Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts

Have a general question? Looking for feedback on a procedure? Looking for a referral? Want us to share a best practice? Whether it’s about your conference, your survey, your membership campaign or your technology -- there’s no one better to ask than our experienced members and/or the headquarters staff of NYSAE. To submit your question, please email

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Question:  We’re on a calendar year, but it’s already November and we’re projecting below budget on a number of revenue items. Any advice for a last minute push for revenue?

Answer: A few things:

  • Open registration early. If you have a major event in 2020 and registration doesn’t generally open until a few months beforehand, consider opening now and incentivize (discount window) for early registration. You can target just members or those who attended in 2019 and call it a special “Loyalty Registration Rate” that they can take advantage of from now until December 31st.
  • You don’t have to be a charitable organization to develop innovative promotions for Giving Tuesday, this year on December 3rd. You can leverage Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays with promotions tied into gift giving – give a gift of membership, a gift of learning, a gift of mentorship, etc. Incentivize – give a gift to your colleague and receive X discount. If you have a lot of educational offerings, create something like a “Passport to Learning” – offer a great deal for a full year of education at a discounted price, but they have to take advantage of this now, during this window.
  • Now is the time to get next year’s dues renewals out. Don’t forget about those members who may have skipped this year but were members in prior years. Create a “win back” campaign with a limited run in November and December. Offer incentives like reduced dues and complimentary registrations for renewing now.


Question: I have heard a great deal recently about Sustainable Investing and ESG investments.  Can you explain what is meant by that? 

Answer: Sustainable investing is an umbrella term for investment disciplines that consider Environmental, Social and Governance criteria when selecting a company stock. Sustainable strategies go by a tangle of many names that are not uniformly applied and sometimes lack distinction, including Ethical, Green, Impact, Mission, Responsible, Socially Responsible, Sustainable and Values. All of these strategies, however, regardless of the label, use ESG criteria and can be classified into three general strategies:

1. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

2. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG).

3.  Impact Investing.

Answer submitted by: David P. Murphy, Senior Vice President The Murphy Wealth Management Group, Portfolio Manager, PMP

Question: Our conference sponsorship numbers are down, any recommendations?


Answer: Here’s a few ideas to try if you haven’t already.

  • Research competing conferences online and. Look for which companies are sponsoring or exhibiting
  • Run down the individual attendance list and see who might be registered as a regular attendee but in actuality is a supplier/supporter and could potentially bump up.
  • Check out your social media followers, especially Twitter. They’re already engaged and there will be recognition when you send an opening email
  • Look at your speaker roster. It’s possible that some of them are suppliers and eligible to support
  • Create intimate, advanced level education sessions to engage your long-time attendees

Answer submitted by Holly Koenig, CEO, NYSAE

Question: We’re a small membership-based association. My Executive Committee just asked me to put out an RFP for an audit. They are perfectly happy with the firm we’ve been using and their pricing but they believe it is best practice to get proposals every 3 years. My feeling is, if we’re happy with the firm, why do it? Or why make another firm respond if we’re just going through the motions? Plus, they’re going to request that the current firm respond. What could I say to my Board?


Answer: This is an issue that many nonprofits deal with.  How do you balance the role of good governance with the underlying cost benefit?  Such an exercise should never be about “going through the motions.”  If an organization does go out to bid for any service, there should be a fair opportunity for firms bidding to win the work.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort by firms bidding to participate in the proposal process. 

Procuring for the independent audit is one of the most important tasks that a board is delegated with.  Organizations look to the independent auditor as a sounding board and to provide assurance that management is fairly presenting information contained in the organization’s financial statements.  There should already be a process in place at an organization where the audit relationship is evaluated on an annual basis.  Such evaluation typically takes place during an annual planning meeting with the external auditor where the audit plan is presented to the board or a committee thereof and when the audit engagement letter is signed.  The current auditor should be continuously evaluated on whether they are proactively bringing fresh ideas to the table, always available to the board and management to answer questions and sharing industry best practices.  When the organization hired the existing auditor and went through a thorough evaluation process, concluded that the pricing was reasonable and has given the auditor incremental price increases over the years, pricing should not be a significant metric.

There will always be someone out in the marketplace willing to perform the current work cheaper.  Some nonprofits gravitate towards the “low cost” provider model which can cause more harm in the long term if that service provider doesn’t possess the skillset to do a thorough job.  A viable alternative might be to request the current audit team rotate team members to bring a fresh perspective.

Answer submitted by Amish Mehta, CPA, Partner, Friedman LLP