In keeping with the progress of the Strategic Planning Task Force last year, the Executive Committee entered our term with the responsibility of considering three possible proposals for a Central Office solution. The primary reason for this was to remove the day-to-day operations of the Association from the Executive Committee so that this group could more effectively focus on increasing our capacity to serve and educating the professionals and paraprofessionals in our region. At the same time, the laws, regulations and tax codes governing associations like WACUHO are becoming more complex and requiring specialized knowledge to stay compliant. More specifically, WACUHO adopted an ambitious Strategic Plan in 2015, and we want the Executive Committee and our volunteers to be able to focus more resolutely on the initiatives outlined in the plan to increase the benefit, professionalism, and impact of our Association in our region.
During WACUHO Strategic Planning efforts that were in progress in 2011 and 2012, and then again in the current planning effort, it was recommended that we consider three possible solutions:
- Approach ACUHO-I to see if they may be willing to partner with us to achieve some of the administrative and financial work of WACUHO. The hypothesis was that as a sister organization with a similar mission and larger infrastructure, ACUHO-I may be well-poised to partner with us on these needs.
- Send an open call to all member institutions to see if one or more of the campuses may be willing to serve as WACUHO’s host institution to perform administrative and financial work. WACUHO did not set a price for this, and expected that an interested campus may provide us with a proposal on how this support could be provided and what it costs they would seek to have reimbursed.
- Contact financial and administrative companies who provided similar services to small companies to see if a package could be put together to accomplish the work needed.
To prepare for this process, WACUHO developed a fairly comprehensive list of responsibilities in the financial, programmatic, and technical categories that we believed could be achieved by a paid partner. This information was shared with ACUHO-I and with companies who were interested in providing a bid to WACUHO for the variety of functions where we sought support.
We received proposals in two of the three categories. One was a proposal provided by ACUHO-I to provide financial and programmatic services for WACUHO, and the second proposal was from vendors who provide prices for a variety of bookkeeping and financial services. Although we sent an open call to member institutions for an institutional home-base to serve as our central office, we did not receive any inquiries or expressions of interest.
We received a number of vendor proposals from worthy companies that could provide strong support in very specific areas, particularly in the management of our finances. However, none of the vendors provided proposals that were as strong or comprehensive as the one we received from ACUHO-I. As the ACUHO-I Central Office in Columbus, Ohio already performs all of the functions and services that we were seeking, their staff was able to develop a proposal tailored to our typical business and programmatic activities. Thus, when the Executive Committee reviewed each of the proposals and decided that the Central Office initiative called for our in Strategic Plan would best be addressed through a partnership with ACUHO-I.
Our next step was to identify possible funding avenues. The Finance Advisory Committee was able to review our current expenditures and provide preliminary information on how savings could be realized in the current operating budget which were comprised of costs that would go down or be eliminated with the use of ACUHO-I’s services. In addition, a Strategic Planning Task Group was formed to consider a variety of options for generating revenue to support the remaining expense of a Central Office agreement with ACUHO-I. Once savings and additional means of revenue generation were provided, the Executive Committee felt comfortable committing to an agreement with ACUHO-I on a trial basis. To provide transition time for the financial changes to be more fully developed and realized, we committed to cover the costs for the first fiscal year through expenditure from our Association Reserves.
Our hope and expectation is that this will be a fruitful partnership – one that we’ll wish to continue well into future. As one of the initiatives in the Strategic plan calls for a review and update to our financial structures, we expect that a sub-committee will be charged in 17-18 to examine this more deeply and come to the Association in 2018 with a robust plan for continued strong financial management to serve as a foundation for the organizational development we are undertaking with our strategic plan initiatives.