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January 5, 2011 
Association 007

As we move forward in 2011, we're curious what you think are the hottest topics in the association world. Have an idea or topic for a future event? Send us an email.

The name's Morrison. Tom Morrison. The secret agent/CEO of the Metal Treating Institute has significantly boosted his association's non-dues revenue over the past five years. The Florida-based exec tells us how he's shaken (not stirred) things up. (We blame all James Bond references on Tom for sending us this awesome photo.)
Metal Treating Institute CEO Tom Morrison
Since Tom took the helm of MTI in 2005, the four-staff association has increased the average revenue it generates per member company by nearly 30%—without any dues increases. It also maintained its membership numbers during this recession. Tom credits a large part of that to the association's online education offerings. Whereas MTI used to bring in $6-7K from printed educational guides and handbooks, last year it generated $85K total from education, with $75K from its online academy. MTI based its online courses on a Blockbuster movie rental model where you can pay per entity or buy a subscription with unlimited access. "Members came out of the woodwork to do that," Tom says. One of their incentives is the "Heat Treat Specialist" certification that Tom implemented for employees of member companies who have 12 months on-the-job experience and 60 hours of training.
Metal Treating Institute CEO Tom Morrison

Social media is another one of Tom's secret weapons. But just like Fight Club, Tom says the first rule of social media is that you do not talk about it—at least to your members. "Our members never hear the word 'social technology.' Ever." Instead, they only hear about new advantages or problems solved. Tom says that too often organizations rush into social media for the sake of just doing it and don't do their research or think about how they will use it to solve a specific problem. Tom tells us he spent two and a half years talking to people who'd successfully implemented social networking sites before finally deciding to launch a private network. He learned that a social network should not be an exit off of the "members-only highway," but the highway itself. Translation: When members click on the members-only section of the association website, they go directly to the social network, as opposed to a members-only webpage with a link to the social network in the corner.

Metal Treating Institute CEO Tom Morrison
In his spare time, Tom channels his inner '70s rockstar. The Bon Jovi fan has been playing since the age of three and performing on stage since age 13. Today, his audience is the congregation at Harvest Bible Chapel of Jacksonville Worship. And, oh yes, we have YouTube clips of some live performances. Check him out in action.

Hey, Mr. Mayor...
Urban Institute crowd
As of Sunday, DC non-profits are working with a new mayor, Vincent Gray. We joined the full house at the Urban Institute to hear about some of the top issues facing the area, the new administration, and local organizations. Some good news: Overall crime is down since the '90s and 2000. Also, we learned DC's rate of insurance coverage is second only to Massachusetts. Some bad news: unemployment is still high and affordable housing is as scarce as this venue was crowded. But Brookings Institution senior fellow Alice Rivlin told the crowd that things overall are not as bad as they seem: "Although the District faces serious fiscal challenges over the next several years, these are actually manageable. If we think of ourselves in comparison to other cities, there's hardly any other city you would rather be."
Olivia Golden
Urban Institute fellow Olivia Golden, who moderated the panel, talked about the challenge of being a medium-sized city in a much larger metropolitan area. While that means the DC government cannot fully control the fortunes of the entire region, Olivia says it also means there's greater appeal in partnering with organizations that have reach throughout the region. She added that every new mayor starts with the opportunity to bring people on board. "There is good will, particularly at the entry of a new mayor, that one should try to work on."
Send story ideas to reporter Jessica Sidman, jessica@bisnow.com.
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