Save Time with an Online Membership Management System
How moving to an online membership system can automate your membership and save you time
I still remember when I first started working with membership clubs I met a lovely volunteer committee of 3 people who were manually managing 2,500 members in an excel spreadsheet. The team explained to me how each year they printed 2,500 annual renewal letters and posted them to their members and then printed the 2,500 welcome letters ready to send out. Over the coming weeks they would start to receive thousands of renewals each with completed paperwork, changes of details and payments. Each time they received a letter it would mean:
- Manually updating their excel database.
- Pulling the welcome letter from the pile.
- Posting the new membership card and welcome letter.
- And then driving to the bank with the cash or cheque.
The cost of postage then also went up to $1 a letter which meant this whole process was also costing $5,000 in postage alone - not to mention printing and envelopes or time. They would also receive an average of 10% of their letters back marked “return to sender” as they did not have current address details. It was at this point they started exploring options of a better way to manage their club. I then worked with this organisation to implement Member Jungle and move them to an online membership system. They chose to do a staged approach and allow a manual payment option for the first year. Over the coming years they started to charge additional fees for any manual applications. Within two years the committee had completely removed the need for postage, manual database updates and also removal of cash payments, saving the committee hundreds of manual hours of work.
So how does an online system actually help save time?
Utilising an online membership platform enables you to empower your members to sign up online, pay by themselves and instantly be given access as a member with little to no intervention by you at all. It can allow your members to:
- Complete full custom application forms online.
- Buy extra items or make a donation along the way.
- Automatically receive their invoice and a welcome email.
- Plus receive details on how to download the app and start accessing member resources straight away.
As an administrator, you will simply receive an email to say that the member has joined and if needed, approve their application. No more manual paper forms, printing, postage, cash payments, or your members having to wait weeks for their membership applications to be processed.
When it comes to renewal time, membership management systems can take care of that too. You can automatically trigger renewal reminders to go out to your members when their membership is due to expire, prompting them to renew themselves online. Members can automatically complete their renewal application form, pay online and instantly receive the invoice and access to their membership for another year or longer.
An online or cloud-based member database will also mean that all of your members' details are updated and maintained in a live database that can be accessed from anywhere with internet access. It will manage a member's status, meaning a member will automatically change from “Current” to “Expired” when their term expires and they will instantly lose membership access until they renew. If your system utilises a mobile app, this access will likely apply to the app as well.
The time saving benefits of not having to manually email and chase payment alone can alleviate hours of work for a membership coordinator and the time savings don’t stop there. An online system can also typically allow members to update and manage their own demographic information themselves without the need for any administrative work. Members can login, change their address, email address or phone number from the website or app and it is all completely audited and updated live on your database.
Utilising an online membership system can also allow you to communicate with members a lot faster. Your member list will always be up to date without needing to manually manage information in multiple sources. You can easily communicate via email, or push notifications to your members if utilising an app.
The time savings don’t always have to stop here as well, often an online membership platform offers other features to help manage your club. These can include an online store to sell merchandise, online event management to sell tickets, and even an online course to help run courses.
All of this functionality can be driven by the same platform, which allows your members to log in and make the purchases online and access all of their own orders and invoices themselves. You can always still look after your members personally as an administrator but the option for members to self-serve at a time that may be convenient for them is always available.
We understand many volunteer organisations, in particular, are really struggling to move their organisation forward with the amount of hours that people are willing to volunteer diminishing. Investing in an online membership management system can really help maximise the time people have available so they can get as much work completed in as little amount of time as possible. Online membership management systems can also facilitate growth for your club, provide options to increase club revenue and help make it easier for members to join and engage with your club.
The story at the beginning was just one of so many membership organisations I have been involved with over the years who have saved so much time. It has often astounded me at the amount of work people have been volunteering to support their club. Seven years later the same people are still on the committee but now that they have their time back they can actually enjoy their club, as well as help manage it.
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