Here we are again. It’s the time of the year when we have to start setting goals for our organization.
When it comes to goals, there’s one key question we need to ask ourselves: Can this goal be told in a story?
You’ve heard the adage: Facts tell but stories sell. It’s true in marketing and advertising. It’s equally true when it comes to setting goals for an organization. That’s because setting a goal is just the first step in the process.
After we’ve developed a goal for our organization, we have sell it to the troops. Convince folks that this is an endeavor worth pursuing. And that comes down to good communication skills. It’s a fact. People make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. Whether we’re trying to accomplish a specific task or raise funds, we have to be able to communicate our goal clearly and emotionally to our members and other stakeholders.
We have to bring people on board. Rally our members to our cause and lend their support. Y’know, herd cats.
If we want others to join us on our quest, we have to be able to show our members why ours is a worthy cause. The more enthusiasm we can generate about our goal, the easier it will be to accomplish.
How do we inspire the type of passion that we want from members, the type of enthusiasm that’s going to carry us through good times and bad until we cross our goal line?
With a good story.
Whether our objective is a one-time, standalone goal (think sponsoring a clothing drive for hurricane victims) or part of a larger, long-term initiative or mission statement (think serving the needs of children with disabilities) a good narrative helps us communicate more persuasively with our members.
The more we can connect with people on an emotional level, rather than a purely rational one, the more excitement we’ll generate for our cause, the faster we’ll achieve it … and the more fun everyone will have.
According to Joseph Campbell, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the significance of myths and storytelling, “Everything starts with a story.”
“Everything starts with a story.” – Joseph Campbell
Great stories touch us on an emotional level and teach us universal truths about human conduct. Think about it: Every story we’ve ever been told has had a point to it, a theme. The theme is a lesson about life. Something to which humans should aspire. A goal.
Consider your goal from a storyteller’s perspective
As we set a goal for our organization, let’s take time to consider the goal from a storyteller’s perspective.
Every story has a hero. In our case, the hero is our organization. Every story has a conflict. There’s something wrong that needs to be fixed. Perhaps we’re trying to raise money to send kids to camp. The conflict is, some children can’t afford it and our organization wants to fix that. Every story also has a resolution. In our case, it’s our objective. Accomplishing our goal will resolve the issue at hand and bring the story to its close.
Can we incorporate these elements into our goal and use them to weave a compelling story that captivates our members? The truth is, people have a fundamental need to connect with something larger than themselves.
A good story about our organization and its goals will help bring more people into our tent and enfold them into its larger mission.
As organizational leaders, we must be able to find the narrative within our cause, capitalize on our natural storytelling strengths, and express our goal with clarity, creativity and conviction.
Embrace the conflict
Oh, yeah. There’s one more thing to remember, too. By definition, great stories involve a journey that is rarely easy. In fact, as is often the case, the more conflict, the better the story. So let’s approach our goal with the same mindset. It won’t be easy to achieve (and, if it is, perhaps we’ve set the bar too low).
In most narratives, the hero has a long-term goal that is fed by a series of short-term goals. Accomplishing our short-term goals are the means by which we eventually achieve our ultimate mission. We can think about our organizational goals the same way.
Our long-term goal is usually provided in our mission statement. It is our story’s theme. As you know, our long-term mission is achievable, measurable and time-specific.
Our mission (not an impossible one) then must be broken down into shorter-term functions and operational initiatives. Short-term goals are great ways to identify specific functions that need to be undertaken, and offer measurable results that allow us to chart our progress, feel a regular and much-needed sense of accomplishment, and move us further along the narrative toward our ultimate goal.
And it’s that sense of accomplishment – of fighting for a cause, righting a wrong, creating a better tomorrow – that creates the pride and emotional connection that will keep our protagonists (members) coming back for more.
So when it comes time to set a goal for your organization, be bold, creative and inspiring. Identify the story inherent within your mission and use it to assemble your short- and long-term goals. In the end, the goals you set today will become the stories your members live tomorrow.
Let’s make them exciting ones!
Have a goal in mind? Our event and donation sites (templates included!) make it easy to tell your story.
Originally published December 16, 2016, updated December 21, 2017.
It’s hard to believe, but 2018 is already here. (Seriously, where did this year go?!) We hope this year has been a year of prosperity for your group. As an admin, it is always exciting to see how much your organization has progressed during the course of the year. The new year is a wonderful time to improve upon your style of managing your group. There are some things however that separate the good leaders from the great ones. According to Universum, a global research and advisory firm, the top quality of successful leaders is the power to empower those around you. And guess what – we’ve put together our own list of qualities of successful leaders, and we’re sharing them with you. Take a look at some habits to leave behind in the new year and a few new ones to get the (snow)ball rolling.
This one should go without saying, but you’d be surprised what a common occurrence it is among group leaders. Gossiping about other group members will likely spread to other members, which will undermine your authority and lower group morale. As a group leader, keep your head above water and try to remain unbiased to any drama that might be happening in the group. If you, yourself have an issue with another admin or member, make a point to be upfront about what is bothering you and talk the problem out. Remember, at the end of the day you’re all on the same team.
DO: Communicate effectively
Being a good communicator is one of the best qualities group leaders can have. Clear and effective communication can boost productivity and morale, which will lead to a healthy group environment. Communicating successfully to your group will also help with team building. By being clear with your fellow admins and members about your goals and decisions, you will pave a clear path to achieving them, together.
DON’T: Stress over things you can’t control
As a group leader, you dedicate your time and effort to help your group thrive, and all the tasks you undertake can be overwhelming. We encourage you to take a deep breath (breath in… and out…) and try to cut yourself some slack. To make sure your stress levels don’t go through the roof, make a to-do list of tasks you need to accomplish. Now, whatever is not on that list, you have to let yourself relax about. This may include another admin’s duties, the amount of money donated during a fundraiser, or the weather report for an outdoor event. You will be a more effective leader if you try to not worry about things you can’t control.
DO: Know your team’s strengths/weaknesses
One of the best habits you can take into 2018 as group leader is the knowledge of your team’s best strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has their own set of skills that will be ideal to making your group a strong unit. At the beginning of the year, talk to your members or send a survey about what they think they bring to the group, and what they like to do. Members are more likely to be involved if they feel their voice is heard and that they enjoy any group tasks they undertake. For example, if your treasurer is shy but quick with numbers, have him collect payments at an event instead of emceeing the night. Knowing what your team is good at will help make your life easier when it comes to organizing.
DON’T: Hog responsibility
You and your fellow admins are a team, and one of the worst things to do as a leader is trying to do everything yourself. Make sure when divvying up tasks that you are distributing responsibility appropriately. Not only will you have less to stress about, but keeping your admins involved will also boost their morale and investment in the group.
DO: Be a positive role model
This is possibly the most important habit of successful leaders on our list, because it really does come down to Y-O-U. Be the leader you wanted to have when you were a member yourself. Setting a positive example of how you carry yourself, how you interact with members, and how you keep cool under pressure will inspire your admins and members to do the same. Remember that you are an amazing leader – your group knows how lucky they are to have you at the steering wheel, so keep your head high as you make your way into 2018.
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.
It’s not about bragging rights, but it sure does feel good to be noticed. In addition to stacking up stellar reviews on Capterra, we’ve now been noticed as a market leader by SoftwareAdvice.com. Its annual Frontrunners Hub is a 100% data-driven assessment of the most capable and valuable products for small businesses, and the scores are largely based on end-user reviews of software. This year, memberplanet was recognized as a quadrant leader.
We’re incredibly excited to be included in this year’s hub. Our philosophy of simplifying life for our clients remains our goal. We are equally proud of not only our software, but the reviews from customers who need it for their group or organization to thrive. However, the work is not done. We continue our mission to be the absolute best software platform for groups of any size to manage their members, process payments, and communicate.
Ready to take your organization to the next level?
Marietta Business Association (MBA) is the premier business organization in Marietta, Georgia. It counts the mayor, senators, congressmen, judges, city and county offices, and businesses large and small among its members. MBA had struggled with outdated member management software that required volunteers to spend more than 20 hours a month managing members. Since transitioning to memberplanet, it has seen a 29% increase in total number of members, a 49% boost in paid memberships, and a 167% jump in revenue for its annual event luncheon.
Everyone's Problem: Limited Time and Competing Interests
Retaining, managing, engaging, and growing membership are challenges that plague most organizations. Limited time and competing interests contribute to this challenge for both members and those who manage them. Employing tools that help to engage and manage members while making the best use of time for everyone involved is a big win.
Mobile, segmentation (the difficulty of reaching multiple generations that think and act differently), and social media add more layers of complexity to membership management challenges. Outdated software and disparate single-service features confound these problems by fostering disorganization and draining resources.
A Colossal Waste of Time
In 2016, MBA was struggling with “archaic” member management software, Angella Ocheltree, Vice President of MBA, said. “The former manager would spend twenty-plus hours a month keeping up with it, which is simply too much to ask of a volunteer.”
Prior to using memberplanet, MBA attempted to implement another product, but due to poor communication between the new software’s transition team and MBA’s sales team, Ocheltree deemed the attempt “disastrous.”
“I wasted so much time and all for naught,” Ocheltree said of the failed transition. She and the board of directors screened 15 other companies before memberplanet was chosen as the best solution for MBA. Service, price, and functionality were the determining factors.
A Miraculous Transition
memberplanet’s onboarding and engagement teams collaborated with MBA to make the transition as efficient as possible. The process took less than one month.
“The implementation was seamless,” Ocheltree said. She was responsible for completing all tasks during implementation. “The transition was so easy, one could call it miraculous.”
memberplanet’s support team also conducted trainings for MBA staff members, and provided an online support site tailored to MBA’s priorities. “The training offered was excellent,” Ocheltree said, “and we still tap into that resource.”
Boosting Membership, Engagement, and Event Funds
In just over one year, MBA has recognized a stellar 49% increase in paid memberships. Its number of total members increased by 29%, a number which includes non-paying members – perfect candidates for future conversion.
“Our entire site – our website was built by memberplanet as well – the membership platform, and its functionality have streamlined our leadership team's ability to create events and manage them, to raise funds, and to communicate with our members,” Ocheltree said.
Attendance at the association’s annual luncheon increased by 19%, which led to a 167% jump in revenue. Collecting electronic payments, sharing event sites, sending invites, and managing RSVPs are all tasks MBA’s volunteer admins completed from one platform. “We use both desktop and the mobile app to take payments,” Ocheltree said. “It couldn't be easier to set up or to pay!”
One may think a platform that offers such a robust toolset for member management is complicated to use. The memberplanet staff prides itself, however, on building the platform with volunteers in mind. “The platform is user friendly – and the staff is even more so,” Ocheltree said. “If I cannot figure something out, I call or send an email. The response is always fast and friendly.”
Ocheltree said she knows MBA is just getting started and is excited for the future growth and success its partnership with memberplanet has to offer. memberplanet’s streamlined membership management solution has already helped tremendously with member retention and recruitment.
“We have even attracted the larger companies with our professional presence.”
Vice President of Marietta Business Associaton
Contact memberplanet today if you would like to see how your organization can put
this powerful platform to work.
For some, summer is a time to unplug, unwind, and reconnect with the things that matter most. Time with friends and family, long days doing nothing, and reading a good book are the only things on their to-do list. But if you’re the type of person who is always involved, and forever leading a group, team, or event, summer can be just another whirlwind of planning, execution, and follow up. Admit it: It’s no fun.
Even if you’re are the type of person who likes to stay busy, you still need time to unwind. Taking the time to slow down and enjoy what you love the most (and don’t say event planning!) is important, so you can go back to leading an organization, group, or event successfully. This probably makes you uncomfortable, but it can be done. You’ll be a better version of yourself if you put the vacation back in summer.
Yes, teams are still competing, events are still being run, and fundraisers are still important during the summer months. But you can easily automate some of your tasks ahead of time, or create a blueprint so you aren’t working all the time. If you haven’t tried putting the following tasks on autopilot yet, now’s the time.
1. Schedule communications (social media, email, or text)
This way you can strategically connect your communications to build on one another and create a stronger message. The best part about this—if you schedule your communications a month ahead of time, you only need to do this once a month.
2. Asking members to keep the conversation going
Reach out to attendees of your next event or team members and ask them to post on social media for a period of time. This will keep your organization in front of people, without you doing all the work. The downside of this is giving up some control, but the upside is creating authentic enthusiasm and excitement around what you are trying to accomplish.
3. Create a copy of a site page
This sounds simple, but creating template designs is different from creating an entire copy of a site page. The benefit is recreating a site page without overwriting your existing one. Having the option to copy an entire donation site, event site, online survey, or payment form will save you time and give you some breathing space when you need it most.
4. Delegate admin responsibilities
Assigning others with admin tasks and defining their roles by differentiating their access by function and privilege gives you a break… and peace of mind. For example, give someone access to manage your group communications without giving them access to your group’s bank account data.
You can use these ideas all year if you want, or only when you need them. The most important thing to consider is your sanity. Taking time to refresh your mind and spirit—especially in the summer—will help you to come back to your responsibilities with renewed energy and commitment. You may be the Energizer Bunny, but even he needs to change his batteries now and then!
So, as the days of summer get warmer, think about what you need to do to put vacation back into summer. Make lists if you have to! But most importantly, make a commitment to take some time off, rest, and renew.
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” –Alan Cohen
Learn more at memberplanet.com.
In Santa Maria, the town where I grew up, taking a dip in the pool was a popular way to beat the California heat. For six straight summers, I lifeguarded at an outdoor public aquatic center with an Olympic sized pool and a recreational pool. I was a lifeguard for countless water polo practices, swim meets, recreational swim days, field trips, and lap swims. Just thinking of the giant jug of 100 SPF sunscreen we kept in the guard room takes me back.
I learned a lot during those summers, and I’ll always remember this: Every lifeguard is a leader.
Leadership comes in different forms. I may not be the one spearheading nationwide events or speaking in public in front of hundreds, but when it comes to managing a local group, or my part of pool activities, just as much effort goes into making it a success. As the school year comes to an end, many of us find ourselves looking forward to the long, lazy days of summer. No plans. Nowhere to be.
The reality is, if you’re managing a group, your summer is filled with to-do lists, event invites, follow-up emails, activity sign-ups, and more. Sure, it’s a little slower than the rest of year. Yes, you can unwind a bit. But there is definitely still planning to be done. Whether you manage a sports team, a summer camp, or a simple BBQ potluck, staying on top of things is a must, so summer can still be relaxing and fun.
As a leader, you are probably orchestrating a plethora of details to keep things moving, even during the slow summer months. Tasks that seem simple can be quite tedious. Do you find yourself:
This summer, simplify your life
A platform that can transform your summer planning and make things so much easier does exist. Having all the tools you use to manage your swim team, summer camp, or any other group in one place would simplify your life.
Check out memberplanet, and you may be able to sneak in a few lazy days yourself this season.
Boosting membership is a common challenge for organizations. Keeping current members invested and bringing on new members might be tricky, but these tips will give your group a leg up on engagement.
Check out the tips in the video below. We guarantee it’s as easy as one, two, three!
Happy Chinese New Year! Want to know an amazing trick to being a wonderful group leader? Act like a rooster! Yes, you read that right. Don’t worry we haven’t lost our minds – this is the year of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac. Also known as Sheng Xiao, the zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle aligned with the Chinese lunar calendar.
Active years of the rooster include: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, and 2017. It is said that those born during the year of the rooster are observant, practical, and perfectionists. Roosters carry out challenges with wit and analysis of the problem at hand. They are able to overcome adversaries, though are known to be the warm-hearted center of any room, often being the most sociable among any group. So even if this isn’t your lunar year, it wouldn’t hurt to adopt those awesome characteristics. Check out more great qualities of the rooster in the infographic below, and browse our blog for more leadership tips.
Let’s face it, we live in a tech world. Technology is so ingrained in our daily lives that it is nearly impossible to function without it. When was the last time you paid a bill by check, or bought something in store instead of online? For many of us, doing everyday things online has become the norm. However, as someone who isn’t naturally computer savvy, I know the constant frustration this reality can be. Truth be told, those who are adept at computers often fail to realize that it isn’t always a quick study. So if you haven’t quite given tech trends a thought, this is a great place to start – because it’s bound to affect your members! Here are four member management tech trends of 2017, and what it means for you as a group leader.
1. Get ready for automated everything!
According to Forbes.com this year will also see an huge increase in automation.
“Marketers will be (mostly) pleased to learn that automation will become a bigger mainstay in and throughout 2017, with advanced technology enabling the automation of previously human-exclusive tasks.”
This means that your existing members and new members will come to expect their payments to be exclusively online and automated. memberplanet users: If you haven’t done this yet, try setting your dues payments on a set-it-and-forget-it basis. Less work for you and your members, and a more productive way to collect funds. Everyone wins.
2. Social Media: Your friends list will keep on growing
It’s no secret that social media is a powerful marketing tool for your group. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer boundless access to free advertising for your group’s events and goals. These outlets also provide the ability to share this content with everyone’s personal network of friends. In 2017 social media’s use is only slated to expand, which gives your group all the more opportunity to harness its advantages. Take a look at these stats from Hubspot, and work on incorporating more social media marketing tactics into your group’s promotional strategy.
3. More visuals and videos are on the way
We are a visual society. With visual learners making up 65% of the population, it is not surprising that pictures and video are among the most popular posts on social media and blogs. As a group leader, your content should be visually appealing. Everything from your website to your social media posts should be visually stimulating to your audience. Member management software arms you with tools and templates to create streamlined sites, fundraising campaigns, and emails that can easily include photos and videos. If you’re using memberplanet, we recommend sharing those out to social media with our built-in URL shortener. Here are some pretty eye-popping statistics from HubSpot to keep in mind when creating your next flyer, event site, or social media post:
4. Group creation and involvement will increase
A quick survey around our office confirms that people are now involved in twice as many clubs and social groups than they were five years ago. It’s no secret that this trend of increased social involvement is likely to continue. This means great news for growing your membership. People are looking to get involved, connect with others, and be part of a cause that’s bigger than their individual selves. Help your group stand out by showcasing your group culture and personality. Take advantage of every event you plan to introduce your group to potential members, or highlight the work you’re doing through a donation site or email newsletter. Keep in mind though that more groups means your members’ attention and time will likely be divided among several different places, so be sure to focus on retaining and engaging your members as well.
What are some other tech trends you think will make a huge difference in member management? Let us know if we missed any.
Ready to see for yourself how memberplanet can help you take advantage of these tech trends? Try it and create a group for free.