Blog

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.
Posted on December 31, 1969 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
­­­­­­Certain times in our past are filled with fond memories that we always connect with positive thoughts and feelings.  That feeling of nostalgia has a powerful influence over many people as they recall a pleasant time without any recollection of negative emotions.  When members feel nostalgic, that sets the stage for a stronger relationship to form with your association since they connect good memories with your membership.  Nostalgia also leads to better engagement and increased attention as members are more likely to share a story of their own.
 
The Power Of Strong Emotions
 
Membership organizations have a goal of keeping their audience attentive by providing the best platform possible through membership management software.  When using nostalgia, take into consideration the age of your members and how long they have been members or it may not resonate with them.  Share a nostalgic image on social media that represents a special time for your organization and ask a question that intrigues the audience.
 
Additionally, post nostalgic quizzes once in a while that appeal to the demographic of your audience as they trigger interaction and sharing.  Secondly, use themes that integrate a nostalgic feel for a limited offer or an exclusive membership.  As a result, this creates an environment for people to have positive emotions and you secure the attention of your members.  Has membership management software revealed what features members prefer?
 
Appeal To Their Tastes
 
Nostalgic images and quizzes help engage an audience but fresh content is an influential factor that gives people an incentive to stay connected.  Frequently upload blog posts to retain the attention of your audience and integrate nostalgia into the posts.  Use concepts that mention a turning point or anniversary as members are compelled to remain engaged when they have experienced the event.  Keep in mind the preferences of your audience before introducing nostalgic ways to ensure the results are successful!
Posted on December 31, 1969 by Membership Space
Categories: Membership
Issues with data not only present a problem for the association but it also causes members to question the quality of your association management software.  Common problems such as incomplete data, out-of-date data, and duplicate data are the direct result of not keeping data clean.  The task of keeping data clean may be a lengthy process as some associations have more than one system where data is accessed.  With data in multiple areas, it is crucial any changes or updates take effect in each area.
 
Data Should Be A Daily Priority
 
Technology and association management software has simplified the process of keeping data clean and up-to-date.  Set aside time daily for data to be maintained even though it may seem difficult to delegate time towards actually doing it.  That secret alone leads to quality data and ensures members have a positive experience as inaccurate or duplicate records are corrected on a regular basis.
 
Often, data issues take place when there are multiple systems like the online community and an email list.  If a change is made on a system, records on other systems should be automatically updated.  Anytime data is changed or moved, errors are less likely to happen by having one system in place to handle data being transferred or updated.  Integrate a system that handles your membership website, the online community, and emails so there’s never duplicate records.
 
How Engagement Affects Data
 
Every year, associations want members to be more engaged with the online community and membership website.  Continuous engagement helps form a solid connection with members and it leads to additional instances when they can update their account.  Precise records of members and accurately adding new member details is an essential element for associations to be effective.  Consider these secrets for your association to always keep data clean so members stay engaged.
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