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Case Study: U3A Denia

Lori Halley 26 September 2007 0 comments

This month's case study is with Tina Bellenie of U3A Dénia.
Tina's Bio:
Tina Bellenie - 'retired' to Spain after a career in education, IT and finance. I became involved with the U3A (University of the Third Age) , initially as Treasurer and Group Leader (basic computing)  As the organisation grew I was co-opted to help the webmaster and then charged with looking for an online membership database. I came across Wild Apricot whilst browsing the web and quickly realised that it was the answer to all our administrative problems. I have now moved on from the original association to help start another group further along the coast and we are using Wild Apricot again.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about U3A Dénia?
U3A (University of the Third Age) Denia is an association of retired /semi-retired English-speaking men and women living in Denia, Valencia, Spain. Its purpose is to share educational, social and recreational activities in small groups, using the skills and interests of its members.
2. Before Wild Apricot, what tools/website did you use to promote your organization (i.e. traditional press outreach, press releases, conferences and teleconferences, etc..? 
Press announcements and word of mouth.
3. What drove you to create a web site for U3A Dénia?
We already had a website (created using Front Page) and a membership database (using Hotmail) and we wanted to improve both. It was particularly important that the website could be updated by any authorized user from his/her own home. Initially we were only looking for a new website but when we found Wild Apricot the idea of integrating the website and the membership database was very attractive. The events organizer clinched it.
4. What is the primary use of your website? What kind of information/news/facts do you make available online?
It provides information about group activities, meetings and events, both before and after. It is the main way in which our members can keep in touch with what is happening.
5. What main features of your website have you found of most use and how do they help you attract and retain members?
  • The emailing facility for members is very useful
  • The fact that web pages can be edited and added to so easily by non technical people is also very important
  • The ability to communicate easily and rapidly with all or selected groups of our members
  • The ease of use of the website which allows non-technical people to keep it updated regularly without waiting for an 'expert'
  • The clear and attractive layout of the website
  • The  online event registration which saves hours of admin time

All the above give our organization a very professional 'look and feel' which impresses both existing and potential members.

6. Can you share some strategies about how your organization has connected with its members?
By newsletters, regular e-mails and frequent updating of the web site.
7. What web tools/social media do you use to engage your members online?
We use the local press, but our membership has grown so rapidly (nearly 500 in less than two years) that recruiting is not a priority.
8. Did you try discussion forums, blogs, online chats, anything else? How effective were these tools in reaching out to your members and how hard it was to keep it going?
Not yet. Many of our members are not very computer literate.  
9. Are there particular strategies you've employed that have helped sustain participation in the building and maintenance of the U3A Denia site?
It was very important for us to have selective user access – now that you have implemented this we can allow our group leaders to ‘own’ and update their own web pages, which is very effective
10. Have you been successful at increasing memberships and if so how? Can you share some numbers for example how many members you had when you first created a website and now?
It is difficult to say, as our membership has grown exponentially from day one. I can say that the website has been very important in maintaining interest and encouraging participation.
11. What advice would you give others who want to increase their membership and promote their organization online?
Keep the website updated regularly and put frequent ‘news flashes’ on the front page to direct them to points of interest.
12. If you were to share some advice for other nonprofit about usability and online promotion, what are the five most important things to consider?
1. Keep it accurate and updated at all times
2. Add photos and news about the organisati0on and people in it
3. Keep the navigation clean and simple
4. Provide contact names and numbers for further information
5. Have a ‘house style’ for fonts, colours, sizes etc.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 26 September 2007 at 9:00 AM
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