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The official PASS Blog is where you’ll find the latest blog posts from PASS community members and the PASS Board. Contributors share their thoughts and discuss a wide variety of topics spanning PASS and the data community.

PASS HQ's Relationship with the PASS Organization

Over the past few weeks, the community has told us you would like a better understanding of the relationship between C&C (PASS HQ) and the PASS organization. In this post, I’ll do my best to give you a better picture of our partnership with C&C, and the value PASS gets from its services as a management company. I understand there are some concerns regarding the use of C&C, which I’ll address, and provide some clarity around C&C’s role within the organization.

We gain an enormous amount – both financially and tactically – from our partnership with C&C. I will admit that, before joining the Board, I had some doubts about PASS’ need for an association management company. I’ve heard the discussions, and I’m glad you’re having them. From outside the organization, it’s hard to imagine the abundance of activities that go on every day with a community of this size. After I got an inside view, I quickly realized that we simply would not be able to run PASS on volunteer support alone. The overwhelming amount of day-to-day administrative activities, community support, finance, website maintenance, troubleshooting, integrations, partner (or sponsor) relations, marketing, event management, data protection, and governance activities are too much for our astounding volunteer force to take on. We rely on the team at PASS HQ to make it happen and keep our organization moving forward year-round with direction from community feedback and Board guidance.

The community needs to understand that C&C is a partner, not just a service provider. They care about our community's success. In their role, the C&C team works with the Board to help define strategic and operational plans for the organization. We use their expertise and knowledge of the industry to support the development of content, educational offerings, and community initiatives; expertise that data professionals with consuming day jobs would not be able to provide. 

On top of the ongoing administrative support, we also rely on them to provide personal interaction with our community, so members have one-on-one human contact to discuss topics like running events, how to use a portal, or how to connect with other community members around the world. C&C’s small, dedicated team understands our community and has built relationships with our members, despite the evolution of our volunteers and the Board over the years. Many of the team at C&C have worked as part of ‘PASS HQ’ for several years. Having worked with them over the last two years, I now know that they not only bring association expertise, historical context, and organizational experience, but a true passion for this community and the impact they make. We are not just another client to them.

One of the big pain points to many in the community is that C&C is a for-profit business, like any other association management company. The costs associated with their services are significantly lower than what we typically see, and have experienced, with other management companies. The management company PASS used before C&C cost 40% more based on numbers I've seen.

Here’s where I can share some data, because I know that’s what the community really wants to see. C&C’s average rate for FY2021 sits at $59.69/hour, which from my perspective, is great value for the professional services we receive and have access to. The going rate for third parties and vendors we have and are working with is at least $100/hour. 

C&C does not charge our organization for time spent over and above their regular hours, which is rare. If we took their additional time into account for comparison, this would further reduce C&C’s hourly rate. 

Since FY2017, C&C’s management fees have remained relatively flat year-over-year despite rising inflation rates. During this time, they have been able to increase PASS’ profit margin through efficiencies, partner relations they have built, and maximizing every dollar earned. PASS’ total revenue has nearly tripled since partnering with C&C in FY2008.

Another interesting thing to note, which has not previously been shared, is that the C&C team have also been faced with significant cutbacks as a result of COVID-19. No one has been immune to these unusual circumstances. To ensure the cashflow that PASS needed to weather these challenging past few months, without immediately depleting our reserves, C&C temporarily reduced PASS fees by nearly 30% monthly.

This means that every team member at C&C has been working on a reduced salary since April, while continuing to ensure that we were able to plan, transition, and launch a virtual conference, in addition to their regular responsibilities supporting our 350K members. 

There have also been questions raised around C&C’s relationship with other clients. While I need to be clear here that C&C’s business operations are independent of the work they do for PASS, I can say that the PASS HQ team has been hired exclusively to support PASS, and having access to a dedicated team allows PASS HQ to be responsive and agile to the changing needs of our community. 

If you ever want a closer look at C&C’s costs, they are reviewed every year by the Board and are built directly into the PASS budget. They are also included in the PASS budget that is posted annually. You can review the budget here, so please take a look and you can always reach out to the Board with any questions regarding it. 

PASS is a global organization that is expanding continually, which requires a huge amount of support from the team at C&C. Without this partnership, we could not continue growing our membership and overcome obstacles like the ones presented to us this year. While our organization could not exist without the selfless contributions of each and every one of our volunteers and community leaders, the same is true of C&C and PASS HQ.

I’m sure you’ll have questions that I haven’t been able to answer in this post. Contact me, let’s talk. I’m always happy to discuss this, or any other questions you have about how PASS operates.  

As we get ready for PASS Virtual Summit – and believe me, it’s going to blow your mind! – I’m personally looking forward to continuing to collaborate closely with those involved to pull out all the stops for our first-ever virtual conference. 

We > Me,


Christopher Yates
About the author

Chris Yates is a Vice President | Director of Data and Architecture with over 16 years of experience in the SQL industry. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, as well as Director-at-Large for PASS. His experience includes design and implementation of both OLTP and OLAP solutions, as well as assessment and implementation of SQL Server environments for best practices, performance, and high availability solutions accompanied by a strong development background.

Chris enjoys helping others in the SQL Server community and does this by contributing to several SQL forums, creating “The SQL Professor”, and speaking at several SQL functions. His passion and focus is not only on technology but also helping others along their way and career path.

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