Tips & Tools

  • 30 Aug 2013 10:51 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    Grants made by MVAT are for military and veterans groups who support or provide services to promote and enrich the lives of active and retired military and their families. Included are educational and research programs that directly benefit veterans or who educate the public about veterans.  Organizations must be IRS tax exempt public charities, 501(c)(3).

    See additional details at
  • 23 Aug 2013 4:20 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The Genographic Legacy Fund, a program of the National Geographic Society, awards grants for community-driven projects directly preserving or revitalizing indigenous or traditional culture.

    Funded projects have included documenting a traditional language, oral history, or ceremony; creating culturally specific educational materials and programs; establishing a local museum or archive; intergenerational knowledge sharing; and preserving significant sites and artifacts.

    Projects must show a strong level of local community involvement in their planning, governance, and implementation. It is strongly preferred that the project manager be a member of the indigenous community. If the project manager is from outside the indigenous community, he or she must show that they have a strong and well-documented relationship with the indigenous group.

    Awards will typically not exceed $25,000. Applications are due September 15, 2013.
  • 19 Aug 2013 2:13 PM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The MAP (Multi-Arts Production) Fund, administered by Creative Capital, supports original new work in all disciplines and traditions of the live performing arts. MAP assists artists, ensembles, producers, and presenters of a high artistic standard, whose work in the disciplines of contemporary performance embodies a spirit of exploration and deep inquiry. MAP is particularly interested in work that examines notions of cultural difference or "the other," be that in class, gender, generation, race, religion, sexual orientation or other aspects of diversity. Grants range from $10,000 to $45,000, with an average of $25,000. Applications for MAP grants must come from U.S. nonprofit organizations. (Artists or ensembles may apply through a fiscal sponsor.) Applying organizations and artists must demonstrate at least two years of professional experience. The online letter of inquiry process opens September 9, 2013, with a due date of October 4, 2013. Invited proposals must be submitted by December 9, 2013. Visit the MAP website for eligibility information and application guidelines.
  • 29 Jul 2013 11:10 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund supports cities that work to engage citizens in efforts to address pressing city needs through impact volunteering. More information at the following link:

    Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund

    Cities of Service logo

  • 24 May 2013 10:23 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service.  It is our number 1 priority as a company.  A very close number 2 is to be a responsible company utilizing resources to the best of our ability to leave the world in as best shape for the next generation as possible.

    How we do this:
    • Using FSC sourced 100% recycled paper
    • Recycling 100% of paper products and almost all other recyclable materials used by our company
    • Recycling lanyards and name badge holders
    • Giving preference to eco-friendly hotel and conference centers
    • Utilizing green web hosting serviced by 100% wind power

  • 18 Apr 2013 9:12 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    All the non-profits we work with are thrilled to receive a large grant or contribution.  But there are different ways to treat these occasions in your accounting.  Read this article on the topic to be prepared on how to deal with it. 
  • 01 Oct 2012 10:39 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a nationwide program that honors young people in grades 5-12 who are volunteering in their communities. Youth who have engaged in a volunteer activity that occurred during the 12 months prior to the date of application are eligible to apply. Local Honorees are selected in November and from these winners two State Honorees are chosen in each state and the District of Columbia. State Honorees receive an award of $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC for national recognition events. Out of the State Honorees, ten National Honorees are selected to receive an additional award of $5,000 as well as a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit organization of their choice. The application deadline is November 6, 2012. Visit the Prudential website for online application information.
  • 30 Aug 2012 9:21 AM | James Ranieri (Administrator)
    When it comes to hotel cancellation clauses, what you don't negotiate can cost you.  See this article from Exhibitor magazine for some good tips in dealing with hotel cancellation clauses, including a sample clause. Protect your organization!
  • 22 Aug 2012 4:18 PM | Deleted user
    Planning for the unplanned:
    How to limit your liability

    By Qualena Odom-Royes, CSEP, CMP

    By definition, liability is the state of being legally responsible for something or someone because of your failure to act. True, it may not always be our fault, but as super meeting planners we must take precautions to mitigate the potential liability at each of our events.

    Here are some simple tips to limit liability.

    Food & beverage

    We know that a little bit of alcohol can get the ball rolling at an event. We also know that there will always be someone who has had one too many:
    • Serve a signature beverage instead of having a full bar.
    • Serve just beer and wine.
    • Opt for a cocktail hour, which can reduce alcohol consumption.
    • Use licensed bartenders.

    Risk assessment & analysis

    You spend months planning a meeting, so why not add risk management to your planning process? Plan with the possibility that anything and everything will go wrong. If it does, you're prepared:
    • Conduct a risk assessment and analysis of your event and design a formal response plan.
    • Share your response plan with your team members as well as the venue.
    • Designate a team leader who can initiate the response plan, if necessary.
    • Create your own event incident forms and have them available in the event of an emergency.
    Following rules and regulations may be a pain especially when they can impact the design or function of your program. It's better to plan ahead to avoid unnecessary and unexpected expenses:
    • Make sure your vendors are licensed and insured. Collect copies of their proof of insurance.
    • Confirm that your event complies with all local and state regulations.
    • Make sure your event complies with intellectual property rights (music licensing).
    • Make sure that your events are ADA compliant (Americans With Disabilities Act).
    Even if you follow all of these tips and double-check your lists to mitigate your risk and liability, you are still not fully protected. Business owners and independent planners should always go one step further and explore purchasing an insurance policy to protect themselves. Some of the more popular policies:
    • Comprehensive general liability insurance typically covers property damage, bodily injury, medical expenses, damages to venues that you rent and personal and advertising injury. A separate replacement policy - equipment and contents - covers business equipment such as laptops and copiers.
    • Errors and omissions or E&O insurance fills in some of the voids that comprehensive general liability insurance excludes such as negligence, misrepresentation and violation of good faith. E&O for event planners is like malpractice insurance for doctors.
    • A Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP) provides liability coverage above and beyond your standard homeowners and car insurance. This coverage protects against large liability claims or judgments, kicking in where your other liability coverage stops.
    Depending on your situation, there may be other insurance options for you to think about including workers' compensation, event cancellation, business interruption and disability insurances.

    When all else fails, it is in your best interest to always have as backup plan.

    To quote columnist Harvey Mackay, "When you fail to plan - you plan to fail."
  • 06 Aug 2012 2:40 PM | Deleted user

    Make Meetings More Profitable

    ASSOCIATIONS NOW, February 2011 , Intelligence

    Are your meetings and events leaving profits on the table? Probably, according to James Hollan, president and CEO of International Meetings Group LLC.

    In his previous work as a financial turnaround specialist for nonprofits and associations, Hollan typically kickstarted a turnaround by focusing on the organization's meetings. "And they would say, are you nuts? They are the only thing that's been making money for us for these last couple of years," Hollan recalls.

    But that initial disbelief would change when delving into the meeting budgets showed the potential to increase profit fivefold or more. "Because they were making a profit, people assumed that they were making a reasonable profit," Hollan says.

    Your meeting may have untapped profitability potential, too. Hollan suggests you begin with the following:

    • Look for the little things. One association with a 1,000-person meeting served continental breakfast every day, including fresh fruit, which was included at a single board member's insistence. Hollan pointed out that by removing the fruit from those breakfasts, the organization could save $27,000, plus taxes. "And that's a meeting for 1,000. Imagine a meeting for 5,000 or 6,000," says Hollan. "I'm never saying you want a cheap meeting … you want a wow meeting. But you want to look at everything and see, can you still put on a great breakfast without the fruit?"
    • Build your budget from the discounted price. When creating an event budget, base your projected registration income off of your lowest discounted registration feeundefinedthe member price, early-bird price, or what have youundefinedinstead of the full, undiscounted fee, which will not be paid by many registrants. Hollan calls this "a basic mistake that is constantly made."
    • Price your meeting at the level it deserves. "People go in and they say, ‘We want to compete with this group, so we're going to do this meeting, but we're going to do it cheaper.' Do you really want to be known as the cheap meeting?" asks Hollan. "Make your event worth the kind of dollars you need to charge. … You have to believe in yourself, and you have to make your meeting worthwhile."
    • Take a look at the competition. You can learn a lot from a basic competitive analysis. "Associations think they're unique, when in fact they are not,” says Hollan. "There really is a way to sit down and think, what are other people charging, and what are they giving for that?”  In fact, you can get a lot of the information you need with some basic internet skills. Visit your competitors (both nonprofit and for profit) online and see what they charge, what they offer, and what attendance figures they promote, and you'll start to get a picture of where your event fits into the competitive environment.  Hollan says that you may even find that you've been underpricing your event - in which case, don't be afraid to raise that registration fee. "We have looked at associations that are underperforming for their meetings, and they were really undercharging,” says Hollan. "We convinced them to raise their rates substantially for what they should charge. They did get a falloff in attendance; however, their profitability went up.” And in all but one case, those associations found that within two or three years, the attendees they lost due to the higher price point returned to the conference. "They invested money in that meeting to make it worth attending,” he says.
    • Talk to your exhibitors and sponsors. The exhibitors and sponsors who support your meeting have a vested interest in its successundefinedand they know their own businesses better than anyone. Hollan recommends simply speaking with them and asking what they would want to receive in return for your proposed higher exhibit fee or sponsorship category. You'll be surprised by the creative ideas you'll hear.
    • Negotiate with your vendors. "Everything is negotiable,” says Hollan. "My job is to give great representation for my folks, and [the vendor's] job is to give great representation for their folks. I may have 50 things on the table and I'd love to get every one of them, but I won't. At the end of things, I'll get 25 and [the vendor] will get 25, but that those 25 things can be $100,000 back in my pocket.”
    • Understand the hotel's business model. Hotels are in business to make money, and they make that money through certain business practices. You'll be much more successful in your negotiations if you understand and work with their model. For example, if you're willing to shift your meeting's arrival pattern to fit in more efficiently with another meeting the hotel is hosting the same week, the hotel may be more willing to negotiate other elements of your contract.  Don't have a background in hotel management? One possibility is just to ask your hotel partners directly. "All of the big hotels have programs for their better clients where they sit you down and say, ‘Here's how we make our money,' because they believe that when you understand them better, you'll be able to make more deals,” says Hollan.
    • Market to the entire person. Hollan says that "a huge mistake associations make” is to market as if their potential attendees had no interests outside of their work. If your attendees are combining vacation with their conference attendance, or bringing their spouse and family along for the trip, they're making a decision that is both personal and professional, and your marketing plan needs to take that into account.

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