With the challenges of COVID-19 forcing associations to adapt, the Greeting Card Association moved to a new management model to help the organization modernize and navigate pandemic-related changes.
Like so many organizations, the pandemic forced the Greeting Card Association to reconsider the way it was doing things.
“I think the pandemic has ripped off the Band-Aid in forcing people to think differently,” said Nora Weiser, GCA’s new executive director. “The board was ready to look at things in a new way.”
Part of the new approach included moving to a hybrid management model, where Weiser is focused on the organization’s strategy and vision, while an association management company (AMC) handles day-to-day operations like HR and finance.
“The real value in this model is that my time can be spent on that creative side, on focusing on where the board needs to head,” Weiser said.
Weiser’s work with the board will focus on navigating pandemic-related changes, as well as modernizing GCA. “They want to revamp and are looking at everything they are doing,” Weiser said. “They want to create a more innovative culture, create ideas that build on policy. They want to figure out: How do you create this culture that fosters innovation at the highest level of the board and make that trickle down to what the association does?”
This transition to a hybrid management model began with GCA’s board issuing a request for proposal that sought a full-time executive director with experience in creative industries who would be supported by an AMC. Civica Associations, Conferences & Exhibitions is the AMC that won the bid, suggesting Weiser serve as GCA’s executive director.
Even though this is different from the traditional full-service AMC model, Don Knox, managing director of Civica, is looking forward to the new approach.
“From my standpoint, I’m pretty entrepreneurial, and I want to grow this association: more members, more revenue, more services,” he said. “Working with someone like Nora, who more than doubled the size of the American Cheese Society—she added new certification programs, doubled the size of the conference—will put us on target. She is very entrepreneurial.”
Weiser mirrors their excitement. “They are handling membership, events, social media, all kind of with my umbrella oversight,” she said. “I will work closely with this team to make sure they understand the board’s end goals.”
As the organization pivots to the new model, Weiser hopes members will notice the difference. “At the Greeting Card Association, we talk a lot about being a community. Our members are very collaborative,” she said. “I think if we can carry that sense of community over to the way we are managed and run, our members will see and feel that difference.”