Five Ways to Reduce Costs

As we close out 2016, many of us are finalizing plans for 2017 and beyond. Indeed, budgeting for 2017 was likely completed months ago with an eye toward flexibility as we move into the New Year. It’s with this in mind—and conversations with clients over the past few months—that a practical look at easy ways an association can reduce costs is timely. The below encompasses options to save money both in short- and long-term endeavors and can be implemented to varying degrees at any time of the year.

5. Plan, plan, and plan some more. Ben Franklin hit the nail on the head when he noted that failing to plan is planning to fail, especially when it comes to one-time needs. Sufficient opportunity to secure and consider bids from a variety of resources can save you hundreds or even thousands depending on project scope. This also has the added benefit of ensuring your members and/or Boards know what’s in the pipeline.

Looking to hold a work group face-to-face? Ensure your event planner reaches out to a variety of venues within your preferred location. And if you have sufficient runway then you, and your attendees, may not be boxed in on dates.

Need a website refresh or some marketing collateral redesigned? Consider portfolios and rates for a few different graphic designers. (Not only may this save you on rates, but selecting a designer who aligns with your vision—and planning/communicating effectively with them—can reduce the hours they spend churning on revisions.)

4. Revisit insurance needs. It’s always a good idea to fine-tune your insurance needs. Work with your management team and a reliable broker to ensure you aren’t under- or over-insured. Secure competitive quotes when you choose to revisit. Also consider how much risk the Board is willing to take. Does a higher deductible make sense in an effort to possibly lower your premium? Discussing options with your broker could lead to significant savings.

3. Review ongoing fees. Banks and various service providers usually charge fees, most of which are completely legitimate. They are doing you a service and it’s reasonable to pass through some administrative fees to ensure both parties walk away whole. That being said, some vendors have more wiggle room than others when it comes to the fees they charge. It never hurts to have a conversation about the service/administrative/handling fees you’re charged. Worst case you walk away with a stronger understanding of exactly what happens behind the curtain to warrant the charge.

2. Look inward (and ahead!). Piggybacking off a review of ongoing fees and insurance is a reconsideration of your overall needs to see how they translate into the quality and structure of services you consume. An organization’s needs evolve over their life cycle, and it’s important to be mindful of these changes when evaluating resources. Now that your organization has launched and reached a steady gait, do you still need senior counsel? Are you getting the best rates on conferencing services in light of current meeting schedules? Look ahead: can you renegotiate a contract(s) to secure a more competitive rate now in preparation for known changes?

In a similar vein, take a look at your organization’s current focus. Does your direction and budget align with overall mission? If not, there’s no time like the present to revisit priorities. This exercise may also serve to reinvigorate your membership base with a renewed interest in mutually beneficial goals.

1. Be flexible. I noted this above, but it warrants its own call out. A flexible approach to spending will allow you to maximize savings. Much like travel where we all know that having some wiggle room on dates and/or times can save us a bundle. So too can being flexible in your overall approach to spending. A reasonable amount of elasticity combined with solid planning can be your organization’s best defense against overspend.

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