Two Ways to Power Up Your Membership Management

Membership Management Software Power

If you read any trade publication today, you know that Association executives are jumping on the engagement bandwagon in higher and higher numbers. It seems the more I talk to executives, they get that when their members stay active in their organization, they are most likely to stay on and also draw in new members. In this article I bring together two key ways to approach engagement that are sure to power up your member management:

2 Ways to Power Up Membership Management Software 

I have made the case in previous articles that the best fit membership management software—software that supports all your engagement-related goals—is a key to success in attaining your membership goals. If you agree, here are some ways to think about improving (powering up) engagement opportunities at your association:

  • Engagement Judo
  • Interactivity based on like-minded interests.

Practice the Philosophy of Engagement Judo

What is the practice of engagement Judo? Let me explain.

But, before I do. I want to be clear and in full disclosure. I am not an expert in Judo. Simply put, my extent of knowledge comes from taking my son to a birthday party where Judo was taught. And, becoming intrigued by it’s principles. So, there you have it.

A true confession!

That disclosed, I was intrigued to find out that the two hallmarks of Judo’s philosophy are maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit. How do these relate to member engagement? Good question.

Members want real value from their Associations, and nothing speaks value like activities that members view as having maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit.

Here’s why: unless your members are mostly retirees, they tend to be busy people who choose to spend their time as efficiently as possible. And in today’s economy, they also want maximum value from their Association-related expenses.

But they don’t just want these for themselves. They are likely to feel some loyalty to and commonality with fellow members, and typically, want the other members to gain value from their membership as well—the mutual welfare and benefit aspect of the Judo philosophy.

The good news? If members believe their time and money is being well-spent by membership in your Association, they will want like-minded friends and colleagues to benefit, too, meaning that these members will become your best recruiters.

Note that I stress it’s the members’ view of value that matters. My recent blog posts underscore that Association executives who meet around a table and create a list of benefits for their members instead of making the effort to directly learn each member’s interests and preferences may find themselves at a loss—of members.

The bottom line? Make maximum efficiency and mutual welfare and benefit your Association’s new mantra to retain and grow an active membership.

Boost Interactivity Based on Like-Minded Interests

Whoa. You may ask. Didn’t every member join my Association because of a like-minded interest?

Absolutely. But not every golfer, or realtor, or businesswoman, or ___ (fill in the blank of your type of Association) shares the same needs, preferences, or even extracurricular lifestyles as all the others in your at-large group. By taking the best-practice approach to membership engagement, you will discover a number of like-minded segments of your membership group—smaller subgroups with interests and preferences that are more closely aligned.

  • If your Association includes men and women, are there women in the group who prefer, say, learning new management skills from other women?
  • If your Association is based on a business profession, is there a segment who prefers stretching their professional expertise to a different but perhaps related profession?
  • Is there a segment of your membership who takes an interest in philanthropy? In volunteering? In purely socializing? In offering scholarships?

Once you undertake a closer segmentation of your membership, engage a small subcommittee from each segment to draft programming ideas that will generate enthusiasm among members within that segment. Rotate the program committee’s membership annually to keep ideas new and current.

Here, too, the best fit software can support your efforts to increase member interactivity and enthusiasm.

Certainly, no membership management software is going to help unless you have some focus. Your focus on a strategic engagement approach ensures the sustainability and success of your Association.

But, it doesn’t hurt to have the right tools either. And, you may not be able to find the tools you are looking for.

If this is the case with you, we can help with making sure you have just the right software to reward your work with maximum efficiency and benefit. We marry your needs and budget with software already available to fit them.

Call on us with any questions.

Membership Software Reviews

How much should you pay for Association Nonprofit Software

How much should you pay for Membership Software today?

How much does AMS membership software cost? And, how much should we budget?

In this article, we wanted to explore the money questions we get quite a bit from nonprofit and association executives.

From our experience, Nonprofit Associations are very good about benchmarking. In a sector where donors and members scrutinize where the money is going, benchmarking is used with success. If a nonprofit doesn’t benchmark outcomes, there is certainly a third-party agency which likely is!

The Study Cited for Membership Software Budget 

Recently, we reviewed a study conducted in 2013 by CliftonLarsonAllen on behalf of the Texas Society of Association Executives (a wonderful resource!). The “Texas Associations Matter” study outlined the economic impact which nonprofit associations have on the Texas economy. Further, the comprehensive study outlined the specific demographic details of the roughly 1,900 organizations in the state. Here are some takeaways from an IT software perspective which may help all nonprofits in every state answer the questions above:

  • Small associations (less one million in revenue) represented 71% of the total association nonprofits in Texas
  • Across all association size classes (Small, Midsize, Large) each year associations in the state of Texas spend about 3% on technology and web expenses
  • Small Associations (less than 1 million in revenue) on average spend about 5% on technology and web expenses

Apart from the mere fact that everything is bigger in Texas (You know we are still a Republic, right?), if you believe in the value of benchmarking data, this study suggests that you should at a bare minimum be spending 3% of your operating budget a year on software technology for your nonprofit association.

I would like to stress, at a minimum. Because, in order to truly keep up it will be important for your organization to consider spending more. You must consider going beyond the averages to excel and grow. Nonprofits and Associations are competing with so many entities today for mind share and remaining viable. It’s not enough just to “keep up” with the “Joneses’ of the Nonprofit Community”. Rather, moving forward into the 21st Century executives are going to have to think of new ways to grow and attract new members/donors in ways that they have never imagined. And, technology will be a big part of helping in that effort.

What Should you Budget for Membership Software? 

In the book, “Race for Relevance, 5 Radical Changes for Associations“, the author, Harrison Coerver, underscores the point that Associations will need to invest more in the future to remain relevant. In essence, he believes that conventional wisdom of the old guard must change in order to adapt to the “new frontier” of associations. The conventional approaches and paradigms of yesteryear no longer fit in an environment that’s been fundamentally and irreversibly changed. Harrison also stresses that technology (web and software combined) will quickly become an integral component of an associations functioning and performance. And, to realize this will require a major shift in the mindset of association nonprofit executives across the board to truly embrace technology rather than begrudgingly invest in it. In short, he says that your “spend” should be in the range of 8% to 10% of total revenue to remain competitive.

Just to reiterate, this is double what is transpiring now in the great state of Texas. And, I would venture to assume that other states are similar if not less in spend than Texas. Wouldn’t you?

So, how much should you budget on your website, information technology and nonprofit association software?

Where is the lovely sweet spot?
How much is enough?

Well, in most expert opinions, your nonprofit needs to spend at least the minimum but even more should be considered to grow and remain relevant.  But, the answer for your particular organization will vary. Hopefully, this information can be used as a discussion point to put some perspective on your next budget meeting for information technology. As we stress quite a bit here, it is important to set realistic expectations.

The good news for most forward thinking nonprofits is that most systems today are in the reach of even the smallest nonprofits. The key is finding the right one for you based on all factors involved including a realistic budget.

If you need help auditing your needs or gaining some consensus on software choices, please reach out to us. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind!

Free Membership Software Purchase Guide for Nonprofits

Seeking the Best Association Membership Software? Check this out.

 

 Top 10 Checklist for Searching for Membership Software

Top 10 Checklist  Before The Of

Association Membership Software Search

We often get the question, “Where do we start our membership management software search?” In this article, we would like to provide a quick checklist for association executives embarking on a review of nonprofit association membership software.

When evaluating new options for a membership software, the best sage advice is simply to consider looking at your organization in the mirror (Man in the Mirror) first. It’s critical that you assess your needs before heading out to search for a solution.

In other words, begin with a focus on what are your strengths and what are your needs. When I think about this response, the old Michael Jackson song comes to mind below: 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1HL3dOmr6s[/embedyt]

Help in Finding the Best Membership Software 

Therefore, before the association membership software search even begins, here is a quick checklist to contemplate:

  1. Requirements: Have you a good idea of your strategy, requirements, and budget?
  2. Infrastructure and Integration: Can I host internally or externally via the Cloud? What Systems do we need to keep and possibly integrate with?
  3. Accounting: Big question which is often left undetermined until the end. Cash or Accrual? It can be a killer. 
  4. Membership Structure: Consider your membership structure and the services you provide. If you must constantly match special pricing for members to a system of ranking and pricing schemes, you need software that will do it for you.
  5. Event Management: Think about how managing events might be especially critical to your association’s mission and work. How complex is your event planning as regards workshops, vendor invitations, speakers, volunteers and sponsors?
  6. Communications: Factor in the importance and frequency of communicating with your members. You should look for software that easily profiles your members and is scalable for use if your association has local chapters. 
  7. Support: What type of expectations do I have for initial and ongoing support? Local? Culture? Direct or Indirect?
  8. Ongoing Costs: You need to budget for the short and long-term.
  9. Pre-Review Reviews: We encourage you to get some feedback from your peers before you embark on the search. 
  10. The Search: Do we have the time & talent to do this internally? A quick gut check to see if you have the staff and time to devote to review solutions.

Your Mission Matters In Securing AMS Best Software Fit

As mentioned before, your primary focus depends on your mission. Whatever your unique needs, we can find the software automation which will give you what you need to succeed in running your nonprofit organization.

Contact us and we’ll get y’all headed in the right direction. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

AMS eBooks for Association Executives