Key matters to consider while choosing a Membership Management Solution
In this post we are commenting on some challenges that arise when trying to choose a solution to assist membership organisations.
What are membership organisations?
There are a number of organisations that qualify as membership organisations such as:
- Professional associations
- Trade associations
- Voluntary associations
- Political parties
- Lobby groups
- Members-only websites
- Charities (to a certain extent)
All have in common a "raison d'être" (a common purpose) and usually have to deal with the issue of subscriptions. Subscriptions are usually required to fund the organisation, and there aren't always dedicated staff to handle. The proper piece of technology can significantly reduce the overheads needed to manage the process.
Challenges of subscriptions
All membership organisations are challenged to ensure they serve their communities. Membership organisations need to ensure that their broad "Customer Relationship Management" deals with prospect, existing and past members as well as ensuring compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
1 - Handling existing members
Ensuring members' retention is not just processing the renewal fees.
The membership organisation needs to bring value to the membership.
Interaction can come through Members' Only (password protected) web portals, that would open the gate to Industry specific documents, Accounts' and activity history, so members can appreciate all they are getting for their fee and ease their regular interaction.
It is important for the Membership Organisation to measure and gauge the level of interaction. For instance, by gathering how many members log in per month.
By segmenting the interests of the Members, their subscription information, or their attendance to events, newsletters will have a greater impact on a targeted audience.
Ask members for preferences, so they receive value information as opposed to what could be perceived as spam.
Do not underestimate the look & feel. A clean newsletter will have a positive impact on your organisation.
Let your members know you run an event. Prepare a campaign to ensure the target audience is made aware of the event. Send a notification, and offer the ability for the members to book on-line.
Staff will also be more motivated as their focus won't be on constantly updating a spreadsheet but preparing the event.
Should a member wish to cancel, you may offer the ability to reschedule which could save time on the refunding process.
It must be easy for the membership organisation to know who is due for renewal. Staff should be able -at a glance- to review the activity of the member, so they can gauge the potential renewal rate.
In addition, your Members-Only portal can help and ease the renewal process. Credit card processing companies such as Stripe, Paypal or Global Payments allow the secure storage of credit cards, which in return helps the renewal process significantly. You need to be careful though as you need a legal (lawful) basis under the GDPR to store the card.
2 - Potential members
It starts by ensuring your public website is up to date, and that it is easy to engage with your organisation. Your visitors need to understand what you are offering. The site needs to be built properly so it is visible to search engines and accessible to differently abled visitors (blind users for instance).
Any enquiry should automatically be registered in your organisation's database, so the staff handling can save time and focus on their job (review the request, the history, and set reminders). Do not keep information longer than you need though.
Once again, joining on-line will reduce the amount of work that needs to be processed in the office.
3 - Past Members
Often forgotten after they have left, membership organisations may lack trying to re-engage.
One key element to this is to ensure that you comply with the GDPR on the matter. Any suggestion here needs some analysis prior to implementation and a lawful basis for processing.
You will need to keep some past members' information to comply with accounts requirements (law), but you cannot necessarily use the information to re-approach the member.
4 - Dealing with administrative tasks
Staffing is often an issue in our context. Organisations may not have much staff available to fulfil the operational duties.
Membership organisations have to deal with the issues of monitoring finances, budget and reporting.
Bank reconciliation is proven to be time consuming, and when the system eases the process, then the Membership Organisation will benefit.
Key indicators will give the management committee a clear help to run the organisation.
The communication aspect must not be neglected, and a simple invoice or statement that looks good and is consistent with the organisation spirit will help.
If you have to make a decision, consider the following
- Will it help your organisation?
- Is it simple to learn (otherwise your organisation will not use it)?
- Can it provides the required data in real-time to staff at all levels (less effort)?
- Can the data be reused (integrated system that does not rely on interfaces to share/exchange data: less work)?
- Can different access rights be set for different groups of staff?
- Is it fully integrated with the website (less work)?
- Will the provider be able to assist on GDPR matters and is the data securely stored in the EU?
Membership Management is not just handling an address book or monitoring the sales pipeline. It requires a global approach.
A solution such as Bizoneo Membership is simple to implement, as long as you address the issues to be solved properly, and you phase the implementation.
As Bizoneo Membership is an integrated and off-the-shelf package, that can be configured to your own organisation's needs, why not book a demo through our contact form and discuss your challenges?