AORE Association Governance Update Governance Update - Page 3

As a part of our current strategic plan, AORE has continued to invest in improving its organizational health. In doing so, our boards over the past several years have invested time in educating ourselves about governance. It is my hope that this article can provide some context to this topic that makes sense to you, as fellow outdoor programmers, educators and AORE members. One of the most resonating themes I have seen is that associations need to separate governance from association management. Governance is the structure and rules that dictate how your association operates and governs itself. Governance creates the checks and balances that a board is responsible for upholding in representing its membership. Governance is not the management and daily operations of the association. In my mind I think about governance as the foundation that makes sure our association stays within the fundamental building blocks of our mission. Effective governance structures allow our board to be nimble and advocate for our association 365 days a year, not just tending to high level business 3 days a year at our annual conference. Association management is the operations - for me, I liken it to the micro level of marketing, membership, technology, staffing infrastructure and other administrative tasks and projects.

AORE’s current governance model is antiquated for an association of our current size and structure, and certainly for an association that aspires to continue to grow and serve its membership on a greater scale in the future.

As members, we must understand and take very seriously who we elect to our board. We need to seek varying perspectives and seek out individuals that will help move our association forward; we need industry experience, legal expertise, business strategy and access to networks. Successful associations know that individuals who possess these skills and connections are often not found only from their membership, but by casting a wider net based on the greater vision of what their association wants to aspire to become.

I have come to understand that navigating governance changes can be a hard transition for a passionate and ruggedly independent membership like ours. However, it is a growing pain that thousands of other associations have proven successful in taking their associations to a higher collective level. The outdoor industry is evolving quickly, just as participants needs and interests, our lands, administration and access to funding are. As a result, AORE needs a governance structure that allow us to be nimble and progressive in a fast moving and dynamic industry.

“The future of governing must be different” writes Jeff De Caga. “Creating a different future of governing means focusing the work of governing on the future. Associations need their boards, with the support of their staff partners and other contributors to focus their attention on understanding, anticipating and preparing for a complex and uncertain future for their organizations and stakeholders, as well as the broader system of connections, exchanges and relationships in which they participate and through which they also derive value.”

The board will be proposing to the membership significant governance changes. Ultimately, the current board feels these are the best changes to fulfill what you’ve elected the board to do - fulfill AORE’s mission. However, it is change, and change is hard and scary for all of us no matter how much we try to deny it. As we begin to roll these out to our membership this year I ask my fellow members to have an open mind, ask questions to your board members and challenge yourself to see what AORE could be in the next 5- 10 years. If you have questions, please pick up the phone and give one of us a call as that’s what you elected us to do: Represent you.