State and National Municipal Leagues and Associations are providing much needed help and support to their members during the COVID pandemic. So many of the traditional resources that municipalities have relied on historically are not applicable today, leaving our municipalities even more reliant on collective thinking and idea sharing, that only hubs like associations can provide.
According to July 30, 2020 data from the National Governors Association, 70% of funds provided to states through the CARES Act have already been obligated for expenditures. At the same time, the National League of Cities states that only 10% of funds are available for local governments. The latest estimates show that there will be an excess of $360 Billion shortfall for local governments across the country over the next 3 years.
We asked Eric Conrad, Director of Communication and Education for Maine Municipal Association and a Dynamic Benchmarking client, to weigh in on a few questions. According to Eric, the biggest need that all of his municipalities have immediately is help with funding. The budget shortfalls are pervasive throughout his membership. Funding sources are shrinking while the need for services remains high, and in situations more services are needed. He also stated, “His members are requesting new resources primarily in the areas of budget training, education on navigating the new “Keep Me Healthy” state website, and diversity training.” Eric also said that, “Having a long-standing annual salary benchmarking study has proven valuable to his members in allowing them to highlight the impact COVID-19’s had on their 2020 numbers.”
2020 has certainly been one for the records, and the fallout will go on for several years to come. The importance of leagues and associations will continue to increase as our members navigate a post COVID world.
Let’s start the discussion with a question. It is a fact that no company or organization will ever achieve greatness until all barriers for everyone to participate and contribute are broken down. So why is it so hard to get it right, and why are organizations hesitant to tackle the issue? I submit that the reason is that they don’t know where to start, and they fear what they may find.
If we learned nothing else from the last 2 months, it is that you can’t properly treat or react to something that you do not understand. From day one, the politicians, the healthcare officials and the media have all basically been flying blind. Everyone is in the same boat, in that we are dealing with a disease that we know little about. Safety first caused us to take the most aggressive and drastic measures. Disagreements abound when it comes to almost everything except for the fact that we need more data and more testing. Timing of data has proven to be just as important as the data itself. A test that takes a week or more to return a result is not nearly as effective as one that can produce a result in hours.
The statement above rings true in the association world as well. Almost daily we hear our members say, we need more data. Everybody wants data, but collecting it can be a tough job for associations. Conducting a survey today about the impacts of COVID 19 that takes 2 weeks to produce a report, does not help our members. They need information yesterday. That is why associations that were already benchmarking, or at least understand the value of benchmarking can pivot quickly to address member needs. For many of our clients, we were able to stand up COVID-19 specific question set in 24 hours that helped their members understand temporary trends and movements within the market place. When things are happening as fast as they did in the last few months, it is important for your members to understand how others are reacting and to feel confident about their own behaviors and actions.
No one understands this better than Casey Sclar, the Executive Director of American Public Gardens Association, whose member gardens welcome almost 120 Million visitors per year and have been benchmarking since 2015. Casey stated, “Pulling trusted data provided by our members from our benchmarking platform was paramount. We were able to easily translate the “green” it takes to make the “green” (earned revenue being lost while closed and ongoing expenses needed to maintain their living collections) to our members, stakeholders, and the general public. When you say that collectively our gardens are losing $3M per day in earned revenue (63% of their total revenue) and spending $42M per month in horticulture and facilities expenses alone, you know this is an estimate grounded in fact. People wake up at hearing these numbers, which could not have been possible without benchmarking.”
About Dynamic Benchmarking
Since our founding in 2010, Dynamic Benchmarking has been committed to helping businesses succeed by providing them with the most accurate, up-to-date and relevant performance metrics available. By combining the proven business concept of benchmarking studies, with the immediacy and reach of online crowdsourcing, we have built a powerful solution that delivers real-time, actionable data and comparisons. Through the KPI’s that are provided via our platform, both businesses and individuals can clearly determine areas of improvement as well as areas of success.
“For associations to make better decisions and fewer mistakes, they need to embrace the idea of collective intelligence.” Lior Zoref, a researcher and author of Mindsharing: The Art of Crowdsourcing Everything