WMCA Strategic Planning Review by President Zuehlke

WMCA Strategic Planning Review by President Zuehlke

10th July 2013

Faith Elford

If it rained, sleeted or snowed…I was at a WMCA District meeting this year! It was a pleasure meeting everyone and I was always greeted with wonderful hospitality. My goal this year was to educate as many people as possible about some of the challenges WMCA is facing and to help the members understand the role of the Board and the decisions they need to make to ensure WMCA is around for many more years.

Running an organization like WMCA takes a great deal of time, education, dedication, and financial support from many volunteers. It’s becoming a challenge to find volunteers to serve WMCA. Thanks to our past leaders, the WMCA has also grown tremendously over the past 32 years, and what we are learning now is that we should step back and re-evaluate the direction we need to go to ensure strength and survival for years to come. Even the IRS is telling us this because of how big we’ve become!

This is why the WMCA Board of Directors worked together to develop a strategic plan. This plan was developed after completing a needs assessment through surveys to the board members and a daylong session with a facilitator. These are the 5 common goals your board came up with:

1. Re-evaluate the governance model and committee structure
2. Grow membership participation
3. Extend the professional image of the Clerk
4. Continue to work on and evaluate the Strategic Plan
5. Enhance education and training.






As President, it was my goal to champion the evaluation of the governance model. The Board read the book Race to Relevance-5 Radical Changes for Associations and contracted with a professional consultant to provide training on proper management of an association. We were asked to take off our clerk’s hat, listen and learn with an open mind to find out what it takes to run a successful organization. We were the first WMCA Board to receive professional training on running an association; I felt very fortunate to have this experience since I, like many other members of the Board, don’t have much experience in running a non-profit organization.

-  It is the Board’s role to make policy.
Here are some of the highlights of what we learned:

  • Day to day tasks should be left to staff.
  • Projects or goals are assigned to committees or task force members.

- We should determine what types of expertise and experience is required to serve; recruit leaders with the right experience and develop a plan to build the board with the right people.

  • It is also very important that YOU vote for the leaders that have experience, proven their leadership skills and have the future of the organization in their best interest.

- Provide continued leadership development and succession planning for their leadership roles
- We should establish an efficient and effective board structure that looks at:

  1. Size of Board

            a. Research, studies and industry standards say 5-7 member boards are most efficient and effective. More than 7 become cumbersome.

            b. WMCA Board has grown from 14-25 members by adding board members to accommodate work load - a mistake boards all over the country have made instead of committees, task forces or staff being added.

                i. WMCA positions that were added before receiving this educations are:

                    1.  2 Directors at Large ( these were added to assist the President – which we learned that the President should be requesting assistance from their Executive Board) 

                    2.  2nd Past President ( to give them more time to finish their goals that did not get completed during their term as president and past president)

                    3.  8 District Director Co-Chairs (however, between the two, they only get one vote)

        2. Number of meetings per year 

                a. WMCA increased from 4 to 6 meetings per year - possibly as a result of the board growing in size, meetings took longer, less was accomplished.

        3. Committee structure

                a. Several changes were made last year by eliminating committees that were inactive, reducing committee size and re-evaluation of their purpose and roles.

- Reducing board size is change, change is hard and scary for some, but exciting and challenging for others

- The biggest challenge for nonprofits is recruiting volunteers to serve on boards or committees. The number one reason – time. They can’t get away from the office that often. Did you know that you have officers that use over a weeks’ worth of vacation to serve on your board? I commend them, but not many are willing to sacrifice vacation time to serve on a volunteer board.

As clerks, we all know how ineffective, cumbersome and time consuming it would be to have to work with such large boards. Should that be any different for our association?

It’s not only time consuming, it’s also expensive. I did a simple calculation and for a 25 member board to meet for 6 meetings cost over $30,000! This figure includes mileage, travel time, meeting time and salary of attendees. Whether it’s at tax payer expense or personal, that is pricey. If the board was 5 -7 members the cost goes down to $4,000 per year and it’s somewhere in the middle for a 14 member board.

There are some very important resolutions in the Quill that you will be voting on at the conference in August. Please read them and ask questions if you don’t understand what you are voting for. When you read my report on what happened at the Executive Board meeting in June, you may be confused and wonder if some of the decisions made were in the best interest of WMCA. If you have any questions after reading them please either e-mail me at vwaterford.clerk@tds.net or call my direct line at 262-534-3924 and I will answer any questions you have.

Even after this year comes to an end for me, it gives me great pleasure knowing this Strategic Plan will continue to be in front of the Board and this association will continually be evaluated to ensure it is nimble, efficient and effective in providing you everything you need to be successful in your career as a Municipal Clerk. I’m very proud of the accomplishments the WMCA has made and will continue to make for you and am much honored to have served as your President.