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March 14, 2012 
 
 
The Plot Thickens at ACC

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Association of Corporate Counsel president Veta Richardson may love soap operas, but her first nine months on the job have been drama free. (As far as we know, no one has come back from the dead.) That's not to say things haven't been eventful. The organization just wrapped up its first major membership review and strategic plan in ten years.
 
Association of Corporate Counsel CEO Veta Richardson
Instead of the textbook strategic planning SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats), Veta opted to do a "value driven analysis." The difference? One looks from inside to outside the organization, and the other focuses inward. (Also value driven isn't as effective an acronym.) Veta explains that she wanted to take a more self-focused approach because the association has no direct industry peers. "This is about running your race to the best of your ability and being conscious of what's to the left and right of you—but not prioritizing what's to the right and left," she says. ACC sent surveys to its more than 29K in-house counsel members asking them to rank which programs and services they most valued. The good news: there was near-perfect alignment between what was valued and what ACC delivered.
Veta Richardson
But Veta is not one to rest on her laurels: "Even though you're small 'h' happy, what does it take to make you capital 'H' Happy with an exclamation point?" ACC held focus groups at its annual meeting with cross sections of its membership (people who are new to in-house, international, chapter leaders, for example). Their responses were used to test out new things the association might do better. Among the revelations: members weren't interested in having ACC try to influence law school education, but they did want more business development education.
Association of Corporate Counsel CEO Veta Richardson
The results also helped inform the five-year strategic plan, which includes goals like building the next generation of in-house counsel, increasing advocacy efforts, and expanding membership and offerings internationally. Now that the plan is laid out, Veta has gone on an all-out communications spree. The idea is to get members thinking about how they can chip into the organization's objectives. With so much strategic thinking, we can totally understand Veta's passion for escaping through soap operas and reality TV shows. She tells us she's a fan of General Hospital and The Real Housewives series. We also can't help but think the cozy new set-up in her office (seen above) would be perfect for a talk show...

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Philanthropub Rethinks Philanthropy
 
Raj Ratwani and Nick Vilelle
There will soon be a new way to do social good: drinking beer. A "philanthropub" coming to DC called Cause will operate just like any other bar—except that all profits that don't go to staff or operational costs will go to charity. The bar is the brainchild of Naval Research Lab cognitive scientist Raj Ratwani and Nick Vilelle, who most recently worked on small business development for TechnoServe in Swaziland. The idea was hatched over beers (how else?) several years ago. Nick was looking to support non-profits he'd encountered over the years, and Raj wanted an easy way to give back. Cause itself is not a non-profit. (All those alcohol sales don't really fly with the IRS.) However, they plan to register as a "B Corp" or for-benefit corporation once they're up and running.
Raj Ratwani and Nick Vilelle
The philanthropub is one of the latest examples of a social enterprise raising its own money rather than relying on donors or grantmakers. Cause won't pad its prices for charity or solicit donations. "Our intent is not to have an uncomfortable, pushy environment," says Raj. It will publicly post revenue and charitable dollars raised on its website. Three to five lesser-known local and international organizations will be selected every quarter. The duo are choosing the first round of non-profits through suggestions from their personal networks, but down the line they will have a webpage for organizations to submit a hassle-free application. When your check comes, you will be able to choose which groups you'd like to support. Servers will also be able to answer questions about the causes just like they would food or drinks. Cause will also host non-profit events. If it proves successful, Raj and Nick would like to replicate the philanthropub model elsewhere. So drink up.

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Top Five Big Budgets
 
National Education Association
Ever wonder which associations have the largest budgets in the DC area? ASAE has helpfully ranked them in its Associations Matter report, released Monday. Check back in our next issue for more on association and non-profit employment, wages, and revenues.

1. AARP
Members: More than 40 million
Budget: $855 million

2. American Chemical Society
Members: More than 163K
Budget: $480 million

3. National Education Association (above)
Members: 3.2 million
Budget: $337 million

4. National Rifle Association
Members: 4.3 million
Budget: $218 million

5. American Diabetes Association
Members: N/A
Budget: $205 million

 
Send news and story ideas to reporter Jessica Sidman, jessica@bisnow.com.
 
 
 
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