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.
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.
Updated and refreshed since original publication on: 10/5/2017
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 2018 takes place on November 27th. In 2016, more than 85 community coalitions across the U.S. and people in 98 countries/territories participated in the charitable event. Participation further bloomed in 2017 as people from over 100 U.S. community coalitions and people in 150 countries participated in 2017.
According to the Giving Tuesday organization, in 2016 Giving Tuesday raised more than $177 million online. 2017 was even more successful, it raised over $300 million online. Last year’s results prove that donors are extremely 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.
Updated from original posting 10/23/17
So you didn't quite hit the mark on your donation site...
First of all, chin up! Take a breath and refocus on your next donation goal. Whether you are fundraising, selling property, or negotiating a salary, you will get the best results by asking for a little more than you’d like to realistically get.
"But I really need to hit my mark!"
Ok! Don't sweat. You’ve got this! Unlike salaries and home-prices, donation campaigns have no finite ceiling. You've only "failed" to hit your mark when you give up trying new strategies. You can always change course and re-launch at any time.
Here are 6 ways to revitalize your campaign for a re-launch
1. Try hosting an event or selling merchandise
Hosting an event is a great way to boost revenue for your donation but also to spread the message of your campaign by engaging the community. When people feel connected and involved they are more likely to donate since the cause now has a relevance to their lives. Also, sell merchandise both at the event and throughout the campaign. T-shirts, car-washes, and dinners are simple things that will have a big appeal with donors. With memberplanet customers can use our mobile app to purchase tickets and merchandise on the go! Worried about the payment logistics? We have templates that are already set up for this! Check out our template gallery here.
2. Evaluate your campaign goal
You want your goal to be realistic enough that your donors can already see the victory in sight. Set it too high and they will often get discouraged and put forth a lackluster effort. Also, when donors see you getting close to your goal they want to jump in and give more, don't miss out on that momentum! Stick with a reasonable (yet still ambitious!) goal.
3. Assess giving levels
How much have donors been giving? You want to set giving levels that are both realistic and ambitious. If most of your donors are giving less than the lowest level, you should set your middle level a few dollars above that point. If most of your donors are giving more, set your levels higher. You want people to dig deep to give a few dollars more than their intended donation in order to hit the next level.
*Also note, how do you create incentive for donors to reach levels? Promising shout-outs or recognition will make some donors excited to stand out!
4. Spruce up your page!
You know that your cause is important, if your donors only knew how much their contribution would help they would be excited to give more! Including photo albums, videos and engaging and informative text that will give your donors the evidence they need to appreciate your cause. Leverage your donation site to sell your donors and appeal to their emotional side and establish a personal investment. Include photos of the people or animals being helped, tell donors exactly what their funds will be used for and how much each aspect will cost. Paint them a vivid picture of how their contribution will change someone's life.
5. Brand your payment form
Keep your site branded, professional, and inspiring from beginning to end. When your donors choose to donate, they are directed to a payment form. If the form is bleak, they may lose their emotional momentum, resulting in a lower contribution or none at all. Include an inspiring and emotionally moving banner image on your form, as well as a gracious and personal thank-you message.
6. Share. Share. Share
The most important thing you can do to ensure a successful donation site is share your page link. Email your site, post it to your social networks like Facebook & Twitter, add your cause information to your email signature - the opportunities for spreading news online are endless! Once you get your page out there, your friends, family, and supporters will help you spread the word. Already done this? Try incentivizing donors to share the page on their Facebook! (ex: for every share, you will recognize or reward them in some cost-effective way)
Bonus tip: Ask for help!
The support team at memberplanet is always here for you. We have seen many campaigns, and we can give you ideas that will work for you. Visit our Support Site to browse our support library or to chat with us directly.
Ready to give it another shot?
Updated from original posting on 6/6/16
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.
Originally published: 10/30/2017
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.
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.
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.