Learn What Sessions this Top Association Executive is Excited About at ASAE 2016

Association Event TechnologyMeet Sheila Gidley, CAE and Partner at Gidley Management Group, an association management company out of Chicago. She also holds the position of Executive Administrator for the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy and (like us!) is really looking forward to packing her bags for ASAE Annual 2016 in Salt Lake City in a few weeks.

We chatted about her top picks for sessions and the biggest challenges her association is facing this year. She also shared some best practices on using event technology to run annual meetings for association clients.

What sessions are you looking forward to the most at ASAE?

Sheila: I love going to ASAE! My top 3 picks for this year are:

1. Game Changer: How the Crowd is Reforming Education, Charles Best , Founder & CEO, DonorsChoose.org

If you haven’t heard of this organization, you should look into it. DonorsChoose.org raises funding for public school needs–whether books, technology, supplies or trips. I love that the CEO (a former public school teacher) took a simple idea and turned it into a really effective solution.

2. Killer Apps for Aspiring CXO’s. Beth Ziesenis:  Author, Speaker, and Your Nerdy Best Friend.

You have to check out this session! She knows all the best apps – most of which are free.  I first saw her at an ASAE Conference a few years ago and that’s where I learned about Doodle, Animoto and a few other apps I use regularly.  She’s a very entertaining speaker who offers content you will use frequently.

3. Becoming Your Association’s Storyteller-in-Chief. Scott Steen, President & CEO, American Forest.

This session appeals to me because I feel association leaders need better strategies to weave together data points and anecdotal content into a cohesive story to demonstrate value to sponsors, members and other stakeholders in the organization.

Grand America hotelWhat are you most excited to do in Salt Lake City?

Sheila: Well, I’m a big independent movie fan so I’ve signed up for the ASAE Foundation Classic Fundraiser- A Night with the Sundance Film Festival.  It’s going to be held in the courtyard of the Grand America Hotel–which looks gorgeous!

And what are the biggest challenges that your association is facing this year?

Sheila: Sure, two bigger ones come to mind:

1. Leveraging Volunteer Time. Volunteer time is so precious these days. We work with wonderful, talented people who are willing to share their talent and expertise, but we’re all stretched between priorities. The whole goal of an association is to provide a forum for individuals to share information, resources and experiences for the benefit of the industry, so finding ways that will maximize the time members have to give is key.

2. Demonstrating ROI to sponsors.  While AiP is a fabulous organization that does great things and has so much to offer, it can be very challenging to demonstrate sponsorship dollar ROI to decision-makers, particularly when those decision makers are not the same firm representatives that participate in the organization. We don’t always have access to the kind of information that would allow us to show hard dollar return (i.e. which of our conference attendees became end-users of a sponsors’ products or services).  This is why I’m looking forward to the session on “Becoming Your Association’s Storyteller-In-Chief.”

Association event technologyYou’ve used EventMobi’s event apps for a few events for your association clients in the past. What did you love about our event app?

Sheila: Yes, I used the app on 2 occasions, both for association annual meetings. It was a late in the game decision to use an event app in both cases and we already had the event program in the works–otherwise I would have eliminate the paper collateral. We discovered, though, that you don’t need both a program and an event app. The event app offers way more flexibility to make last-minute changes, you can offer sponsors ad space in the app, and can push out live alerts in real-time–which is so useful.

Any creative event app ideas to share with other associations?

Sheila: Sure–we used it to arrange last-minute dinner plans for an open evening. During our 2016 Conference on Philanthropy, we decided to arrange a dine-around for those who didn’t have dinner plans. We picked 2 restaurants and listed who was going to what restaurant. Members picked where they wanted to go, based on who they wanted to meet–and what they wanted to eat, of course!

What did your EventMobi app enable you to do beyond what you’ve done at previous events?

Sheila: We were able to increase session attendance over last year! Using live alerts, we were able to send out messages to members in real-time to remind them that sessions were starting. So often time gets away from you as an attendee–whether you’re finishing a conversation or finishing lunch. With an event app, we had the ability to reach people with a nice reminder that X session was starting in X room–and it really boosted our attendance numbers!

What’s Next?