By Shelby Rowe Moyer | Photos courtesy Lynda Patterson
Lynda Patterson, CEO and Founder of AMPED
As headlines about the coronavirus dominated the headlines of newspapers and TV news last winter, much of the U.S. was still unaware of its impending impact. Organizations and associations with international membership, however, were already very much aware of its devastating reality.
Owner and president of AMPED Lynda Patterson and her team had to immediately pivot to virtual meetings and events to serve their clients. The Madison-based company serves clientele nationwide, providing management and employee infrastructure for nonprofit professional and trade associations — meaning Patterson heads up numerous organizations and her employees can step in and manage just about anything a non-profit organization would need.
AMPED also has offices in California and Washington D.C. with employees scattered across U.S. states. For AMPED, the coronavirus has really been a testament to its remote business model — that staff don’t have to be stationed in one location to run global and national associations. In fact, AMPED’s diverse staff and clients made it possible for them to quickly adapt to virtual.
For the organizations AMPED works with — like the Wisconsin Society of Executive Associations and the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistance — meetings and conferences are hugely important. The funding for these organizations primarily comes from the educational conferences they deliver, and within a matter of weeks, they had to be totally altered or cancelled.
Revenue began to evaporate as the associations AMPED serves were losing their biggest funding source, so AMPED secured CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for their clients. Patterson’s team applied for a PPP loan for AMPED as well, and it gave her company some extra cushion to help weather the economic turn. Fortunately, AMPED was able to retain all of its 50 or so staff members without layoffs or furloughs. They even gained some new clientele amidst the pandemic.
From a service standpoint, COVID-19 has affected the way Patterson and her team are working with their clients, now that all of their programming is being done online. Patterson is hypothesizing the virus will have a 24-month grip on how society functions, so she’s trying to plan the success of each organization accordingly.
“We have [seven] months down and 17 to go,” she says. “And who knows what will happen? None of us have a crystal ball. So, what does that look like for us in terms of virtual meetings? We can’t rely on that annual meeting, so what are we going to do to create value throughout the year and keep people connected?”
Strategic planning has been another big shift in the work AMPED is doing, as boards of directors come to them with a need to develop strong direction in the aftershock of the virus.
As we head into 2021, Patterson says she’s been rethinking how the AMPED team operates. She’s been conducting more employee surveys than ever before, and AMPED staff have gotten creative to stay connected. Several of their working moms started a support group to share how they’re managing the challenges of home and work.
“It really has gone pretty well,” Patterson says, of weathering the societal and economic quake caused by COVID-19. “For us, running associations that are not based in Madison, it reiterates that we don’t all need to be in one place to do the good work that we’re doing. We feel fortunate that we’re not a business that relies on being in one location.”