Association Today

Association News You Can Use

Association Today is a blog authored by Paul Lundy that talks about the news and insights relevant to the association industry.

We Need Open Data to Change Nonprofits

We Need Open Data to Change Nonprofits

Freeing up and unlocking data from its many silos can enable everybody in an organization to view and make better decisions. This is a frequent challenge we hear about from our nonprofit sector clients and prospects. The notion of open data and the possibilities it brings with it could have a huge impact on internal and external members and constituents.

Inside a nonprofit, this data could be any housed in any number of different Platform Solutions / databases. Some of these Platform Solutions could be a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application, a Member management database, an Event management database, or even an Fonteva eCommerce solution.

Bringing all of that information from these disparate Platform Solutions into the same environment is absolutely invaluable. Doing so enables all members of an organization to view a contact record, account record, and the complete history associated with those contacts or accounts.

For example, an executive director of a nonprofit wanting to contact a major prospect or donor can easily view all written and oral conversations with that particular individual. Being able to do so is simply ‘money in the bank’ for their organization. Being able to click a “view all recent activity” button and have it display all organizational communication with a specific constituent is incredibly helpful to the executive director. However, for many organizations currently, this is impossible to do so.

Freeing up data also means recognizing that not everybody in the organization should be able to view certain data. When using a solution such as Fonteva's Fonteva For Associations, organizations can customize their settings down to the user, enabling you to hide certain fields and/or data from specific users or user types.

The Fonteva For Associations constituent portal provides online collaboration in a very consumer app-like fashion including:

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Data Governance and Security for Volunteer Organizations

Data Governance and Security for Volunteer Organizations

Many associations and non-profits increasingly use volunteers to handle event and organizational data. This brings up questions of data governance and security for volunteer organizations who hope to maintain a positive volunteer experience while reducing risk.

This can be a sticky situation for some volunteer organizations because of fears that a volunteer might compromise constituent and financial data. But here are several easy Platform Solutions to help you manage volunteers more effectively while keeping sensitive data secure.

Many volunteers work with data during events like phone-a-thons and petition drives. These volunteers interact with people both inside and outside your organization, and may never volunteer for your organization again. Therefore they only need to enter data once and do not need access to your data again. A simple answer for this situation is to use an off-the-shelf volunteer solution to manage your volunteers and provide security for sensitive data.

Associations everywhere rely on volunteers because they have a particular passion around the organization and its mission. They also provide a valuable skillsets that can benefit the organization’s mission, which means that long-term volunteers might be performing many different tasks. In fact, the performance of such tasks might blur lines with the duties of some professional staff members.

In this case, you absolutely must have a written code of conduct specifically for volunteers that spells out exactly what’s expected, especially when it comes to handling your organization’s business data and other internal information. To protect your organization from certain liabilities, it is prudent to involve your legal counsel and executive management in the creation and distribution of your code of conduct to your volunteer community.

If handling credit card numbers is a concern, your organization can put a secure process in place.  Credit card transactions can be entered into a secure online form or go directly to a specific employee.

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Better Member Communications And Engagement With Analytics

Better Member Communications And Engagement With Analytics

Measuring member engagement using analytics is probably one of the most important areas when it comes to understanding how your members consume content, utilize benefits, and engage with your organization. With those analytics, you are then able to segment users based on their consumption.

The more you can understand, manage, and segment your members, the better your member communications can become as you work toward renewing membership.

It’s important to apply a scoring system to various member segments. Then you can understand potential behavior by segment when it comes time for renewal. If members aren’t doing anything, such as attending events, downloading documents, or engaging in conversations, then obviously they are a high-risk member.

Analytics enables your organization to create more strategic and targeted communications to your members and volunteers. Capturing information and running reports on information relative to how members are participating with your organization will allow you to create a more effective messaging platform to target segments.

For example, if you are tracking and analyzing a constituent’s participation in an event, including sessions attended, donations made and online behavior, I can use analytics to create a personal targeted email to that individual based on their recent actions. Imagine the power of your message with this type of information.

Dear Jim:

Thank you for attending our workshop at the Westin Hotel last month and for participating in our “Leadership,” “Negotiating,” and “Getting to Compromise”  sessions. Additionally, your donation of $500.00 to our scholarship fund was very generous, and I’m pleased to see you’ve downloaded our latest white paper.

It is members like you…

Additionally, if you want to survey the member you can personalize the survey and expect great response:

We value your participation in the organization, and we are extremely interested in your feedback. Can you please take a moment and fill out the five question survey about the “Negotiating” session? Additionally, if you have any pictures about the event, please upload them in the survey form, and we will feature them in our upcoming newsletter.

A message of this type is so much more personal and engaging than a more general acknowledgment followed by a blanket survey. Imagine if you get a strategic communication like this; you are more likely to feel a valued part of the organization and be more engaged.  They have also given you a voice by asking you to provide feedback and upload photos of the event for the organizations newsletter.

That is a completely different level of communication with members and helps to support your engagement efforts, while promoting greater member participation in future events.

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How Can Association Management Software Help Test Marketing Efforts?

How Can Association Management Software Help Test Marketing Efforts?

If your organization is like most, the reason you’re not testing your marketing efforts is because testing requires planning, execution, up-to-date association management software and the right staff. Association TRENDS recently shared an article highlighting research that shows that less than a quarter of associations do marketing testing.

Are you testing your association’s marketing efforts? No? Well, why not?

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How To Mine Your Membership Database Software Results On A Budget

How To Mine Your Membership Database Software Results On A Budget

For cash-strapped nonprofits, paying for data-analytics efforts from your membership database software can seem overwhelming. After all, paying an expert to mine the data and make decisions from the information is expensive and difficult. Fortunately, there’s a way for associations to score the analytics work free of charge.

According to a recent post on the GuideStar Blog, nonprofits can recruit students to do the work at no cost. For example, the University of Washington’s Introduction to Data Science program connects organizations that need a data analyst with student analysts who need real-world experience. These students have top-tier talent but don’t have much experience, which is why they work gratis.

Turning to young, talented people who are enthusiastic about nonprofits and your organization’s mission is one of the keys to financial success. Using the data-analysis work is actually a great way to infuse new talent and energy into the organization in an area that is often problematic for associations. Educate the students or recent graduates on the questions you want answered and have them work on finding the answer with data analysis.

Amit Jain, lead researcher and marketing director at Coursolve, offers two tips in the blog on how associations can learn and grow from their data.

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