Posted on August 9, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
As the end of the year approaches, board members often start to plan for the upcoming year.  These plans focus on improvements that benefit the membership and strengthening the financial health of the association.  Prioritizing these plans can be a struggle due to demands on time and money.
Often the association's membership is unaware of many of the challenges and plans of the board.  This is not necessarily due to lack of communication. These plans could be in the early stages of discussion and the specific details are too unknown to share with the members. However, it can still be a good idea to post plans under consideration on the association's website. This enables members to help develop the plan by volunteering their time and providing insight.
Deciding The Areas To Improve
While the board will have their own ideas for areas of improvement, it is a good idea to ask the members for additional ideas. This keeps the members involved in the process and may highlight some areas the board did not realize need improving.  
Asking for feedback from the membership also instills a feeling that the members are part of the association. This involvement is likely to result in more projects being accomplished and in a variety of areas.  Each membership association is made up of people with diverse backgrounds and talents. The more an association can focus this energy to help improve the association the more successful the association will be for its members.
Follow Through With Improvements
A majority of members are likely to want to help accomplish the planned improvements. But, limited time is a factor that keeps projects from moving forward. Assigning more members to a project will spread out the workload and create peer pressure. Therefore, members are more likely to follow through on their assigned tasks. 
It is also the board's responsibility to communicate these projects and the progress to the other members of the association.  Creating a projects page on the association's website will help organize this information and give the members a single place to go for the latest updates.  The website can also be used to send mass emails to the members reminding them the information is available online.  Effective tools and a clear plan will help any association accomplish their improvements.
Posted on July 26, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
The board members of an association have a responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the association's members. This is an important responsibility regardless if the association is based on social activities or professional affiliation.  It is also important to keep in mind that the board members' choices also have a direct impact on all members of the association.
Association Responsibilities Come First
It is the primary responsibility of board members to do what best benefits the association.  This includes putting the association ahead of their own interests.  However, questions may arise when a board member uses their personal knowledge, expertise and business contacts.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that all decisions avoid any claim for a conflict of interest.  These claims and situations can lead to other members becoming dissatisfied with that board member and the association as a whole. Conflicts of interest are viewed more negatively when they impact the financial well being of the association.
How To Reduce Conflicts of Interest
Often these conflicts can be due to a misunderstanding or due to lack of communication. The more board members are able to communicate their decisions and the reasons for those decisions, the less likely these decisions will cause confusion. When communicating these decisions, it is important to show that other vendors were reviewed and neutral options were explored.  All board members should also be in agreement with these types of decisions.  
To make sure all members are aware of the decisions being made and the reasoning for these decisions, it is best to post the details on the association's website. This keeps all members equally informed so that there is not a concern that important information is being withheld.  
Posted on July 14, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
Board meetings are intended to serve the membership of the association.  These meetings normally occur monthly or on some other recurring basis. During these meetings, association members may attempt to redirect the discussion to items that are not on the meeting's agenda.
Prior to each meeting, an agenda needs to be developed which will serve as a guide for the topics the meeting will cover.  So that all members have an understanding of the topics that will be covered at the meeting, it is important to share the agenda with all members prior to the meeting.  Membership Space's Association Management Software provides an efficient means to post the agenda on the association's website.  Members can also be sent a mass email or text message through the website to let them know the agenda has been posted. 
The Importance Of Staying On Topic
There are many reasons why a meeting will stray off the agenda and onto different topics.  Most often, something said will result in somebody else remembering a point they wanted to share.  When this happens, it is the responsibility of the person running the meeting to stop the conversation and let the person know their topic will be added as a new topic for discussion later in the meeting. 
When a meeting remains on topic, the meeting will be more productive and move along quicker. It is also easier for the secretary to document the decisions in the minutes when the discussion remains on the topics listed on the agenda. Sometimes it is the secretary who can best get everybody back on topic by asking the group what they should write into the minutes regarding the agenda's topic.  
From Agenda To The Minutes
By referring to the agenda, the matters important to the association can be covered and documented in the minutes. The secretary can then post the minutes to the association's website using association management software. The software makes it easy and non-technical for administrators to add information for association members to read.
Posted on June 28, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
Ideally, meetings are designed to coordinate progress in a membership organization. Therefore, the more often meetings are held, the more progress that should be achieved. However, meetings can also feel like the same topics keep being covered with little progress being made. 
Communication is also a key benefit of regular board meetings. By posting information on your membership website, members are encouraged to be involved, help with projects and spread the word about upcoming events. So, what is your organization doing to focus on progress and communication?
Set Goals For Board Meetings
The agenda is the most important tool to keep meetings organized and on topic.  An organized meeting will be more productive. However, it is easy for a meeting to get off track people voice their ideas. It is important for the meeting organizer to pause the conversation and make a note to discuss the new topic at a later time during the meeting. 
When preparing the agenda for a meeting, be sure to include all topics that emerged since the previous meeting. This will ensure all topics were covered so that members do not feel their item was ignored.  This also helps the organization focus on making progress both during and after each meeting.
Communicate With Members
After each meeting, encourage members to visit the membership's website for the minutes from the meeting along with any special announcements. This is especially important if a decision was made at a meeting that all members need to be made aware. The website is also a great tool for members to submit questions to the board members which may need to be added to the agenda for the next meeting.
Posted on June 11, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
There is more to a budget than estimating the revenue and expenses of the membership organization.  The intent of a budget is to establish a financial plan based on both expected and unexpected matters that may arise.  It is also important for the membership's management to plan for an increase in savings in case revenue is too low or expenses are too high.
Because a budget is based on the unknown, a best practice is to overestimate expenses while underestimating revenue.  This would minimize any risk associated with a shortfall in cash and reduce the need to ask members for a special dues payment to replenish the bank account.
Budget Inconsistencies
The more that can be known about the operations of your organization the easier it is to eliminate inconsistencies for your membership's budget. The easiest items to enter on the budget are the items with a fixed cost. Some of your contractors may provide their services for a fixed fee or for a contractual amount determined on an annual basis. Therefore, it is important to receive a fee confirmation from these vendors  prior to completing the budget. 
The next most important items on the membership budget are items that are a high dollar amount expense. These items might be an annual event, a product that has to be replenished or a capital improvement. More time should be spent on these items so that the amount can be more certain.  It is also important to determine the likelihood that your membership management organization will be able to stick to the budgeted amount for these items.
Share With Membership
When members review the budget, they will have a better understanding of the organization and where their money is being spent. Therefore, it is important to post your annual budget on a website that uses membership management software. With our membership software, members will be able to log into the website, access documents and submit messages when they need help. This makes the budgeting and communication process easier for everybody.
Posted on May 30, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
Most membership associations have periodic expenses that can be a substantial portion of the operating budget. If property is owned, there could be a parking lot needing resurfaced. There could be a key piece of software that needs to be replaced every 10 years. It is important to plan for these significant expenses by setting up a reserve fund for each project. 
When the board creates a savings plan for a reserve fund it is normally based on how far into the future the special project is expected to happen and the total costs that would be required. The necessary dollar amount to be added to the reserve fund each year can then be calculated by taking the expected expense divided by the number of years remaining. The membership association's treasurer can then add a line item for each special project in the annual budget.  
Understanding Reserve Funds Are Estimates
Because reserve funds are based on something that is expected to happen several years in the future, many variables can change during that timeframe. The cost of building materials could increase. New companies could enter the market and drive down prices. The needs of the special project could also increase or decrease.  Because of this uncertainty, it is important to have the mindset that a reserve fund is intended to help the association have a majority of the money it may need to survive the large, future expenditure. 
Some associations get into financial trouble because they focus only on the short term when spending money and creating the annual budget. As a result, reserve funds and large future expenses are not taken into consideration. While some membership associations may think they are keeping annual dues low, they are actually putting the association's viability at risk. So, what should be done?
Do Not Be Afraid To Increase Association Dues
It is up to the board to focus on long term and maintain the financial viability of the membership association. While all members would like to keep expenses and annual dues low, any short term gain would be short lived. Once it comes time to accomplish the special project, a lack of funds will certainly upset the association's members. In these situations, a special assessment would need to be passed to the members to raise the necessary funds. This can likely lead to members leaving and refusing to pay which will lead to the inability for the membership association to continue to operate. 
It is important for the board to realize that members want to be part of the association and want the association to succeed. By communicating the financial plan to the membership, an increase in dues to cover operating expenses and setting aside funds for special projects will be well received. To increase transparency and provide better documentation for these plans, it is a good idea to create a special page on the membership association's website that provides all of the details. 
Posted on May 12, 2016 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
As a member of a membership organization it is important to know the bylaws and how they benefit the members. Bylaws are the rules and guidelines for how the organization is to operate and the structure of the leadership roles. Bylaws also provide specifics for making changes to the bylaws.
It is important that the bylaws and all other established rules are accessible by the members. Members most often reference the bylaws when there are questions regarding leadership responsibilities, voting rights and representation at meetings. The membership organization's website is the perfect place to provide this information.  
Making Changes To The Membership's Bylaws
Members may or may not agree with the wording in the membership's bylaws. Even when there are negative reactions to the bylaws, it is important that the board continues to follow the wording. Otherwise, accountability and trust within the organization will break down.
Bylaws should not be considered to be set in stone. Organizational needs and industry trends will result in the bylaws needing updated to effectively address the needs of the members. The board should periodically review the bylaws and seek input from the other members regarding when and if the wording is needing changed.
Assigning a Project Champion
Requests to change the bylaws can also be initiated from the members. The most vocal member wanting the wording changed should be strongly encouraged to become the project champion. This will place the person in charge of determining the new wording, following the process outlined in the bylaws and getting the required number of members to agree with the new wording. This will also prevent the person from complaining about how the board is handling the change request.
The board will also need to work with the project champion to determine if the project is worthy of the legal expense to change the bylaws. When the changes are proposed to the members, it is important to explain both the pros and the cons for the change so that members cannot later claim they did not have all of the facts when they voted. Membership management software is a good tool to help the board communicate the project to the members and conduct online voting.
Posted on December 31, 1969 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
Trends with membership organizations are continuously changing and this year is no different.  Technology brings about many changes whether it involves marketing automation or software improvements that lead to a better experience for members.  Users that join club websites or already belong to one can expect current features to improve and new features to be implemented.  What expectations should your members have for the rest of the year?
Projections For 2017
Most members have a short tolerance for club websites that are slow to load.  Advancements in membership management software and faster internet speeds will likely ensure their experience is top priority.  With a greater focus on members, one prediction is that membership organizations implement a superior website design to make a lasting first impression.
For 2017, one trend is for a website design to include easy to use features that provide immediate value so members’ expectations are consistently met.  Another area in membership organizations where enhancements are predicted to take place is how members are able to view data.  At times, data might be difficult to understand when viewing it in tables.
Through graphs and infographics, members get a visualization of the data which makes the information more user-friendly.  As a result, members get a clearer understanding of data and the advantages associated with transforming data into visual forms.  What trend should every association make a priority this year to engage more members?
Acknowledge Everyone
An obvious prediction for membership organizations is to connect with all current and prospective members but do it in a personalized way.  People have different preferences so reach out to them as an individual by using data collected through the online community.  In 2017, provide members with customized content as it is vital towards keeping them engaged and gaining their loyalty in your association.
Posted on December 31, 1969 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
An important element of any marketing strategy is to effectively brand your association using color that appeals to your target audience.  Color makes a significant impact on the way people perceive your products or services.  Even on membership websites, color plays a role on influencing members to stay engaged and visitors to take a certain action.  Not everyone has the same preference so it can be a challenge to determine which color choices will brand your association the way you want.
How Will Your Audience React?
The audience you want to attract to your organization should always be considered when making color choices.  Color influences how visitors and members perceive your brand so choose colors that are appropriate for your intended audience.  Orange, red, and yellow are known as warm colors and they are meant to bring energy.  Implement colors like this if you think your audience will have a positive reaction to it and you want your brand to convey this personality.
Alternatively, blue, green, and purple are known as cool colors and they are meant to have a calming effect.  One of the most common colors used is blue as many people perceive it as soothing, professional, and reassuring.  Additionally, take into account what color the competition in your market is using to brand their organization.  If other organizations use blue, choose a distinct color or different shade of blue that might make your organization easily recognizable.
Gender-Based Color Preferences
The shading of any color shifts the effect it has on branding an association.  For example, brighter shades of blue represent energy and lighter shades are perceived as peaceful.  Organizations with a focus on one gender should use colors that appeal to that gender.  Studies show that purple is the second most liked color by women while it’s the second most disliked color by men.  Membership websites that have great conversion rates understand the connection between color and the preference of their audience.
Posted on December 31, 1969 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
Online communities are a vital element of membership websites as they provide valuable content and boost member satisfaction.  The connection between members and the online community helps most businesses thrive as people become more engaged.  An important variable to branding any organization is customizing the club membership software to ensure that customers are content with the online community.  Fortunately, statistics offer some insight on how an online community positively impacts the type of relationship you have with customers.
What Percentage Is Satisfied?
Most customers think the decision to purchase a product or service is the result of analyzing and comparing what else is available.  In reality, emotions play a large role in our decision to choose a product or service of a specific brand.  Research suggests that nearly 70% of people are driven by emotion when making a purchase.  Build an online community that makes customers feel like they’re a priority to establish an emotional connection.
Typically, that emotional connection happens when customers feel positive towards your brand and it shows through engagement.  One statistic that indicates how much customers value the online community revolves around authentic content.  Particularly, authentic content from people who support and choose your brand as 80% say that plays an influential factor in their decision.  Prospects and customers have a tendency to believe the opinion of others since they think their thoughts are unbiased.
Keep In Touch With Customers
The online community makes it significantly easier for organizations to build great relationships with customers and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.  Through a variety of discussions, communication is improved which essentially leads to a better experience for everyone.  The online community and club membership software inspire constant engagement and boost customer relationships.  As a result, issues are avoided and customers remain loyal to your products or services.

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Since 2001, we have been helping association leaders more efficiently manage their day-to-day responsibilities and increase member satisfaction. Our membership management software automates common tasks and gives associations the tools, reporting and support they need.