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.

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

 

The Cherry in CRM Membership Software is Engagement & Participation!

Best Membership Software for Nonprofits helps Engagement and Participation

Do you have the right membership system in place now to handle your goals? If you are a membership based nonprofit (Church, Museum, Association, Society) you likely have big plans for outreach and growth in order to keep your nonprofit on track to accomplish its mission. And, chances are member engagement is at the top of the list of priorities in years to come too. In this article, we tackle how Membership CRM software may help with participation and engagement.

The Benefits of Engagement in Membership Software

Maximizing engagement with members and boosting their involvement with your association has become increasingly important over the past decade. According to the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmark Report, the majority of associations consider engagement to be their most important goal, followed closely by membership retention.

Could a Membership System help? To know, you may find value in asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do you spend much of your precious time digging through databases and spreadsheets looking for the right information?
  • Do you feel like you never have a full understanding of what is going on to help plan for your association’s future?
  • Do you wonder if you’ll ever have more time for revenue-generating, member-focused activities?
  • Are the systems you have in place now allow you to put forth a solid effort in meeting your member needs?

This may sound odd for some nonprofit executives. But, there are still many nonprofits diligently putting forth an effort to serve their members needs with outdated systems. In fact, it’s amazing for me to find many associations still loading their member data on a spreadsheet. It’s a shame!

Today, Membership Software, can help in so many ways. But, one of the key benefits is helping take member engagement to the next level, by streamlining association processes to make your organization more efficient and easier to manage for sure. But, also keeping track of participation and engagement too.

Today, one of the wonderful benefits of “cloud technology” is the fact that the “cloud” has made strong membership management tools available for even small associations. In the past, perhaps you were limited by options. In fact, you maybe still living in that “pre-cloud” reality but may not realize the value of integration and the possibilities for better engagement with an integrated database and website.

The Power of Integration & Engagement in Membership Systems

I have seen some pretty interesting methods to keep track of members, dues, donations and event registration. These methods range from a Bob Cratchit (remember Scrooge’s clerk?) pen-and-ink ledger to a combination of the aforementioned spreadsheet and database (and hope for the best) approach.

A Membership software solution can “house” all of an organization’s information in one centralized database — from member email addresses and postal updates to social media profile information, preferences, and history. Without the right AMS, associations can end up with a disjointed, incomplete view of their members. With an AMS, though, you gain a 360-degree view your members and the ability to make informed decisions.

Today, an AMS executive dashboard can even offer instant snapshots of member participation, so Executive Directors can answer fundamental questions about what members are doing and capitalize on new opportunities for the association. With actionable integrated business data they can be confident information is updated and accurate. From there, they can make smart business decisions regarding the association’s future, and identify and develop best practices for the organization that align with industry trends including engagement.

The Possibilities of Capabilities in Membership CRM Software 

With membership software today, it may help in so many ways to increase engagement. Here are several quick examples:

  • Provide engagement because it is one central data entry and output location for your membership information.
  • Contain a strong content management tool for managing personalization of content.
  • Seamlessly connect with all existing software applications you use and eliminate duplication and data errors.
  • Manage your entire database and membership website. Integrating the database with your organization’s website is key when trying to present a consistent experience for members resulting in better engagement possibilities (From event registration and membership renewal to dues payments and social networking).
  • Allow your constituents to update their own files, collaborate, & participate with others.
  • Increase engagement because they are now available by members in a mobile environment.
  • A membership system allows Executives to focus on the bigger picture.
  • CRM Software for membership manages allows one to easily gather data on and share information with committee members (whether it is event updates, the latest documents, or day-to-day reports) in order to keep everyone up to date.
  • Taking advantage of reporting tools ensures that associations are given the proper feedback to continually provide meaningful content to members while eliminating the content that falls short.
  • By building events through the central database, communication management can invite members, collect registrations, and even poll attendees for post-event feedback all through one system.

Membership Activity Tracking to Facilitate Engagement 

Tracking the ways in which members are engaging with your organization isn’t just useful for reporting and business intelligence.

Using your membership system to collect these interactions on a per-member basis allows each member to do some of the following:

  • Receive targeted and relevant information consistently.
  • Your marketing and communications team members are able to use a membership system to automate member interactions and ensure that members are presented with events, campaigns, and offers that directly relate to them based on their previous interactions with the association.
  • Through Single Sign On capabilities, marketers are able to reach out to members on all active channels, in one system—making a notable difference in membership engagement.

The output is all about using your member data in meaningful and useful ways – reports, workflow, etc. That output greases the skids to making your association vastly more efficient, productive and successful. And, equally important increasing participation and engagement.

We can help you decide which software tool is best suited to lead your organization into the future.

Contact us and we’ll help get you there. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Online Membership Software for Engagement