At time of writing 2016 is fast approaching, and no doubt your organisation’s thoughts are turning to what the New Year might bring. I’ll take a guess that improving membership management is high on your wish list, along with increasing numbers and improving engagement throughout the organisation.
Adopting membership management software is one way you can help meet all three of these goals, so it makes sense to put this at the top of your New Year To-Do list. However, convincing everyone it is a good move, might take some work.
Inspiring the Board / Committee
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” a saying commonly heard throughout organisations across the land. Resistance to change is something you might come up against, particularly as online membership software can seem too good to be true. Bestowing it’s benefits on your board / committee could require a slick pitch and plenty of examples of how things could be so much better with an improved membership management solution.
So before you float the idea of changing how you manage your membership, you will need to do your homework. Here are 5 things you need to research first:
Nothing tends to speak louder than money, and improved savings may be all the leverage you will need. Work out how much your current system costs you in admin time, any subscriptions you pay for software and supporting services, lost members, mislaid fees and disbursement costs. Then balance this against the cost of adopting an online membership system. And if you want to compare against our price plans, just click here.
Reason to Change?
Online membership software is often more cost effective than using manual systems or standalone software. Choose a system with integrated payment gateways, as well as other features to aid your administration and the savings can soon rack up.
Calculate how many hours are spent creating and posting member communications, even those you send electronically. I bet it is pretty high. And how effective is that communication? Are you reaching every member? Now consider targeted communications – those where you only need to contact a small section of your membership. Member communications can be time consuming, labour intensive and require extensive planning. Even with third party software to help, having a communications system which operates separately to your membership database can make informing members haphazard.
Reason to Change?
Member engagement can be improved with an efficient communications system, meaning more members turning out for organisation events. Communication works both ways as well, so by adopting membership management software you will also help your members get in touch with you.
Managing your membership can be very labour intensive and the scope for error is high. Missing details, missing paperwork, missing payments, incorrect information, mislaid files, duplicate data…….The list goes on and on.
Reason to Change?
Passing back the responsibility for managing member information to your members through membership software, means errors and missing information will be greatly reduced. It doesn’t stop with member info though. Collect member fees online too, as well as offering the option for direct debit, and your fee collections will become more efficient too.
All that missing paperwork, mislaid files and sending spreadsheets with members data over email could put you at serious risk of breaching the Data Protection Act. Manual fee collection can also leave you facing the risk of theft, especially if monies are stored on premises until someone does a bank run. Add to this the problem of desktop software lacking regular backups, to ensure the safety and integrity of your database. This means that one event, such as a hard drive failure or virus infection, could wipe out all your member information.
Reason to Change?
Taking your membership management online means you will benefit from daily backups. Should anything happen to your database, the backups can restore everything. Online systems are also more secure and benefit from up to the minute virus and hacker protection. Not only does this mean better security for you, but it will give peace of mind to your members too.
Manual management systems often mean you are tied to a desk in one place. Not great if you want the flexibility to work on the go or if other people in your organisation need access to members information when you’re not at your desk. Limitations like this often mean your administrative processes lack efficiency, mainly because you are tied to working in one place and at certain times.
Reason to Change?
Make your database accessible to more people, from more devices and in more places. With online membership software you can login from the laptop at home, your tablet in the coffee shop or the desktop in the office. More than this, other users can also access the database or certain parts of it – online software gives you the ability to assign different users and permissions. So if the Treasurer wants to download the accounts on Sunday morning, he can do so from the comfort of his own home.
3 Tips Before You Take The Plunge
Before you deliver that pitch, there is a little more homework to do. You can present them with the reasons to change, but to really seal the deal, it is a good idea to present them with the various options available, how they will meet your needs and how quickly you can make the change.
- Assessing Your Needs: You’ve probably already identified these, but in case you haven’t; look at where your current systems are falling short, where cost and time savings could be made and where efficiency could be improved.
- Evaluating Your Options: there are several options available when it comes to online membership software. Of course we hope you will choose PaySubsOnline.com, but you should look at all your options and make sure you choose the right solution for your organisation. To help you, we’ve put together a Buyers Guide (available for download at the bottom of this article) which will help you identify all the functionality you’re likely to need when managing your membership online.
- Making A Smooth Transition: This is the most important step of all, because you need to ensure the changeover from manual systems to an integrated solution is as smooth as possible. Look at how your current database can be imported into your new system, how easy it is to setup your account, add other administrators and setup your payment gateways. Even if you manage to convince the board/committee on all the other things above, if they perceive the transition to be too problematic, with a high risk to member information, your pitch could fall flat.
Adopting membership management software in 2016 should be one decision you will not regret. The benefits far outweigh the cons, but you need to make sure you not only adopt the right solution, but that it addresses all your organisation’s needs.
If you would like help identifying how software like PaySubsOnline.com can really help your organisation please get in touch. We will be only too happy to walk you through the benefits, how it works and the ease with which you can make the transition. Also, please feel free to download your Buyers Guide to Managing Members Online below. It will help you identify the functionality you’ll need for successful membership management which might not be obvious when you first start to evaluate your needs.