Monday, September 8, 2014

Six Questions for Globalization

By Virgil R. Carter

Is your non-profit organization considering globalization? Or have you already begun efforts towards becoming a global organization, and are wondering what’s next? Last week we looked at three important initial questions about non-profit organizations and globalization. Here’s the second part of six key questions which may help guide your organization’s discussions and decisions about going global.

1. What does success look like?
Has your organization reached agreement on what constitutes success? Establishing and communicating clear, measurable benchmarks for success - strategic and operational - may be one of the single greatest ways of realizing success in globalization, and avoiding the criticism inherent in attempting worldwide leadership. Identifying success measures also supports continuing assessment of whether or not your association has the proper business model and business plans needed for successfully achieving the measures. Success measures and business models go hand in hand. It’s hard to have one without the other.

2. Does your organization offer open and equal leadership opportunities for members, regardless of geography?
Members and customers, regardless of geography, want to have something to say about (and participate in) the direction of the organization they support, and the quality and timeliness of your goods and services. Otherwise, they let their feet do the talking, and walk to another association that is more open and responsive. Global organizations have to find ways to share in leadership opportunities, regardless of geography. When was the last time your board’s chairman was from an emerging market country, or you held a board meeting in an emerging market country?

3. Should dues differ and reflect the annual salaries and earnings of members in emerging market and other nations?
Airline tickets and hotel reservations are no longer are priced at a single rate for all users. World-wide air travelers know that air fares purchased outside the U.S. tend to be cheaper than those of U.S. carriers (thanks to host government subsidies in many cases). Why should association dues be any different, especially when your annual dues in U.S. dollars may represent a host country amount equal to perhaps 20-25% of the annual salary of a potential member? The opposite side of this issue, however, is that expenses to support a new or renewing non-U.S. member generally exceed those of a U.S. member (at least for associations whose major business units reside totally in the U.S, and whose service must originate from the U.S.). What to do? Successful global organizations are likely to be those whose dues recognize the differential abilities to pay, and who can provide needed services and value outside the domestic U.S.

4. Are your globally available goods and services: a) timely; b) affordable; c) culturally and regionally relevant; d) available in the host country language?
The importance of this question is probably self-explanatory, but many nonprofits haven’t made the necessary important investments in their goods and services to ensure that they offer global value in a global market. It is all too common for U. S. nonprofits to believe that because they offer goods and services, there is interest and demand outside the U.S. Goods and services that are accessible in a timely manner, that have regional content, and have opportunity for host country language are among those that clearly bring highest value to the host country markets and customers.

5. Does your association work with, for, against or ignore similar host country

Sooner or later each association must have a policy and a business plan that provides consistent guidance in situations when there are similar associations, providing similar goods and services, elsewhere in the world. Cooperation and mutual respect is always a good goal, but it can be challenging to achieve. An effective approach for building good relations among similar global organizations is to launch annual exchange visits, followed by low-risk, low-threat joint activities. An early atmosphere of camaraderie and mutual purpose goes a long way towards building good long-term working relationships. Once established, these relationships will be immeasurable in maintaining cooperation and mutual respect.

6. Are you patient?
Globalization is a challenge. It’s usually a substantial investment, and it’s generally not a quick return on investment. It’s a challenge to prepare a suitable business plan and to use resources wisely. It’s a challenge to show measurable results. Patience is required (along with sound business planning and processes). Be prepared and prepare your volunteer leaders. You will be tested.

For those who have successful answers to these questions, you will find globalization to be a rewarding way for your association to continue to do business and to provide the leadership that is the basis for your mission. Good luck!

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