The Top 20 Best Blogs for Association Executives

The Best Assocation Blogs

According to one source, there are more than 164 million blogs. Most of these blogs get less than 1,000 visitors per month, and the harsh reality is, the majority of those blogs are, for lack of a better word, failures. In this article, I wanted to quickly applaud some of the best association blogs in my top 20 list.

The Best Association Blogs  

It’s simple. When people start blogs, many do it for some of the following expectations:

  • Traffic: It helps drive traffic to your website.
  • Conversions: It helps convert that traffic into leads
  • Authority: It helps establish authority.
  • Results: It drives long-term results

In the association market, many suppliers have been around a long long time. And, they have curated a tremendous amount of knowledge. And, often times they share it too! But, in my mind, the ones I enjoy following exemplify the following qualities which I appreciate most.

Qualities of the Best Blogs for Associations

  • Specificity: They focus on one audience. In this case, membership & association needs.
  • Passion: You can read into their love for the craft, profession, or association community.
  • Integrity: They provide education and resources to the association community. Not selling!
  • Participation: There are a lot of reader comments which I believe are a significant factor in blog popularity.

  • Brevity: They get to the point and provide useful information. While I like novels, I don’t like long winded blogs.
  • Longevity: Staying power and feeding the site is critical. I don’t have to wait a year for something to come out.

To that end, I wanted to take some time to acknowledge some of the best blogs for Association Executives. Certainly, a blog can help the company as mentioned above, but it takes a long time to deliver results. So, there has to be some passion for doing what these folks do. And, the content they share comes through in the message.

So, without further adieu, here are the some of the best Blogs for Association Executives from some of the smartest people in the association industry today:

Our Top 20 Association Membership Blog List 

I applaud the effort of all above who have made a commitment to educate and provide a valuable resource for the association community. And, I sincerely appreciate reading and digesting the useful product you all put out regularly for all of us to enjoy. You are a testament to the fact that a Blog doesn’t have to be boring, mundane, or even trite.

Therefore, I encourage everyone involved in the association membership industry to drop them a like on Facebook,  follow their respective company on LinkedIn, Tweet their blog posts, encourage them when you see them, and share your love in your Google circles. They deserve the appreciation for the content they provide us to digest every day, week, and year…

Before I go, I am sure that I have left some good ones out. So, please let me know who you find provides value in your association activities. I would love to hear from you and hope to see them on my must reads soon!

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Why Email Deliverability Is Critical For Your Community’s Success

Email Deliverability in Associations and Nonprofits

As a non-profit organization you want to build, maintain and encourage everyone’s involvement; staff, clients, supporters and donors. One major avenue that non-profits use to engage those groups, and the individuals within them is email. Getting to that point demands strategy, standards and processes. In this article, let’s discuss how you do that today.

Email Deliverability Importance

You’ve probably seen a lot of email service providers advertise “98% deliverability” or “high deliverability” or “the best deliverability ever,” and you might be wondering what it all means. Deliverability is a way to measure the success at which an email marketer gets a campaign into subscribers’ inboxes.  Senders affect their own deliverability, too—so if you create good content and maintain a clean list, your campaigns will be more likely to reach your subscribers.

Your Community Email Strategy

According to various reports, 18% of permission-based email in North America never reaches the inbox: 5% is classified as spam, and the remaining 13% simply goes missing. While 82% inbox placement is not a horrible number, marketers would agree that there is certainly room for improvement.

There’s no question that email software and the people who use it are getting better at filtering out spam. This is good since it makes it easier for engaging emails to get through — but without a strong focus on deliverability, sometimes even quality, permission-based emails can get filtered out of your subscriber’s inboxes.

You want every email your organization sends out to be welcomed by the community and, where appropriate, responded to. Like most projects, you have to have a vision for how you get there.

Your non-profit must communicate with each group and sub-group found in it. You want to keep information flowing freely in both directions for your communications such as a:

  • Welcome message introducing a new staff member or new sponsor.
  • Weekly or monthly newsletters.
  • Events that are being planned, organized or reviewed to get maximum attention.

An email strategy underpins everything to do with successful email communication. You must ensure that:

  • Each email supports and enhances your goal of building, engaging and encouraging involvement.
  • Each email goes to the correct recipient.
  • Each email is both expected and welcomed by the recipient.
  • As many emails possible are opened and responded to.
  • Where it applies, you want emails which are created by group members to be accurate and appropriate.

To the point, you have to make sure that each email goes to the right person. They must open them. They must respond to them, and even add their own content for further distribution. In this personalized way, community involvement is maximized.

Ensuring Standards of Deliverability

Community software technology enables and ensures that required standards are met, so your strategy succeeds. Using a specialist company to manage standards of delivery, means you can focus on your organization and its community. Standards you want in place include:

  • The right subscription settings, to keep members’ preferences paramount.
  • Opting in and opting out are simple.
  • Emails are delivered correctly to authenticated addresses.
  • User-generated content is checked to make sure it is both authentic and appropriate to its recipients.
  • Servers and the network, itself, remain secure.
  • Feedback is continuous so any complaints, permanent blocks, etc. can be handled properly and problems get addressed.
  • Client monitoring, help desk access, etc. are under client control, and reports are produced so it is easy to review and respond to anything.
  • Application features can be customized to suit the organization’s style, feel and look.

Standards like these mean that staff and members can focus on the community, rather than worry about security or unwanted communication. When teams are planning or running a fund-raiser, for example, they have neither the time nor the desire to keep “looking over their shoulders” to see if everything is working as it is supposed to. This brings us to the processes.

System Processes

The technical details that are built into the software, and into the user interface are what enable the your community’s standards to be met. The email software must be able to continuously monitor email activity and content. This process then reports the results so everything is clear and obvious. The reports mean the community managers can either positively confirm that everything is deliverable or that they can order up improvements to fix minor problems before they become major problems.

Best Practices For Deliverability In Your Community

Trust and engagement matters in email best practices in your community.

First, your community should give your subscribers a good reason to opt in and set clear expectations about what’s to come. Then, follow through on your promises with timely, targeted, valuable emails.

Second, choose a solid email marketing service provider. Make sure the vendor you choose is sophisticated enough to provide:

  • Bounce codes, feedback loops, and connection optimization.
  • Has email technology which is up-to-date and compliant with today’s legal requirements.

A good provider must also cultivate good relationships with receivers by applying proactive issue resolutions, feedback loops, and whitelisting practices.

A modern email marketing service provider will ensure deliverablity. It will allow you to segment your contact lists into sub-lists so that you can target specific customers with specific messages. This is essential to keeping your audience engaged with relevant content and making sure the right person gets the right message at the right time.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Should your Non Profit Rent or Buy Database Software?

501c3 Non Profit Software Buying Tips

 

To be sure, how a 501c3 or 501c6 organization deploys and licenses database software is a critical decision in your nonprofit. In this article, we explore a question which may be applicable to your nonprofit database software licensing.

What Type of Non Profit Software is The Best Fit?

Cloud Based Software vs. On Premise Software 

In my train of thought, “Cloud based” software clients could be construed as “renters”.  And, conversely “On-premise” clients are conversely a “homeowner” type of client. Without question, “Cloud based” software systems have gained huge popularity in the last several years for 501c3 organizations and associations alike. And, rightfully so! Due to the nature of associations and nonprofits, it’s easy to be allured by the catch phrases and ease of deploying a cloud based solution. You hear it everywhere today, “With a cloud based solution your association can deploy a solution quicker and less ”. And, this is likely true for you too.

The Renter vs. Homeowner Choice

However, a “renter” and a “home owner” are distinctly different in terms of mentality.  Apartments/Condos/Duplexes all  serve a purpose in our society. And, buying a home is still for many considered an intricate part of achieving “ The American Dream”. Quite frankly, renting is a necessity for many transient individuals/families/students/retirees which need a temporary place to store their property (like your associations data) and provide a safe secure place to call home. For example, an apartment communities are usually very accommodating.  One will likely enjoy a huge expansive swimming pool, workout center, nice club house lounge area at the office, wonderful landscaping and sometimes a nice size park area for kids to play if the property caters to families.

The shared amenities can be quite attractive. The “shared amenities” are not it! There is more to substantiate the allure of going down this path. The renter does not have to worry about costs when the dishwasher breaks (at your kid’s birthday party), the a/c goes out ( in the heat of the summer) or a tornado comes through in the spring to destroy your roof. Finally, a renter usually pays less, signs a one year lease term, & you have way more than you could get if you had to buy.

A home owner is usually in it for the long haul, right? As a home owner you have  the choice to make changes to your existing structure (if and when your family needs change) like building a new room for your new little one or modifying an existing space to update it to the new trends, paint a room a different color, or update the outdoors with a nice garden to plant vegetables. And, at the end of the day, you likely will enjoy the build-up of equity.

Obviously, “home owners” have their pitfalls. When it breaks, you fix it. When it needs updating, you buy it. When the taxes come, you pay them. You get the idea!

Cloud Based Non Profit Software is Renting

For well over a decade now, “Cloud based” software vendors have enjoyed the limelight. As an association executive, it’s important to know if a “Cloud” based database system is really the right choice for your organization. Understanding your nonprofit needs in order to better understand which donor database or membership software system option is best for your company, is warranted. Choosing the right enterprise membership management system is integral to your business. Here are some benefits of cloud software to chew on:

  • Database efficiency:

Keeping member or supporter databases up-to-date can be a daunting task using installed software. When all data or files are stored online (in the cloud) files can be updated and shared remotely and easily. This means, no duplicate member lists or outdated email lists and no need to email or copy files onto USB sticks.

  • Saves time:

Instead of staff making changes to member contact information or membership status, with cloud solutions, your members and supporters can quickly and easily update their own membership or contact information. In addition, staff or volunteers can update websites and manage event registration remotely and easily.

  • Increased Collaboration:

Cloud software can facilitate easier collaboration. Many cloud systems also allow you to see previous versions, so you don’t need to worry about editors accidentally deleting important information.

  • Reduced Infrastructure and built-in backup:

Most nonprofits and membership organizations do not have the resources necessary to update their systems and software, often leading to outdated systems, crashing computers and security holes. With cloud-based software or systems, the “burden of maintenance” is shifted to the vendor. Their automatic updates, backup and tech support save time and effort previously required for updates and infrastructure maintenance. In addition, with cloud systems there should be limited downtime since they have back-up servers as well as expert support to manage and minimize service disruptions.

Your Choice in Non Profit Software Option

The decision to “Rent or Buy” is becoming less applicable. But, for some the question is still pertinent and will be for some time. Like all decisions, there are many factors involved in finding the best fit. We encourage our clients to review the pros and cons of each option before making your decision. To be clear, we do not believe that one or the other is right for every association today. We can help with understanding your unique needs and determining the “Smart Fit” for your nonprofit.

Please contact us today if you would like more information or would like help in selecting your next apartment or home!

501c3 Software Options for Non Profit