WildApricot Testimonial

Kim Elliot's Journey

How she found WildApricot and why she decided to make the switch

Kim Elliott, the elected president of the Klamath Rental Owners Association in Oregon, is a WildApricot customer and also a member of our Small Membership Advisory Community. When we interviewed Kim for our 1-On-1 Advisory Series, she offered some interesting insight into how she chose WildApricot and how the decision has helped her organization. Below are some highlights from the interview and Kim’s verbatim testimonial.

Walk us through the journey of how you evaluated your options and how you made a final decision to choose WildApricot.

Kim Elliott: A few months in, the board approached me and asked if I could actually build them a website, which was one of the things that I had offered to do for them.

I set the initial site up using the WordPress and wasn’t really happy with it not having membership functionality. It didn’t do quite what I wanted it to do.

We had the WordPress site for about three months, but the whole time I was on the hunt for something that would keep track of members, be able to do online signups, take credit cards online, have members only areas, have a forum for interaction and be easy for somebody besides me to take over in the future.

One of my problems with WordPress and Joomla is that you almost have to be a professional in order to keep them running.

Did you know instantly while you were installing WordPress that it wasn’t the right solution or did you come to realize that over time?

Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to need. Because I was semi-familiar with WordPress, I put it up temporarily. But I knew we were going to need something else. I didn’t know what that was yet. I was hopeful that WordPress might have the plug-ins that would add the functionality that I needed, but I discovered pretty quickly that it couldn’t do everything that I wanted.

What sort of research did you do?

I did a lot of online searches. I looked at paid and free solutions, primarily low cost. I found a couple of others that seemed horribly expensive before I found WildApricot.

When you say extremely expensive, what classified a software as expensive to you?

I looked at the membership that we had at that point, which was 48 members. Anything that was going to cost more than a dollar per person was too expensive. Of course, cost was not the main factor. Ease of use was/is a really high priority for me because I'm not going to be the IT person, the president, the person in charge forever. I needed to have something that anybody, with a couple of hours of training, would be able to take over. Once I found WildApricot, I fell head-over-heels in love. Period.

How did you know WildApricot was the right solution for you?

I knew what we needed in advance. I wanted an events calendar, to be able to do online signups, track my membership and email blasts and newsletters, all from a single program. I didn’t want to have one program for newsletters, another one online signups, another one for the blog and another one for an events calendar. Having five different admins and five different passwords and five different everything was just not going to work.

Once you opened your free trial, how did you confirm whether the software already had those things?

I read all of your online resources. I printed out the slideshow for my board of directors. Because we were going from a free solution to a paid solution, I knew I was going to have to rally the board for spending some money. We had a seminar coming up that I wanted to take online registrations for. Once I started the online trial and found out how easy it was to get set up, running and ready to go, that’s when I just flat told them, “Okay, either we do it now, or the whole thing’s just going to come apart.”

Can you go a little bit more into the seminar?

We were putting on a seminar for the first time in several years, and we were getting a lot of free publicity, radio interviews and that sort of thing. I needed to be able to get online registrations so I used my free trial to set it up on our WildApricot site. And about half of the registrants for that seminar actually did it online.

How did you sell the board on “we need to switch over to WildApricot, it’s important for us. It may take a month or so to get everybody acclimated, but it will be worth it”?

Money is always been a big factor with this association. Over the first three months of my presidency, I discovered that as long as I could make something pay for itself, the board would be okay with it. I proved that with the seminar. We made a few dollars off of everybody that went to the seminar, and that profit paid for a couple of months of WildApricot.

And did you actually use the seminar itself also to sell memberships?

Oh yes. Absolutely. The business case was not only to get the seminar up and running, but also that it turned into more memberships.

When you were selling the software to the board, was money the biggest factor, or was it all the things that you discussed earlier, like ease of use, having a membership area, event registrations, and emailing? Did the board find value in it even if you were paying a little bit per month for that luxury?

Well, one of the things that we changed when we switched to WildApricot was we stopped printing a monthly newsletter, and that cost savings pays for WildApricot.

What really surprised me was that transition from printed to electronic was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I thought we were going to get a lot more complaining from people not getting a newsletter in the mail. But as of right now, like 95 per cent of our membership receives the newsletter via email. It was a really easy transition.

Were there any resources on our website that helped you sell WildApricot through to your board?

Yes. You have a printable PDF that I showed to my board of directors. I had the demo site set up and I showed it to everybody on the board, back end and front end and showed them how the various parts and pieces of WildApricot were going to benefit our membership. I showed them that we didn’t have to have a phone call circle a week before the meeting and call people. I can program the notifications into the email so that they get one two weeks in advance, one week in advance, and one day before the meeting. And so it makes it really hands-off. We don’t need 20 people to do those things. We just need one.

Did you create anything yourself because it wasn’t on our website?

I didn’t have to create anything myself. I found answers to all the questions and every objection I was going to get from the board in advance. And I found it all on WildApricot’s site. It was easy, clear, you know, very understandable, not written in technical terms, which was the biggest thing. When dealing with my board of directors, I have to make sure that I'm not speaking “Internet”, as they call it. If I use the terms like HTML, their eyes start to glaze over.

After you converted to a paid account, how was that process of transitioning your organization over?

It’s gone really well. It’s still going on in some ways, but every single membership meeting, I remind them that the website is there and that it has a tremendous amount of resources. I would say about half of my members are relatively web-savvy, and they will, you know, go read an article, or they will sign up for an event online without any problem. More and more of them have been to the website. These days, I look at my email tracking — which I absolutely love on WildApricot — and if I send out 102 emails, half are getting at least opened, and probably half of that are clicking on link the first time out. And so, getting 25 per cent response rate to a survey is pretty significant.

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