BlogWebsite & Technology How to Convince Your Board You Need Membership Management Software Website & Technology How to Convince Your Board You Need Membership Management Software Author: Tatiana Morand October 21, 2020 Contents 🕑 9 min read Summer or winter? Cats or dogs? (Spoiler: the answer to this one is always both!) Go for a run… or sit on the couch and watch Netflix? Life is full of decisions, some big and some small. And we all have our preferences. Some people love the convenience of fast food, while others are willing to wait at a sit-down restaurant for a good meal. And these big decisions and preferences exist in the nonprofit world too, especially when it comes to choosing a new tool to help you run your organization better. And even if you, your staff, and volunteers all agree that the time has come to choose a membership management software that will make your work faster and easier, it can be difficult to convince your board. The trick is to lay out your top choices (too many choices can be a little overwhelming), listen to the board members’ preferences, and collaborate to come to the right choice, together. Here are three ways you can persuade the board to make the leap to membership management software with WildApricot at your side and overcome common objections. But First: What is Membership Management Software? If you’re unfamiliar with Membership Management Software, also known as MMS, it’s a relatively simple concept. An MMS is a digital tool that allows organizations to keep all of the information related to their members and donors in one place.This centralized data means you and your team will have the ability to search information quickly, access information from anywhere, and sort information in such a way that will help your nonprofit make decisions quickly and with the right data. In short, membership management software is an all-in-one, cloud-based tool designed to automate 90% of the administrative tasks of membership organizations. The right MMS can save your staff and board members dozens of hours of work every week. We like to think of MMS as an army of robots that run your organization behind the scenes, while you engage with members and market your events and services. There are lots of MMS options to choose from these days. And while the features and price points can vary, WildApricot stands out because it’s easy to use, it’s affordable, and it’s trustworthy. To learn more about what an MMS is and how it can help your organization, check out our Consumer Guide. The WildApricot Way WildApricot is an all-in-one membership management software for small associations, clubs, and nonprofits. We’ve been the MMS of choice for organizations that find themselves using multiple tools like Excel, Mailchimp, and Eventbrite to try and wrangle and use all of their data. We also appeal to organizations that have an MMS but aren’t happy with it. People often turn to us because their current MMS is too expensive or doesn’t quite have all the features they need. Here are just a few reasons why people love partnering with us: Why People Choose WildApricot Trusted by over 20,000 organizations Cloud-based, securely accessible by board, staff, and volunteers anywhere with an internet connection Comprehensive online help, tutorials, and free technical support A Summary of WildApricot Features Single, reliable source to manage your organization instead of multiple Excel, Outlook, and other messy files Keeps important data secure, accessible, and backed up Enables more people to volunteer (e.g. assign a particular person to coordinate a certain event, someone else to manage certain pages of your website) Update the website without bugging the IT person every time But don’t just take our word for it. Our customers have some nice things to say: “We grew our membership by 30% the first year we moved to WildApricot. It pays for itself in having a professional look and easy to manage system of events registration, and dues payment. It was chaos before we found WA!” Carol Emmett, Director of Communications Greater Orlando Organization Development Network (Aka GOOD Network) If you haven’t already started a free trial, you can do so here. (And if you already have… well, you already know all the great features we have!) 3 Ways to Successfully Pitch an MMS to Board Members As the one who actually has to use it, you may be convinced that membership management software is right for you… but what about your board? Here’s how you can make it clear that membership management software can actually help your organization save time and money — and stick around for the long term. Set the Context. Even though the board recognizes the need for improvement, board members aren’t involved in the day-to-day of your operations, which is why they have you! And the best thing you can do to successfully pitch your MMS of choice to your board is to set the stage. Give your board context. Clearly state why a new MMS is needed — whether that’s increased donations, membership retention, or increased attendance at events — then, dive into how a new MMS will accomplish the organization’s goals. Once they understand what the problem is, they can more easily see that a new MMS is the solution to your organizational woes. Explain How Your Organization Will Use It. After you’ve given them some context for the need for an MMS for your organization, you should answer the question of, “How can membership management software help us?” One of the first things you can tell them is that they’re not alone in making the move to a strong MMS. It turns out that 64% of nonprofit CFOs said adopting cloud technology would cut operational costs by up to 20%. And as if cutting costs isn’t enough, here are four other specific ways implementing an MMS can help you: 1. Easier and More Secure Data Processes: One of the biggest advantages of using an MMS is the move from Excel to a digital tool. While the move from the manual input of member and donor information into an Excel sheet seems like an obvious move for some nonprofit managers, other managers don’t mind the world of Excel. And for some small teams, working in Excel may not be a huge burden. But between the need for access to data from staff and board members that are working remotely and the requirements for security and privacy, now really is the best time to start to move past Excel membership templates. And let’s face it, your team won’t always stay the same. Although no one likes to talk about it, turnover is alive and well in the nonprofit world — and saving data reliably in an organized fashion helps mitigate some of the pain that comes when a trusted team member leaves. If they’ve been saving all of their work in a shared tool that anyone can access, it solves the loss of tribal knowledge. Read More: 7 Steps to Protect Your Members’ Data (+ Downloadable Checklist) 2. Run Better Events: 90% of event marketers believe technology can have a major positive impact on their events’ success. Using technology to run events can sound intimidating, but we can assure you that you can use technology in small ways or run the entire event. If you haven’t used technology to run your events, we recommend starting small and working your way up. One of the easiest and best ways you can use your new MMS is simply by throwing away the ol’ paper sign-up sheets that can be lost or ruined by coffee stains (we’re speaking from experience here). Instead, you can allow people to register and check-in online. If you’re already doing that, here are some other ways you can run better events with the help of a tool like WildApricot: Automatically updated events calendar page Online registration and payment Customizable registration options and process– e.g. Early Bird discounts, special member pricing Automatically send out event announcements and reminders to your contacts Read More: The #1 Way to Speed Up Event Check-In: How to Use QR Codes 3. Increase Online Donations: While everyone likes the feeling of a few crisp bills in their wallets, the truth is 54% of donors worldwide prefer to give online with a credit or debit card. Here’s a breakdown of some of the other popular methods donors prefer to use to give: 11% prefer direct mail 11% prefer cash 10% prefer bank/wire transfer 9% prefer Paypal 4% prefer mobile app/wallet 1% prefer text message Given these preferences, simply having an MMS like WildApricot that can easily and seamlessly accept and track online payments means you’ll see an increase in donations compared to only accepting donations via cash or check. But beyond having a tool that can accept online payments, you’ll see an increase in online donations, membership sign-ups, and volunteer participation by using your MMS to engage with your community, strengthen communication, and build support through consistent and powerful emails, texts, social engagement, and more. Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up a Monthly Giving Program (+ Examples) 4. Tell Your Story Better. A cause is important, but people don’t give to or volunteer at a cause — they choose to be a part of a powerful story. Nonprofits of all sizes understand the need for a website or the digital representation of their stories. And while websites are a necessity to today’s organizations, they also need to be updated for new information and features and managed for questions and donations. For some, using WildApricot to help build and keep their websites to attract, engage, and convert new members is one of the main reasons they choose us. (You can also add special members’ only pages to keep some of your content exclusive to members!) (Want to find more website examples? You can see some of our top customer sites here.) In addition to helping tell your story through your website, WildApricot also helps promote your mission and fundraisers through email campaigns. These are just a few things you can do with emails when you choose WildApricot: Send out unlimited campaign emails, newsletters, and announcements Automate receipts and confirmations for new applications, membership renewals, event registrations, payments, and donations Start with professionally designed email templates and customize them or create your own Track metrics such as opens and clicks to fine-tune your communications How to Overcome Common Objections You might be ready to go ahead and implement your MMS tomorrow… But your board might not see it quite so clearly. For that reason, it’s best to be prepared for all of the most common objections that come up whenever any new software option is presented. Although objections are usually from a place of curiosity or misunderstanding of the new MMS or the current state of affairs of your organization, it can be hard to know how to reply in a way that effectively conveys the urgent need your organization is facing. But we’re here to help! Below, we’ve answered some of the most common objections we’ve been able to help overcome. (Or, if you’re ready to do it on your own, download our Presentation to the Board to help you articulate why it’s time to make the switch!) “Our current system is fine.” Even if it seems like your organization is getting by on the current system, board members don’t always realize that you’re doing a lot of work across multiple systems. This is time-consuming, and many popular systems don’t always play well together. For example, you may be emailing people via Mailchimp, but you have to constantly refer to lists of members in an Excel sheet while registering people using Eventbrite. It’s simply not sustainable. “It’s too expensive.” WildApricot offers a free plan to start and no set-up fees. We believe in transparent pricing and a try-before-you-buy approach, which is why we encourage people to try WildApricot for free for 60 days. If you’re considering WildApricot and a few other MMS options, check out how our pricing compares. “Setting it up is too time-consuming.” Choosing and setting up a new MMS takes time, but with all the new efficiencies you’ll be gaining through automating your administrative tasks, you’ll definitely be saving time and money in the long run. Plus, our onboarding team is here to help, and we offer ongoing support like: Free Customer Support (live chat and email) 11-year history of successful account and member security Monitoring, maintaining, and updating our systems, so you don’t have to spend your time on this Peace-of-mind knowing that WildApricot never sells or shares your database and information 24/7 monitoring of our servers “Why should we pick WildApricot?” If you want to dive deeper into the WildApricot benefits listed in this blog, you should check out our consumer guide. We can tell you that our free, 60-day trial, our seamless online payment feature, our website builder, and our member app builder have been lauded by users and are some of the biggest reasons nonprofits, clubs, and associations remain loyal to us! Get Started Today! If you have any questions about why you and your board should choose WildApricot, or you’d love to run some ideas by one of our team members before your pitch to the board, please reach out today. We’re excited to work with you! 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