How to Find the Right Website Software for Your Membership-Based Organization
When you’re getting ready to set up a website for your membership-based organization, start off on the right foot with the best membership website software for your group and its requirements. As you search for software providers and research what they offer, you’ll find many options—but how do you narrow them down? Start with a well-developed list of the capabilities you absolutely need and the ones that would be nice to have—and look for the software provider that offers what you want.
Look for what you need—and what you want
In short, what do you want your website to accomplish for your organization? Do you want to use it as an electronic brochure, a relatively static representation of your group’s mission, vision, and objectives? Would you like this website to become the online center of your organization’s business dealings? Or are you looking for a site that can publicize your group as well as serve your membership?
Once you’ve captured the answers to those basic questions, use your newfound sense of purpose to direct your search for the ideal membership-based organization software provider. Get specific, and create a list of the features you expect to use. Prioritize your list based on how essential each feature will be. Now you’re ready to compare your expectations with the varied offerings you find among the providers in this particular website software category.
You don’t want to sign up for a software offering that’s never going to offer you more functionality than it has on the day you build your website—and the last thing you want is to build a website on an outdated platform with no real path toward future updates. Look for modern, up-to-date code that your provider refreshes with ongoing additions of new features and enhancements. You want a progressive, future-minded software provider that not only understands the needs of groups like yours but always looks for new ways to keep its software relevant.
Keep members connected
If you’re going to keep your membership engaged, you need to keep everyone involved in what’s going on—and the best way to do that is to focus on member communication. To make that a priority, you need a website that offers you the types of features that simplify and enhance both how and how well you communicate.
Look for membership-based website software that builds multiple communication channels directly into the website you create. For example, you’ll want the ability to send customized e-mail messages directly through your administrative dashboard, complete with file attachments, image insertions, and other features. Additionally, because setting and resetting member passwords can be a real chore unless your website software makes it easy, you’ll want to be able to send these reset messages quickly and efficiently.
Additionally, you’ll want the option of multi-mode internal communication, with a newsfeed system you can use either as a bulletin board or with support for member posts, comments, and likes. Pair that up with private messaging, and you can leave third party social media sites behind as a means of communication among your membership.
Simplify dues and payments
Perhaps the only thing that membership-based organization administrators like less than sending out invoices for routine dues and fees is the process of coping with a mailbox full of paper payments. “Why can’t we just pay for these things online?” your members ask—and with the right membership-based website software, you’ll be able to do exactly that.
If you’re concerned about how you process online payments, whether these transactions will be secure, and whether your members’ personally identifiable financial information will receive full protection, look for these privacy essentials as you evaluate software providers. First, you don’t want your website itself to store any detailed information about the transactions themselves, and you want any confirmations to come directly from the payment processor. Second, you want to deal with a reputable processor that offers you true peace of mind.
Now, look for flexibility in the types of billing you can create and the ways in which you can invoice your dues and fees. Can you set specific payment terms, which designate the timeframe between when your system sends out an invoice and when it’s actually due? Can you pass through any service fees as part of the cost of the invoice? Can you establish not only when an item starts to generate invoices but add an end point after which no further invoices go out?
In short, make sure that the membership-based website software provider you choose incorporates all the financial futures you expect, as well as the high level of security you demand.
Share what you’re doing
Membership based organizations thrive on a calendar full of important dates. Look for a membership-based website software provider that builds in support for multiple types of events, including routine, recurring dates such as meetings and planning sessions. Additionally, make sure you can use your membership-based website software to schedule and even sell tickets for larger-scale events.
Whether you conduct in-person events or deal with a geographically far-flung membership that only meets virtually, you’ll want to share the imagery and ideas that come out of your get togethers. Look for membership-based website software with full support for photo galleries that you can use to showcase who’s who and what’s what at your schedule of events. Along with the photos, you’ll want to upload important meeting minutes and other documents, and designate them either as accessible to the public or strictly for members only.
Don’t you and your membership-based organization deserve the best website software for your needs? Of course you do—and to find the right option for your group, start your software search with the right choice to anticipate and fulfill your needs. At Membershine, we’ve poured years of knowledge of the online needs of membership-based groups into our software, and we’re constantly enriching it so it stays ahead of your expectations. Sign up for a demo and see why we’re the best option for your organization.