Improve communication between headquarters, chapters, and members with a unified platform
With so many multi-chapter organizations operating in the United States, there is relatively little research on how they maintain order and operations. How do individual chapters interact with their central or national office? What are their biggest challenges? It is difficult to keep processes streamlined when attempting to coordinate activities, goals, and communications. To dig a little deeper, here are four issues that are routinely faced by multi-chapter groups:
2. Membership data management
How many members do you have? Who needs to renew? Which members participate the most? What (and where) is the most recent reporting? We live in the connected economy – there is no need for cumbersome and imprecise methods of file sharing.
An effective member management database and can seamlessly maintain records and renewals online while enabling groups to grow their membership. That’s why we’ve developed a user-friendly database that makes it easy to search, sort, and upload files while also streamlining dues collection and payment processing.
3. Being social but consistent
To manage this issue, the head office should develop a comprehensive social media strategy, create an email list of who is responsible for the campaigns for each office, and send them appropriate guidelines. Building a successful and consistent brand requires regular communication between HQ and the points of contact at the respective chapters, which is easily accomplished through internal email campaigns.
4. Leveraging technology for all chapters
The solution? A single, connected platform will provide chapters the tools to manage their respective silos while also coordinating with organization leadership. A user-friendly, adaptable level of consistency makes training, turnover, and growing membership much simpler to manage. And it can transform an organization for the better.
If you’re part of a multi-chapter organization and face even one of these challenges, investigate our all-in-one membership management platform and see how it can simplify your life.
Updated since original publication on 10/10/2016.
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
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
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.
Now that you’re done wrapping gifts, it’s time to wrap up 2017! This year we’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. (Fidget spinners anyone?) Tech trend-wise we’ve seen automation and video content blow up this year. As a group leader, it is important to be aware of the tools that help you keep up with these trends, as well as the impact they have on how you manage your organization. You know what trend never goes out of style? Engaging your members and donors. We’ve put together the top 3 engagement trends that will be a big part of marketing in 2018. We’ve also included surefire ways to help you take your engagement strategy to the next level in the new year.
1. Social media will focus on Generation Z
Prominent business sites, including Entrepreneur, predict that the next generation to enter the labor force will have the attention of brands, and they will shift their social media strategies accordingly. Gen Zers love Snapchat and Instagram, but if that’s not your organization’s target audience, you should refine your social strategy to match the demographics of your group. Instagram is great for showcasing your group’s photos, events, and culture, however it’s not the best place to share longform announcements. If you’re just starting out with social media marketing, take some time to research and think about which social platform would be the best choice for your group. If your organization already has the gambit of social media pages, work on devising a post strategy for each platform with unique goals. Investing in the right social platforms will help to better engage your audience and increase awareness of your group and your group’s mission.
2. Content marketing will focus on stories
Content creation should feel authentic and necessary in promoting your group’s mission. Too often, groups attempt to drive traffic and engagement with content that feels inorganic and salesy. Get creative! According to Forbes, content from the heart will be much more effective. Think about what your members want to see. And what information do they need to know? Your content is how you tell the story of your group, so keep it a good representation of what your organization is at its base. This content should also have a narrower focus and be aimed to accomplish your engagement goals, not just viewership. Likes are great, but individual interactions are more personal and therefore more likely to result in a new member signup or a donation.
3. Email newsletters become the best way to promote your group
According to content marketing firm Brafton, email marketing is still king when it comes to communicating with your members (so make email your new best friend). Long-form announcements about the group are best shared via email. Be sure to avoid overly salesy jargon or repetitive spamming. A few emails are fine, but if members feel bombarded they will likely pull away. Figure out a realistic timeline for sending emails based on your or your admin staff’s bandwidth. When crafting the newsletter, focus first on sharing the most relevant group information at the top. Then work your way down in terms of priority. Structure is important, so ask yourself what do your members want and need to know? Keep your message authentic and your readers will eagerly await your next newsletter.
Get a head start on 2018!
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.
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.