Amazon is making a killing with their membership program – and other retailers have discovered they can ride the Prime wave. Since Amazon has raised the price for Prime membership, other companies can successfully do the same. The American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) Associations Now blog has given this a catchy name – the Prime effect.)
For the association industry, we can steal a page from Amazon’s playbook – while the membership model is nothing new, the way your association approaches the membership experience constantly needs to be kept top of mind. It really is all about the member experience. Amazon and other service giants, such as Netflix, have learned to cater exclusively to their members through complex algorithms – gone is the “one size fits all” mantra. Woven into the member experience is value. Membership-based organizations need to remember their value proposition, and they must deliver on it. Try not to get too wrapped up in dues payments and donations. Focus on the value your association can offer your members.
Convenience is also key. Your association may drive value, provide the best and most comprehensive solutions and benefits – but are they easy to access? Are your members spending too much time on painstaking tasks that provide no value to them? Do your members have a clear picture of the benefits you provide? Amazon and Netflix have seen sustained success not only because of their innovation, but because their services are easy and fast to utilize. Customers know exactly the benefits of being a member, and it’s easy to access those benefits and manage their own accounts at a time when it’s most convenient for them.
Something that we must also consider – which is outside the scope of Amazon and Netflix services – is the impact your association has on constituents. More often than not, the value of an association goes beyond transactional services. Associations provide education, advocacy, community, and more to their members – but it doesn’t stop there. Those members in turn provide value to their industries, constituents, and societies to which they belong. If you want your association to experience longevity, embrace your role in providing value that goes beyond membership.
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
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
Improve communication between headquarters, chapters, and members with a unified platform
With so many multi-chapter organizations operating in the United States, there is relatively little research on how they maintain order and operations. How do individual chapters interact with their central or national office? What are their biggest challenges? It is difficult to keep processes streamlined when attempting to coordinate activities, goals, and communications. To dig a little deeper, here are four issues that are routinely faced by multi-chapter groups:
2. Membership data management
How many members do you have? Who needs to renew? Which members participate the most? What (and where) is the most recent reporting? We live in the connected economy – there is no need for cumbersome and imprecise methods of file sharing.
An effective member management database and can seamlessly maintain records and renewals online while enabling groups to grow their membership. That’s why we’ve developed a user-friendly database that makes it easy to search, sort, and upload files while also streamlining dues collection and payment processing.
3. Being social but consistent
To manage this issue, the head office should develop a comprehensive social media strategy, create an email list of who is responsible for the campaigns for each office, and send them appropriate guidelines. Building a successful and consistent brand requires regular communication between HQ and the points of contact at the respective chapters, which is easily accomplished through internal email campaigns.
4. Leveraging technology for all chapters
The solution? A single, connected platform will provide chapters the tools to manage their respective silos while also coordinating with organization leadership. A user-friendly, adaptable level of consistency makes training, turnover, and growing membership much simpler to manage. And it can transform an organization for the better.
If you’re part of a multi-chapter organization and face even one of these challenges, investigate our all-in-one membership management platform and see how it can simplify your life.
Updated since original publication on 10/10/2016.
The days of cash carrying are over. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple decades, you’ve noticed the societal shift toward electronic payments. What does this mean for you and your PTA? Let’s get schooled on payment methods. The reality is that ignoring this trend can seriously hurt the future growth of your unit. The benefits are enough to outweigh whatever costs are incurred – and we have proof. Check out these five payoffs of accepting electronic payments.
1. Grow your membership
Studies indicate more than 70% of Americans have at least one credit card. Even more compelling is that 60% of consumers pay with credit cards instead of cash. This means that accepting credit card payments increases your ability to attract potential PTA members who find electronic payments more convenient. You can connect with a larger audience to recruit members, reach more donors for your campaigns, and increase ticket sales for your events. It’s simple math – when you broaden your reach, you also increase your chances of boosting membership.
2. Increase school and PTA revenue
Research shows that people are willing to spend more on their credit cards than when making cash purchases. This has obvious benefits for fundraising campaigns, as it can lead to bigger donations from individuals. The New York Times sites several studies that demonstrate the increase in spending with credit versus cash of at least 5-10%. In one study, graduate students paid nearly double the price for a sporting event ticket when paying with a credit card!
3. Ease the burden of holding on to large sums of cash and checks
Unit leaders don’t need to be carrying members’ cash and check payments with them. By accepting electronic payments, you make it more convenient for your members to pay by their own method of preference, and you’re likely to save yourself a trip to the bank. Direct deposit also removes the inconvenience of paying out of pocket. Accepting electronic payments increases cash flow by limiting the time it takes for money to appear in your account. Instead of waiting for PTA members or donors to mail a check, then depositing the check, and waiting for it to clear, funds are deposited directly into your account.
4. Simplify recurring payments and donations
Unit members and donors can set up recurring membership payments and donations. memberplanet’s electronic payment feature is built in, easy to use, and features advanced encryption to ensure payments are securely processed and deposited directly into your designated account. Simplifying the payment process makes it easier to collect membership dues and retain current members, and is beneficial when collecting donations during fundraisers.
5. Build credibility with credit cards
Accepting credit cards is particularly helpful because it adds credibility to a PTA’s operation. When your members and potential members see that you’re accepting credit cards it increases the legitimacy of your unit. Furthermore, limiting your PTA to cash transactions can seem unprofessional given the rise of electronic payment options.
Accepting electronic payments facilitates the exchange of money for you and anyone you collect payments from. This is beneficial and convenient for collecting membership fees, receiving donations, and selling event tickets or any other PTA product or service your offer. With an evident shift from cash to credit, it is essential to offer a variety of payment methods to retain members, grow your organization, and maximize PTA contributions.
Ready to get started? Log in to memberplanet and set up your account to collect electronic payments.
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of managing their volunteer members and growing their membership all year long.
Originally published: 7/01/2017
It’s hard to imagine that a casual meeting over a short stack of pancakes at IHOP turned into one of the most innovative, autistic support groups in Southern California. Or how a parent became involved with an Indiana-based nonprofit when his life changed forever following the diagnosis of his 5-year-old son.
“It’s very hard for these individuals in that they feel really isolated,” said Uttal. “They have difficulty making friends and communication struggles. By having a group, they can find each other and have a reference point that they’re not alone. By leveraging the power of many, we are able to address some of the underlying problems the community is facing and work to resolve them.”
Uttal’s journey with autism began when her son was diagnosed more than 20 years ago. At the time, there was no awareness, no support, and most schools were not properly equipped. She knows it can be scary as a parent to worry that your child might not be able to financially support him or herself.
A Long Road
The problems people with autism face range from social skills, to finding a job, and living independently after standard school years. Unfortunately, Uttal said many resources and educational needs virtually evaporate after a child with autism reaches 18. This is why OCASG works on providing support through shared experience, as well as a range of activities for members.
Activities are broken into three categories: social, educational, and support. Social activities are held to build connections and encourage organic friendships. Uttal said it is very isolating for a parent when everyone else’s child is getting invited to parties, and your child isn’t because they are different. Which makes this unique pocket of support in Orange County so crucial for children and their families.
Another activity is a monthly support meeting for parents of children with autism, and adults with autism. The group plans activities from an educational standpoint such hosting speakers who help to educate on topics like government services and qualifications. There is also a series on essential skills that will focus on three different topics throughout the year, such as moving out of a parent’s home, finding a job, and building relationships.
“It’s so hard for them to be successful in our society and to find a job, either because they don’t have the social skills, or companies don’t feel comfortable hiring them. If you think about two percent of society being un-hirable, you realize how scary that is.”
There is a lot of work to be done, and that is what Uttal focuses on. She wants to work on expanding job opportunities in her community.
She urges parents who have children with autism to find a support system. Bond with other families, lean on, share problems, and seek solutions together, but above all else, be hopeful.
Thrown for a Loop
For Arrick Garringer, autism didn’t enter his life until his youngest twin was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5. That’s when his world was thrown for a loop.
“For me personally, I didn’t know anything about it,” Garringer said. Luckily, he and his wife found Interlock, which helped put them in contact with local service providers in the area and gave them people to lean on for support.
Now, as a board member, Garringer works with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Interlock East Central Indiana is run by parents and educators of individuals with autism. According to Garringer, Interlock’s goal is to assist and educate families in East Central Indiana who are affected by autism spectrum disorder. The group also works to aid local special education classrooms and accommodate the needs of the students. Interlock is currently working on its 12th annual fundraiser.
Its main event is an Autism Awareness Fest, which includes a 5K race and fundraiser. “We’re really excited about the 5K and acceptance walk because it helps provide resources and information to parents,” said Garringer. “Families can learn what’s available. There will be refreshments, face painting, and bounce houses for the kids. It’s really become a celebration.”
All funds raised during the month of April are spent back in the local autism community. The group has established a grant program that provides special equipment or software needed for classrooms. These tools help remove social barriers and aid children with autism in navigating the world. Another mission is to provide support and build connections.
"We go to the YMCA on special days,” Garringer said. “It may seem like a normal thing to walk into a YMCA, but for our small group it means a lot. We have trips to the movie theater, and the theater will turn down the lights and sound. We go swimming in the summer. It’s a support organization and we also try to build connections and friendships.”
Log in to memberplanet and make the most of the tools available to make a difference in your own organization.
Originally published 3/31/17
You’ve invested your time and efforts in managing your PTA, all with the goal of improving the lives of children in your community. Now it’s time to pass on the torch – and all the knowledge you’ve gained – so that the future leaders and administrators of your organization can build upon the great work you’ve done. How can you set them up for success? Our 5 Keys to A Successful Officer Transition is what you need to know to make the most of this critical transition.
1. Demonstrate value
To get someone acclimated to a new role, you’ll need to go through their necessary tasks. For every specific skill or task to be instructed to your unit officers, explain first what it is you’re about to share. More importantly, explain why it is important for your PTA. Even seemingly menial tasks (such as setting up back-to-school registration packets) have high value. How do these tasks work in their specific scope? How do they affect the overall success of the unit? It’s important to give a sense of the flowchart of the unit and the officer’s role within it.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
While demonstrating, use real-life examples that have been taken from day-to-day experience and practice, as well as visual references to give context. Provide simple instructions. Make it relatable and fun, and be sure to frequently check for questions.
2. Observe and adjust
You’ve provided the instructions. Now have your board show you how to do it. The “Each One Teach One” principle applies here. As you’re observing, adjust the course when necessary. Encourage and empathize with them, keeping in mind that you were once new to the role as well.
3. Tailor the training
We all have our individual quirks, and personality will eventually be revealed, especially in the course of training. Make time to discover your officers’ own skills, unique experiences, and new strengths they bring to the unit. But be sure to recognize their different ways of learning, and be open to let them take ownership of their roles.
Grow your unit officers. Assign sample scenario tasks (e.g. planning an upcoming fundraising event, a membership drive, or volunteer opportunity) and see how they deliver. Let them own it. It’s like the bonsai trees in Mr. Miyagi’s workshop. You have strong roots and all kinds of cool branches.
Provide support and feedback. Work with each officer to set up short- and long-term goals for themselves and the unit, and make sure they know how to use the memberplanet tools available to them. On the feedback loop, too, show them what’s been done previously by the unit. Encourage them to find ways to innovate and improve efficiency while building on past successes in pursuit of the mission.
Seek out your officers’ feedback and listen to their perspectives as well. Successful learning is a two-way street, and hearing from them will bolster your own knowledge and help you further educate them.
When your officers are confident that the outgoing board have their back and the PTA’s interests at heart, they’ll operate at peak productivity, and they will lead the rest of the unit in the way they’ve been instructed. It’s the best way to build a strong team and community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
PTA Simplified is a series of tips for PTA and PTO leaders to get the most out of managing their volunteer members and growing their membership all year long.
Great trainers are naturally great leaders. And by definition, great leaders are those who inspire confidence, strength, and optimism. They are the folks who can motivate their group administrators to reach their fullest potential (and be just as powerful as dragons).
The term admin can be applied broadly – it can mean your committee heads, officers, or anyone you’ve put in charge of tasks that keep your organization running smoothly. As far as training the best admins, a great trainer/leader uses methods that can be boiled down to a few guiding principles, known here simply as 5 Keys to Training Your Group Admins:
For every specific skill or task to be instructed to your team admins, explain first what it is you’re about to share. More importantly, explain why it is important for your group. How does it work in its specific scope? How does it affect the overall team? It’s important to give a sense of the overall flowchart of the group and the admin’s role within it.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
We are all individuals in the world, and personality will eventually be revealed, especially in the course of training. Make time to discover your admins’ own skills and experience. But be sure to recognize their different ways of learning, and be open to adapt to give each of them the answers they’ll need ongoing.
Grow your team admins. Assign sample scenario tasks (e.g. an upcoming social event, or a fundraising campaign or a yearly calendar of projects) and see how they deliver. Let them own it. It’s like the bonsai trees in Mr. Miyagi’s workshop. You have strong roots, and all kinds of cool branches.
Provide support and feedback. Work with each team admin to set up short- and long-term goals for themselves and the group and make sure they know how to use the memberplanet tools available to them. On the feedback loop, too, show them what’s been done previously by the group. Encourage them to find ways to innovate and improve efficiency while building on past successes and the great work that’s already been done.
As well, seek out your group admins’ feedback and listen to their perspectives. Learning is a two-way street, and hearing from them will bolster your own knowledge and help you further educate them.
When your admins are confident that you as their trainer/leader have their back and their interests at heart, they’ll operate at peak productivity, and they will lead the rest of the group way they’ve been instructed. It’s the best way to build a lasting team and community.
“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”
Whether you’re the leader of a fraternal group, a religious group, a nonprofit, or any other type of organization, there’s a good chance that the beginning of the quarter or the change of seasons will mean a time of transition in admins to a new guard. Or, it could just mean that the calendar will be a lot busier, and extra hands will be needed to execute your group’s plans. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for the departure of your current group of seasoned officers, or the necessary addition of other capable personnel to the mix – but really, all you need to do is remember a few important things.
1. Plan ahead, and then plan earlier
As any good recruiter will tell, the first step to give your group the most optimal chance of continued success is to give everyone the widest possible space and time to not be caught by surprise. Observe who’s currently doing what for your group at each level of the organization, and then project into the future who’ll be serving in those functions in both the short and long term. While there’s a good chance that folks will already be chomping at the bit to volunteer for new positions of responsibility, you should always be ready to actively look for someone to fill the spot(s).
Recruitment-wise, build in enough time to find and prepare your successors before they’re on the job. Whatever time you think will be necessary to cover the basics and beyond, add in a bit more of a time buffer to the duration just in case.
2. Know the idea, and the ideal
Use your own experience to guide the creation of your own actual list of requirements – yes, a written down list – of what’s needed for the position.
What’s worked for your group in the past? What hasn’t worked? What do you wish you would have known before starting your role? As the person who’s been performing these functions over time, you’re really the best suited to know the “idea” of the role.
Keep in mind, too, your sense of the “ideal” candidate. While no one may completely fit that bill (truth be told, probably no one does, or should be expected to… but they can come in varying degrees of close), you should seek someone who possesses the key traits. Are they good verbal and written communicators? Are they timely in performing tasks? Are they problem solvers and innovators? Do they understand the group’s immediate and future goals?
3. Choose players who’ve played, and played well
The best lead players for your group’s game likely already exist in the group. They understand the dynamics from the inside out, and they’ve also seen how your leadership has played out and helped further the group to reach its goals.
Using your group’s own members and many of the functionalities on the memberplanet platform, you’ve also got some key advantages. You can gauge who’s interested in assuming a leadership position via volunteer sign-up. You can launch an email campaign to announce positions that will be vacant. You can also survey your members about their interest in upcoming leadership positions.
And just as importantly, you can analyze your members’ involvement through the group’s activities, such as who RSVP’d to an event. Chances are high that the best next officers for the organization are members who have been involved in a lot of the group’s efforts, and that will be reflected in a concrete way in their participation.
Log in to check it out.