Making a staff or management change can be a daunting task, especially for a small association. Just the process of developing an RFP, fielding responses, evaluating the fit, and narrowing the field can tempt existing staff and tapped-out volunteer leaders to lose faith in all of humanity. I was reminded today how it really comes down to feeling the love. The pinkie promises made between an association and the people it hires to see them through thick and thin are a real thing. The relationship, after all, should last decades and result in not only business success but lifelong friendships.
A nonprofit must be thoughtful and painstaking when choosing their management company. Equally importantly, and sometimes not well understood is that the AMC, especially a small one like Nonprofit Resources, must very deliberately choose what sort of client it serves best. If one side or the other does not take into account the feel of it, then nothing else matters. The magic match is made up of more than age, appearance, branding, and sex appeal. It’s size too.
After a couple of decades serving small to medium-sized nonprofits, I became very deliberate about exactly who we wanted to work with. It didn’t take long to realize that a mega-association would require more than we could (or would want to) give. Just the though of staffing up to the max to serve a humongous nonprofit makes me want to stress-eat a pan of brownies.
Our company name was originally YES, LLC. Even though my intent in the company name was the feeling that “Yes, anything is possible” and “we are the make-it-happen people”, I rethought the name a couple of years ago. Looking back, I think YES may have sounded not just vague and non-descriptive, but a little desperate. A colleague suggested our new name be “MAYBE IF YOU’RE LUCKY”. Not bad, but a little cheeky, and still not very descriptive of what an AMC does. Over the years, I have discovered that in business, just as in dating, it pays to be choosy.
We prefer small associations because we value the intimacy, fun, and stability of a long-term relationship. We want to feel critically important to the client, just like they need to feel critically important to us. The commitment and bond between a small nonprofit and it’s small staff can be a beautiful thing. Through good times, and the inevitable challenges, there is a great tendency to desire to work it out. Tango on friends.