3 Digital Member Acquisition Strategies to Grow Your Base

Recruiting (and retaining!) dues-paying members is not only paramount to the longevity of your association for financial reasons, but an ever-growing membership also correlates with your organization’s potential for industry-wide influence. Your members are essential to the success of your association. As such, member-based groups should be constantly seeking new avenues to discover prospective supporters with the goal of motivating them to join the association. Fortunately, recent research suggests that association membership is generally on the rise across the country. In fact, as reported in the 2018 Membership Management Report1, nearly half of the associations surveyed saw an increase in new members over the past year.

What does a national trend in growing memberships mean for your association? To put it simply, engaging in new member acquisition is an opportune and worthwhile undertaking. There are many different methods that your association can employ to search for and gain new members, both offline and online. In this blog post, we are only going to focus on key online tactics you can use to grow your base. In this digital age, online member acquisition efforts should be a cornerstone of your association’s membership growth strategy.

The internet offers countless possibilities to find and attract prospective new members. From producing web-based content to digitally involving current members, online strategies are both useful and cost-effective. This blog post discusses three digital member acquisition strategies you can employ to grow your base. These strategies are:

  1. Implement an inbound marketing strategy to attract potential members
  2. Use paid advertising to target member personas
  3. Design and activate a digital “refer-a-friend” program

While one of these strategies requires a financial commitment in line with your budget, the other two are completely free tactics that your association can use to grow its’ online presence and reach likely supporters. Building comprehensive online member acquisition strategies can take time, but the net result of attracting new members to your professional or trade association is undoubtedly worth it in the long-term. Here’s our first tip:

1. Implement an Inbound Marketing Strategy to Attract Potential Members

Inbound marketing involves the creation of purposeful content (such as blogs, social media, and search engine optimized posts) that provide educational value to your targeted audience2. Ultimately, the goal of content creation is to motivate readers to download pertinent items, generating new leads (prospective members) for your organization. Targeted content brings in interested readers who are searching for helpful information online. The best part about a solid inbound marketing strategy? After crafting and publishing high-quality content produced by the brainpower of your team, the major legwork is done! The beauty of inbound marketing is that relevant content doesn’t have an expiration date. Once helpful material is produced, your content will continue working on behalf of your association’s membership growth strategy over time. As you build up your association’s digital content library, your work is simultaneously improving your association’s online visibility and increasing the chances that your ideal prospective member will organically find the website.

Here are a few tips to producing an effective inbound marketing strategy:

  • Focus on search engine optimization3, also known as SEO. For associations, SEO will involve a variety of ways to ensure that your website and its content appear high in search rankings, so interested readers easily find your materials. The goal of SEO is to drive organic traffic to your association’s website while becoming a trustworthy source of relevant information, dare we even say an industry thought leader! A great resource for charting an SEO-driven marketing path is to check out Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool4.
  • Create industry-relevant eBooks, webinars, or guides that seek to educate your niche audience. For example, if your association includes members who work in the retail industry, publishing downloadable infographics that discuss industry trends and insights might be of interest to your ideal member. As an added bonus, educational content will also create additional value for existing members, enhancing member retention efforts.
  • Ensure your content is mobile-responsive. In this digital age, we’re always accessing information on our smartphones on-the-go. It would be unfortunate if a likely supporter found one of your association’s eBooks online, only to discover that the format was incompatible with his or her iPhone and left your website before even reading the eBook’s first sentence! Ensuring that your association’s content is mobile-ready is key to a lasting and effective inbound marketing strategy. To put it succinctly, “mobile technology is an imperative” according to Fonteva5.

2. Use Paid Advertising to Target Member Personas on Social Media

Now that your association’s team has developed an arsenal of interesting and educational content for your audience, an important step is to share it far and wide. While inbound and content marketing material will serve your association without paid advertising, promoting your material with the help of paid media can’t hurt either!

Paid advertising can help grow your base by expanding the reach of your association’s content and deliberately surfacing the materials to the right people.

The goal of this type of paid media campaign is to attract the interest of your target audience and guide them to download information from your website. A key component to conducting a successful paid advertising effort is in targeting the right personas, or detailed mock-ups of likely supporters6. It can be helpful to think of your association’s member personas as “pre-members”. Some questions to ask yourself when creating each target persona are:

  • What is this typical member’s job responsibility?
  • How old is this member? How does this member’s age impact their involvement in the association?
  • What value does the association bring to this member?
  • What is this member’s education level?
  • How does this member interact with the association’s industry?

It is okay to get detailed when developing member personas, but remember to allow room for variation as well. Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow for very specific targeting of criteria, and Twitter provides multiple options for tailored targeting.

3. Design a digital “Refer-a-Friend” program

Attracting and retaining membership is important and strategic work that requires a year-round approach. For an association, updating and iterating on a membership growth strategy is imperative. Every creative idea you have to attract new members has merit. One of the most effective member acquisition strategies is to implement a referral program! Why? Your membership is your greatest resource. Each of your members’ has his or her own personal and professional networks that likely includes individuals who would be a great match for your association. In essence, a member referral program involves requesting that your current members suggest to their own contacts that they join your association. Since we are focusing on digital tactics to grow your base in this blog post, here are a few ideas on designing and implementing a digital member referral program.

  • Design your member referral program. There are multiple ways to design a successful referral program, so focus on developing a program that fits best with your association’s current membership and marketing operations. One referral structure is simply to ask that your members send a personal, informational email to a friend or colleague about the association and CC your membership coordinator on the email. This is an easy way to track which of your members is engaging in the program and personalizes the outreach in a meaningful way. Another way to organize a member referral program requires a little more tech savviness. Work with your technology team to implement a pre-filled text box with language that can be sent to prospective members from current members with one click of a button. The easier the task, the higher the likelihood that your members will follow through on the ask.
  • Send an introductory email to your existing members. In launching a referral program, it’s important that you spread the word! While adding new website content describing the referral program is great, the first step in introducing a new practice is to send an introductory email and get your members excited.
  • Incentivize your members to refer their contacts and/or colleagues7. There’s nothing quite like a prize to motivate the masses to participate in an activity. Incentives can vary based on your association’s industry area and type of member. For example, if your association operates in the coffee industry, sending your members a branded or personalized coffee mug could inspire them to join your referral program. Of course, digital gift-cards are also coveted and easy to pass along to active members. Lastly, remember to be patient with your members!8 Hopefully, engaged members will contribute to your referral program promptly; however, it is important to remember that building a digital referral program takes time.

We hope this article has provided you with three actionable member acquisition ideas you can put into motion at your association soon. Members are the lifeblood to every association, and as such, developing and executing a membership acquisition strategy should be a top priority. Good luck!

Author bio

Cleo Dan is the Vice President of Communications at Muster, a civic technology company providing online advocacy, grassroots engagement and data analytics solutions to organizations of all types.

Sources

1. http://marketing.marketinggeneral.com/acton/form/6893/0011:d-003b/0/-/-/-/-/index.htm
2. https://www.hortongroup.com/blog/why-your-association-needs-inbound-marketing
3. https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
4. https://moz.com/blog/one-giant-leap-for-link-data-announcing-open-site-explorer
5. https://www.fonteva.com/2016/12/07/will-virtual-reality-become-reality-for-associations/
6. https://blog.bufferapp.com/marketing-personas-beginners-guide
7. https://associationsnow.com/2018/08/membership-hack-referral-incentives/
8. https://www.fonteva.com/2016/02/04/maintaining-healthy-relationships-4-important-keys/

The Association LMS: 5 Reasons Why Your Organization Needs One

There are a variety of reasons that people join associations. These reasons include networking, leadership development, and oftentimes professional development – all translating to your members looking for opportunities to grow.

When it comes to networking, face-to-face events still take the lead. These face-to-face networking events can also combine leadership development and educational programming. However, in today’s world we also want to be able to connect with people outside of a scheduled networking event. We want to be able to learn outside of a face-to-face conference. We want to be able to do these things whenever we want, from wherever we want.

As the world continues to deliver us so many things right when we want them, the demand for the ability to learn online continues to grow. Your members are experiencing this in both their personal and professional lives, and have come to expect the same from their association.

How can you easily deliver content to members online? An LMS! An LMS is a Learning Management System. If your association is not already delivering educational content online through an LMS platform, you are already falling behind in the digital transformation. If you’re still not convinced, we’ve outlined some of the top benefits of having an LMS:

1. Accessibility

First, there is the practice of accessibility to make your LMS usable by as many people as possible – traditionally thought of as people with disabilities but also benefiting other groups – such as those on mobile devices, or with slow internet connections. When you are going through your LMS selection process, it’s important that you make sure your LMS is ‘accessible’ by these definitions.

Second,  make your educational content accessible. While face-to-face conferences or events will probably never disappear, they include travel costs and time away from work and family. With an LMS, you’re delivering on-demand content from these in-person events, webinars, and from original content created through authoring tools such as Articulate and Captivate. You can also utilize the LMS to live stream webcasts from those in-person events or professional studios!

By delivering all of this content on-demand, you are enabling your members to grow, to receive required continuing education credits and further engage with their association, whenever it is most convenient for them, from the comfort of their home, office, or anywhere else in the world. And by delivering your learning content in a variety of ways, you give the learner ability to not also choose when they want to engage, but how. By giving them choices, this gives the content longer lets for wider access ability for members. This also allows you to expand your reach outside of those members who are willing and able to attend your in-person events.

2. Cost Savings

Yes, an LMS costs money. However, it helps significantly save costs associated with traditional training and education. For example, you may be hosting the same meeting multiple times in different cities – this translates into venue costs, food and beverage, travel, and time!

Alternatively, you could hold the entire meeting online via a webinar, or live stream a webcast from one location. This also allows your members who cannot afford (whether it be time or money) to travel to these in-person meetings the ability to attend online or take an on-demand course after the fact – allowing them to continue their education and engagement while saving money and time.

3. Non-Dues Revenue

In addition to creating opportunities for your organization (and your members) to save some money, an LMS should provide you the opportunity to also generate more non-dues revenue. Your LMS should have eCommerce capabilities as well the ability to integrate with the eCommerce functionality within your AMS or CRM, if you’d like all of the purchasing to happen in one place.

Within these eCommerce tools, you should have the flexibility to offer different pricing scenarios – such as member vs. non-member, attendee vs. non-attendee. Features such as product bundles and coupon codes can also allow you to market content in different ways and continue increasing sales. It is important to remember that eLearning is not bound by the same constraints as in-person events and to use these new opportunities to multiply your revenue potential.

4. Learning Assessment and Education Management

Again, LMS stands for Learning Management System. Whether that learning is required continuing education, optional certificate programs, or watching on-demand webinars and conference sessions here and there for some just-in-time training about specific topics, it can all take place on the LMS.

Part of the accessibility of courses and education via an LMS also means easy access to tests and assessments, instructor-led virtual learning, automatic certificate generation and credit management. Whether your learners are receiving automated rationale on tests to manual feedback from instructors to providing their feedback to associations through surveys, your learners will continuously be assessing their online education.

In addition to learning assessment, the LMS can also serve as the repository for all of the learner’s awarded certificates and continuing education credits. You can also have this information written back to your Association Management System (AMS) with the appropriate level of integration, or to a community platform, allowing your learners to show off achievements to their peers.

5. Data & Analytics

At this point, it’s clear that an LMS can expand your organization’s reach, potentially help you cut down on some face-to-face costs, and generate additional non-dues revenue. Once you create the content, organize your courses, and have learners visiting your LMS; you receive more than just additional revenue and engagement – you now have data!

An LMS allows you to track and maintain a lot of great learner data. You can easily see the popularity of courses and events, the points where learners are falling off and disengaging, what people are purchasing, and if specific marketing tactics and promotions are successful. Utilizing this data, you can monitor, analyze, and improve learner adoption as well as behavior and financial performance, allowing you to outpace your competition.


In this ever-changing world where we continue to become more and more reliant on digital, where your members expect more from your association than before, it is important to stay ahead of the curve and continue to be seen as an industry-leader in your field.

Whether your goal is to expand your reach to more members, more learners; to cut down on costs or to increase non-dues revenue, one goal all organizations have in common is to retain members and grow memberships. As the competition heats up with platforms such as Lynda and Coursera, it even more important to understand that an LMS is a vital part of many organizations’ digital ecosystem and that without one, they will be left in the past with their face-to-face conferences and mailed certificates.


Author Bio

Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations

Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well overseeing sales from an operational standpoint. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 7 of those years being spent at Blue Sky, marketing and selling to associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside – whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).

7 Tools That Will Grow Your Association and Events in 2019

Marketing for events and associations is harder today than ever before. The internet has democratized information, education, networking, and purchasing. Attendees and members have more options, which makes it tough for you to stand out.

Sponsors, exhibitors, and other partners have more options, too. They no longer rely on the One Big Annual Event to collect the majority of their leads or to put new products in front of qualified buyers.

The increased competition is healthy for the industry as a whole, but it presents an enormous challenge to individual marketers who must rise above the din.

And that isn’t even the most challenging part! Association marketers have more options, too. Too many. Way too many. Take a look at the now-infamous Martec 5000 slide to see for yourself:

The number of tools, technologies, and channels available to marketers today has grown to a laughable level of complexity, and shows no sign of tapering off any time soon.

But despite the staggering number of choices, the basic tenet of marketing events and associations hasn’t changed: demonstrate the value of your service to qualified people, and make it easy for them to choose it.

Now, not every marketing tool will help event and association marketers do that, but the right tools in the right combination will. And after helping to grow more than 200 associations and over 1500 events, Feathr has learned what works and what doesn’t. They’re excited to share some actionable recommendations with Fonteva readers for a digital toolkit that every event and association marketer should use to meet (and exceed!) their marketing goals in 2019. Seven high-converting tools they recommend are:

  • Geofencing
  • Paid Search
  • Paid Social
  • Partner Invites
  • Attendee Invites
  • Landing Pages
  • Retargeting

Let’s learn a little about each one.

1. Geofencing

Powered by GPS and RFID technologies, geofencing is a tool that enables targeted advertising to a pinpoint physical location, served to mobile devices within the virtual boundaries of that location. Geofencing can serve ads to locations as specific as an individual street address.

When qualified prospects are gathered together in one place, a geofencing campaign will ensure that your message gets seen on mobile devices in that location. It’s an extraordinarily efficient marketing tool, especially for top of funnel/brand awareness campaigns. Association and event marketers have been especially successful when geofencing competing events, aiming membership messaging at college campuses to boost student membership, and for sponsor/exhibitor prospecting, by geofencing the offices of prospective partners.

Learn more about geofencing for events here.

2. Paid Social Advertising

Paid social advertising operates on the same concept as traditional display advertising, except ads display exclusively on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Because social networks know a lot about their users, targeted social advertising can be incredibly precise.

Advertisers like yourselves get to learn the location, industry, job titles, and interests of their prospects. This enables hyper-targeted marketing messaging that ensures marketers are reaching the right people. Prospects aren’t bombarded with ads that don’t apply to their interests and advertisers aren’t wasting money showing impressions to unqualified people. Paid social advertising also has the added benefit of reaching prospects where they spend most of their online time.

Of course, paid social shouldn’t replace your association or event’s organic participation in social media, but when used strategically, it will significantly boost your online audience and expose more qualified people to your brand.

3. Paid Search

Paid search is a form of advertising triggered by prospects’ web search behavior, and like each marketing tool mentioned here, it precisely targets qualified prospects. Unlike programmatic advertising such as retargeting, prospects don’t need to have visited your website or interacted with your advertising before they can be targeted by a paid search campaign. They include themselves in the campaign by searching the web for phrases you identify as relevant to your organization’s goals.

When you run a paid search campaign, you choose a set of search terms, and when people search for those terms, they see your ads. Simple as that. All you have to do is choose which search terms are likely to be most relevant.

Paid search is especially useful for building new audiences, since it introduces people to your messaging for the first time. It ensures that ads and prospects are perfectly matched.

A good way to start with paid search is by using Google’s free keyword planner. Try it out!

4. Partner Invites

Word of mouth advertising is the only kind you can’t buy. But you can nurture it with the right incentives. For example, every one of your event partners has their own unique audience, and that audience can be yours too. Persuade event partners to promote their involvement with your event by offering custom collateral such as social sharing images, customized emails, and ad creatives they can use with little additional effort on their part. This is a reliable way to get them to promote for you, putting your message in front of your partners’ audience’s qualified eyes.

To further encourage participation, Feathr has seen great success from customers who offer special discounts or programs to event partners who register a certain number of attendees through their invite collateral. More tickets for their team, a sponsorship upgrade, a bigger booth…get imaginative. But make sure your invite supplier offers customizability at scale and analytics for partners to track their own referral campaigns. It makes your job easier and offers partners quantitative data about the success of their own campaigns.

5. Attendee Invites  

Attendees are another powerful source of referrals. They are unlikely to have the reach of brand partners, but they have a critical advantage: the trust that comes from a personal recommendation.

As with partner invites, events have tried to generate attendee invites for some time – usually by including a request and maybe a special coupon code or registration link in the registration confirmation email to each registered attendee.

But new solutions make attendee invites more compelling and trackable than ever. With such a solution setup, each event registrant will be prompted to invite friends and colleagues that are part of their network right as they register online.

Then, as the organizer, you get to see how many attendees are actively advocating your event and how many new registrations those invitations have driven. Such attendee invite programs also improve the accuracy of your future marketing and help identify influencers in your audience.

6. Landing Pages

These are simple, custom webpages to which advertising clicks are directed. They are the modern alternative to the common practice of directing email, paid advertising, and referred traffic clicks to either your homepage or a registration page.

Homepages tend to bombard visitors with information. They have menus with links, contact info, membership services, a member portal login, event information and more. And all of that information is useful – for the right visitor.

The strategy behind custom landing pages is to give visitors all the information they need and none they don’t – based on the interest they’ve displayed through responding to a specific ad or email. In essence, a properly designed landing page will include just the information required to drive responders from a campaign through to a particular action.

That action could be to register for an event, sign up for membership, or even just request more information. The call to action is up to you, but the conversion rate will increase. When shopping for a landing page builder, look for one that offers attractive templates and easily scalable production.

7. Retargeting

Retargeting is a form of smart display advertising served to segments of your own web audience. Retargeting only shows advertising to individuals who have already visited your website, a strong indicator of interest in your association and its events. Retargeted ads can display on nearly any website, so your message catches your audience wherever they happen to be online. On average, it has a 10x higher conversion rate than standard display advertising.

Like all the targeted advertising tools in this article, it relies on the principle that marketing performs best when it aligns with the unique interests of those it is served to. It means you’re not wasting money on cold, unqualified prospects. They already know you. They already like you. And as a result, they are significantly more receptive to your advertising.

It’s simple, too: just choose your segments (examples of segments are people who visited your registration page, people who visited your “why exhibit” page, people who visited your “benefits of membership” page, etc.), design a message and creative that would resonate with that segment, and a campaign budget. Some Feathr customers run a dozen or more different targeted advertising campaigns in the months leading up to their events, and many see 100x ROI and higher, since display ad space is cheap and event tickets are valuable. Retargeting is effective, precise, and easily scalable.

Read about specific retargeting campaigns that boost event attendance right here.

These technologies represent what Feathr considers to be an ideal combination of marketing tools for association and event marketers in 2019 and beyond. They target interested prospects, drum up organic interest from referral audiences, and offer analytics to quantitatively measure ROI. Put simply, they work.

There are plenty more tools, tips, and insights about how to grow membership and events in the digital age over on the Feathr blog. We encourage you to check it out!

Author Bio

Chris Hillman is Director of Content at Feathr, the marketing toolkit for events and associations. Feathr is based in sunny (and swampy) Gainesville, Florida.

5 Amazing Website Must-Haves for Optimal Engagement

It’s no secret that these days the bulk of your nonprofit’s supporters engage with your cause online. For many, the digital world is the only place they interact with your organization.

While the latter scenario might sound extreme, the fact remains that if your nonprofit organization or association wants to get noticed, your website has to be built to impress.

After all, when you give your supporters an attractive, interactive online home, they’ll have all the tools they need to meaningfully engage with your cause (both online and offline).

However, if you let your web presence fall by the wayside, that can spell disaster for your nonprofit organization in the long term.

Check out our amazing website must-haves for optimal engagement. Your nonprofit website should feature:

  1. Custom design.
  2. Easy site editing.
  3. Social media integration.
  4. Fundraising capabilities.
  5. Exclusive access.

Whether you’re a traditional charity, a philanthropic association, or another up-and-coming organization, your website needs to be engaging if you want to make an impact with the right people online.

Let’s dive into these essential features your nonprofit website must have to encourage user engagement!

1. Custom design

When you visit a company’s website, what’s the first thing you notice?

Maybe it’s the imagery the site uses to promote its products or the graphic design aesthetic of the site’s layout. It might even be how user-friendly (or not) the site is to navigate.

The bottom line? When you interact with a business online, the way their website looks makes a real impression. If a website looks outdated, bland, or uninviting, that can be a big turnoff and keep visitors from further interacting with that company.

The same is true in the world of nonprofit organizations and associations. The most common element you’ll see in the best nonprofit websites is a functional, attractive design.

However, because the vast majority of nonprofit professionals aren’t web design experts, this can mean that many nonprofits settle for bare-boned websites that can turn potential supporters away before they’ve engaged at all.

Luckily, there’s a way your nonprofit can design a website without the hassle of careful coding or the investment of hiring a developer. Instead of all that, try using a nonprofit content management system.

Content management systems (CMS) come in all shapes and sizes, but they help organizations like yours to design custom websites that capture your audience’s attention.

And when your team chooses a CMS designed specifically for nonprofits? You can trust that you’ll have all the tools to speak to your supporters and engage with them online in a way that’s just right for your cause.

Bonus! If your team is ready to learn more about nonprofit CMS platforms, check out Morweb’s guide the best nonprofit CMS features to look for. Find out what web design tools you need (and what tools you can skip) with this helpful list.

2. Easy site editing

Another important factor to consider when designing your nonprofit’s website is how easy it is to edit.

You’ll primarily make changes to your site during the design and implementation phase. However, to keep your site up-to-date and functioning smoothly, your team will also need to have tools on hand to tweak and change your site’s structure, content, and layout as needed.

Many nonprofit organizations and associations forget this fact during the design process until the website is complete and they actually need to make changes. That’s when they request more training, or contact the web designer only to learn that “it just doesn’t do that.”

This trickles down to organizations not being able to communicate their vision effectively because it’s difficult to regularly update their website. This can lead to websites that quickly become outdated and fail as an engagement tool for supporters. If a nonprofit’s website makes it harder (and not easier) to engage with your cause, it’s not really doing its job.

When your nonprofit designs its next website, choose a CMS platform that makes editing a breeze. Look for features like:

  • Drag-and-drop editing. This enables your team to drag modules or elements into the spots you want them to appear on your web pages right before your eyes.
  • Live editing. One of the hassles of designing a website from scratch is not seeing your work develop in real time. Choose a CMS with live editing so you can see the impact your edits make.
  • Coding-free web design. Chances are, your nonprofit isn’t staffed by web developers. Pick a CMS that doesn’t require coding expertise so your team can focus on what really matters: creating a thoughtful, engaging online home for your cause.

Think of it this way: you don’t want to be stuck with a website that can’t grow with your cause. Partner with a nonprofit CMS platform that understands the needs of organizations like yours and gives your team tools to manage your web presence independently.

3. Social media integration

With all this talk of your nonprofit’s website, you might be wondering: where does social media fit in all this?

After all, social media platforms are by far the most popular websites in the world, and your nonprofit’s supporters already spend hours on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every day.

For many nonprofits, focusing on their social media presence has taken precedence over their main website. With social media sites, you don’t have to worry about extensive web design, building, or editing: the platforms make this easy for your team.

However, while social media sites do a lot of things well, they’re still very limited in their functionality. For example, you can’t include an events calendar on your Twitter profile, or embed a donation form on Instagram.

For true functionality, you need a fully-capable nonprofit website. That being said, social media should still have a place in your online home. In fact, your site should feature full social media integrations to really maximize its engagement potential.

There are a number of ways your nonprofit’s website can integrate with social media:

  • You can embed your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed onto your website in order to keep your visitors up to date with your latest posts.
  • You can add social media buttons to the running footer of your website to encourage users to check out your different social media accounts.
  • You can include social sharing prompts at the bottom of your blog posts to encourage readers to spread your latest content far and wide.

If your team wants to make the most of your online engagement potential, don’t think of focusing on social media and designing a great website as an either/or decision.

In fact, your nonprofit’s online home can coexist with a robust social media presence when you implement the right integrations.

4. Fundraising capabilities

It’s no surprise that a major factor in your website’s effectiveness is its fundraising capabilities.

The whole reason why your organization wants to better engage its supporters online is to steer them toward giving opportunities. If there’s no way to give on your website, you could be losing out on a lot of potential fundraising revenue.

However, these days online fundraising is easier than ever, especially when your nonprofit has a fully-loaded nonprofit CMS on hand.

As you revamp your nonprofit’s website, you need to keep in mind some of these essential fundraising features to include in your online home:

  • Custom giving forms. Instead of linking out to a generic, unfamiliar giving form, choose a CMS that allows your team to design a completely custom form that matches your nonprofit’s logo and branding seamlessly.
  • Donation form embedding. On that note, make your giving forms a natural element of your website by partnering with a CMS platform that lets you embed forms right on your web pages.
  • Donate buttons. Steer users toward donating from anywhere on your site with customizable ‘donate’ buttons. All supporters need to do is click the call-to-action and they’ll be sent right to your donation page.

Our top web design tip? When your supporters can donate easily whenever they feel inspired, your website is doing its job as an engagement tool. Even better, your community will be more excited about returning to give to your site again and again.

5. Exclusive access

Finally, let’s consider an important aspect of engagement we haven’t yet touched on: exclusivity.

While you want your organization’s website to be as inclusive as possible to new potential donors, there are still some good reasons why you might not want everyone to engage with your website in the same way.

Perhaps you want to share sensitive information with a selective group of members. Or, you might want to limit access to certain pages to your higher-ranking volunteers.

The fact of the matter is that to truly optimize your website’s engagement potential, you may need to consider ways to share access and information appropriately.

With a powerful nonprofits website builder, you can implement strategies to curate access to certain areas of your site. For example, your team might set up password protection of select pages and only grant access to select supporters.

Another way to keep parts of your website private is to set up an exclusive intranet portal. This way, your website can remain fully functional to general users while certain supporters can effectively engage with your site on this private portal.

Your team may need to share sensitive information over the web, and there’s no better place to do so than your website. Make sure you have the right tools in hand to carefully manage this private data by choosing a nonprofit CMS that takes your cause’s privacy seriously.

Ready to design your nonprofit’s website with a company that values security? Check out Double the Donation’s top nonprofit web design companies to find a partner who can balance function with privacy.

Designing an effective nonprofit website can be truly challenging. However, with these tips your team is sure to create an engaging online home for your supporters!

Author Bio

Murad Bushnaq, Founder and CEO of Morad Media and Morweb, is a man of many hats. Since its inception in 2004, Murad has acted as Creative Director, Technologist and creative problem solver. He is dedicated to helping nonprofits and associations to grow their online presence with Morweb, a robust website platform and content management system.

Microlearning and the Digital Age

If you are running an education or training program, you’ve probably come across the terms microlearning or micro-credentials. You have probably also heard a lot about the Digital Age and how associations need to evolve with the ever-changing times to remain relevant to their members and prospective members. So what does microlearning have to do with the Digital Age? Well, it could be the key to staying relevant and evolving your association’s value proposition!

Before we get into the thick of it, here is a quick definition of micro-credentials (paraphrased from our client, The Institute of Credentialing Excellence): Often viewed as a mini-certification, which serves as proof that a learner has mastered a specific skill or area of study. Micro-credentials are smaller than full certification programs, therefore require less ongoing commitment of time and investment on the part of the learner. Often micro-credentials are represented by digital badges, which may be awarded upon completion – additionally, micro-credentials are typically seen as stackable, to attain a broader competency or sets of skills.

So how can you use micro-credentials as ammunition to reshape your association’s value proposition in the Digital Age?

Subscribe & Filter

We have moved from an economy of ownership to a sharing economy and a subscription economy. This is being realized in both our personal and professional world. A 2018 survey, Thinking Inside the Subscription Box: New Research on e-Commerce Consumers, provided a glimpse into the current state of the subscription economy. Some stats included 15% of online shoppers having subscribed to an e-commerce service over the past year, with 46% having subscribed to an online streaming-media service such as Netflix.

And what about sharing? Some popular examples of this include Airbnb, Uber, WeWork, Rent the Runway, and Lending Club. We control how much or how little of the service we want to utilize and when it comes to subscriptions, decide if we want to continue subscribing or unsubscribe as we please.

Micro-credentials present professionals seeking formal learning with very similar flexibilities. Instead of buying into a long one or two-year certification program, learners can choose from a pool of available micro-credentials, which may only take a few classes to attain. Then, if that micro-credential’s area of study does not meet the needs of the learner, they have the ability to filter through other micro-credential options or ‘unsubscribe’ by not pursuing further micro-credentials with that organization and/or not pursuing micro-credentials in that area of study. No longer are learners constrained with the burden of ownership that may come with a committed certification program, which requires recertification or maintenance of certification on an ongoing basis.

Promote

We each maintain an online presence (or multiple online presences). Daily, weekly, and monthly, we meticulously curate what we share via our online presence and carefully promote or showcase our accomplishments. Our online presence is a tool which we can use to establish personal and professional connections, seek out new opportunities, maintain career mobility, and climb to new professional heights.

Micro-credentialing aligns well with our need to continually maintain our professional online presence. For example, as we mentioned earlier in this post, digital badges are often used to represent the completion of a micro-credential. These can be easily showcased on a platform like LinkedIn as a visual representation of ongoing achievement and lifelong learning.

Millennials

We hear the word over and over again, and it shouldn’t be ignored. Organizations are starting to look at their eLearning programs as a whole and have been slowly starting to replace their standard training programs with the more bite-sized content that millennials typically prefer.

In turn, this helps attract a younger demographic that is continuing to grow into leadership roles and also look for their educational content in other places aside from traditional four-year colleges and universities. Microlearning can also serve as a way and as a place for this younger audience to not only continue their learning but a way they can quickly grow as they start their careers.

I Understand Why, But How?

You see the benefit of microlearning and micro-credentials. But you need some ideas to start implementing programs? Here are a few ideas to get your started:

  1. Reinforce or supplement formal training. According to a 2017 ATD Report, 81% of adopters cited this as the most common application. This could include delivering short pieces of content to learners before a training program or conference to build excitement and grow their knowledge base before the event, as well as follow up afterwards, to ensure they don’t immediately forget everything that they’ve learned!
  2. Another application of microlearning is what is referred to as ‘just-in-time content’. This is easily digestible content that a learner can use to brush up on a skill before completing a task. Examples of this include a software developer implementing new code, a lawyer taking on a case with an uncommon argument, or a nurse performing a procedure at the hospital.
  3. Micro-webinars. While 60-minute webinars continue to be the most popular length of webinar (which many times can be attributed to receiving continuing education credit after viewing), micro-webinars have started to take hold. Whether these are utilizing a webinar platform such as Adobe Connect or GoToMeeting, or going live on a social platform such as Facebook, the shorter 10-20 minute web events on specific topics continue to grow.
  4. Repurpose content you already have! Take those hour-long podcasts, webinars, and conference sessions, and start breaking them down! Utilize a team that can help you edit the content you already have into smaller chunks, and set aside some time to start creating new pieces of content that are each just a few minutes in length.

While it may seem like a daunting task to fit so much education into such a short amount of time, remember that while the content comes in small pieces, it doesn’t mean that your learners won’t string a few together at a time – now you are just making the content less intimidating for them to absorb!

Author Bio

Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations

Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well overseeing sales from an operational standpoint. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 7 of those years being spent at Blue Sky, marketing and selling to associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside – whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).

How Associations Can Craft Their Data Integration Strategy

As any business or organization continues to grow, so does the volume and complexity of data they retain.

In order to turn data into something meaningful, the reliability of data is a concern for any association. The fact is that the future will inevitably invoke changes that will only make the process of data integration even more challenging.

Implementing a data integration strategy is crucial to avoid complications down the road and to help ensure that your association has the most accurate data possible. A fully-realized data integration strategy is important to the process of data lifecycle management, giving structure to the flow of data, and creating guidelines for how data will be maintained over time.

In order to take steps towards crafting a strategy for your association, it’s best to start with an understanding of the best practices of data integration and how this process can have long-term benefits.

What is Data Integration?

When you consider the sheer amount of data your association must contend with, it’s important to keep in mind that all of this information is rarely stored in a single database or format. Data integration is what happens when information from multiple sources is consolidated in a single location.

Organizations that utilize multiple software solutions often run into problems because these systems are seldom compatible with one another — leading to the complexity of consolidating data.

When an association adapts and grows, so do the demands on their information systems. Over time, data may take on different forms as priorities shift within the organization.

A proper data integration strategy must be flexible and adaptable to accommodate data of multiple formats, regardless of whether it lives in the cloud or on-premises. Essentially, this type of strategy aims to find solutions which deliver trusted data from a variety of sources.

Benefits of a Data Integration Strategy

One of the methods of making data both actionable and informative is having a central location where this information is easily accessible. Not all organizations have the same needs or amounts of data, but ensuring that all data is accessible is a universal concept.

The largest and most apparent benefit of having a data integration strategy relates to how easy access to data can lead to better decision-making. More importantly, data integration empowers associations with a 360° view of their association membership, leading to more revenue down the road.

For example, say your association is maintaining a membership database that hasn’t been properly maintained in several years. Working out of legacy systems such as these are not only time-consuming, they fail to provide proper reporting capabilities. When you also consider that data is not being integrated from multiple sources, there could be massive insights you’re missing out on because you don’t have complete visibility.

Another benefit of having a data integration strategy is that it can help reduce the complexity of your data. Data integration is about managing complexity and creating a simple method to deliver data to, and through, any system.

Lastly, the integration of data can streamline operations, increase productivity, and help forecast future needs for any association. Data integration is how associations can leverage their data to make the best business decisions for the organization as a whole.

Data Integration Best Practices

Despite all of the benefits of data integration, a report by Experian revealed that 66% of businesses lack a coherent, centralized data strategy. Here’s a look at a few of the best practices for data integration.

Start Small, Gradually Ramp Up

When getting started, the amount of data and considerations that come along with it can be somewhat overwhelming. The first place to start is by taking stock of all the different data sources your association has access to, while also reviewing your organization’s existing method of data collection. Provided that you have the proper data collection approach, you can then focus on where your data is coming from.

Establish a Systemic Data Governance Approach

Associations need to put policies in place that can determine a given set of data’s use, ownership, compliance, and anything else which may be relevant. The idea is to protect your data and ensure that as it moves from one system to another the policies are consistently enforced.

Keeping Up With Trends

Many years ago, some of the emerging trends included cloud technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and big data — all of which continue to be areas of increasing importance across the globe. The value of data will only continue to grow, and so will the complexity.

Staying cognizant of trends can go a long way toward adapting your data integration strategy to fit the ever-changing technology landscape.

Modernizing Legacy Systems

Older or “legacy” systems aren’t exactly future-proof, so it may be worth considering an approach to replace those systems with more modern technology.

You can start gradually replacing legacy systems since this is a lot less risky and allows your organization’s costs to be adjusted accordingly. On the other hand, if you continue with your legacy systems, you run the risk of utilizing a set of disjointed systems, applications, and processes that won’t be able to communicate with one another efficiently.

Diving Into Data Integration

Getting immersed in your data integration strategy will feel daunting at first, but the benefits are far too powerful for your association to ignore it. Your strategy for integrating your data is an essential link between information and insight.

Data integration frees up time to concentrate on analysis and forecasting while also contributing to the overall reliability and hygiene of your data.

The important first place to start is by assessing just how much data you need to be consolidating. This means not only considering data from sources such as your CRM software, but for any data source, as it can get quite complex with more systems thrown into the mix.

The ultimate goal of your strategy is to establish rules for how your data is collected, where your data is captured, what disparate datasets exist that your organization needs to connect, and what tools or services are needed to combine your data into a single database.

Author Bio

Christina Wells is Director of Corporate Marketing at Omatic Software where she leads demand generation programs to drive awareness and interest in the Omatic brand and product suite. Christina holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Northeastern University and a Master of Science Degree in Internet Marketing from Full Sail University. A self-proclaimed “east coast floater,” Christina is a Philadelphia native who now calls Charleston, SC home.

 

Personalized Learning: Who, What, and Why Does It Matter?

What if we were to say, companies like Netflix and Amazon are your organization’s biggest point of competition?

For some, this statement may catch them off guard and not quite make sense. However, contrary to common beliefs, your association’s primary competitors are not the other associations in your field, nor the for-profit training companies you compete with, or even the local organizations who make networking opportunities readily available to your audience.

Instead, your primary competitors are very likely the same companies YOU consume products from. They are the companies you enjoy working with because of the convenience they offer you, the intuitive and user-friendly experience they provide time and time again, the amazing way in which they always seem to know exactly what you are looking for, and the ways in which they continually engage you with new products and benefits.

So, whether a clothing website recommends new products to purchase based on what you’ve previously bought, a restaurant app is suggesting new restaurants based on where you last ate, or a media app is suggesting a new television show to watch based on what you were previously watching – personalization seems to be falling behind in the eLearning world.

This means that your audience may start looking to those primary competitors of yours who you wouldn’t have previously thought were primary competitors, because your members like their personalized approach. What can you do to make sure your organization remains an industry leader and a top provider of education in your industry?

1. Who

Your learners! Their learning behavior is changing. In our webinar, Professional Learning in the Era of Amazon and Netflix, we cover some of these changes. They include:

  • Binge learning and content consumption
  • Utilizing tools to save my interests
  • Expecting specialized content and generic content in one place
  • Provide what I want, when I want it (not when it is available)

Yes even though behaviors are changing, your learners will view the content you are putting out if they have a high interest in the topic(s). Yes, they will view the content you are putting out if there are credits or certificates attached that they need in order to keep their certifications or designations. However, they don’t want to simply know what they are watching or learning about; they want to know why they are. Provide them some context that makes the journey feel a bit more personalized. And the more learners you have viewing your content, the more likely they are to recommend it to others – adding another layer of personalization.

2. What

This might be an obvious one, but it’s tough to have an eLearning program without utilizing technology. What you might not realize is that not all technology is created equal and having the right platform(s) in place can make a difference in the personalized experience a learner receives. You can utilize your learning management system for things such as:

  • Courses – customizing your courses by adding a variety of different components rather than single pieces of content allows you to enhance the end user experience
  • Groups – allowing learners to follow specific curriculums and learning pathways based on their group permissions.
  • Discussion Boards – allowing learners to interact with one another and discuss different events, courses, and presentations.
  • Reporting – analyzing learner data and using this information to draw correlations between learners and content and changes and improvements that can be made to future courses.

While your LMS is very important when it comes to eLearning, there is a good chance your LMS is integrated with an association management system. Having an integration should immediately make a more seamless experience for your end user, and increase the amount of personalization they can receive as your association management system should hopefully be able to offer advanced personalization features such as:

  • Seamless access to the LMS through Single Sign-On
  • Early access to event registration
  • Exclusive invitations to events
  • Coupons for your online store
  • Discounted membership renewal

The best software can also apply variable pricing rules based on the details in your member profiles, which can greatly improve the member experience. All of these items, and more, will continue making your end users feel like they are getting that personalized experience that they have become accustomed to and are expecting.

3. Why (does it matter?)

To kick off the year, we had a company-wide meeting at our headquarters where our big focus was our “why” – as an individual, a department, and the company as a whole. By understanding our “why”, it enables our team to start the day motivated and be inspired to drive forward our mission. Just like a company’s employees need their own “why”, your learners do too!

While the “why” of learning is typically an easy one to realize, it is important to try and bring out a bigger “why” whenever a learner is taking a course. It will allow the learner to identify the higher purpose of the activity so that the satisfaction won’t just be for completing the course and receiving the certificate, but instead for increasing their knowledge and spending the time to become a more educated person in their field.

Taking that a step farther, the more involved someone becomes with the eLearning your organization offers, the more likely they may become involved with the community aspect of your organization as well. If your members feel a strong sense of belonging and allegiance to your association, potential members will be able to feel it – and they will want to be part of it. This close feeling of community is some of the best marketing your association’s membership program could ever hope for. Coupled with a personalized learning experience, you’ll be able to position your association as the industry-leader in your field.

While you plan out your eLearning programs for the coming months, make sure to pay attention to the level of personalization your platforms and materials are providing your members to ensure they will keep coming back for more!

Author Bio

Jocelyn Fielding – Director, Marketing & Sales Operations

Jocelyn is responsible for all marketing activities at Blue Sky eLearn, as well overseeing sales from an operational standpoint. She has over 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, with 7 of those years being spent at Blue Sky, marketing and selling to associations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. When Jocelyn isn’t working, she enjoys being outside – whether hiking or heading to the beach. She’s also an avid traveler, has been to six of the seven continents, and is always planning her next trip (or two!).

Here are the guest writing guidelines for Fonteva.

Guest Blogging Guidelines – Want to Blog with Fonteva?

Fonteva regularly collaborates with other websites within the industry to publish high-quality and educational articles. We gladly welcome the opportunity to share our expertise. Interested in us writing for your blog?

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Get to know our article authors!

Jake Fabbri

Jake Fabbri Headshot

Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

Cesar Devoto

Cesar Devoto is a Senior Sales Executive at Fonteva. Cesar has 13 years of event management software experience. Prior to working in software sales, he was a real estate and securities regulation attorney for 10 years. He has been cited saying the move to software sales was the best decision he has ever made… other than proposing to his wife.

Kevin Caiazza

Kevin Caiazza is a Senior Sales Executive with over 22 years of experience in the hospitality, meetings and events industry with 10 of those years focused exclusively on software solutions. He is responsible for leading partnership efforts with new prospects, deeply understanding their business needs, and sharing how Fonteva Events can help. When he is not working, his other passion is spending time with his 3 growing children Caleb, Samantha and Alexa!

Interested in writing for our blog?

If you’d like to write a piece for our blog, please reach out to Casey Goldman (cgoldman@fonteva.com) to get approval and make arrangements.

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