You’re trying to make things better at your organization, but it seems like you’re running in circles. You might have even picked up the best tools (ahem … memberplanet) but might not be using them to your full advantage. If you’re ready to pull all your hair out, read this for some membership-management relief.
1. Automate your membership
Make it easy for members to join your organization. A prospect is ready to commit to an annual membership to your organization. Hopefully, you've set up the application process so it's convenient for those who are joining as well as administrative users like yourself who manage this process. Take the time to set up your membership tiers or levels and post links in easily accessible places, such as your website and social media pages. A new member will only have to click to get started, fill out your forms online, and make an online payment - which is much more convenient than picking up the phone to call you or having to mail paper forms and a check.
If it's necessary for your application process to be more manual than automated, you can set up email notifications to go to the right admins when someone does submit an application.
Give the option to automatically renew membership. Your members won’t always remember (or want) to manually take money out of their paycheck to pay membership dues. 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, enable automated reminder emails to keep them informed. You can also customize these emails and target members using levels, types, and auto-renew statuses. Email campaigns can also be tailored to members based on other variable data, such as an event RSVP or amount donated.
memberplanet users: Here are support documents on how to set up membership levels if you haven’t already. Smart Lists allow you to segment your distribution lists so you can target your communication based on variable data. Use the membership tools to your advantage to set up automatic renewals, offer free memberships, and more.
2. Get mentally organized to save time and boost productivity
Take a step back, clear your mind, and get organized. There are a lot of excellent organization tips online, such as Entrepreneur’s 10 tips for work life. Here are our own specific to-do items that directly apply to managing your organization:
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.
Note to memberplanet users: Our free app allows you to accomplish admin tasks on the go. If you find yourself tied to your desktop most of the time, download it on the App Store or Google Play and give it a whirl.
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:
If you can't automate a task, ask yourself: Can it be delegated? It’s important to let go of some of these jobs, even if you love or have gotten used to doing them.
memberplanet users: You can assign an unlimited number of admins. Share the load with those who can take on the responsibility and use admin role management to set necessary permissions.
Whether your organization has 200 members or 200,000, it pays to stay organized, as well as to make sure the memberships you offer are flexible and diverse enough to attract a variety of supporters. Managing membership can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.
Updated since original publication on 07/17/17.
Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!” Yet people grow. Things change. Member details multiply. If you're an admin, you know the last part of that equation: They expect you to organize and update all that information. So, before you Thoreau that laptop straight into the parking lot, read how memberplanet makes updating your member database a breeze.
1. Eliminate inefficiencies
Technology should drive efficiency, not the user insane. When you're adding new information, or updating the old stuff, you want your process to be as efficient as possible. For example, many group leaders spend time manually logging data from difficult-to-read handwriting from sign-up sheets at events or follow-up calls to members; with memberplanet, this information can be added by your members themselves. Members have their own dashboard they can securely log in to update account info. They can control and manage their own data, edit privacy settings, update payment methods, and more.
2. Make it easy for your members to update their own account
For some members, logging into their account is a roadblock. Lucky for you and them, there’s a way to make their lives (and yours) easier. You can send a profile update request email from the platform, which allows the member to update their account information directly from the email. Whatever changes they make automatically enter the secure database – without the need to log in. Compare that to chasing members for updates in person, through surveys, or by standard email, where they don't have a fail-safe way to add information. Those options are old school and force the member to remember another password. The less hassle on the member’s end and the less data entry for you, the better.
3. Seize the ideal periods to ask for updates
There’s no particularly bad time to check up on your members to see if anything has changed for them. But there are key intervals you should use to get updates from members.
Is the end of the year approaching? Check in with your members and stay informed of their plans for the new year. Are you making a change to your membership terms or levels, or are you gearing up for a big event or campaign? Make sure your member information is current before taking the leap. Periodic check-ins to see if members have any updates to their profile information, including essential contact information, is a terrific way to keep your data current. Best practices for asking are every quarter, before graduation, and at the end of the school year.
memberplanet helps keep your database tidy
The key to any successful member communication strategy is having accurate, relevant information about your members. The software makes it easy – just schedule profile update requests at key intervals and the member will have a link that takes them straight to their profile. Simplified, simplified, simplified! Thoreau would be pleased.
Start making your database fantastic by signing into your memberplanet dashboard today.
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 group’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 group’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.
Log in to check it out.
Fundraising is the act of raising funds for a cause or a mission. And although that sounds straightforward and simple, the act itself can be, well, anything but. If you’ve run a fundraiser, you know what we’re talkin’ about.
But the key to success remains pretty simple: You must create a strategic plan and stick to it.
No matter what goal you’re working toward as a group leader, follow these fail-safe tips and with research, a dab of creativity, and (possibly) a bit more elbow grease, you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish!
1. Set your goals
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details, you need to take a hard look at the big picture – and that begins with figuring out your purpose. Defining a clear, measurable goal is the foundation of a successful plan. Here are a few things to think about when setting that bar:
It’s okay to be ambitious with your goals, but it’s also important to determine what’s realistic. Shoot too high and you could end up spreading resources too thin. Now it’s time to write the fine print of your plan.
2. Give your donors the option to donate online
Offline (check and cash) donations are still essential for any fundraising effort, but online is quickly gaining ground when it comes to raising money. It’s all about convenience. Every additional step it takes to give – like writing a check, finding an envelope, and rummaging through a desk for stamps – creates the potential for donors to get distracted: Where did I put my checkbook? Oh look – here’s my coffee mug! I’ll find my checkbook later. It’s time for another cup.
See my point? Check out how much funds Wittmann Elementary School raised in its third year of offering an online payment option:
Total PTA Membership Fundraising for 2016-2017: $35,655
Offline Fundraising via Checks and Cash: $8,120
Online Fundraising via memberplanet: $27,535!
(Read the full Wittmann case study.) 77 percent of funds were raised online with memberplanet’s platform. And that’s just one example. The Chronicle of Philanthropy conducted a survey of 100 leading nonprofits and found that internet fundraising grew by about 13 percent year over year in 2014.
Bottom line: If you’re not using online giving features, you’re missing out on a big chunk of cash today, and even more tomorrow.
3. Delegate responsibilities
Shared responsibility is crucial to holding a successful fundraiser, because one person (you) cannot manage everything. Delegate most of the effort so that the event itself can go off without a hitch while you oversee the big picture.
If you are planning an event, designate an event committee to book vendors and locations, and make sure you’ve paid any fees or permits if it is being held in a public place. If possible, research backup vendors and another location in case your first location doesn’t work out. Plan a dry run (especially helpful if you expect a large amount of attendees).
4. Get the word out
In order to conduct a truly successful fundraiser, you will want to make sure that people actually know about it. Create a campaign schedule:
Note to memberplanet users: You can also encourage your members to create their own supporter pages for the cause, which makes their campaign efforts more personal and effective.
5. Execute the plan
With so much preparation, planning a fundraiser can seem overwhelming. But the pay-off is worth it. You’ve worked hard to design a great event, so try to sit back and enjoy the magic. Once the fundraising is underway, make sure that each of your delegated tasks is being tended to. Part of your plan should include periodic check-ins with those overseeing key tasks. The engagement, tracking, and logistical back-work does not end when the effort begins. If you see that your fundraiser is falling short of your goals, re-allocate resources or make adjustments to your goals.
6. Analyze the aftermath
Whether your fundraiser exceeded your wildest expectations – or it wasn’t quite what you expected – it’s important to meet with your team to determine what went well, what didn’t, and what you can do next time to improve. Detailed tracking is essential for the post-game debrief.
7. Say thank you
Thank your team, donors, partners, sponsors, and other benefactors. It’s super easy to use Smart Lists on memberplanet’s Pro and Premium plans to send a targeted email (templates included!) to all your donors to express gratitude. If you held an event, be sure to include a sharable photo album (show the impact!) to strengthen that connection with supporters.
Holding the ultimate fundraiser isn’t magic – it’s a combination of hard work, team effort, strategic planning, testing, and creativity. Whether you’re an organization with 20 volunteers or a 10,000-member medical society, following these rules will put you on the path to success.
Log in to get started on your next fundraising campaign.
Here we are again. It’s the time of the year when we have to start setting goals for our organization.
When it comes to goals, there’s one key question we need to ask ourselves: Can this goal be told in a story?
You’ve heard the adage: Facts tell but stories sell. It’s true in marketing and advertising. It’s equally true when it comes to setting goals for an organization. That’s because setting a goal is just the first step in the process.
After we’ve developed a goal for our organization, we have sell it to the troops. Convince folks that this is an endeavor worth pursuing. And that comes down to good communication skills. It’s a fact. People make decisions based on emotions rather than logic. Whether we’re trying to accomplish a specific task or raise funds, we have to be able to communicate our goal clearly and emotionally to our members and other stakeholders.
We have to bring people on board. Rally our members to our cause and lend their support. Y’know, herd cats.
If we want others to join us on our quest, we have to be able to show our members why ours is a worthy cause. The more enthusiasm we can generate about our goal, the easier it will be to accomplish.
How do we inspire the type of passion that we want from members, the type of enthusiasm that’s going to carry us through good times and bad until we cross our goal line?
With a good story.
Whether our objective is a one-time, standalone goal (think sponsoring a clothing drive for hurricane victims) or part of a larger, long-term initiative or mission statement (think serving the needs of children with disabilities) a good narrative helps us communicate more persuasively with our members.
The more we can connect with people on an emotional level, rather than a purely rational one, the more excitement we’ll generate for our cause, the faster we’ll achieve it … and the more fun everyone will have.
According to Joseph Campbell, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the significance of myths and storytelling, “Everything starts with a story.”
“Everything starts with a story.” – Joseph Campbell
Great stories touch us on an emotional level and teach us universal truths about human conduct. Think about it: Every story we’ve ever been told has had a point to it, a theme. The theme is a lesson about life. Something to which humans should aspire. A goal.
Consider your goal from a storyteller’s perspective
As we set a goal for our organization, let’s take time to consider the goal from a storyteller’s perspective.
Every story has a hero. In our case, the hero is our organization. Every story has a conflict. There’s something wrong that needs to be fixed. Perhaps we’re trying to raise money to send kids to camp. The conflict is, some children can’t afford it and our organization wants to fix that. Every story also has a resolution. In our case, it’s our objective. Accomplishing our goal will resolve the issue at hand and bring the story to its close.
Can we incorporate these elements into our goal and use them to weave a compelling story that captivates our members? The truth is, people have a fundamental need to connect with something larger than themselves.
A good story about our organization and its goals will help bring more people into our tent and enfold them into its larger mission.
As organizational leaders, we must be able to find the narrative within our cause, capitalize on our natural storytelling strengths, and express our goal with clarity, creativity and conviction.
Embrace the conflict
Oh, yeah. There’s one more thing to remember, too. By definition, great stories involve a journey that is rarely easy. In fact, as is often the case, the more conflict, the better the story. So let’s approach our goal with the same mindset. It won’t be easy to achieve (and, if it is, perhaps we’ve set the bar too low).
In most narratives, the hero has a long-term goal that is fed by a series of short-term goals. Accomplishing our short-term goals are the means by which we eventually achieve our ultimate mission. We can think about our organizational goals the same way.
Our long-term goal is usually provided in our mission statement. It is our story’s theme. As you know, our long-term mission is achievable, measurable and time-specific.
Our mission (not an impossible one) then must be broken down into shorter-term functions and operational initiatives. Short-term goals are great ways to identify specific functions that need to be undertaken, and offer measurable results that allow us to chart our progress, feel a regular and much-needed sense of accomplishment, and move us further along the narrative toward our ultimate goal.
And it’s that sense of accomplishment – of fighting for a cause, righting a wrong, creating a better tomorrow – that creates the pride and emotional connection that will keep our protagonists (members) coming back for more.
So when it comes time to set a goal for your organization, be bold, creative and inspiring. Identify the story inherent within your mission and use it to assemble your short- and long-term goals. In the end, the goals you set today will become the stories your members live tomorrow.
Let’s make them exciting ones!
Have a goal in mind? Our event and donation sites (templates included!) make it easy to tell your story.
Originally published December 16, 2016, updated December 21, 2017.
The new year is here and that means food, family, and, if you're following a calendar-year contract, member renewals. While holiday breaks and transition periods are often a great time to tie up any loose ends within your organization (thank you, extra time off!), people tend to have extra busy schedules during this time.
As a leader of an organization, it’s very possible that you’ve seen a drop in member retention and engagement rates during this time of year.
So the question is how do you retain members and keep them engaged during a period of transition, whether it be the new year or end of a quarter?
We’ve talked to a bunch of group leaders who’ve successfully battled the member retention issue. How did they do it? By focusing on many of the same best practices they focus on during the rest of the year: showing members the value of being part of the group and keeping them interested. That was made a whole lot easier by using memberplanet, and we’ve compiled their tips and best practices below.
Here are four ways to ensure your members remain loyal 'til their dying day.
1. Make it easy to stay a member
We go shopping online, look up cooking recipes, and even date online. It just makes sense to simplify membership by making it easily accessible online as well. If you aren’t doing this already, offer online dues payments with automatic or early membership renewal. Think of it this way: Every time you send your members looking for their checkbooks to mail in a payment, you’re creating a hurdle (and it’s an especially bigger one during a time of transition). Renewing membership should be as easy as a click of a button, and automatic online renewals means members don’t have to think twice about making a commitment to your organization. Providing them with mobile access is even better. (We have a custom mobile app for that!)
2. Offer incentives
The holidays present the perfect time to introduce an opportunity to give free gifts, whether it’s branded swag, an extra raffle ticket for a gift card giveaway, or discounted rates for membership renewals. We love free stuff, and your members are the same way. Your incentives can vary, but showing your members how much you appreciate their involvement is essential. Consider membership length and added value for members who have been with your organization for a certain amount of time.
3. Round up the troops
Everyone loves a good gettogether — it's a great way to show appreciation to members. Make it fun, invite family members, and encourage people to branch out and meet people they've never spoken to before. Bottom line: Show them the love. Sending out invites and allowing your members to RSVP online is one of the easiest ways to get them to come. Want to send out a quick reminder before the par-tay? Our built-in Broadcast feature allows admins to draft a message once and send it to their group via email and text message simultaneously. Extra pro tip: After the event, update your event page with photos and videos, and share it with attendees so they won’t have to hunt for pics.
4. Re-engage your members with a philanthropic cause
Giving back to the community is a great way to re-engage your members, because the entire year is ripe with occasions for giving back. It's also a great bonding experience to do so as an organization. Giving makes people feel good, so facilitate the process. Hold an annual charity drive, or get all your members together for a charity experience. Doing little things like this will show your members that you care about the bigger picture and are willing to put in the work to make the world a better place.
5. Communicate your group’s impact to your members
Whatever good you end up doing, inform your members through multiple channels (email, text, social media). Send thank you emails to your members for participating, and share your post campaign results. For example, if you reached your fundraising goal for a holiday toy drive for an animal shelter, let your group know, and send them pics of the furry friends the toys went to. Effective communication, in turn, will drive home the message that your members are significant in making an impact.
memberplanet makes it easy to do all these things mentioned. Log in to get started.