Frequently Asked Questions about ACUI's Relationship with CSHEMA
As of Sept. 1, 2008, ACUI will be providing management services for the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association. What follows are answers to some frequently asked questions about ACUI's relationship with CSHEMA. If you have additional questions, please contact Zack Wahlquist.
Why are we doing this?
For ACUI to continue to meet its envisioned future, the Association must be continually working to have a solid financial base to be the leader in advancing campus community builders. This agreement is a promising strategy toward that goal.
Prior to the reinvention process, ACUI relied on two primary areas of income: membership dues and the annual conference. Since then, considerable discussion has occurred attempting to identify new revenue sources. To date, the only substantial idea that has been implemented to address our narrow revenue base is ACUI Procure. ACUI Procure has brought tremendous value to the Association and is certainly a great success in broadening our financial base.
As we continue to look forward, it is important that we continually seek new ways to financially support the Association’s programs and services. Thanks to technological innovations, the pace of business on campus and in associations has increased exponentially. As such, ACUI members are having new demands being placed on their time, personally and professionally. This means that while it is expected that ACUI's levels of service constantly increase, volunteerism is not increasing at the same rate.
This agreement provides a new non-dues revenue source to fund new Central Office staff as well as contribute to the Association’s operating reserves. Additionally, it allows for economies of scale in the education and corporate partnerships area to generate further non-dues revenue.
Not only will ACUI remain committed to its members and its primary mission, but ACUI will broaden its financial health through this endeavor.
Why does CSHEMA need ACUI?
ACUI has been through a similar journey as CSHEMA. ACUI existed from 1914–68 strictly under volunteer leadership. Since 1968, ACUI grew from 2.5 FTE to its current staff of 15, which includes dedicated staff with longevity and experience both in ACUI and in association management. ACUI has a proven track record of quality work in education, publications, and corporate sponsorship. This experience and record are assets in mentoring a sister association through its own growth.
On a more operational level, ACUI has established systems in place to support its own annual conference and corporate partner programs. Additionally, ACUI has spent the last year creating systems, particularly in terms of finances and web management, which work well. These systems can easily and quickly be adapted to the content of another association.
What is an association management company?
Association management companies are contracted service providers that specialize in nonprofit administration and operations. They are an alternative to an association hiring its own staff. Typically these companies might manage several associations’ meeting planning, financial accounting, web support, and data entry functions. ACUI is not an association management company but will be providing managerial services to CSHEMA.
CSHEMA is the only organization to ask this of ACUI. Additionally, if approached by another association, ACUI would have to consider its ability to provide enhanced service to our own members as a result of such an arrangement. We would also need to ensure the agreement would fit within our mission and strategic plan just as the CSHEMA agreement does.
How does this fit in with our mission?
This agreement supports ACUI’s mission in two ways: 1) We will have increased staff support and revenue to provide enhanced education and services for ACUI members, and 2) By mentoring a fellow higher education association, ACUI has a new way to build campus community and be an advocate in telling campus community builders’ story.
How does the management of CSHEMA fit into the strategic plan of ACUI?
This directly helps ACUI “be financially secure and stable” by generating “new revenue” and allowing us to make exponential progress in fully funding “the annual contribution to the contingency reserve fund.” Additionally, through this relationship, ACUI is developing “partnerships with other campus entities and organizations that advance campus community building.”
By whom and how was the decision made to enter into this relationship?
The ACUI Board of Trustees asked staff to create a business plan for ACUI to provide management services to CSHEMA. Upon reviewing the business plan, the board voted to allow staff to make a formal presentation to CSHEMA’s leadership and commence negotiations. An agreement was created and from that a contract was determined. The ACUI Board of Trustees voted June 16, 2008 that ACUI would sign the contract to provide management services to CSHEMA for three years beginning Sept. 1, 2008. ACUI Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen and CSHEMA President Cheri Hildreth signed the contract June 16.
Why is ACUI concentrating efforts on areas outside the Association?
Research about the global economy and associations in particular consistently finds that in the future associations will need to look externally for new revenue sources rather than rely on membership dues and other typical educational offerings to entirely fund operations. ACUI wants to sustain its support of campus community builders for the long term, and this is an opportunity to strategically ensure we will remain financially secure and stable in the future.
Will this affect service from the Central Office?
Yes. No one is claiming that as a result of this arrangement, the Central Office will be perfect; however, the Association would not be entering into this agreement if all involved did not confidently believe that service to ACUI members would be superior to what we could otherwise provide.
How did this arrangement come about?
In 2007, the Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) approached the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) as they were trying to make a decision between hiring their own staff or to outsource their association operations to a management company. CSHEMA approached ACUI in 2008, after working with an association management organization and not having a positive experience, to put together a proposal to manage CSHEMA. ACUI was in a position in 2008 to assemble a proposal for managing CSHEMA, a sister association in the higher education community.
Why wasn’t the membership consulted about this?
All voting members of the ACUI Board of Trustees are elected by ACUI members to make decisions such as this one about ACUI’s strategic future. Additionally, this new endeavor will not in any way decrease the level of benefits ACUI members receive and will not increase membership dues. Finally, no bylaw or governance changes were required, and the financial risk to the Association is low
How long will ACUI be managing CSHEMA?
The current term of the agreement is three years. However, ACUI can exit the agreement at any time with six months’ notice, and CSHEMA can exit the agreement with 12 months notice. Additionally, the organizations can renew the contract automatically for the two years following the initial three. It is the hope of both organizations that this is beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
Will there be any interaction between CSHEMA members and ACUI members?
Beyond campus-level interaction, it is entirely possible that future educational programs might be offered to allow synergies between the two memberships. Topics that might interest both audiences include sustainability and emergency preparedness. Additionally, ACUI members might be asked to present at CSHEMA programs and vice versa.
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What does CSHEMA stand for? What do they do?
The Campus Safety Health and Environmental Management Association (CSHEMA) serves campus professionals working in such areas as emergency preparedness, hazardous waste management, laboratory safety, risk management, radiation protection, sustainability, biosafety, etc. Currently, many of its members are scientists and lawyers serving in senior-level management capacities.
How are they different/same from ACUI as far as leadership structure?
CSHEMA is governed by a Board of Directors, which functions in similar ways to the ACUI Board of Trustees. There are three major differences:
- CSHEMA presidents are elected to four-year terms. They progress through four different offices, one each year: recording secretary, vice president, president, and immediate past president.
- CSHEMA also has a treasurer serving on the Board of Directors.
- CSHEMA has a series of standing committees and special committees under the Board of Directors. CSHEMA is not divided into geographic regions.
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What are the benefits to each association?
CSHEMA as an organization will receive management expertise from association professionals who understand higher education and can ensure CSHEMA services and accounts are managed appropriately, efficiently, and consistently. Additionally, this arrangement removes the burden of managing operations from CSHEMA volunteers.
CSHEMA members will likely notice improved service from association managers who understand the culture of higher education.
ACUI will benefit from new funding to hire additional staff to support ACUI programs and services as well as contributions to our operating reserves that would not have otherwise been possible. Other benefits include new programmatic revenue, collocation of programs to decrease costs and increase exposure, and long-term increases in corporate partnership revenue for ACUI.
In the short term, there will likely be no noticeable difference in the benefits ACUI members receive. In the long term, ACUI members will benefit from additional staff’s ability to grow our capacity to enhance ACUI programs and services. Additionally, an ancillary benefit might be connections in content between ACUI and CSHEMA members, particularly in the areas of risk management, emergency preparedness, food safety, and sustainability.
Can a CSHEMA member receive ACUI benefits?
CSHEMA members cannot receive additional ACUI benefits as a result of this relationship. However, as was the case previous to this agreement, some ACUI member benefits are available to anyone at an ACUI member institution, which might include some CSHEMA members.
How will this impact my benefits from ACUI?
In the coming years, it is likely you will see increased growth in the ACUI website and programs for college students that would not have been possible without a no-cost way to add additional staff to support these areas. Additionally, staff in the corporate partnerships department has the potential to further grow that area and generate non-dues revenue, offsetting costs associated with enhanced ACUI programs and services.
How does ACUI benefit from this?
Should the economy sour, ACUI will have a more diversified income base, adding management fee revenue to the existing revenue sources of membership, annual conference, and corporate partnerships.
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What will we gain from this? How much revenue will this relationship deliver to ACUI’s bottom line?
As a result of this relationship, ACUI will hire five additional full-time Central Office staff to manage ACUI and CSHEMA operations. Like all ACUI programs, there is an expectation that this endeavor make an annual contribution to the contingency reserve of the Association. It is expected that in excess of $15,000 annually will be directed to the reserve. Additionally, ACUI expects that the new staff will have an impact on new and existing ACUI programs which will result not only in an increased level of service, but additional revenue for the Association as well.
How much will it cost ACUI?
At best, nothing. At worst, less than $5,000 in purchased desks and computers.
Will this new agreement increase my dues?
No. One of the reason’s ACUI has entered into this agreement is to decrease our reliance on dues revenue. The management fees for CSHEMA are fixed throughout the term of the agreement, so this is not a risk now or in the future. In accordance with Association bylaws, ACUI will continue to adjust its dues based on current economic factors, which this agreement will not affect.
Are my dues being used to fund CSHEMA?
No. Like ACUI members, CSHEMA members pay for annual membership and program registration. CSHEMA is paying ACUI for management services. No ACUI money is being used to fund CSHEMA expenditures.
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What is the risk to ACUI?
The only risk to the operations of ACUI is that the management of an additional organization may be a distraction to the current staff. This risk is being mitigated by hiring additional staff to take on the new responsibilities and clearly establishing the management functions that provided for CSHEMA. Additionally, the ACUI executive director will closely monitor the efforts of the staff to ensure the programs and services of ACUI receive the current or a higher level of support.
The long-term risk to ACUI is if, for some unforeseen reason, the relationship would end earlier than planned. To mitigate this risk, there is a requirement that CSHEMA provide 12 months notice to terminate the agreement. Regardless of the timeframe for ending the agreement, ACUI realizes that there would likely be some staff layoffs at the termination of the agreement.
What legal issues are involved?
The relationship between ACUI and CSHEMA will be that of an independent contractor. CSHEMA will have no employees, and the relationship will not be construed to create an employer-employee relationship, a partnership, or joint venture between CSHEMA and ACUI. As a separately incorporated entity, all of CSHEMA’s assets, liabilities, and fiduciary responsibilities will remain solely with CSHEMA. ACUI will manage CSHEMA’s audit process and tax filing requiring as necessary.
Is ACUI assuming any liability for CSHEMA?
No, ACUI is not assuming any liability for CSHEMA. ACUI carries insurance protecting all staff members for liability resulting from their actions; this insurance will cover those staff with responsibility for CSHEMA. This insurance will also protect CSHEMA and ACUI against catastrophic events (e.g., property damage).
What are the ramifications if CSHEMA experiences poor financial performance?
The primary fiscal obligation of CSHEMA is to pay ACUI for the contracted management services. If CSHEMA became unable to fulfill its obligations, this would be a breach of contract and would be dealt with as appropriately by ACUI. Fortunately, one of the services ACUI will provide to CSHEMA is fiscal management. As a result, the staff overseeing these services will be in a position to closely monitor the financial stability of CSHEMA.
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How will this impact the workload of the existing Central Office staff? Will they be compensated?
Additional staff are being hired for all CSHEMA responsibilities so that current staff need not be adversely affected by added workload. These new staff members also will devote part of their time to ACUI programs and services; as a result, they will be supervised by current ACUI department heads. In accordance with ACUI salary policy and guidelines, these responsibilities do not provide that additional compensation be paid to staff.
What if there is staff turnover?
Currently when an ACUI staffer departs, it has a substantial impact on daily operations due to the pivotal role each person plays in the Central Office. With the addition of staff for both ACUI and CSHEMA operations and the performance of similar functions by these staff members, each organization will benefit from improved capacity to manage staff turnover.
How can ACUI manage both associations at one time?
CSHEMA is very similar to ACUI 40 years ago. The number and complexity of its business transactions and services are less than ACUI’s today. Additionally, ACUI is hiring appropriate staff to manage the carefully identified scope of work outlined in the CSHEMA agreement.
Who will manage/direct operations for CSHEMA? Will more staffing be needed?
ACUI is adding five full-time Central Office staff, of which 3.0 FTE will be devoted to CSHEMA responsibilities. The staff assigned to CSHEMA will consist of an executive director to supervise all CSHEMA operations and manage finances; a member services coordinator to answer phones and provide administrative support; and partial assistance in the areas of educational programs, corporate partnerships, and publications.
Will the two associations remain separate entities?
Yes. ACUI is a 501(c)3 organization incorporated in the state of Indiana. CSHEMA is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia. CSHEMA will maintain its own legal counsel, bank accounts, membership, leadership structure, and insurance. ACUI is being hired to manage its operations.
Does this mean there will be less of Marsha to go around?
No. While she will be managing a larger staff on behalf of ACUI, Marsha Herman-Betzen will continue to be solely ACUI’s executive director.
Will the current ACUI staff be running two associations?
No. Additional staff are being hired to run CSHEMA operations.
What about the current CHSEMA staff?
CSHEMA has no staff. From its establishment in 1954 until 2007, CSHEMA has been entirely volunteer-run and affiliated with the National Safety Council. Last year, it hired an association management company but is now looking for management expertise with an understanding of higher education culture and approached ACUI with a desire for ACUI to provide this service.
Can I work for ACUI to help manage CSHEMA?
In the coming months, ACUI will be looking to hire a sales professional for the corporate partnerships area and a membership services coordinator to provide overall administrative support. Inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated June 18, 2008