With the new year comes a fresh list of aspirations and a renewed vigor for setting (and following through) with your loftiest goals. For your association’s member businesses, this may mean mastering new emerging technologies in your industry or even hitting specific success metrics within their own internal processes.
Your association’s management as a whole probably has slightly different resolutions for the new year. However, whether increasing non-dues revenue or new member recruitment, it’s just as important that your organization follows through with these goals.
It’s essential that your association has a fresh start to stay on track with and eventually achieve your New Year’s resolutions. We’ve gathered four tips to help you organize your association’s key data and communications, and then keep them organized as the year progresses. Check it out:
From creating processes for handling your association’s most valuable asset (your data) to delegating tasks to maintain an organized strategy, this guide covers it all. Let’s dive in!
When people talk about organizing for a fresh start in the new year, they often mean physically decluttering a space and donating unused items. However, for your association, this initial clean-up is more of a digital practice.
Organizing your association’s data may seem like an overwhelming practice, especially if you’re a large association or haven’t put much emphasis on the practice before. Luckily, there are digital tools designed specifically to help you through the process!
Association management software (AMS) functions as one main database containing all interactions between your association and its members. The software allows you to organize and store member information, as well as generate reports to discover valuable insights on your membership.
There are a few key features to look for when investing in an AMS:
Do your research before investing in or upgrading your association’s AMS. Visit Novi for more information on what to look for in a comprehensive solution.
One of the most important AMS features— so important that it earned its own section, rather than a bullet point in the section above— is a comprehensive integrations library.
Integrations expand your AMS’s organizational abilities by creating streamlined connections between your most comprehensive database and other helpful association management software. These connections allow the data in your AMS to inform your other association management activities and vice versa, those activities to be stored in your AMS.
Let’s look at an example. Consider another valuable tool in your association’s toolbox: your association learning management software (LMS). Integrating this tool with your AMS allows for easy recording of course completion in your most comprehensive database. This ensures no credentials are lost (while also allowing you to recommend courses to members accordingly).
There are a few particularly valuable AMS integrations that help your association stay on track:
Creating new integrations between software is an involved process, so your best bet is to choose an AMS that already has comprehensive integrations built with some of your association’s favorite tools. However, it’s also good to choose an AMS that allows for the building of new integrations— just in case a tool you rely on or may rely on in the future isn’t currently represented.
Check out this guide to the top AMS integrations for more information.
Gone are the days of sending out a single monthly newsletter round-up of your association’s activities and opportunities. Now, the best way to stay in touch with your association’s members and keep them on track with your opportunities is by using a multi-channel communication strategy.
Multi-channel communications are truly the future of member engagement. Diversifying your digital communications allows you to spread the word to members in a quick and efficient manner, regardless of the medium they prefer. The idea is that all members— including those who are email-reliant, social media-reliant, or even devoted website visitors— receive updates about your association with plenty of time to act accordingly.
If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of a multi-channel communication strategy, here’s a quick look at the top three tools you should consider employing:
Association websites are powerful tools in communications for two reasons: 1) It’s often the first place prospective members look for information and 2) It’s often the first place current members look for updates.
Don’t make the mistake of creating your website once and never revisiting it to update it with new content. Choose an AMS that will help you create a white-label (branded to your association) website that’s easily updated with little coding necessary to ensure the tool stays up-to-date.
With that, you can maintain an events calendar and even integrate your social media feeds directly on your site, ensuring members that visit the tool for updates are able to find them easily.
Visit Novi’s guide to choosing (and using) an association website builder for more guidance on maximizing this tool.
Connect with your membership across social media networks for quick updates on your association’s activities.
Don’t use these platforms for long-form communications with your members but rather quick reminders and news clips. If you need to share longer updates (for example, a change in government regulations affecting your industry, and therefore your association’s members), then write a longer blog post on your website and link to it from your social networks.
The shareability of these communications means your trade association’s members can quickly and easily share this information across their employees, ensuring everyone affected gets word. Keep the content restrictions of the various platforms in mind— for example, Twitter’s character limit and Instagram’s inability to host live links within captions.
Use an email newsletter to send a regular round-up of recent updates and association news to members, just in case they don’t catch the news on your other communication platforms. Feel free to go slightly more in-depth than you would on social media, but make sure your newsletters are still easily scannable for busy members.
Work with an AMS that allows for group emailing, so you can target segments of your membership accordingly. For example, if you’re planning an association event that’s aimed at one geographic location of your membership, send communications concerning that event to the relevant segment of members only.
Further, make sure your AMS’s integrations library offers connections with email automation platforms, so you can send contact information from your AMS directly into those platforms and use them accordingly.
Use your LMS to improve your email communications as well. Choose a solution that offers adaptive learning solutions, such as sending future course suggestions to members that may be interested in them.
So far, this guide has mentioned navigating a plethora of software solutions (association management software, LMS, accounting software, email marketing software, association websites, etc.) to keep your association organized and on track. Tasking just one leader with maintaining all of these platforms, let alone all of the information coming into your association would be a huge ask!
Delegate these tasks across your leadership to spread the workload. This prevents them from becoming too overwhelmed with their portion of keeping your association on track and allows them to focus in on the task. For example, task one leader with heading up events, one with new member outreach, one with maintaining your LMS, one with non-dues revenue collection— and so on and so forth.
There are a few best practices to ensure your delegation helps your association’s organization, rather than further complicating it. This includes:
Choosing an AMS that’s easily navigated by all of your leadership, tech-savvy or not, can go a long way in easing this process.
Heading into the new year, it’s crucial to keep your organization’s data organized to stay on track with your goals.
Whether you’re just realizing the importance of organization in your association, or you’re simply in need of a refresher on the practice— cleaning up your association’s data can be a huge task! Luckily, there are a ton of tools to help you with the charge.
First, choose a reliable, navigable AMS to sort your information. Then, capitalize on valuable integrations with accounting software, email marketing software, and even an association LMS to make the most of the tool.
From there, it’s just a practice of communicating with your members and leadership alike. Building this type of strong foundation will go far in helping your association stay on track going forward.
Pete Zimek is the founder and CEO of Novi AMS, association management software built for associations using QuickBooks.