Thursday, May 23, 2013

Demand For SmithBucklin’s Financial Management Outsourcing Services on the Rise in 2013

As associations continue to cope with the realities of a recovering economy and tighter budgets, SmithBucklin has seen an uptick in the number of organizations inquiring about financial management and accounting outsourcing services. In addition, three standalone organizations have recently selected SmithBucklin to manage their financial management operations.

“Financial health is central to the success and growth of an organization and its ability to serve its members,” said Brian Teague, senior director of Financial Management & Accounting Services. “Leading organizations recognize the benefits of outsourcing financial management operations to SmithBucklin, gaining access to our world-class team of financial specialists while deploying cost savings back into programs and member services.”

The following organizations have recently selected SmithBucklin for financial management and accounting services:

Local Search Association (LSA) is the largest trade organization of print, digital, mobile and social media that help local businesses get found and selected by ready-to-buy consumers. Association members include U.S. and international directory publishers, search engine marketers, online listings and review sites, digital advertising agencies and mobile search providers.

National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) was founded in 1936 and is the national association representing the $42 billion U.S. vending and refreshment services industry. With more than 1,800 member companies – including many of the world’s most recognized brands – NAMA provides advocacy, education and research for its membership.

The Association of Waldorf Schools North America (AWSNA) is an organization dedicated to providing leadership to Waldorf Schools in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. AWSNA serves 144 members schools and 15 teacher training institutes by facilitating resources, networks and research.

“We made the decision to partner with SmithBucklin after a very deliberate and fact-based market assessment,” said Negley Norton, president of LSA. “The transition from our existing resources to SmithBucklin has been seamless and they have already found ways to add value to our business. I am very happy with our decision.”

“We are thrilled to provide standalone organizations like LSA, NAMA and AWSNA with high-impact, specialized outsourcing services,” said Teague. “SmithBucklin offers cost-effective, result-oriented and innovative financial management solutions customized for each client organization we serve.”

SmithBucklin also provides an array of other specialized outsourcing services, including event, trade show and convention management; advertising, exhibit and sponsorship sales; member retention, acquisition and engagement; online community building and social media; public relations; editorial and publishing; accreditation and certification program management and development; speaker programming; government relations/advocacy; product and service innovation; and a wide range of consulting services. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lone Ranger Syndrome

So, I forgot to post this article a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand the day after Mother’s Day is perfect for a column that talks about the plight of the suburban male. Okay “plight” might not be the right word but I have a theory that men are lousy at maintaing friendships and are the poorer and lonelier for it.

Theology on Tap

Men are lonely creatures. At least suburban men who work, commute, and have families. No self-respecting man would articulate this publicly since it sounds either whiny or weak but it’s true. We used to pride ourselves on our close friendships be it the “glory days” of high school or the keg-stand fraternity days of yore.

But that was before the big “R” of responsibility took over our lives. Work, marriage, children, pets, the yard. They’re all wonderful things — mostly. Over time, almost imperceptibly, however, they crowd out our male friendships and suddenly many of us find ourselves left with a bunch of acquaintances but little depth in our relationships.

From the male perspective, women just seem to be better at nurturing adult friendships. They meet friends for coffee, they volunteer together, they have work friends, they join book groups (or as I like to call them, wine drinking parties). My own wife certainly checks all these boxes and she’s happier for it.

Yes, this is a gross generalization but there does seem to be some truth here. A lot of men simply don’t have close friendships. Sure, we have buddies from our college days with whom we share fond memories, some printable, some not. But they generally live all over the country and, while there might be an annual golf outing or fishing trip, that’s hardly sustainable for the other 362 days of the year.

We nod to people on the commuter train and we’re on a first name basis with Jeff from Accounting. But the guard’s always up, the protective emotional armor is always donned. We work hard not to show weakness or vulnerability which is why we wear power suits and deflect intimacy with a quip or by sticking to safe topics like sports or carburetors.

But what about our humanity? Where do men go to talk about the things at the depths of our souls? Events like the bombing at the Boston Marathon bring our vulnerability to the fore and yet we have few outlets to process our emotions. So they get buried and fester until our hearts become fossilized or unhealthy behaviors emerge.

At my parish on the South Shore of Boston, we’re trying to remedy this by introducing a men’s group. Now, this won’t be your typical church men’s group where a bunch of guys get together in the nether regions of the church to gorge themselves on pancakes, give each other hugs, and tell themselves that Jesus was really a man’s man — someone to shoot pool with or hang out in the bleachers at Fenway.

We’re calling this venture Theology on Tap. We won’t meet at church but in the upstairs room at the Liberty Grille. We’ll grab a pint, listen to one another’s stories, and talk about a topic of interest. God’s just as present when a bunch of people gather in his name at a bar as at church on a Sunday morning (just don’t tell anyone).

This won’t solve all the problems of the world but hopefully it will chip away at the hardness of our hearts that has built up through the years. Hopefully, over time, it will provide an outlet for friendship and some conversations that get below the surface of everyday life. I encourage all of my fellow men to be intentional about seeking friendships that move beyond safe topics. You may feel vulnerable at first but it sure beats the usual hunting and gathering.