One of the bigger questions that leaders of membership-based organizations are asking themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic is, “How can we continue to support and serve our members during this time?” Even as government leaders announce plans to reopen, the fact remains that there are many crippling circumstances complicating each organization’s situation.
Regardless of the hurdles faced, we’ve seen many adapt – and continue to thrive! Organizations have converted their in-person events and fundraisers to virtual ones, they’ve continued to foster meaningful connections through online channels, and they’re resilient and resourceful even amidst constant chaos. Here are some examples of organizations using memberplanet who’ve gone above and beyond to serve their members – what they’ve done can be replicated for almost any organization.
Fraternal organizations keep members connected using surveys and email campaigns
The Madison Area Alumnae Association also created an email campaign to pair alumnae with sisters who are graduating; it’s a concerted effort to provide mentorship, career advice, and remote interviewing tips to those who are graduating during these uncertain times.
And its Oklahoma City Alumnae Chapter organized a team to make DIY fabric masks for healthcare providers, teachers, and other vulnerable populations in their community!
Organizations utilize event sites to go virtual
Organizations raise funds in response to and in spite of COVID-19
(Read More: Giving in Response to the Coronavirus Crisis)
Brownsville Elementary PTSA turned its annual jog-a-thon, which funds more than 50% of its annual budget, into a virtual exercise-a-thon!
And Viewlands PTSA continues to raise funds for its Grocery Gift Card Drive to help provide grocery gift cards for families in need.
The Alpha Omicron Chapter at Miami University launched a successful Anchor Bowl campaign to support the Delta Gamma Foundation.
The Beta Epsilon Chapter at American University is holding its Cycle for Sight campaign to positively impact the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.
And the Eta Rho Chapter at the University of California, Merced, had to cancel its Puppies and Pizza fundraising event, but still promoted an online fundraising campaign to benefit the Delta Gamma Foundation and the Center of Visual Enhancement.
As you strive to continue making a positive impact on your members and constituents, memberplanet is here to help. We have a library of templates available on the platform to help organizational leaders in the work they do. If you need assistance with our features, please visit our Support Center.
Our fun-filled days of group scouting activities and monthly meetings have been on pause. Adapting to the evolving COVID-19 situation has proved quite a challenge I’ve faced as a volunteer Cubmaster through Boy Scouts of America – a challenge I know many other volunteer leaders are still struggling to overcome during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few tips that’ve helped me and the organization I’m part of continue to provide value to members, plus some words of encouragement.
Keep people interested in what’s going on
You can continue to get in front of your members by pivoting with the resources you have available. While we can’t hold meetings in person, we’re adapting by going virtual. That could mean different things depending on your organization. For some, that might mean holding online conferences and events. For my Cub Scout pack, it meant uploading videos for members to watch later, or “going live” on social media for real-time engagement. Whatever you can do to keep members interested in what your organization is doing, go for it.
Provide value to your group and members in different formats
“Value” can be defined in a ton of ways, so get creative on finding ways to deliver it to members. While our Cub Scouts can’t go on group hikes for the time being, kids and their parents can still go on their own hikes to complete participation activities. Scouts need to complete scouting activities such as bike rides to achieve a new rank, which they can still do. We’re reminding our members that activities can be fun for the whole family, even while hunkered down. There are better ways to spend that time rather than being glued to the TV all day!
Give resources to members and volunteer leaders
One way to really support other volunteer leaders is to provide them with resources when you can. You’re competing with other necessary tasks in your volunteers’ and members’ schedules. For Cub Scouts, we constantly compete with sports activities, time, and energy. To help with that, our council has provided other activities that can be done for participation, such as a 30-day challenge and scout-themed bingo. Be accommodating and flexible where you can by extending deadlines and doing what works for your organization given the circumstances.
Staying in front of your members and continuing to provide value during this time will help your organization stay top of mind, especially when the time comes for members to renew.
About Matt Arnold
As our Vice President of Business Development, Matt is dedicated to serving member-based organizations and small to mid-sized associations. With over 10 years of experience wearing various leadership hats as an Alpha Tau Omega alumnus, Matt specializes in all fraternal organization matters. Whether a group is challenged with growing membership or engaging members, he's got a solution.
I’m used to working from home – and I’m fortunate that my work provides this opportunity – but many organization and association leaders are still getting accustomed to this new normal. Given that social distancing guidelines have recently been extended to fight the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), non-essential employees could be working from home for quite a while. I’ve compiled a few tips with resources and personal recommendations, especially for association leaders who’ve realized that teleworking has its own set of challenges.
1. Assign a separate tech lead for virtual meetings
Every organization is different in the way it conducts meetings, whether by video or phone conference. If you are meeting with more than five or six people, it’s easier when those who are facilitating assign someone to manage technical tools. This doesn’t have to be an IT professional, but anyone who is familiar with the tools you’re using. When the facilitator is freed up to not worry about technical aspects, he or she can focus on leading with strategy, Associations Now points out. When leading a conversation, it’s critical to understand who’s engaged as well as be strategic in engaging others to give feedback.
2. Establish a regular routine, but be flexible
Distractions can run rampant when working from home. Limited childcare options might mean you have young children to take care of while you work. There may be times when your next-door neighbor is doing some noisy yardwork. Whatever the case, setting boundaries and following your regular routine as much as possible will help minimize distractions and be more productive. Communicating your routine to others in your household, as well as to other colleagues if necessary, will help you stay the course. When you do find yourself derailed by an unexpected distraction, be flexible (with your colleagues as well). Everyone is acclimating to this unprecedented situation in different ways, so it’s OK to cut yourself some slack.
3. Set up a workspace
Working from an in-home office is ideal, but if you don’t have that option, consider making a space for yourself where you’ll have some privacy and a desk or table that is well lit. I would not recommend working from the bed or couch – places that are less likely to be ergonomically friendly when you need to be in front of a computer – and it’s too tempting for our brains to be in relaxation mode in those areas. Designating a workstation for yourself will help you increase productivity and maintain a better work-life balance, Forbes suggests.
4. Build trust with transparency
If you’re managing staff, checking in occasionally is fine, but overdoing it can be counterproductive. How do you know if your staff isn’t bingeing on Netflix’s “Tiger King” all day? Inc. says the opposite is usually true – people tend to work more from home because it’s harder to “leave” work. To build trust, lead by example. Exhibit the work ethic you expect from your staff and promote transparency by openly sharing information.
5. Strengthen rapport
My last tip is essential to foster meaningful connections with your staff and colleagues. If your organization hosted regular activities to encourage camaraderie among coworkers, carry that over to virtual events. Not every activity has crossover characteristics, but you can still recognize birthdays and host virtual happy hours (memberplanet recently had its first virtual happy hour, too!) while practicing social distancing. Friendly banter in chat channels can also work to spark creativity. Consider designating a few channels for coworkers to have conversations that would usually take place at the water cooler.
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 organization’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 organization’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.
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Updated since original publication on 2/5/2018.
One thing that's always on the mind of component relations professionals (CRPs) is how to boost chapter performance. After all, improving chapter performance or helping a struggling component benefits the association as a whole, including the membership experience.
In my video, which is just two minutes and 30 seconds, I offer two helpful pro tips and go into some detail on how you can accomplish these:
Pro Tip 1: Stay in Touch with Struggling Chapter Reps
Pro Tip 2: Empower Your Chapters with the Tools They Need
Take a look at the full video below and let me know what you think!
Does it feel like your organization loses momentum with every new leadership transition? Here are four ways memberplanet helps you manage officer transition:
1. New leaders won't have to recreate the wheel
Your organization's account is continuous, even as its leadership changes hands. This means that all previously created content is available to be copied, customized, and reused. Leadership will have an easier time making use of your organization's templates as your group builds up a cache of fantastic, branded content.
Additionally, all form responses, payments, and member notes will remain in your organization's reporting, making historical information accessible to new leaders and admin users when they need it.
2. Accomplish administrative tasks all on one platform
The learning curve for new leaders is steep, especially if you’re utilizing different software platforms for every task. However, if you’re using memberplanet, new administrative users will have much fewer programs and apps to learn.
We purposefully designed our various modules to have similar workflow. Once you’ve learned how to build a form or event, building a donation site or anything else on memberplanet will be a breeze. And, of course, admins will benefit from automated membership features; they can spend more time providing value to the organization instead of on mundane tasks.
3. Share the load by delegating
The platform allows you to add an unlimited number of administrative users to your group account - free of charge. Other membership management software will charge you per admin user, and sometimes per member. memberplanet allows you to share administrative access with one or more incoming leaders without relinquishing your own admin capability or sharing login credentials. So go ahead, share the workload with others. The platform was built with your organization's growth in mind.
4. Keep sensitive data private with admin role management
Adding unlimited admins is convenient, but we also have tools in place to ensure your organization's data and funds stay secure, even among admins. Full-Access Admins have the capability to restrict other leaders’ view and/or edit access to different modules. For example, you can create an admin role for a user to manage your online events without giving accessibility to view or edit your organization's bank account info (and we absolutely recommend you take advantage of this feature).
Leadership transition is one of the many organizational challenges leaders face. Fortunately for you, our team is committed to simplifying all things membership management, including officer transitions. Simplifying membership is our constant focus!
You can check out more tips on officer transition here on the blog.
memberplanet is exhibiting our membership management software at the 2019 FEA Annual Meeting, May 29 - May 31, at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.
What Your Fraternal Community Can Do With memberplanet
Come to Booth #219 to learn more!
See you in Las Vegas!
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.
Involvement in an alumni chapter is a great way to continue serving your fraternal organization and remain connected to members. Being an alumni leader, however, isn’t always easy. There’s always a lot to do and consider – yet you took on the role because you saw how it would continue to enrich your life as well as the members who are part of the organization.
The fact that you’re being proactive and looking for ways to manage your alumni chapter is great. Similar to having tunnel vision, some alumni leaders focus on one area, but overlook another, which can hinder their overall success. To ensure you’re being most effective, these five areas of focus are vital: an alumni website, social media presence, communication, dues collection, and events. With the right tools and some delegation, it’s not that difficult. Read on for fundamentals – and to avoid tunnel vision.
1. Develop a website presence
I’ve seen many new alumni leaders develop social media handles for their chapter yet neglect to update or even start a website. You shouldn’t skip the step of creating a virtual, official presence for your alumni chapter. Reach out to other alums to ask for a volunteer webmaster if you’re not comfortable maintaining a website. Make sure to use a memorable URL.
Your website acts as the public face of your alumni chapter and a hub for your members. It’s also a news feed that will allow members to stay updated on what is happening with the active chapter. This should be the official place to post alumni social events, activities, and updates. A members-only login is just as important – being part of an alumni chapter is a privilege, so your dues-paying members should have a personal login where they can access your members-only content and perks.
2. Create a social media following
Leveraging social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to amplify your reach and create a dedicated following for your alumni chapter. If you’re not sure what social media networks are most popular among your members, Facebook and LinkedIn (for job/career-related posts) are a good place to start. Facebook is still the reigning social network, boasting 2.41 billion monthly active users as of June 2019. You can create private groups if you would like to emphasize the exclusivity of being a member, but if your goal is to expand your reach, go for public pages.
Thirteen percent of global active Facebook users were women between the ages of 25 and 34, and 19 percent were men in the same age range – the biggest demographic of Facebook users as of April 2019. To promote your activities, philanthropy, and initiatives and create a following, use applicable hashtags and tags, engaging content, and eye-catching imagery or videos.
You can utilize other social networks too, but what’s important is that you (or your social media manager) engage your audience consistently. Once you get the ball rolling, your active members will help your social media presence become a vibrant part of your organizational routine.
While email is effective, some of your alums will prefer to receive text message notifications; comprehensive marketing tools will allow you to draft a message once and send via email and/or group text simultaneously. More robust software will let you segment and target contacts based on data, so you can send tailored messages to everyone who RSVP’d for an event for example. Use built-in metrics (opens, clicks, bounces, etc.) from your communication software to gauge how engaging your content is.
4. Take advantage of a dues program
Collecting dues for your alumni chapter can be a time-consuming headache if you’re doing this manually. Keeping track of who’s paid and who hasn’t, sending out reminders, and handling cash and check are just a few of the tasks that are prone to error. A comprehensive dues program allows administrators to automate the collection of dues and offer convenient payment options for members, so you and your volunteers can focus on driving value for your chapter. The right dues program will offer additional major benefits, including integrated payments for donations and other payments.
5. Plan engaging events
The best events are not only easy to promote, they’re the ones that appeal to both members and prospects to keep your alumni active and increase participation. Your events committee should plan a good mix of annual (Homecoming, sports, etc.), social, and philanthropic events. Alumni members might be busy with work and scattered across the country, but if you plan well in advance and use event management tools to make the experience as convenient and valuable as possible, they will be more likely to attend.
Keep in mind that events and activities can be virtual and be just as successful as a physical event. If you create meaningful opportunities for your members, they will recognize the benefit of staying involved.
Here are some event ideas that can be done online or in person:
These five core components are critical in managing an effective alumni chapter over time. At memberplanet, simplifying membership is our constant focus. Our software and solutions help alumni chapters manage membership, engage supporters, and grow their organization – all in one spot. To learn more, please schedule a demo with the team.
About Matt Arnold
As our Vice President of Business Development, Matt is dedicated to serving member-based organizations and small to mid-sized associations. With over 10 years of experience wearing various leadership hats as an Alpha Tau Omega alumnus, Matt specializes in all fraternal organization matters. Whether a group is challenged with growing membership or struggling to engage members, he's got a solution.
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