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.

App of the Month: Addressing Consistency

App of the Month: Addressing Consistency

Yes, there probably is an app for that, for just about anything you want to accomplish professionally and personally. But how do you know which apps are the best ones for your association? With so many of them being available, it can be hard to know which ones will be most effective for your organization. Just because there’s app for that, it doesn’t mean that you need it.

One of the biggest benefits Fonteva For Associations users are able to take advantage of is access to the more than 2,000 business apps available through the Salesforce App Exchange. You may already be familiar with some of them like MailChimp and Eventbrite.

All of the apps featured can be downloaded and used to extend the functionality of both Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce, and I’ll be highlighting one app from exchange the every month so that you’ll have a better idea of what’s available and may be most useful to you in your work.

The first app that I would like to highlight is AddressTools (formerly Country Complete) developed by ProvenWorks, a software development consultancy based in the UK focusing on customization and extension of Salesforce and Microsoft CRM.

Do you have users entering inconsistent values in your state fields? MD, Md., or M.D.? This can make it very difficult to assign sales or membership territories, report by region or determine languages for communications.

This app, which has free and paid versions, ensures that your database users enter consistent state names throughout the Salesforce interface by providing an auto-complete pick-list. Like most app providers, the company offer discounts to nonprofits. There’s no need to clean your existing data before implementation; you can clean as you go and know all new data is validated. When you download this app, your users will enter consistent state names throughout the Salesforce interface by selecting them from an auto-complete pick-list.

Here’s what some users have to say about how AddressTools has helped their organizations be more efficient:

—“We have been using the ProvenWorks Country Complete App for quite some time now, and I have found it to be a ‘must have.’ It makes our data integrity efforts just a little easier. Thank you so much for providing a missing piece within Salesforce for us.”

—“This is a great example of a tool that performs a critical function to a successful implementation. Having consistent spelling and formatting for the country field is absolutely a must. This tool gives us the results we want at the price we want (FREE).”

—“I have no hesitation in recommending this app. It was easy to set up and has worked as expected ever since. I like especially that the Country object is not locked down, so I'm able to add fields and leverage this object throughout my org.”

Read more online to see if this app might be right for your association.

Original Article

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Website Woes: Avoid Common Problems

Website Woes: Avoid Common Problems

“I don’t know why our members keep asking about X; it’s on the website.” If this is the frequent refrain at your association, perhaps it’s time to consider why members can’t locate the resources you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Could it be that the pathway to these valuable resources is too complicated? When members visit your website, they’re usually in search of content, want to register for an event or desire to make a purchase.

When we developed Fonteva For Associations, we knew how it important it was for members to be able to complete these actions easily. The member portal and Fonteva eCommerce functionalities built into the app help make it simple for your members to interact with you and each other.

Once they login to the members-only area, the navigation is simple and straight forward and all member resources are at their fingertips.

There’s definitely something to be said for simplicity. In one of his recent blog posts, Accrinet President and CEO Jeff Kline makes a convincing case for simplicity in the design of nonprofit websites. He uses two architectural design principles to highlight his key points:

Form follows function.

    • What is the function of your website?
    • How do you want visitors to use it?
    • How does your website support your Internet marketing strategy?

Less, but better

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How to Party Properly: Basic Etiquette for Your Office Holiday Gathering

How to Party Properly: Basic Etiquette for Your Office Holiday Gathering

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and you’ll likely find yourself attending at least one or two professional holiday gatherings. Many associations host parties for staff and/or members. Usually these are parties with a purpose.

ASAE and Multiview recently hosted the Annual Yule Rock Holiday Party at the Hard Rock Café in Washington, DC. The event, which usually draws attendance of more than 400 association executives, is billed as “offering entertainment and exceptional networking opportunities.”

That sounds like a winning combination. However, for some people navigating these types of events is nothing short of steering the Titanic. Giving some thought to how you’ll handle certain situations that you may encounter at this year’s holiday party may help you avoid what Geoffrey Tumlin calls “the festival of faux pas, awkwardness and other embarrassments.”

Tumlin, the author of Stop Talking, Start Communicating, offers five suggestions for avoiding potentially awkward situations during office holiday parties.

Master the graceful exit. Extract yourself from awkward or embarrassing conversations. You can tactfully break contact in most cases by excusing yourself to the food line, to the restroom, or by stating that you need to say hello to someone.

Invest five minutes in recalling names. No one likes to draw a blank on a name he or she should have known. The best way to increase the odds of remembering a name is to put it at the front of your mind before the interaction. Just before the party starts, take five minutes to recall the names of people you expect to see.

Partner up. A good party partner can get you out of all kinds of jams, including help with recalling names. Agree in advance with your spouse or with a coworker to automatically introduce himself whenever you hesitate for a moment upon encountering someone you should, but don’t, recall. This will trigger a reciprocal introduction and, crucially, will produce the name you can’t recall.

Don’t disguise stalking as networking. If a natural conversation with a higher-up emerges, that’s great. But don’t stand in line to talk to someone you barely know. Greet your boss and, perhaps, your boss’s boss. After that, relax and be open to any other conversations that may come your way.

Embargo the eggnog. Nothing reduces embarrassing office party incidents as effectively as steering clear of alcohol and the people who’ve had a bit too much of it.

It never hurts to share these suggestions with your staff to ensure that a good time is had by all. They may need a gentle reminder that while it’s a party, it’s not an invitation to abandon their professionalism.

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A Single Source for Donor Data

A Single Source for Donor Data

The days of storing your organization’s donor data here, there and everywhere are long gone. In today’s world, establishing positive relationships with donors is synonymous with data aggregation. Donors expect you to know everything about how they engage with your organization.

For example, a single constituent can have multiple relationships within the organization, and you want to be able to track them. A volunteer may also have been a donor and attended a couple of events. These pieces of information about your entire relationship with him or her are very difficult to compile if they are housed in multiple databases.

All organizations should strive to have a single database for all contacts whether they are donors, prospects, business contacts, vendors, or volunteers.  They should begin by standardizing their data on a platform that can accommodate all their constituent needs.

Then, they will be able to track and report on different segments more easily based on their relationships with the organizations. Frequently contacts will be members of different segments, and you want to be sure you are communicating to the right contact for the right reason with the proper message.

The price for miscommunicating can be quite high. According to research conducted by Adrian Sargeant, a professor of nonprofit management at Henley Management College in Oxfordshire, England, 18 percent of donors stop supporting charities because of poor service or communication.

Ongoing analysis of aggregated donor data is critical for ensuring that high levels of service continue and communications are appropriate and relevant. The better your organization is at data management, the better you will be at communicating with— and ultimately retaining — donors.

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The Details Are in Your Data

The Details Are in Your Data

Where have all the parents gone? National leaders for the Parent Teacher Association were likely asking this question in earnest as membership in the organization steadily declined over the last four decades.

According to an article in the winter 2012 issue of Education Next, a quarterly journal published by the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, membership in the national organization declined from more than 12 million in 1965 to around 5 million in 2010. There were a number of cultural and demographic trends that contributed to this decline in membership, including the increase in two-career households.

To address the problem, among other initiatives, the association put better mechanisms in place “to monitor changes and member concerns across the country” (Associations Now, December 2005). For instance, the organizations began collecting more data from members via surveys. Hopefully, your association has not experienced this drastic of a decline in membership. However, many organizations are finding that members and prospects don’t renew or join in the numbers that they used to.

Why? You need to find out sooner rather than later, and that answer lies in the data that you collect—and mine—about your members. Your information systems should be flexible enough that you are easily able to generate reports that detail emerging trends about your members, such as:

    • Which types or groups of members have the highest renewal rate?
    • Does this group attend more events annually than others?
    • What member “benefit” do they rate the highest?
    • Which products or services have the highest sales? Who purchased them?
    • Is attendance at certain meetings declining?

The ability to generate analytics like these will distinguish forward-moving, sustainable organizations from those that falter. The dashboards and reports feature incorporated into Fonteva’s Fonteva For Associations utilizes drag and drop technology that makes it easy for non-technical staff members to create custom reports. Importing data about your members into reports for analysis shouldn’t be complicated.

You need this valuable information literally at your fingertips. To remain relevant, associations must change as their members’ needs change, and the details they need are in their data.

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