We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from PTAs using memberplanet, and decided we’d combine it into an open letter to yours truly for our own Valentine’s Day fun.
Hello, my dear memberplanet,
This isn’t how we normally communicate with one another, but I had to write this letter because I simply couldn’t contain my excitement any longer. I have a confession, and I’ll shout it from the rooftops: I love you, memberplanet, and I don’t care who knows it!
I must admit, at first I was a little embarrassed. I never really saw myself falling for a software company. I mean, it was a little unexpected. Me, a PTA volunteer and mom, and you, a tech company? I didn’t think I could ever understand you. I tried you on a whim, but sometimes love is just meant to be star-crossed, I suppose.
You have the flexibility and openness to be everything my admin self needs: online dues collection, event sites, a mobile app – I’m getting dizzy just thinking about all you have to offer! *Swoons* I could stare at your (inter)face all day. So intuitive and easy to use. I feel like I really know you, which is a first for a software platform. Normally you’re all complex, and in the past I liked being with someone more old fashioned, more pen-and-paper type. Then you were so welcoming and accepting all my friends in the PTA. You were also so attentive, coming to every event with me to scan and collect last-minute payments and check member cards.
It meant a lot to me that I was able to share my life with you by collecting photos and keeping them on a shared album for everyone. Your generosity is astounding. You helped me create a donation site to collect money for new school computers. And thanks to you, we raised double the amount in donations from last year. It’s clear we’re just a match made in heaven. From that day on, you were my everything. I feel like I couldn’t even begin to imagine me without you. One day, I’ll have to pass you onto the next PTA president, but I know that you’ll be just as welcoming to them as you were to me. For now let’s enjoy our time together.
All my love,
A Head-over-heals PTA President
Check out our Social Media category for more ideas (and a little bit of silliness).
Originally published 2/13/17
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
Whether you’re a pro at fundraising or a just getting started with the #GivingTuesday movement, you can get your organization all geared up to participate by following our four-step process. Click on the infographic below for a high-res view.
Millennials and mobile are two peas in a pod. But who are we kidding? It’s not just millennials who are glued to their phones -- according to a global mobile consumer survey, the average American checks his or her phone approximately 47 times throughout the day. And citizens collectively scroll through their smartphones nearly 8 billion times per day! There’s no reason why more of those views can’t be all about your PTA. Great things happen when your members are engaged or actively involved in your PTA, including increases in fundraising revenue, advocacy action, and membership growth. Level up on your engagement efforts by taking these steps to connect with your members on mobile.
1. Engage on social media
Nearly 80 percent of social media time is spent on mobile devices, and Facebook dominates all other networks in engagement. The biggest takeaway from this is to be effective when engaging your audience. Want them to like, comment on, and share your PTA’s social posts? It’s a two-way street – you’ve got to be the first one to give. If you don’t have time to engage on social media, consider appointing a volunteer who’s up for the task – and make sure that person uses Facebook.
2. Text them
We’re not talking about starting an annoying chain text where you send a group text to a giant list of recipients, one person replies to the entire group, and everyone’s battery gets drained. (If you’ve never experienced being on the receiving end of one of those, count yourself lucky.) When done properly, sending mass text messages is a highly effective way of getting a short message to your members. Text messages have an open rate of 98 percent! When you do send texts to your members, make it count – otherwise they’ll just unsubscribe from your announcements.
3. Make your content easy to view on mobile
Responsive web design is an approach to designing web sites that allows them to look good on any size screen. So whether your users view your donation page on a 13-inch laptop or a 5-inch smart phone, it still functions as it should and looks great. Because mobile usage has become more prominent, responsive design is considered an industry best practice. You don’t have to be a developer or know HTML these days. memberplanet’s donation campaigns, online forms, group sites, and event pages are all optimized for mobile viewing.
4. Use a mobile app
Engaging your members on the go (the whole point of mobile) is even simpler with memberplanet’s mobile app, which makes it easy to send group text messages, share donation campaigns and event pages, collect payments, and access membership cards in a few taps. It’s free to download from the App Store and Google Play. Members can view their own membership cards offline via the mobile app, as well as receive your latest updates through the news feed.
Ready to get started? Log in and start engaging.
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.
It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is quickly approaching, isn’t it? The first sighting of snow-covered décor or lit up trees means that giving season is upon us! There is one major event that kicks off the holiday giving – Giving Tuesday. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday 2017 takes place on November 28. Last year, more than 85 community coalitions across the U.S. and people in 98 countries/territories participated in the charitable event.
According to the Giving Tuesday organization, Giving Tuesday raised more than $177 million online in 2016. Last year’s results prove that donors are extremely generous with charitable donations during both Giving Tuesday and end-of-year giving in general. As awareness of the day continues to grow each year, so do its benefits for charitable organizations. Giving Tuesday has become a global event, but you don’t need to be a national or multi-tiered organization to participate. Here are three steps even a local nonprofit can take to prepare for the main event.
Step 1: Set your Giving Tuesday fundraising goals
An important part of preparing for Giving Tuesday is setting your fundraising goals. When setting your goals, you can consider the following:
Remember, the more prepared you are in determining your goals, the easier it will be for you to nail down your message when you’re ready to share your goals and grow community involvement!
Step 2: Fire up your fundraising campaign
You have a million ways these days to approach promoting your donation campaign. You can go the chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open-fire approach, which is kind of a slow burn at first, and then switch to fireworks finale mode, an all-at-once effort, toward the end.
Whatever approach you decide on, take advantage of email and social media – two powerful marketing platforms.
Mobilizing volunteer efforts is another strategy that spreads awareness throughout your local community and celebrate giving. The holiday giving season can mean giving one’s time or donating goods – not just funds. By inviting donors, employees, and members of the local community to your event, you can attract attention to your cause.
Step 3: Make donating easy
In business, a best practice is to make it easy for customers to give you their money. The same applies to your donors. Always give them the options to donate when they want and how they want. By offering the option to donate electronically, your supporters can make secured donations conveniently from a website or mobile device, whenever they want, even if they’re thousands of miles away. You can still accept cash or check, but you’re not limiting your fundraising by only accepting those forms of donations.
Nonprofits that offer online giving also widen the donor net and grow overall fundraising revenue. By setting up a way to process funds electronically, you can also offer donors the option to pay by recurring or installment payments. Recurring payment options are a great fit for those who want to contribute weekly, monthly, or quarterly throughout the year. Installment payments give donors the convenience of breaking up a large sum of money (which they may not have considered giving all at once) into multiple payments of their choosing.
By using these key steps to prep for Giving Tuesday, your organization will not only be a part of a growing movement, it will also give you the chance to celebrate the success that your charitable efforts deliver to your local community.
Ready to get started? Log in, create a donation campaign, and choose from multiple templates, including Giving Tuesday and other seasonal occasions.
We’re all guilty of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram before our heads hit the pillow at night. While social media has become a popular way to kill time, it also has many practical uses.'
As a group leader, you are already aware of the necessity of branding across various platforms, so here are our top five ways to bolster your online presence by optimizing your social media engagement strategy, first and foremost with your own members.
1. Deliver Digestible Bits
Newsletters are great for providing various bits of information to your members all at once. Social media is best for delivering a brief message to a large audience. While people average a minimum of 50 minutes of Facebook each day, they typically only spend about 20 minutes on the site per visit.
This means you have a small window of time to get users to interact with your post. Providing relevant, unique and easily digestible bits of info should be the focus of your social media strategy. Nobody wants to scroll through a Facebook post or read a tweet with three continuations. You can prompt users to click through to a website by providing a URL within your post where they can access more information.
2. Promote Your Cause
Social media is an efficient and cost-effective way to broaden the reach of your cause, mission, fundraising campaign, or any other promotion. Whenever you send emails to your members, ask them to follow your organization’s social media handles. And make sure your posts tie in the cause or mission that appeals to your followers. People average almost two hours per day checking social media, making it a great promotion tool.
Note to memberplanet users: You can easily share your event or donation site to social media directly from the platforms. Group admins and members can also do this directly from the event site, donation site, or mobile app.
3. Include Video
You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that social media users watch A LOT of video. Our own metrics reveal that video posts on Facebook and Instagram get about double the engagement than photo posts. So consider creating a short video explaining your cause. There are a bunch of free services online, such as Adobe Spark, that pretty much put together video for you based on the images and words you choose. Live video content is also on the rise, so find creative ways to use features like Facebook Live or Instagram stories to get your message out.
memberplanet users: Adding a video to your donation site, event site, or email is also quick and easy.
4. Utilize a Social Media Calendar
Hiring a social media manager or finding a volunteer who’s up for the task is a great way to stay organized and on top of your online presence. A social media manager is responsible for curating and creating content and making sure it gets posted at the right time.
If you’re a team of one, utilize a social media calendar to minimize your time spent creating content. Hubspot has a free calendar template you can use to get started. Knowing when to post and what to post will help you strategically plan content for your members, as opposed to overwhelming their feeds or posting haphazardly.
5. Target the Platforms Your Members Use
Facebook is the most popular social media platform (1.59 billion monthly active users) but you shouldn’t limit yourself to one network. We recommend using the social media platforms your target demographics use. Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter are major players in terms of their reach. By creating a diverse portfolio of social media strategies, you are likely to connect with more members and prospects. Twitter is a great way to get out a short message and interact with a large audience.
You can provide links to your website or event page. memberplanet’s donation, event, survey, and payment form modules have built-in URL shorteners, so you don’t need to worry about going over the allowed 140 characters. (There’s no excuse for putting out an ugly tweet.)
Social media is great tool for spreading the word about events, campaigns, and general information about your organization. It allows you to interact with your members consistently and in real time without flooding their inboxes with emails. Building a strong online presence can also attract the attention of potential members while keeping current ones engaged.
Follow us on social media for more member management tips.
It’s summer movie season and blockbusters abound. memberplanet brings you the movie trailer you’ve been waiting for! Grab some popcorn and a cold drink, and get ready for a future dystopian world without member management services.
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 21 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 11th annual fundraiser.
The main events in the fundraiser are an Autism Walk and 5K. “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.
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.
Life can be a bit ruff! This holiday season, we want to spread a bit of cheer (with cute animal pics!). We are collaborating with Pawsitive Friendships for a very special cause -- animal-assisted therapy. The purpose of this type of therapy is for children with special needs to reach their personal therapeutic goals by establishing animal-human friendships.
Founded in 2014, Pawsitive Friendships was the brain child of Tosha Tharp. After her son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, she was having trouble getting him to complete his at-home therapy exercises. One day he asked if their dog Zoe could join him on the swing, and she saw a complete change in his behavior. A light went on in her head. Tosha began incorporating Zoe into the other exercises, and the results were amazing. Zoe became trained as a therapy dog and Pawsitive Friendships was formed.
To spread some holiday cheer, we would like to introduce you to a few of the paw-sitively amazing animals who are helping to make an impact on countless children’s lives.
Zoe is the French bulldog who helped inspire Pawsitive Friendships. She puts her best paw forward and breaks the ice with the children. Zoe loves to play with kids and always patiently waits her turn for dog treats.
Clancy’s hobbies include long trots, horsing around, and telling tails of his adventures as a mini horse. Children love to ask him questions like, “Why are you so small?” The kids learn to properly approach him along with how to groom and feed him. For kids with autism, this helps with their self-regulation, self-awareness, social skills, and speech.
For Penelope, every day is a chance to pig out. In her spare time, she likes bakin’ (not with bacon!), and is currently learning to fly. The children love to feed Penelope, brush her hair, and of course give her kisses. She’s a bit of an attention hog. Penelope helps the children with sensory issues, motivation (for kisses!), and social skills.
This may seem a bit farfetched, but Filbert really is a catch. He's a golden Lab mix who plays flyball and is also part of a crisis-response team. Filbert keeps the kids on their toes by always playing ball, running through obstacle courses, and doing tricks. No day is a dog day with this playful pup.
Check out our social media pages each day for a new animal picture, and feel free to send us some of your own adorable animal photos. If you are feeling a bit generous this holiday season, be sure to visit the Pawsitive Friendships donation page. They are gearing up for its second annual “Rev’d Up for Autism Car & Bike Show.” All of the proceeds from the event will go to Pawsitive Friendships.