Given the historical reasons for its own founding, NPhA has a long history working to combat the effects of racism, particularly in the provision of health care, and its voice must be heard. At the same time, NPhA’s president, Dr. Lakesha Butler, understood the importance of securing public pledges to oppose racial injustice from other national organizations that have not previously devoted sufficient attention to the issue. To that end, Dr. Butler led the development of a joint statement in which national pharmacy organizations committed to taking specific actions to address health care disparities and work against racism, discrimination, and social injustice. Thanks to the work of Dr. Butler and NPhA’s leadership, a total of fourteen national organizations signed the joint statement.
All of the credit for these recent achievements belongs to NPhA’s leaders. Our contributions have been modest, but at SOS we can still take tremendous pride in knowing that by simply providing excellent support services, we gave our client exactly what they had hoped to receive by partnering with us: increased time and opportunity to rise above administrative responsibilities and provide leadership in areas where that leadership can make a meaningful and lasting difference.