Recently, I began interviewing some of Capitol Impact’s clients. My goal was to try to understand how our clients used the applications we offer and what value they get from our products. One association I spoke with has about 1000 members, and over the past few years their staff has changed from four people to just one Meanwhile, their workload has stayed constant despite their shrinking staff. Thanks to association management products however, they were able to do more with less. Our conversation brought up some important concepts for anyone in charge of day-to-day operations of an association. How can you do more with less? How do you choose a technology platform that helps a small staffed organization keep up with the workload?
Do More with Less
Throughout my interviews I learned that it does not take as many people to operate an association with 1000 members as one would think. Technology has dramatically improved ability for fewer people to complete the tasks related to operating an association. Tasks that historically required a dedicated employee, like event registration management or mass email communication, can now be viewed as a maintenance task when you utilize new association management technology. Online registration tools and blast email capabilities make these tasks much easier to handle, allowing association operators to focus more energy on other issues. While it may seem daunting to shift from people managed tasks to technology supported tasks, I learned that the adjustment curve was not as difficult as my interviewees originally anticipated.
One client I interviewed had to ask herself an important question when one of her employees moved on to another job. “How many people do I really need to manage this association?” After some assessment and research the client decided she could save the expense of hiring and training a new employee by investing in web-based technology.
With her new association management system, she could send thousands of emails with the click of a mouse, a much easier solution than her previous method using traditional email tools. Through web-based membership management software, our client was able to streamline her email communication system and segment her database by groups to make sure that her members received timely, targeted updates on their progress. Through the use of database management tools the client was able to increase her information output tenfold, and reach not only active members, but prospective members as well. Additionally, by utilizing blast email tools the client was able to create personalized emails that greatly improved her messages’ effectiveness.
Within a few months this client became a “one person army,” able to handle event organizing, email communication, and membership management on her own. Instead of new full-time hires, she brought on contract workers to fill in the gaps where the budget allowed her to. Ultimately the decision to invest in new technology made the management of the association more effective, more efficient, and saved them thousands of dollars.