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 have a hunch about how your group is doing, but a gut feeling is not going to cut it. You need to look at specific data to see what's working and what isn't. Don't just jump in and start measuring absolutely everything; instead, first focus on these three crucial reports: email tracking, invitation history, and levels reports.
1. Email tracking report
Even the busiest group leader needs to track ─ at the very least ─ email rates. With all the email campaigns you create, it’s helpful to see whether the messages are benefiting your members or … not.
Here’s a look at three email rates to keep your eye on. These key performance indicators (KPIs) will let you know whether folks are actually receiving, opening, and reacting to your emails:
Based on a recent email benchmarking report, the average open rate for nonprofits and associations ranges from 19.32 - 26.4%.
The report indicates that a clickthrough rate for nonprofits ranges from 2.76 - 8.00%.
One report sites a 0.47% bounce rate for nonprofits, although a popular email service provider reports a 9.78% bounce rate for its nonprofit customers.
To view opens, bounces, and clicks to your email campaigns on memberplanet, hover over Emails in the left navigation sidebar, then click Email Tracking Report in the submenu.
For the date range selected, your email campaigns will be displayed with corresponding metrics.
2. Members invitation email history
You've worked hard to boost membership. After your membership drive, you probably emailed prospects to join your group. Did you have positive results? View your membership email history to track who was invited and how they responded. At memberplanet, we consider it a best practice to periodically send out invitations to non-members. To become members, recipients only need to make a membership payment or provide info to sign up for a free membership, if you offer the option.
A membership invitation history report shows which admin sent the invitations and when, who opened it, and if the member accepted the invitation. To view your group’s member invitation history:
On the left navigation sidebar, hover over Members and click Invitation History in the submenu.
3. Membership levels report
Sometimes, in a rush to drive membership, group managers and admins forget to look at overall membership levels activity. You just might be looking at new prospects who signed up for a free membership level, and you might not quite get the complete picture.
Most groups have different levels of membership, including free and multiple paid levels. By viewing a membership levels report, you’ll gain a bird’s-eye view of not just who makes up your group, also the history of each member level. This should give you a better idea of how you can target members on a specific level and influence activity by creating events and content to keep members engaged.
2. On the levels tab, click the gear icon for the membership level you wish to view
3. Select View Members from the dropdown menu
All this business intelligence will help you become a better, more informed group admin. You also can look at other metrics, such as survey results, donations, payments, events, RSVPs and so much more – we have reporting for just about everything on the platform.
Sign into your memberplanet account today and get down to reporting!
We’re always trying to better help groups achieve their membership goals, and with that comes new additions to our favorite glossary terms. Take a look at our updated glossary and see how these normal terms take on a whole new life here on our ‘planet.'
What it normally means: The circle in which members stand.
What it actually means: A type of membership level that allows administrators to create subgroupings within your organization and allows one person to manage the membership account for a group of people such as a family or company account.
What it normally means: A business strategy of offering different prices at different points-of-sale.
What it actually means: The ability for admins to assign special pricing for event tickets based on member levels rather than a flat price.
What it normally means: The ranking of an individual’s membership.
What it actually means: Member levels define each member’s benefits within the group. Examples include paid or free membership, or levels that feature tiered ticket pricing for events and merchandise.
What it normally means: A dreaded school project on a topic you’ll likely forget once it’s turned in.
What is actually means: The section on the platform where admins can view the membership history of a group member. This allows admins to easily see what that member has participated in, what member levels they’ve been and are at, as well as other related membership information.
What it normally means: The list of people in your mobile phone, most of whom you’ve probably forgot about.
What it actually means: People you’d like to keep in the loop on the happenings of your group. They aren’t actual members and can’t log into your group’s member portal.
What it normally means: Any application on your phone.
What it actually means: A free custom-branded app, specific to your group, that facilitates communication and allows for on-site payments. You can also upload photos, share updates, and view member activity.
What it normally means: Being practical and writing down a list.
What is actually means: Smart Lists let you generate distribution lists for specific subsets of people based on member status or other variable data (Example: You may want to send a message targeted to everyone who donated over $100 to your fundraising campaign).
What it normally means: A transmission via radio or TV.
What it actually means: Simultaneously draft and send a text message and/or email communication blast to all members via desktop or mobile app.
What it normally means: A website charities use to collect donations.
What it actually means: A custom-branded interactive giving site to raise funds online for your group. Our variety of templates makes each Donation Site easy and fast to create.
What it normally means: A file cabinet where you keep important papers.
What it actually means: Use cloud software to upload and share documents and files with admins and members. Send emails with file attachments.
What it normally means: Creating a survey on a word document.
What it actually means: Create branded forms with unlimited flexible fields that makes it simple to gather and compile online feedback from members.
What it normally means: A huge amount of printed paper copies stapled together.
What it actually means: All of your group’s mandatory forms and surveys assembled in one place electronically.
What it normally means: A huge album that sits on your bookshelf filled with old photos.
What it actually means: Seamlessly collect and share photos. Crowdsource photos with email and mobile uploading.
What it normally means: The work done by a newspaper journalist.
What is actually means: Real-time online reporting generated on demand for everything on the platform, including membership stats, email tracking, funds raised, and RSVPs.
What it normally means: An ID for a gym or club.
What is actually means: Digital E-cards can be accessed online or via the mobile app. For some groups a member card even allows access to special perks.
Want to learn more about the ins and outs of memberplanet? Check out our platform.
Originally published 2/28/17
If you did something great with your group on memberplanet in 2017, we applaud your success! Whether you raised funds, got volunteers together to do philanthropic work, or sent out a couple newsletters, it all adds up to accomplishing your mission. We at memberplanet are thrilled to be part of that. Take a look at our key platform stats for 2017. Click the infographic below to view the full-resolution image. We look forward to your continued success!
There are many different ways to tackle the role of leader. It’s the first down at the big game and you’re in charge of it all. How do you maneuver your team to victory, and what strategy do you use to make sure there aren’t any fumbles? Take our quiz to find out what type of leader you are. Whether you’re scoring a touchdown in the end zone, or rushing your team on a two-minute warning, we know you’ll go for it on and off of the field. (View full-resolution image.)
Originally published 1/28/2017
Dealing with member management tasks is your biggest headache. Why? Admin work takes a ton of time, and it further complicates life. When you effectively manage members, then you’ve got more time to do what you’re passionate about. At memberplanet, we believe that our platform simplifies membership management, which in turn, simplifies life.
Whether you’re new to a leadership role or a veteran admin, any transition period is a great time to reflect and learn how you can save time on membership management tasks. (Click our member management infographic to view the full-resolution image.)
When you effectively and efficiently manage members, you solve membership and reap awesome benefits. A leading software research company reports a 70 to 80 percent renewal rate with automatic recurring membership! Solving membership frees up your most valuable commodity – time. That means you have more time to accomplish your group’s mission or cause, more time to engage your members, and more time to actively recruit – which leads to growth.
Browse our articles about membership management to learn more.
Q1 2018 Tech Update: Membership Features, Event Ticketing, and Payment Functionality All Get Upgrades
We’ve kicked off the new year with some fresh tech updates to help make managing your members and growing your group even easier. All through the holidays, we’ve kept busy to enhance event management, improve our member database, and more. You gave us suggestions on how to update the user experience, and we’ve been listening! Check out what’s new and improved.
Improved member database download
New variable pricing for event tickets based on member levels
Simplified process to add payment method
Easier access to membership cards
New auto-populating member distribution list
Improved member database download
Admins of groups of any size, even those with more than 100,000 members, can now easily download their entire member database. The whole process runs behind the scenes, allowing admins to continue working on the platform without having to pause so the database can download. A notification email is sent to the admin when the download is complete. Learn how to download your member database.
New variable pricing for event tickets based on member levels
Admins can now assign special pricing for tickets based on member levels rather than a flat price. For example, the price of an event ticket can be different for each membership level in your group, allowing you to give discounts and create added value for long-standing members. Here’s how to create event ticket prices based on member levels:
1. After you create an event, click Tickets & Payment Items in the RSVPs & Tickets section
2. On the Basics tab, fill out the information fields to create a ticket for the event, and click Save
3. Select the Special Pricing tab
4. Click the Edit button for the event ticket you wish to create special pricing for
5. Select Set Custom Pricing
6. Click Save
Simplified process to add payment method
We’ve made it even easier for your members or donors to make online payments. When users add a new payment method, they now have the option to add this payment method to any already active recurring payment schedules. This improves the user experience by limiting re-entry of information (because no one wants to update payment info twice), as well as making sure they don’t accidentally miss a payment.
Easier access to membership cards
We’ve cut down on the number of clicks it takes to download a member’s card from desktop, and membership cards are even easier to access from the mobile app. The next time Jim and Pam show up to an event or meeting without their member cards, simply have them pull up their cards from their smartphone. Learn how to access and download membership cards.
New auto-populating member distribution list
Sending a customized message to members who’ve renewed their paid membership just got easier. (And you should absolutely do that to make your renewing members feel valued and special!) Admins can modify settings in paid membership levels to automatically sort those who join or renewed their membership into a distribution list. It’s a great way (and best practice) to connect with members by tailoring your message to specific recipients. For example, if you have monthly announcements for those on your top membership level, you can email them without manually updating a distribution list before every send. This feature works like our Smart Lists, and best of all, it’s free! (Before you start, make sure you’ve already created the distribution list you wish to auto-populate.)
1. Click Membership on the left navigation bar
2. Select Membership Levels, Sign-up and Renewal in the Joining our Group section
3. Click the gear icon on the member level you wish to edit
4. Scroll down and click Edit on the Sign-up and Renewal section
5. Select the Add Member to a Distribution List checkbox
6. Select the distribution list you wish automatically add members to
7. Click Save and Close
We exist to simplify membership management, and for you and your admins, that means simplifying life as a leader. Share your thoughts with us on how we can further improve the customer experience by emailing email@example.com.
Northern California Contest Club (NCCC) is a group of radio operator enthusiasts and is an affiliate of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the national association for amateur radio operators in the United States. In the world of ham radio, amateur refers to operators who must pass an exam to communicate non-commercially over the radio frequency spectrum. The contest-oriented club relied on manual processes to record and track membership, which was time consuming and resulted in inaccurate record-keeping. With members demanding transparency and online payment options and access to information, NCCC needed a system that members could use to view their own membership status and payments.
Since teaming with memberplanet, NCCC has maintained accurate records (in less time) and provided a dedicated, online membership portal for its members to view payment history and stay updated with club activities. As a result, NCCC has enjoyed a 57% increase in paid membership and 37% boost in dues collected in just one year.
Small Club, Big Challenges
For a club whose members are mostly over 50 and involved in a hobby that includes a fondness of Morse code, attracting younger demographics and recruiting new members in order to thrive may seem like a unique struggle. There are many small social clubs, however, that have fallen behind on meeting the demands of a new generation of members, including providing access to information online, offering convenient payment methods, and effectively communicating updates. Clubs that still heavily rely on paper filing systems and manual processes face the time-consuming challenge of keeping accurate financial records and managing members.
It became clear to NCCC that it needed to upgrade its manual processes and combat its dwindling membership – or face radio silence.
Manual Processes – Over
In 2016, NCCC began using memberplanet to keep its database organized and up to date. “We really didn't know how many members we had prior to memberplanet. It's sad, but true,” Ian Parker, NCCC’s Secretary, explained. The club’s manual reporting processes included interactions between the secretary and treasurer, a lot of paperwork, and time. Sometimes members who missed payments went undetected. “We now have a good grasp on the number of real members. With memberplanet our data is kept accurate – and timely.”
Club admins have enjoyed the platform’s turnkey features, such as automated membership reminders and convenient payment options. “We also have more up-to-date member information and auto renewals. These were the primary reasons for moving to memberplanet, which has been one hundred percent successful,” Parker said. The membership insights available in the support site and the time freed up from admin tasks are now directed to engaging members.
A Closer Look at NCCC’s Online Results
Admins have used the platform’s event sites and RSVPs to manage and track attendance. Parker believes that memberplanet’s payment reporting, event invite templates, and email campaign features have dramatically improved their efficiency. Members can log in to a dedicated portal, view club announcements, connect with other members using the interactive directory, and update their own profile. “We have received many positive comments,” Parker continued. “Overall, it has been a huge plus and now folks can also see when they last paid!”
When NCCC started using memberplanet in 2016, it had 100 paid memberships. That number rose to 157 by the end of 2017 – a 57% boost. The club also saw a 37% increase in membership dues. Parker noted how more members are engaging with the club, converting to paid membership status, and how the hassle-free process of joining the club is contributing to an increase in membership overall. As of January 2018, NCCC had 350 members total.
Broadcasting a Bright Future
Parker reveals NCCC has recently obtained 501(c)(3) status for nonprofits, and plans to fundraise and open an online NCCC store are in the works. Growing paid membership and engaging members remains a focus for the club, which was founded in 1970. Now that NCCC personnel find it much easier to manage and interpret data, communicate with members, and increase engagement, they expect that their club for radio aficionados will remain on the air for much, much longer.
Contact memberplanet today to learn how the platform can help your organization simplify 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.
How the Epsilon Rho Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Uses memberplanet’s Events Features to Boost Revenue by 247%
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is one of the nation's largest African American women's organizations. The sorority is predicated on the ideals of scholarship, service, sisterly love, and finer womanhood. The Epsilon Rho Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta is the Northern Delaware Graduate Chapter, and has served the New Castle County area since 1955. Despite the chapter’s support of Zeta Phi Beta’s work on prominent community initiatives, Epsilon Rho Zeta struggled to raise the funds needed to efficiently plan its own events. Its administrators spent too much time chasing after bounced checks and outstanding dues. Since partnering with memberplanet, the chapter has streamlined processes, improved fundraising transparency, and increased online revenue for its top three events by 247%.
Epsilon Rho Zeta was actively involved in prominent initiatives on headquarters’ level, including March of Dimes and American Cancer Society. However, chapter administrators found it challenging to raise the funds needed to support their own operational functions. “It was difficult to plan events and fundraisers as we never knew exactly what resources we would have available — only what we expected to have,” Michelle Mack-Williams, the chapter’s First Vice President, said. New and existing members paid their dues by check or cash, which created a number of hurdles. “We’d have to keep manual records of who paid and who hadn’t, so we could follow up on outstanding dues.” Time that could be spent fundraising or planning events went to chasing down members with an outstanding balance. Bounced checks led to uncomfortable conversations and funding delays, Mack-Williams admitted.
Members and donors expect line-item transparency for financial transactions, and Greek organizations that have fallen behind on technology often struggle to help members and supporters understand how and where their dues and donations are being used. Not only does this impact people’s willingness to give, it also affects an organization’s ability to understand the effectiveness of its initiatives, making it difficult to determine what events are most successful in raising funds.
Once the chapter teamed up with memberplanet, the ability and convenience of making donations and paying dues electronically, rather than only accepting checks or cash payments, drastically boosted event revenue. Chapter administrators could easily promote and manage events online with mass emailing and tracking tools, online RSVPs, and the mobile app. In fact, revenue for its three most significant annual events has increased a combined total of more than 247% since 2014.
Increase of Efficiency Leads to Reduction of Cost
Mack-Williams and the executive board of Epsilon Rho Zeta originally chose memberplanet to streamline fundraising for its youth and chapter activities.
“I am always looking for new ways to stay organized, and when I first found memberplanet, that was the driver,” Mack-Williams said. “We have been able to streamline our processes, and this has yielded time savings in both manpower and efficiencies. Having the ability to track payments for individual youth activities and to export those reports for reconciliation was a huge bonus. We recently implemented online registration packets, like our youth application and debutante application, which are completely electronic. This has allowed us to get everything completed in one shot.”
Promoting the chapter’s up to 11 annual fundraising events online has improved the chapter’s reach and member engagement, resulting in both increased collections and reduced costs for the chapter. And memberplanet has allowed the chapter to go completely green for dues, event tickets, and applications.
Improvements in Transparency and Reporting
As Epsilon Rho Zeta’s fundraising initiatives have increased, so has its reporting requirements. At first, the sorority only used the platform for a few events. As it ramped up on activities, administrators also increased their use of memberplanet. Mack-Williams lauds memberplanet for its scalability and credits the support team for getting to know the chapter’s unique needs.
“I believe improved transparency and reporting accuracy have allowed us to track our data more efficiently,” Mack-Williams said. “We are a more agile chapter because of the technology that is at our fingertips at any given moment, and that is satisfaction that you cannot measure in dollars and cents.”
A Closer Look at Epsilon Rho Zeta’s Online Results
An All-in-one, Scalable Fundraising and Membership Solution
The Epsilon Rho Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta implemented memberplanet at the end of December 2013. Since then, the platform has helped the chapter to increase revenues, cut costs, and has provided transparency into its fundraising efforts. The platform’s regular tech upgrades and enhancements have aided the chapter in meeting its increasing needs – and Mack-Williams sees the platform as a toolkit that’s integral to Epsilon Rho Zeta’s continued success and growth.
Contact memberplanet today if you would like to see how the platform can help your organization succeed.