By all measures, AASECT – the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, is a thriving, healthy organization. Its recent successes include a new website with an integrated database and the introduction of best practices in financial management and certification. But AASECT wasn’t always a model of good governance and good management.
How did Bostrom contribute to AASECT’s success?
It began three years ago with the development of a strategic plan.
“As part of our discovery process, we talked with leadership and members to gain an understanding of their vision and set realistic goals and expectations,” said Dee Ann Walker, executive director, AASECT. “We defined a mission statement that focused on elevating the standard of practice,” she said.
Working with AASECT leadership, Bostrom identified the organization’s initial priorities: enhance systems and financial controls, and increase membership, particularly among young professionals. “Through conversations with leadership, we gained an understanding of the primary reasons members join AASECT, which is to be part of a larger community of like-minded professionals,” said Walker.
The nonprofit professional organization’s members include: sexuality educators and counselors, sex therapists, physicians, psychologists, clergy, lawyers, as well as other related professions. Each member shares an interest in promoting an understanding of human sexuality and healthy sexual behavior.
To strengthen systems, Walker and her team developed policies to ensure consistency across several functional areas. The team created a budget monitoring system and increased the financial “IQ” of the Board, which included a review of financial statements and an orientation for new treasurers. Bostrom staff led the Certification Committee through two, weekend-long strategic sessions that resulted in better record keeping, consistent requirements, clearly defined processes, defining core knowledge areas, all of which strengthened and added credibility to AASECT’s program.
What does success look like? In three years, Walker and her team increased membership by 400 individuals, built (and launched) a website featuring several community forums to give members opportunities to connect and learn from each other as well as a database for the public to locate sexuality educators, counselors and therapists. The team also grew AASECT’s certification program, enhanced programming to create a vibrant, contemporary conference and achieved a balanced budget – all without increasing member dues.
Another positive outcome was improving the organization’s messaging, promoting its consistent use across the organization and targeting specific audiences, particularly young professionals.
To help attract these professionals to the conference, AASECT created a presence on Facebook and Twitter and even launched a mobile app. These initiatives, along with improved logistics management, helped the conference attract more than 500 people – half under the age of 40.
Building on this success, AASECT will make more organizational improvements including updating its certification program to make it more user-friendly. And it will start a planning process to develop a new three year strategic plan.