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4 Tips for Encouraging Association Members to Use Technology

Author: WildApricot
February 2, 2024
🕑 4 min read

In today’s fast-paced world, technology has become an integral part of our lives, revolutionizing the way we communicate, collaborate and access information. However, despite its undeniable benefits, many association members may still be hesitant to fully embrace and use technology in their professional lives.

This guide aims to bridge that gap by providing practical strategies for encouraging members to use technology to its full potential. Whether you’re investing in a new membership management platform or working with a new CRM provider like Salesforce or Blackbaud, these insights will help you facilitate a smooth transition and become a more technologically advanced association. 

1. Get to Know Your Members

You may find that members are still sending in checks even though you invested in an online payment portal, or that they’re requesting paper newsletters despite your push for a digital version. Before you can encourage them to embrace new technology, you must understand why they are reluctant in the first place.

Analyze your existing membership data to gain insight into their:

  • Generational attitudes: Age can be a factor in how familiar and comfortable members are with technology. For example, younger members who were born into a digital world may be more adept at adapting to new tools. On the other hand, older members may face a steeper learning curve and require more hands-on training. 
  • Access to technology: Members need a reliable internet connection and up-to-date devices (such as computers, smartphones or tablets) to leverage your association’s tools. To bridge the digital divide within your organization, consider providing access to free Wi-Fi and subsidized or low-cost devices at your facility. 
  • Digital literacy: Digital literacy refers to an individual’s ability to understand and use various technological tools. Send out a digital literacy test to get to know each member’s skill level and identify relevant trends among them.

After conducting a comprehensive needs assessment, tailor your technology strategies and offerings according to the preferences of your membership base. For instance, if the majority of members are in an older demographic and have low digital literacy, you may need to reinvest in more user-friendly tools.

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2. Demonstrate Value and Benefits

Members are more likely to use technology if they perceive clear benefits. After investing in a new tool, demonstrate how it will enhance the membership experience. In general, members will receive the following benefits by going digital:

  • Greater access to resources: Members can access a wealth of additional resources, including industry insights, educational materials and research through your association’s website and membership portals. 
  • Convenience and efficiency: Technology streamlines administrative processes related to association membership. For instance, with association management software, members can pay their dues, update their information and sign paperwork—all with a few clicks of a button. 
  • Networking opportunities: Digital platforms allow members to connect with peers, industry experts and potential collaborators both locally and globally. This expanded network not only opens doors to personal and professional growth but also fosters a deeper understanding of industry trends. 

To underscore these benefits, share real-world examples of how the technology has positively impacted similar organizations or individuals within your association. For example, you might tell the story of a member who found technology transformative when their association implemented a user-friendly mobile app for event registration. With the app, they could easily register for events, access event details and receive real-time notifications. 

3. Customize Technology

Whenever possible, allow members to customize and personalize their technology experience. Offer settings or options that let them tailor their usage to fit their specific preferences and requirements. Then, in your new member welcome kit, include clear instructions on how they can update their preferences. For instance, when adding a membership portal to your website, ensure that users can: 

  • Adjust their notification preferences
  • Choose their dashboard layout
  • Personalize their content recommendations

Customization empowers members to make technology work for their specific needs, increasing their satisfaction and motivation to use it. If you need assistance throughout this process, consider working with a technology consulting firm. Their team of experts will assess your current technology infrastructure and identify areas where customization can enhance member experiences. 

4. Provide Comprehensive Training

Training sessions encourage members to overcome any initial barriers or apprehensions they may have about new technology. Host regular workshops and provide self-paced learning materials that cover: 

  • Navigation: Teach members how to navigate the technology. Cover the user interface, menus, buttons and key features. Explain how to access different sections, tools or modules, ensuring that members can easily find their way around the software or platform.
  • Integration: Explain how the new technology fits into the broader workflow or ecosystem of your association. Provide guidance on how it integrates with existing tools and processes. For example, a committee member tasked with documenting meeting minutes might benefit from learning how to integrate a project management system with cloud-based tools like Google Drive. 
  • Data privacy: Communicate how member data will be collected, stored and used, revealing any third-party services or vendors involved in the process. Specify the purposes for which this information is collected and how members can control their data preferences. 
  • Cybersecurity: Members should be educated on the importance of cybersecurity and best practices for staying safe online. Topics to cover may include how to create strong and unique passwords, recognize and avoid phishing scams and keep software and devices updated. 

Offer beginner, intermediate and advanced training options to ensure that members receive the instruction that aligns with their skill levels. For example, beginners may be taught how to respond to membership renewal letters, whereas digital natives receive guidance on emerging trends like AI. 

Remember that technology adoption may vary among association members, so it’s essential to create a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable adapting at their own pace. Patience, clear communication and a user-centric approach will be key to encouraging technology adoption within your organization.

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