February 16, 2015
I am contacting you today to give you a status update on where the ADAA is in regard to the transition it is making in its management. I would also like to try to shed some additional light on the reasons why the association needed to make a transition at this time. Please know that it was not an easy decision for any of us, and it was difficult to say goodbye to people with whom we had worked for years.
In the summer and fall of 2014, ADAA conducted an organizational and governance review to help us better serve our members in a more efficient and effective way. As we progressed through the review, we also received the audited data necessary to study our financial performance for the fiscal year 2013. Results of our organizational review and financial reports from our auditor led us to the realization that an immediate and urgent threat existed with regards to our association’s financial stability. We were experiencing trends in our cash flow that indicated that we would not continue to be in existence past the first quarter of 2015 if we chose to continue in the manner we were currently working. In a nutshell, we could no longer afford to retain our current staff, stay in the current office space, and employ an Executive Director.
In the fall of 2014, an Ad-hoc Committee for Association Transition (consisting of experienced and talented ADAA members) and the ADAA Executive Committee thoroughly and diligently worked day in and day out analyzing data and all options as to how to manage the association. Individuals on the ad hoc committee contacted outside resources, consulted independent attorneys, consulted real estate experts, and obtained advice from independent financial professionals. Their final recommendation was brought before the entire Board of Trustees for consideration. That recommendation was to engage an association management firm to work with ADAA, specifically Solutions for Associations (SFA). This firm had already been working with ADAA on the organizational review and already had a strong understanding of the association and its challenges and its needs.
The committee and the Board understood that Central Office staff and our office space would not be retained if final approval was given to retain SFA to manage the Association. It was a very emotional decision to make as we felt very strong ties to our loyal staff, but ultimately, we all understood that the association truly had no other choice at this point. We had to do what was necessary to preserve the association.
The ADAA was fortunate to find SFA. We were happy to learn that SFA has an excellent reputation and an excellent track record in helping associations that have found themselves in similar situations to ours. SFA came highly recommended by the ADAA auditor and by various other associations. Also, by engaging SFA to manage our association, ADAA would gain additional qualified staff while at the same time realize a significant cost savings to the association of over $330,000 in normal operating expenses. This adds to the opportunities for ADAA’s future success.
Have you had an opportunity to speak with any of the new ADAA office staff yet? We urge you to do so as they are in place and ready to serve. If you have any needs with regards to your membership status or any of the membership services provided by ADAA, please call us at our toll free number: 877-874-3785.
However, we are also still facing many issues.
SFA started officially acting as our central office on January 19, 2015. When the firm started working with us, we were struggling with significant backlogs in dues processing and other issues with member services. In late December, our website began malfunctioning and the diagnosis was that the program code and server were outdated, lacking sufficient capacity, and failing (over 12 years old). Luckily, we had already made the decision in early November to engage a company to develop a new ADAA website and association management system for us so that was already in the works.
Since SFA started working with us, adaa1.com is back up temporarily and has a current security certificate, but because of errors in the code and challenges with the old server, members still cannot update existing credit card information on the site. Given the projected cost to fix the aging site, and given that SFA is already working with a company that is programming a new site for us, ADAA has made the business decision to manage the system as best we can in anticipation of a new website going live in early March. This new site will integrate our member database, our on-line store, and our on-demand continuing education under “one roof”. Among other things, it will allow our members to track their continuing education on their own personal dashboards. It will also help them keep track of external education they receive. It will have an on-line Member Directory to help our members network with each other. We are very much looking forward to the new website.
SFA staff has been diligently working on the backlog of membership renewals, and they are answering individual member requests to view CE at member rates even though their data are not updated yet. SFA hopes to have the data caught up in mid-to-late February. Once the data are input, membership cards, pins, plaques, etc., will begin to be distributed again. Please note that in the interim, members can print their own cards and certificates on www.adaa1.com under the “Member Card” selection.
Following is a partial summary list of what is happening to help our members and meet their expectations of what the association should be doing for them.
(1) We are developing an entirely new website with an association management system – as stated earlier we hope to have that completed and launched in early March.
(2) We are entering the backlog of dues payments - we hope to be done with that in mid-to-late February.
(3) After we are caught up with data entry, we will send a second dues mailing for those members not yet renewed for 2015.
(4) We are responding to many, many calls from members about their dues payments.
(5) What is happening with continuing education (CE)? Due to the state of adaa1.com: (a) members who have paid and who had their payment posted before early to mid-December can view their CE as they always have; (b) for those who paid and did not have their payment posted, once the payments have been posted, they will be fine; and for those who need to take their CE immediately, we have a “workaround” to allow them to see all their CE for free (as members should be able to), but that workaround requires members to contact the office and have staff manually update a setting in the database to let them view CE at the member rate until their payment is posted; (c) for non-members who want to take CE, if they want to use existing credit card information on the site, it is our understanding they can interact with the site as they always have. If non-members want to change their credit card information on the site or have not been on the site before, they must contact the office, and staff can manually charge their credit card and then manually update the non-member profile record to allow them to take the CE.
(6) Will the ADAA be holding its Annual Session in Washington, DC in November as expected? ADAA will have a presence at ADA 2015 with its education program, thanks to funding provided by the ADAA Foundation. However, at this time it cannot be determined if the Annual Session of the ADAA will be held in conjunction with the 2015 ADA meeting or another option will be necessary. As previously stated, the board must make choices that serve to preserve the viability of the association. We know our members would not want us to make decisions to spend tens of thousands of dollars based solely on tradition. We must make decisions that preserve the financial well-being of the association. A final decision shall be forthcoming shortly after the first quarter of this current fiscal year.
The ADAA Board of Trustees would like you to know that we are excited about the future as we begin working with our new management partners. We ask our members to please be patient with our new administrative team as they learn about us and they help us determine new and better ways of doing things. They have already helped us immeasurably in their first several weeks with the association and we are expecting great things for the ADAA as we continue working with them in the future.
Kimberly G. Bland, CDA, EFDA, MEd