5 Ways to Redefine Your Alumni Association with Membership Management Software
Your alumni association focuses on the unique combination of nostalgia and action that brings graduates together to celebrate their collegiate institution. As an association administrator, you’re not looking for opportunities to increase the amount of administrative work involved in running a membership group. But unless you find the ideal membership management software, you’re likely to be spending more time piecing together solutions to administrative needs and less time simply running your association. Redefine your expectations with these five aspects of the right alumni association membership management software for your organization.
Easy membership management
Your alma mater may be the focus of your group, but your members are the focus of your organization itself. To make it as easy as possible to attract, sign up, and retain your membership, you want alumni association membership management software that simplifies and automates all the tasks involved.
For starters, you want to be able to import and export member data so you can add members quickly, and optimize your ability to work with the information you accrue about them. If your school provides you with a spreadsheet of data about members of a new class of graduates, you may want to be able to set them up as prospective members in your system automatically, and contact them to invite them to complete the process. As you add more information about people in your system, you want to be able to use those data in other plans and programs. With the right membership management software, these tasks are easy to accomplish.
Customizable member data acquisition
If it seems as if some alumni association membership management software treats you as if every alumni association is the same, and only needs a limited set of member information, that’s because much of the software that’s out there presents exactly those types of limits. But in reality, you need to know your membership better than anyone else—and to gather the information to support that level of knowledge, you want a customizable signup form so you can include all and only the right questions. That means you want to gather the information you need with custom fields, including administrator-only data that members never see.
But if your membership management software only offers you a stock member signup form, you’re stuck with a limited set of input information, which means you’ll have to gather the rest of your data through other means and extra effort. Bottom line: Any package that prioritizes software simplicity over customer functionality and convenience can’t offer you everything you need.
At-a-glance Member Dashboard
Your administrative convenience is important, but the user experience is equally important for your members. You want to present them with a login screen that celebrates your shared commitment to your school, and makes it easy for members to get online so they can access members-only content. You also want to offer them unified access to information, actions, engagement, and more, through a Member Dashboard that brings together all the important aspects of their alumni-association commitment: News, dues, communication, and all the rest of the experience.
Some alumni association membership management software neglects this aspect of user convenience and engagement, treating members as if they’re almost an afterthought, and placing all focus on administrative needs instead. Of course, if your needs aren’t met, that lack of functionality can threaten your alumni association’s ability to thrive and grow. But if your membership management software neglect your members themselves, then it’s simply not doing its job.
Integrated online payments
Regardless of the options you offer your members, and the many ways in which they can celebrate their alma mater through you, one fundamental aspect of any alumni association is its ability to collect dues and fees without manual hassles—and without the time-consuming, confusing quest for payment processing.
If you’ve investigated the process of setting up in alumni association website from scratch on your own, you know that one of the biggest complexities arises when you begin the search for payment processing. If you want to accept online payments, you need to secure the process—and as you secure the process, you also need to deal with the connection to credit and debit card issuing institutions. What you quickly find out is that unless you can connect with an easy-to-use, reputable payment processor that provides its services at affordable rates, this aspect of membership management becomes one of the most difficult to source.
To cut through the challenges and the red tape, you need an alumni association membership management software package that includes payment processing from start to finish. You also want to avoid responsibility for the personally identifiable financial information involved in these transactions, so you’re going to want to find a payment processing source that doesn’t force you to store this information on your website.
Onboarding support and a three-part help system
Every membership management software package is different, and regardless of what and how much website setup experience you and your administrative team may have, the process still involves a lot of work. With the right software provider, you can step through your setup process with the assistance of professional onboarding support. In addition, look for a comprehensive online help system that includes a step-by-step guide to every feature, along with illustrated guides to essential processes and hands-on videos that break down individual procedures.
Beyond a supportive onboarding team to assist you in your site-creation process, and the help resources you need for self-paced assistance, look for a membership software organization that’s committed to your success. You want a software provider that offers frequent updates to enhance functionality and expand your ability to use the software, built on a modern code base that’s easy to maintain. You want professional design resources that enable you to create an attractive, easy-to-use website quickly and efficiently. And to ensure that you’ve found the right solution for your alumni association, look for a free trial during which you can experiment with every aspect of the software, set up process, help system, and more.