Content Curation: Your Association’s Secret Weapon Against Information Overload

This link refers to an outdated blog post that’s been removed.

May I suggest instead….?

Associations and Climate Change: The Podcast

Many of the options for responding to climate change we’re offered are at the super-macro (UN COP meetings) or super-micro (get an electric car!) levels.

What about all the stuff in the middle? You know, like ASSOCIATIONS?

Shelly Alcorn and I recently had the opportunity to join Cecilia Sepp for the Radio Free 501c podcast to discuss our new whitepaper, The Time Is Now: Association Resilience and Adaptation and the Anthropocene Climate Disruption.

The conversation focused on associations’ role as vehicles for social change, the business imperative to act, and specific steps we can take within our sphere of influence to address this global “wicked problem.”

Are you interested in partnering with your fellow association executives to share good practices and take on projects related to how you can address climate change in your internal operations, member-facing work, and/or as a leader and representative of the profession or industry you serve?

  1. Download the whitepaper.
  2. While you’re there, take our three-question pulse-check survey.
  3. Also while you’re there, share your contact information so we can keep you in the loop about next steps (it’s entirely voluntary).



Associations Creating Community to Address Climate Change

Shelly Alcorn and I recently sat down (virtually) to talk with Whiteford, Taylor & Preston’s Jefferson Glassie about The Time Is Now: Association Resilience and Adaptation and the Anthropocene Climate Disruption, our recently-released whitepaper that lays out the case that associations both can and should take the lead on addressing climate change for our own industry, for our members, and for the professions and industries our associations exist to serve, not only for moral reasons but as a critical business imperative.

The whitepaper details the scope and extent of the impact of climate disruption on associations large and small and emphasizes the wide range of options available to associations to support their respective and concentric communities.

Shelly and I are working on creating an association community of practice to assist in these efforts. We believe that providing a space for association executives to share their insights into conduct, actions, and practices they are undertaking is critical to our success as a community in addressing this “wicked problem.” If you’d like more information, please visit and give us your name and email address (scroll to the bottom for the comment form).

As Jefferson pointed out in the podcast, this discussion relates to perhaps the most important community to which we all belong, the human community, and illustrates how we must take concerted action to protect our human and non-human relations.


Navigating These Wicked Waters

Shelly Alcorn and I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by KiKi L’Italien for Association Chat on association leadership strategies for climate chaos.

We talked about our new whitepaper, The Time Is Now: Association Resilience and Adaptation and the Anthropocene Climate Disruption; shared some stories of associations that are doing good work in this area; discussed how we ourselves stay motivated to work for change even in the face of bad news and seemingly daunting odds; highlighted the fact that (to quote Global Optimism) “stubborn optimism is a deliberate mindset;” and revealed the bigger project Shelly and I are in the process of launching related to this work, the Association Climate Action Coalition.


The Time Is Now

Climate change and sustainability are increasingly in the news and showing up as a key topic for the association industry. Association execs are realizing that climate change is not just a moral imperative, it’s a business imperative.

To quote ASAE from their well-attended webinar on this topic back in May: “Either as part of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives or looking at impact and legacy, associations are increasingly grappling with the role sustainability plays in supporting their work and advancing their missions.”

In The Time is Now: Association Resilience and Adaptation and the Anthropocene Climate Disruption, Shelly Alcorn and I provide a brief overview of data on climate change, address the psychological barriers to action humans face, and bring to bear the concepts of resilience (preparing to bounce back from challenges) and adaptation (learning how to live and work differently) on the specific effects the climate crisis will have on associations’ internal operations, member-facing programs, products and services, and on the professions and industries we exist to serve.

Our goal is to help associations better understand how this “wicked problem” is going to affect our industry and begin preparing to better respond to the challenges that will face us all in the coming years.

The whitepaper also includes:

  • Case studies with the American Association of Geographers,, and the Strata Community Association (our first international case study!).
  • A sidebar on climate change and US national security.
  • Stories of positive change to inspire you.
  • A series of thought questions for you to use to spark discussion with your team.
  • An extensive list of resources in case you want to dig deeper on any of the topics addressed.

I’ll be blogging about the whitepaper more in the coming days, highlighting some of our major findings, but in the meantime I invite you to download your free copy at – we don’t collect any data on you to get it, and you won’t end up on some mailing list you didn’t ask for. We just use the as an easy mechanism to count the number of times it’s been downloaded.

However, Shelly and I realized that there’s potentially something much bigger here. We’re hoping to put together a true Community of Practice of associations who are ready to lead change. When you download your copy, you’ll have the option of taking a three question survey and sharing contact information if you’d like to be kept in the loop about that.

Get your copy at

And don’t forget to check out some of the other FREE Spark collaborative whitepapers, too, on topics ranging from content curation to digital transformation, blockchain, DEI, lean startup, member-centric engagement, and more!

Caveat Emptor: The Podcast

Decisions, decisions: we make them all day long. But what fuels our decision-making? Research!

Every association executive uses research to make decisions, and often we’re responsible for conducting – or at least sponsoring – original research.

How can we ensure that the research we’re using or creating is good quality, able to support evidence-based decisions that produce good outcomes?

That’s the question that drove my and Polly Karpowicz’s recent conversation with Cecilia Sepp for the Radio Free 501c podcast, where we discussed our whitepaper Caveat Emptor: Becoming a Responsible Consumer of Research.

The conversation touched on what everyone should know about research, how we can educate ourselves to make the best choices, and how most of us learn it on the job. (We also talked about our gardens!) Listen to this fun and wide ranging episode.

Can Associations Be Part of the Climate Solution?

The Role of Associations in Tackling the Climate Crisis Association Transformation podcast header graphic


People associate in order to solve problems that are, individually, intractable. I can’t think of a more important problem that’s not amenable to individual solutions than climate change.

Shelly Alcorn and I were honored to discuss the association role in combatting climate change with Elisa Brewer Pratt on a recent episode of the Association Transformation podcast.

The climate crisis is (and is going to) impact our internal operations, our member-facing programs and services, and the industries and professions we exist to serve. Don’t miss this important conversation about how associations can, and are ethically called to, respond.

(Spoiler alert: this may also be related to the next Spark whitepaper, currently in process and due to be released later this year.)

Research and Information Literacy – Learning More

Responsible Consumption and Production of Research

Would you like to learn more about how you can improve your information literacy and become a more discerning and knowledgeable consumer and sponsor of research?

Caveat Emptor co-author Polly Karpowicz and I recently had the opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Jeff Cobb (Tagoras) for an episode of the Leading Learning podcast, where we discussed some fundamental issues in research study design, like primary versus secondary research, qualitative and quantitative research, mixed research methods, the ethics of using people in research, and bias. We talked about the importance of information literacy and how you can increase yours. We also covered topics like data validity, reliability, and statistical significance, and Polly and I shared some valuable tips for the responsible consumption and production of research.

Listen here or anywhere you get your podcasts.

Want something live, where you can hear directly from some of our case studies and have the chance to ask your questions?

  • February 23 – Caveat Emptor (UST Education) with Mallika Bender of the Casualty Actuarial Society – register HERE (it’s free!)
  • March 1 – Caveat Emptor (Association Insights in Old Town) with Mallika Bender of the Casualty Actuarial Society and Marc Beebe of IEEE – register HERE (it’s also free!)

And of course, Polly and I invite you to download the whitepaper, which is ALSO free!

Being Responsible About Research

In this final post celebrating the launch of Caveat Emptor: Becoming a Responsible Consumer of Research, I want to talk about why this matters.

Why do association execs need to develop discernment about research, both as consumers and sponsors? Why do you need to have at least some familiarity with research terms? Why do you need to understand the benefits and drawbacks of various types of research methods?

Quoting from the monograph:

It’s important for associations to get this right, both so that association executives have the best possible chance of making good decisions about how to invest limited association resources to generate the best return for members, and because associations are viewed as trusted, unbiased sources of information for the members and other audiences we serve. It’s incumbent on us to provide quality research products so we remain worthy of that trust.

As a reminder, the whitepaper also includes:

  • An interview with Dr. Sharon E. Moss, co-editor (with Sarah C. Slater) of The Informed Association: A Practical Guide to Using Research for Results, on ethical practices in research.
  • An interview with Dr. Joyce E. A. Russell, The Helen and William O’Toole Dean at Villanova School of Business, on developing discernment in assessing research.
  • An interview with Jeff Tenenbaum, Managing Partner at Tenenbaum Law Group PLLC, on avoiding antitrust liability.
  • Case studies with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Casualty Actuarial Society, and IEEE.
  • A plain English review of key research terms, and a brief explanation of the rules of formal logic (and how they affect research work).
  • Recommendations for books, articles, websites, podcasts, and courses you can use to improve your research skills.
  • A series of thought questions for you to use to spark discussion with your team.
  • An extensive list of resources in case you want to dig deeper on any of the topics addressed.

My co-author Polly Karpowicz and I are in the process of arranging additional opportunities to learn more, including a webinar with Association Insights in Old Town in April of 2023 – more information to follow.

In the meantime, get your free copy at, no divulging of information about yourself required.


“P-Value”? What’s a “P-Value”?

And why should you care?

Associations generate a lot of original research, but association execs also use a lot of research created by other entities both to assess the internal operations of the association as a tax-exempt business and to understand what’s happening in the industry or profession the association serves.

And let’s face it: Lots of research terms are pretty jargon-y. P-values and margin of error and confidence interval and representative versus purposeful samples, oh my!

It’s easy to find yourself glazing over in the methods section of the study you’ve chosen, ignoring it all together, or just deciding not to worry about what it reports.

That would be a mistake.

All those things directly affect the validity of the study and the results presented, results which we use every day to make decisions for our associations and the professions and industries we serve.

Quoting the new Spark collaborative whitepaper Caveat Emptor: Becoming a Responsible Consumer of Research:

Good research does not guarantee good decisions, but it certainly helps. And bad research, barring getting lucky and guessing right, almost inevitably leads to bad decisions.

We want you to have everything you need to make good decisions, so in Caveat Emptor, my co-author Polly Karpowicz and I provide plain English explanations of key terms in research design so that you can build your information literacy muscles and choose wisely what research you will – and won’t – trust.

Get your free copy at, no divulging of information about yourself required.