A Users Guide to Interel
Founded in 1982, Association Management Group (AMG) is dedicated to delivering professional services related to the staffing and management of tax-exempt organizations. AMG merged with Interel in 2017. Today, Interel’s US office, headquartered in the Washington, DC area, is one of the leading association management companies (AMCs) in the country, serving more than 18 full service clients and delivering numerous outsource services to others.
Why Do Board Volunteers and Enlightened Executives Select an Association Management Company such as Interel Over Other Direct Staffing Options?
More of today’s progressive and forward-thinking board of directors are selecting the shared management and staffing approach, usually at a considerable G&A savings compared to the expense involved in funding an office and directly employing staff.
At Interel the shared staffing approach relates to creating an appropriate client team; 95 percent of our clients have an exclusively assigned executive and from one to six additional support staff assigned to their team.
Organizations select the Interel option to:
- eliminate all employer liabilities
- increase access to a highly skilled and stable professional staff
- reduce operating and administrative costs
- achieve complete elimination of capital expenses and long term leases
Additionally, benefits include:
- Unprecedented technology capabilities because of Interel’s cutting-edge web-based technology infrastructure. No other AMC has Interel’s ability to design, host and manage the content of client websites, while providing “live” in the database services to members. Some of these include membership join/renew, event registration, membership directories/locator programs, profile update capability, webinar delivery, social media and discussion forums and event calendaring. Interel has a variety of software products to meet all client needs.
- A contract provision which grants clients the unequivocal right to prevent Interel from serving organizations they find competitive or incompatible.
- A contract provision, which guarantees clients that Interel will not accept commissions, fees or incentives. In other words, we guarantee our status as your unconflicted “agent”.
- A contract which reduces the liability of officers and directors by at least 40% and a related reduction in O&D insurance costs.
- Complete elimination of all staffing and headquarters issues, including the costs and disruptions associated with staff changes, staff recruitment and all other staff management/compensation issues.
- Complete elimination of all issues, which limit and/or eliminate organizational flexibility such as: office and equipment leases and employment contracts.
Interel Pricing and Income Sources
Unlike many association management companies, Interel offers its clients a “fixed fee” versus a “time and materials” fee.
Like stand-alone headquarters, Interel’s fees are based upon the costs of the people, facilities, equipment and insurances allocated to each client. Interel offers its association professionals unique opportunities for professional training and advancement, competitive benefits, productive facilities and technology tools, competitive compensation, and opportunities to work with respected colleagues, all to attract the profession’s best and most committed professionals.
Further, everything Interel purchases, from pencils and pens to hotel rooms, are leveraged against our total buying powers. Since Interel does not “mark up” or accept incentives from vendors, every client is able to benefit from Interel’s discounted and leveraged buying.
In addition to full-service association clients, Interel does outsource work, especially in meetings and event management, government relations and consulting to other associations.
Interel Expenses and Business Costs
Due to Interel’s sophisticated accounting systems, clients receive Interel’s volume discounts and receive and review original bills Interel uses to pay vendors. This unusual practice and benefit allows client organizations to create and maintain their own independent credit record/reputation while at the same time benefiting from leveraged buying scenarios.
Interel’s principal expenses include employee (both assigned and shared) compensation, followed by employee benefits, occupancy expense, equipment (computer hardware and software), employee training and acquisition, insurances and bonds, office supplies, professional dues and subscriptions.
In every instance and category, Interel costs and cost ratios remain below even the best results achieved by stand-alone offices; a fact that is reflected in the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Operating Ratio Studies.
Confidentiality and Security
No client finances, records or other assets are ever co-mingled or put at risk. Individual accounts and databases are established and maintained for each client and state of the art security codes and conventions are maintained to protect the confidentiality and security of all client assets. We agree to maintain confidentiality for any client who may elect to discontinue a relationship with Interel and our contracts specify that no real property, including data, created by Interel for clients ever transfer to Interel ownership.
What If Client Organizations Elect to Change, Add or Reduce the Services They Receive from Interel?
No organization can change purposes, priorities or activities easier than an Interel client association. Any change can be achieved simply by notifying Interel in writing. If the change is significant enough to require staff changes it may be necessary to observe the 90-day no fault notice specification in the Interel agreement to allow for reallocation of people, but in most cases such changes can be made quickly.
What If Client Organizations Wish to Change, Reduce Or Add Staff?
Unlike stand-alone staff situations where employment agreements, new employee search activities and costs, new employee training, loss of service and related issues disrupt the smooth functioning of organizations, Interel undertakes and/or eliminates these concerns. Not only does Interel step up and take care of these matters, it provides temporary staff to continue services and the association Board retains its right to select its chief staff executive. This applies to the first and all subsequent executives necessary to serve Interel clients.
Just like effective stand-alone headquarters, Interel’s client leaders/chief staff executives, with the support of Interel’s HR Director, select and dismiss staff assigned/authorized for the client they manage. Interel does not believe we can hold chief staff executives accountable unless they are empowered to also select and manage their staff teams. Interel’s HR/Operations department also assists chief staff executives with staff searches, training and management.
All Interel employees must meet Interel’s stringent qualifications and performance requirements in addition to the chief staff executive’s requirements.
How Are Interel Staff Assigned to Client Organizations?
Interel’s president, the assigned chief staff executive and each organization’s elected board leaders meet initially and then, at least annually to discuss and agree upon the services and staff needed to support the organizations goals and objectives.
Most Interel chief staff executives are selected jointly by client organization’s and Interel’s president. Usually, the client Board and Interel’s president agree upon selection criteria, including a range of compensation. Interel then presents two to four candidates meeting that criteria and the client selects the final individual to be hired by Interel as that client’s chief staff executive.
All staff assigned to client organizations is detailed in Interel agreements and are hired and fired by the mutually selected chief staff executives. All staff changes are appropriately discussed with client leadership but client leadership remains sufficiently uninvolved so as not to confuse the employer-employee relationship or become exposed to the liabilities related to that relationship.
What If Client Organizations Wish to Reward Interel Staff Assigned to Their Organization Beyond Interel’s Rewards?
Compensation and other forms of reward can become very complex. While Interel never wishes or intends to limit compensation or other rewards we must, as the “employer”, insist that all financial compensation of Interel employees be done with the full knowledge, approval and accounting required by law and in compliance with Interel’s status as an independent contractor.
It has been Interel’s practice that if individuals or client organizations feel Interel employees serving their organization are due additional compensation or other rewards beyond that received from Interel, they consult Interel’s president to discuss the most appropriate process. The additional compensation is taken from the client’s annual expense budget.
What If A Client Organization Wishes to Modify or Terminate Its Agreement With Interel?
One of the most compelling reasons for doing business with Interel is the simplicity and flexibility of changing priorities and directions it affords organizations. Interel has been very successful at encouraging, facilitating and enabling client organizations to change priorities, size, direction, staff, and every other dimension. Usually, clients are able to make such changes and remain Interel clients but now and then, Interel can’t and won’t go where the client wishes to go and that is when the 120-day no fault termination option included in all Interel agreements becomes most valued.
There is absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate with clients and/or Interel knowingly opting to end a management relationship. Of course, the longer the notice given, the better and the more appropriate the transition will be. Any notice down to one hundred twenty days is workable and allows the appropriate treatment of the people and organizations affected.
Who is in Charge?
Interel fully subscribes to the Carver policy governance model. This model focuses on a results-oriented approach to board governance and puts the board fully at the helm and “in charge.” It ensures that the chief staff executive hired by Interel, but reporting to the board, has the opportunity to be successful and to work with leaders who are focused on governance versus management and operations.
The board’s ownership authority is best employed by operating as an undivided unit, prescribing organizational goals and objectives and making all its decisions using the principle of policies. The Policy Governance model provides a values-based foundation for discipline, a framework for precision delegation, and a long term focus on what the organization “is” and what it does.
What Should an Organization Do to Consider Becoming an Interel Client?
Contact Bruce Wardle, CAE, Chairman or Ryan Wall, Director, Shared Services: