Remember when paper maps and Thomas Guides were the talk of the town? Throughout the last decade, the advent of GPS has all but killed the humble printed map. In fact, technological advances have executed countless products and services that, a mere 10 years ago, seemed to be the best thing since sliced bread.
However, there is one classic that has withstood the test of time. Even with all the new technology, email newsletters are still considered one of the best ways to grow and maintain relationships. According to Nielsen Norman Group, email newsletters remain the Internet’s best tool for supplementing a website.
Maybe you already have a newsletter and are looking for ways to spruce it up to reach out to members who seem to be disengaged. Or, it’s your first time to create one and you’re thinking of where to start. Whether you’re a veteran or newbie, these tips will help raise the awesome bar in sending out regular communication to your members.
1. Know your audience
2. Go easy on the eyes
You don’t need to be a graphic designer to find a compelling way of presenting content. We have a ton of templates (because who wants to start from scratch?) to help get you started. What’s important is that your message is easily digestible. Keep in mind members will view your newsletter on desktop and mobile devices, so breaking up text with lists, bullet points and pictures are a must.
3. Include impact stories or member highlights
For any group or organization, communicating how its success and efforts have made an impact encourages readers to work toward the group’s goals. Highlighting a member of the week or month for their contribution to the community or the organization promotes a sense of camaraderie as well shows appreciation for member’s efforts. Don’t be stingy with your praise – there’s always enough to go around. We agree with the late American philosopher John Dewey, who said, “…I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise.” Nothing will resonate with your members more than when you emphasize an individual’s positive influence on your group and mission.
4. Give fundraising updates and milestones
5. Include membership updates
Use email newsletters to update your members on new rules, fee changes, updated responsibilities, and any additional information that your members should be aware of. Email newsletters provide the perfect opportunity for reaching your members with time-sensitive and relevant data that will directly affect their role within the organization.
6. Event updates and recaps
Your events are nothing without the support of your members. If your group has a big occasion in the works (whether internally or something that is community-involved), you could possibly dedicate an entire newsletter to featuring that event.
The focus of your email newsletters should be to provide quality content and compelling imagery that will help sustain and grow your relationships with your members. Because inboxes get crowded with emails competing for your reader’s attention, newsletters should include content that’s worth their time. Your organization can only go so far without engaging your members, and a successful email newsletter campaign should get your members excited about what’s to come, eager to participate, and interested in receiving updates on how they can stay involved in the organization.
Fortunately, you have all the tools (including templates!) at your fingertips to create an email newsletter on memberplanet today.
Organizing a successful event is never without its challenges. Lucky for you, part of being a group leader means pulling it off without breaking a sweat. Whether you’re thanking existing members, recruiting new ones, or updating your agenda, use an event as a time to showcase your group at its best. Event planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Following a few key steps (and taking a few deep breaths) can make the whole process more enjoyable.
1. Commit to a Committee
Planning an event is much easier if you have a team to support you. If your group doesn’t already have an event committee, consider asking at least one or two people to volunteer. It will allow you to delegate tasks and benefit from the input and expertise of others. Establish a committee in the early stages of planning your event. This way, everyone can be on the same page from day one.
2. Plan Ahead
Depending on the type of event you’re hosting, start planning at least four to six months in advance. If you already know you’ll be doing an annual event, put it on your event committee’s calendar. This will give you time to lock down a venue, a caterer, a keynote speaker, or any details that are critical for your event. Give yourself an adequate buffer between planning and execution. Don’t be afraid to multitask, but anticipate event overlap, so separate committees can work in tandem.
4. Make a Checklist
Once you know why you’re hosting an event, you can start planning everything else. Organization is crucial to making sure the event runs smoothly, so create a checklist before carrying out your plan, and make sure you stick with it. A discussion board can be a valuable tool because it will keep your event committee on track and informed of how plans are progressing.
Here are some basic items to help you start your list:
Creating an event page allows you to post updates and pictures as well as answer questions that guests may have. Increasing communication and member interaction is a great way to build anticipation and boost attendance.
6. Stay Organized
This is the most important thing you can do to avoid mistakes and limit the stress of event planning. Keeping track of RSVPs, their plus-ones, meal selections, food allergies, and add-ons like raffle tickets and more can be a daunting task. Member management software streamlines this by allowing guests to RSVP and purchase tickets online. Event organizers benefit by having all of the necessary information in one location that they can access from virtually anywhere. A month before your event, plan a weekly check-in with your event committee. Increase it to daily check-ins the week before the event ensure that everyone is on the same page.
7. Have Fun!
You’ve worked hard to create the perfect event, and now it’s time to profit from a job well done. Remember to make a plan, set a goal, and stay organized. Most importantly, have fun! The hallmark of a successful event is being able to enjoy yourself alongside your guests.
Our event functionality, donation and email campaign features, discussion boards, and online payment forms make it easy to plan for your entire year. Ready to get going?
Updated and Refreshed since original publication on 5/05/2017
You’re trying to keep things running smoothly for your association (or your chapter), but are spending too much time keeping track of spreadsheets, finances, and events. If you feel like you’re running in circles, you’re not alone. If you’re ready to pull all your hair out, read this for some membership-management relief.
1. Start by organizing your members
Use membership levels to organize your members. Membership isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all option, and that’s okay. Associations often collect more if they allow members to pay their membership dues and give a donation at the same time. The generous guy or gal willing to pay a couple grand (and then some) can be part of one membership level (a really fancy one), while folks with a smaller budget may be able to access basic membership for $20. Some associations even offer free memberships in the hope that these upgrade to paid status later on.
Give the option to automatically renew membership. It’s great to have different levels, but you still need members to renew – and they won’t always remember (or want) to manually take money out of their paycheck. No matter how much they love you and your cause, making it inconvenient for your members to part with their money is painful, so give them the convenient option of an automatic payment plan.
For members who opt to pay manually, or those who are past due, send reminder emails to keep them informed. Communicate to members using the levels, types and auto renew statuses. Your messages should be targeted to specific recipients, whether those are your top-tiered members, lapsed members, or another list based on variable data.
2. Get mentally organized to save time and sanity
First, set realistic goals. Make them ambitious but practical; define targets that you think your team can actually achieve with hard work and dedication. How many members can you obtain, retain, or connect with in a realistic timeframe?
Now that you’ve got some targets, recognize the fact that you’re not likely to hit them unless you use a calendar. Whether it’s a smartphone app or a physical appointment book, a calendar is great way to get organized and hit consistent deadlines.
Set your priorities at the beginning of each day. List them in order of importance. Priorities help you finish what you start, which is always a good thing to do in business (and in life).
Review each of your goals at the end of each day. See what you achieved, what you need to achieve, what you did well, and what you could do better tomorrow.
Finally, clean up your dang office. Many leaders find it difficult to organize a schedule if their workspace isn’t squared away. An office should help improve productivity, not serve as a nesting place for small rodents. So, throw away that stack of unused lunch coupons, sift through the mound of papers, and set traps, if necessary.
3. Delegate the right tasks – and know which ones to do yourself
Delegation is simple – but if you’re not doing it right, you could be wasting even more valuable time. First, you need to identify the tasks you should delegate and the ones you shouldn't. Here’s some of the best stuff to pass off:
It’s important to let go of some of these jobs, even if you love or have gotten used to doing them.
Whether your association has 20 members or 20,000, it pays to stay organized, as well as to make sure the memberships you offer are flexible and diverse enough to attract new members and retain existing ones. Managing membership can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be a hair-pulling experience. With our tips and tricks, memberplanet will help you through your member management troubles.
Schedule a demo today to explore new ways to help your association succeed.
Updated & refreshed from original posting on 12/20/2017
We’re all guilty of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram before our heads hit the pillow at night. While social media has become a popular way to kill time, it also has many practical uses.
As a group leader, you are already aware of the necessity of branding across various platforms, so here are our top five ways to bolster your online presence by optimizing your social media engagement strategy, first and foremost with your own members.
1. Deliver Digestible Bits
Newsletters are great for providing various bits of information to your members all at once. Social media is best for delivering a brief message to a large audience. While people average a minimum of 50 minutes of Facebook each day, they typically only spend about 20 minutes on the site per visit.
This means you have a small window of time to get users to interact with your post. Providing relevant, unique and easily digestible bits of info should be the focus of your social media strategy. Nobody wants to scroll through a Facebook post or read a tweet with three continuations. You can prompt users to click through to a website by providing a URL within your post where they can access more information.
2. Promote Your Cause
Social media is an efficient and cost-effective way to broaden the reach of your cause, mission, fundraising campaign, or any other promotion. Whenever you send emails to your members, ask them to follow your organization’s social media handles. And make sure your posts tie in the cause or mission that appeals to your followers. People average almost two hours per day checking social media, making it a great promotion tool.
Note to memberplanet users: You can easily share your event or donation site to social media directly from the platforms. Group admins and members can also do this directly from the event site, donation site, or mobile app.
3. Include Video
You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that social media users watch A LOT of video. Our own metrics reveal that video posts on Facebook and Instagram get about double the engagement than photo posts. So consider creating a short video explaining your cause. There are a bunch of free services online, such as Adobe Spark, that pretty much put together video for you based on the images and words you choose. Live video content is also on the rise, so find creative ways to use features like Facebook Live or Instagram stories to get your message out.
memberplanet users: Adding a video to your donation site, event site, or email is also quick and easy.
4. Utilize a Social Media Calendar
Hiring a social media manager or finding a volunteer who’s up for the task is a great way to stay organized and on top of your online presence. A social media manager is responsible for curating and creating content and making sure it gets posted at the right time.
If you’re a team of one, utilize a social media calendar to minimize your time spent creating content. Hubspot has a free calendar template you can use to get started. Knowing when to post and what to post will help you strategically plan content for your members, as opposed to overwhelming their feeds or posting haphazardly.
5. Target the Platforms Your Members Use
Facebook is the most popular social media platform (1.59 billion monthly active users) but you shouldn’t limit yourself to one network. We recommend using the social media platforms your target demographics use. Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are major players in terms of their reach. By creating a diverse portfolio of social media strategies, you are likely to connect with more members and prospects. Twitter is a great way to get out a short message and interact with a large audience.
You can provide links to your website or event page. memberplanet’s donation, event, survey, and payment form modules have built-in URL shorteners, so you don’t need to worry about going over the allowed 140 characters. (There’s no excuse for putting out an ugly tweet.)
Social media is great tool for spreading the word about events, campaigns, and general information about your organization. It allows you to interact with your members consistently and in real time without flooding their inboxes with emails. Building a strong online presence can also attract the attention of potential members while keeping current ones engaged.
Follow us on social media for more member management tips.
Updated and refreshed since original publication on: 10/5/2017
We wanted to kickoff the holiday season by wishing all of you a happy Thanksgiving from all of us at memberplanet!
Eat, share, and be merry!
You’re put in charge. Now what? Group leader transitions are not without their complications, but that doesn’t mean they have to be difficult. By following a few key steps, you can ensure a smooth transition (think smoothie, not boba) that is beneficial for the entire organization.
The transition period is the time for new admins to prepare for their position while outgoing officers gain a sense of closure as they move on from a job well done. The goal is to maintain a sense of seamlessness and continue the great work that’s already been completed. Remember, you’re not starting from scratch. When done right, you avoid setbacks (which might feel like a chunk of fruit stuck in your straw).We’ve put together three pro tips for pulling off the ol’ switcheroo with minimal disruption to your organization.
1. Maximize your training
Access to information is critical for the continued success of the organization and the potential achievements of the incoming officer. They say teamwork makes the dream work, so make sure new and old leaders come together as a unit to make the transition easier and more effective.
Maximize the opportunity to learn from the outgoing officer by asking the right questions during the training period. Author and business mentor Michael Hyatt identified 20 key questions to ask other leaders to bolster your own skill set. Here are some key topics to inquire about during the transition process:
Additionally, reviewing goals and objectives from previous terms allows transitioning admins or group leaders to update themselves on the progress of those goals, so they have a reference point for the upcoming term. The former officer should provide a status report on ongoing projects as well as current budget and financial records.
To help you build upon the work that’s already done, check out the reports section on the platform, which provides a history of your group’s transactions. You can also see tracking for emails, event sites, and donation campaigns.
2. Make a great first impression
We all know that first impressions matter, so this transition period is the time to showcase yourself to the group. Membership management software is a helpful tool because it lets you access current membership information and reach out to the entire organization simply and efficiently. Use it to send a group email to introduce yourself and let members know about the transition process, upcoming meetings, and any changes the new administration will be making to its agenda.
You can target your email to specific member levels for a more personalized message, as well as use the Smart Lists feature to segment your distribution lists by variable data.
3. Be prepared to prioritize
An incoming leader can get overwhelmed with information overload, so being organized is essential. Updating lists and prioritizing tasks can make the early days of transition less stressful.
Your organization probably already has a list of essential documents you’ll need to get started (University of Texas Leadership and Ethics Institute provides their members resources), but here are some of the basics you don’t want to overlook during the process.
Online document storage is available on the platform to upload documents that can be shared with all your admins. If you’re a new admin user, simply check document storage in your admin portal to see what’s already been uploaded.
Once you have obtained and sorted through these documents, you'll be able to focus your efforts on the most pressing issues as a new leader for your organization. Uncle Ben (of Spider-Man fame, not the rice) said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” You don’t need to be a superhero to learn the value of this lesson.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
As a group leader, you set the tone for the entire organization. It’s important that you stay up to the task by being prepared and making the most of the officer transition process. Maximize the resources that are available to you and build upon the wisdom of past leaders and current colleagues. Orchestrating a successful transition is your first task as a leader, so make it count!
By keeping important documents, reports, contacts, and everything else in one spot, memberplanet simplifies leadership and officer transition. Log in to check it out.
Updated & refreshed since original publication on 12/11/17
During the holiday season, everyone is bombarded with fundraising campaigns. You’ve likely taken advantage of giving season yourself, and that’s not a bad thing. To switch things up, consider also offering your members a way to give their time, and not just their money. In November, you’ve got Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday – one right after the other. To help you out during this especially busy time for your members, we have some tips to encourage volunteering. Yes, really!
Set up an incentive
Members are lot more likely to volunteer their precious time if there is a return on investment for them. Try offering an incentive that will help give members that little extra push to sign up. The incentive can be simple; for example, first dibs on fundraising booth shifts, one extra vote in a t-shirt design survey, or even a gift card. The point is, no matter the occasion these small enticements can lead to a big turnout on participation.
Plan and communicate early
Procrastination is the enemy. If you’re collaborating with a local nonprofit, have a plan in place as early as possible. Communicate clear expectations to everyone involved, including your members. Create a frictionless experience to volunteer by sending out a form with easy-to-select sign-up dates and times, so it is effortless for members to contribute their time. Once someone signs up, have an automatic confirmation email set up to include all the information they’ll need for the event. Sometimes, plans don’t pan out – and we recommend having a back-up plan if a couple volunteers need to back out. By putting in a little effort ahead of time to connect with all parties involved, you will likely see more willing, and might we add happy, volunteers.
Make your cause hit home
In addition to competing with busy schedules, there are countless wonderful causes and charities your group is up against. The more that you can personalize your cause to your potential volunteers’ interests, the more successful you’ll be in getting them to commit. Try to volunteer for causes that are local, or causes that directly affect your group – and communicate the benefits of their time. Members are more likely to be encouraged to help a cause they are passionate about, and one they know makes a difference.
Updated & refreshed from its original publication on 11/17/17
When you’re planning an event, are you the kind who likes to roll up your sleeves, set wheels in motion, and plunge headlong into details (logistics)? Or are you more of a visionary, a big-picture thinker who likes to paint with broad strokes (strategic)?
Whether you prefer event planning logistics or strategies, or dabbling in a bit of both, these nine milestones and list of pro tips that go along with them are not to be overlooked. We’ve categorized the to do’s as logistic and strategic items, so you can delegate them out to your team members according to their strengths. Note that the milestones may vary for the type of event you’re hosting, but the general rule of thumb is, the earlier you can do them, the better.
12 months out
Some organizations create separate event pages dedicated to planning for their upcoming fundraisers.
For Delta Gamma Phoenix Alumnae Chapter, this lets administers get a head start for their “Tables that Bloom” annual fundraiser that benefits the Delta Gamma Foundation and its philanthropic endeavors.
Tony Marmo, president of the Ulster County Italian-American Foundation, dedicated to advancing and preserving Italian heritage in the Kingston, NY, area, hosts 130-plate dinners each month to raise money for scholarships, cancer treatments, and charities. Each dinner raises as much as $5,000.
“You have to create buzz,” Marmo said. “You need an interesting topic or speaker – something to draw a crowd.”
Six months out from your event date might seem like a long time, but remember, you can’t move forward in other areas until after you’ve made many of your creative decisions.
2) Invitation (include a calendar attachment and set a reminder/alert).
3) Reminder message.
On your calendar invitation, don’t forget to set an event reminder. Include directions and link to a map if that’s not already on your dedicated event site.
On memberplanet, you have a ton of email features at your fingertips, from templates, to targeted distribution lists, to tracking reports. Use them to optimize every email send.
In publicity, reminders are essential. Digital Marketing Ramblings reports the average office worker receives 121 emails every day. Because emails are so disposable and we’re all easily distracted due to multitasking, everyone needs multiple reminders.
Marmo agreed: “One email sent one time just isn’t going to do it. You’ve got to promote the event and sometimes do it in more than one way.”
The logistics of strategy
We’ve just taken a look at strategy and logistics tasks in planning your event. By understanding which types of planners you and your team members are, you can up your game in any of the areas that need work.
Log in and get started with your next event.
Updated and Refreshed since original publication on 12/1/2017
As a group leader, one of the highest mountains you’ll need to climb is reaching your fundraising goal. Whether you’re planning for a big Greek Week event or something small for a local nonprofit, running a successful campaign requires organization, dedication and clear definitions of your goal. Combining our fundraising features with these simple tips will help optimize your donations and reach that mountain’s peak.
1. Take advantage of online convenience
The whole point of fundraising online is to make it as easy as possible to meet your goal, so we’ve cut out a few steps to not only give you a head start, but also rid you of paper work.
Search for a charity using our platform.
When you create a donation campaign through our platform, you have the option to search more than 1.7 million 501(c)(3) charities and raise funds on their behalf. Any individual or group can raise funds to benefit the charity selected through this feature, and the funds will go directly to them – no accounting or transfers required. Donors will automatically receive email receipts, and donations made directly to qualifying 501(c)(3) charities may be tax deductible (check with your accountant).
1. Hover over Donation Sites on the left navigation sidebar
2. Click Create Donation Site from the submenu
3. Select the Find a Cause module
4. Follow the rest of the prompts to create a donation campaign
Offer electronic payment methods.
Making the most of digital fundraising techniques can help you reach a larger pool of donors, not just the ones who are willing to pay by check or cash. Offering electronic payment methods gives members the option to donate by their preferred payment method, use their phone, and sign up for automatic, recurring donations.
Optimize your page for viewing on any device.
Online fundraising also allows you to share information quickly to a large audience, so make sure your fundraising page is design responsive for optimal viewing on any device. (If you’re using memberplanet, we’ve got you covered).
2. Use visuals to appeal to your audience
Incorporating visual elements, such as video and photos, is an effective way to create a voice. It’s important to not just think about your plan for obtaining your goal, but to also focus on why it’s important. Conveying the “why” to potential donors deepens their connection with the cause and appeals to their emotions, which translates into more money for your organization.
To add photos and video to your Donation Site, select a template to edit, or select the existing campaign you want to edit.
Click the photo icon to upload photos, or copy and paste a video URL in the Add Videos field.
3. Reach out to your inner circle
4. Adopt a social media strategy
We see social media as part of a larger multi-channel communication strategy, which is to communicate with members using the channels (email, phone, social media, etc.) they prefer. One third of online donations come from peer-to-peer fundraising, making it a vital market to access. In 2018, 69% of the public uses at least one social media platform. If you’re still not using social media to fundraise, you’re missing out on a great tool for spreading the word about your campaign in a fast, cost-effective way. Figure out which social media platforms your target demographics are using, and start by engaging them on those platforms.
memberplanet users: As soon as you publish your donation campaign, you can share your site to social media directly from the platform, mobile app, or the page itself.
Use our built-in URL shortener if you’re on a character limit, or customize the full URL.
To customize the URL or get the short URL, click on the campaign you want to manage.
6. Follow up
Set up an automated thank-you email to your donors to go out immediately after receiving funds. In it, you can encourage them to spread the word about your campaign. Go the extra mile and share the impact of your campaign with donors, staff, and volunteers. Leave them feeling a genuine sense of gratitude from you. This encourages them to participate in upcoming events and fundraisers from your organization. You can easily send an email to all your members and participants, but it’s better to tailor messages to target specific recipients, such as generous donors and key players of your team.
Our platform features were created to help you build a great campaign and maximize donations. Now that you know some excellent ways to reach your fundraising goal, you can focus on getting to the top of that mountain.
Updated and Refreshed since original publication on 3/8/18
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is quickly approaching, isn’t it? The first sighting of snow-covered décor or lit up trees means that giving season is upon us! There is one major event that kicks off the holiday giving – Giving Tuesday. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday 2018 takes place on November 27th. In 2016, more than 85 community coalitions across the U.S. and people in 98 countries/territories participated in the charitable event. Participation further bloomed in 2017 as people from over 100 U.S. community coalitions and people in 150 countries participated in 2017.
According to the Giving Tuesday organization, in 2016 Giving Tuesday raised more than $177 million online. 2017 was even more successful, it raised over $300 million online. Last year’s results prove that donors are extremely with charitable donations during both Giving Tuesday and end-of-year giving in general. As awareness of the day continues to grow each year, so do its benefits for charitable organizations. Giving Tuesday has become a global event, but you don’t need to be a national or multi-tiered organization to participate. Here are three steps even a local nonprofit can take to prepare for the main event.
Step 1: Set your Giving Tuesday fundraising goals
An important part of preparing for Giving Tuesday is setting your fundraising goals. When setting your goals, you can consider the following:
Remember, the more prepared you are in determining your goals, the easier it will be for you to nail down your message when you’re ready to share your goals and grow community involvement!
Step 2: Fire up your fundraising campaign
You have a million ways these days to approach promoting your donation campaign. You can go the chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire approach, which is kind of a slow burn at first, and then switch to fireworks finale mode, an all-at-once effort, toward the end.
Whatever approach you decide on, take advantage of email and social media – two powerful marketing platforms.
Mobilizing volunteer efforts is another strategy that spreads awareness throughout your local community and celebrate giving. The holiday giving season can mean giving one’s time or donating goods – not just funds. By inviting donors, employees, and members of the local community to your event, you can attract attention to your cause.
Step 3: Make donating easy
In business, a best practice is to make it easy for customers to give you their money. The same applies to your donors. Always give them the options to donate when they want and how they want. By offering the option to donate electronically, your supporters can make secured donations conveniently from a website or mobile device, whenever they want, even if they’re thousands of miles away. You can still accept cash or check, but you’re not limiting your fundraising by only accepting those forms of donations.
Nonprofits that offer online giving also widen the donor net and grow overall fundraising revenue. By setting up a way to process funds electronically, you can also offer donors the option to pay by recurring or installment payments. Recurring payment options are a great fit for those who want to contribute weekly, monthly, or quarterly throughout the year. Installment payments give donors the convenience of breaking up a large sum of money (which they may not have considered giving all at once) into multiple payments of their choosing.
By using these key steps to prep for Giving Tuesday, your organization will not only be a part of a growing movement, it will also give you the chance to celebrate the success that your charitable efforts deliver to your local community.
Ready to get started? Log in, create a donation campaign, and choose from multiple templates, including Giving Tuesday and other seasonal occasions.
Updated from original posting 10/23/17