Your association has a lot to do, no doubt about it. Between recruiting new members, hosting events, making sure your current members are happy, and providing other valuable resources to your community, your whole team is busy!
Finding ways to save time can be difficult, but it’s not an impossible task. When you’re able to make your employees’ jobs easier, you can give them the time and freedom to get more creative with other aspects of their careers and provide more value to your members.
In addition to making your team run more efficiently, it also increases the satisfaction that your employees find in the positions and lowers staff turnover.
The most important things to keep in mind for saving time are the basic principles of efficiency: use the right tools, spread the responsibility around, and don’t waste time on repetitive tasks. This is true whether you’re cleaning up your own house or managing a national association!
To help you save your employees’ time at work and give them the opportunity to dedicate their brainpower to the tasks that need it most, we’ll take the three main principles of efficiency and break them down. Then, we’ll show you how you can apply these principles to your own association to start saving time today.
The principles of association efficiency are:
- Start with the right software.
- Involve your members.
- Automate what you can.
If you’re ready to get started saving time for your association’s employees, let’s dive in!
1. Start with the right software.
You wouldn’t try to mop your kitchen floors with a broom. The same principle applies to the software that you use for your association. Your association (and its employees) should be equipped with a software solution that can help them in a variety of ways.
Your software should be easy to use, integrated with your other software solutions, and cloud-based. In order to see what each of these features does for your association, let’s break each one down further.
Easy to use.
The first thing to consider about your association’s software is whether or not it’s easy to use. Your employees should be able to customize their dashboards, easily find the data that they use on a regular basis, and communicate with each others and members without difficulty.
Having software that makes using it simple will save your employees time. If you’re not sure, send out a questionnaire to gauge your workplace’s feelings on the software you use. If the general sentiment is positive, keep it. If your employees feel as though it hinders them from completing their job effectively, try something new.
Integration capabilities are a crucial aspect of your time-saving software strategy. Think about it: wouldn’t it save your employees so much time and frustration if data from one software solution, like your membership management software, flowed immediately to your financial reporting software?
Not only would it save your employees time by removing the need to manually export and re-enter data, it would prevent any accidental mistranslations from one software to the other and keep your data that much more accurate across the board.
Is your association’s software cloud-based? In other words, is it accessible from the internet? Cloud-based software may seem like it would be less reliable than locally hosted software, but that’s not the case anymore.
Think about Salesforce, which is the CRM (customer relationship manager) that Fonteva is built on. It is a cloud-based software, but it’s trusted by over 150,000 customers and has minimal downtime.
Cloud-based software is more efficient for your association because you don’t have to worry about securing and paying for on-site maintenance of your hardware. With a cloud-based solution, the company responsible for the software will maintain it from wherever their offices are, maximizing system uptime.
Starting with software that empowers your employees to take control of their own time and data will save your association time overall. Your employees can’t save time in their day-to-day processes if their software slows them down.
If you’re not currently using an association management software, don’t fret. Check out Re:Charity’s list of their favorites to help you make your decision.
2. Involve your members.
Your association thrives because of the work of your employees, but it’s not a one-man show. Your members are a key part of your association and should be treated as such. In order to save your association’s employees’ time, get them involved in new ways to empower them to own their engagement with your association.
Our suggestions for getting your members more engaged and saving your association time are to encourage members to use all features of your software and get members involved in different employee projects. Let’s take a closer look at these ideas!
Increase software awareness and use.
Your software isn’t only to make your employees’ lives easier! It also works to connect your association’s offerings to your members. In order to save the time of your employees, make sure that your members are prepared to use your software to its highest capabilities.
For example, instead of asking your employees to track down every member and check the accuracy of their contact and employment information, ask them to confirm the information themselves. Your membership management software should give them the opportunity to access and update their member profiles on their own.
Instead of keeping your employees on call all the time, create a series of documents detailing how to fix common problems like signing into your association learning management system or upgrading or downgrading their membership tier. Then, link to these documents in a visible place. This ensures that only the thorniest problems get to your member service staffers.
Get members involved in employee projects.
A large part of your employees’ time may be spent trying to garner enough feedback to analyze issues and enact useful solutions. Instead of relying on your employees to use all their time chasing answers, reach out to the most engaged members and get them involved.
A key tactic for delegating tasks and increasing efficiency is by reaching out to experts in individual subjects to weigh in, instead of asking someone to do everything. And who else would be an expert in member satisfaction than a member?
Include a member on your association’s board or in different action groups to keep your thumb on the pulse of your member community. By involving an actual member of your association every step of the way, you can more effectively use employee and member opinions to shape your strategy.
Your association’s employees don’t have to be responsible for everything. Become comfortable with delegating tasks and responsibilities to different members that are engaged with your association on a higher level than most.
You’ll save the time of your association employees as well as promote a stronger relationship between your association’s staff and membership population!
If you’re looking to find a better membership management system that empowers your members to get involved, check out Fonteva’s guide to the essential features.
3. Automate what you can.
The final step in saving the time of your association employees’ is to help them avoid spending their time on repetitive, low-effort work. If your employees are freed up from things like email follow-up, they’ll have more time to dedicate to thornier problems in their day-to-day routines.
Let’s lay out some examples of ways that you can automate the tasks of your employees so that they’ll have more time for handling other tasks.
Membership renewal follow-ups.
Encouraging your members to renew their memberships is a large part of your association staff’s job. Your association relies on your members paying their dues in order to provide events, networking opportunities, and continuing education.
Instead of asking your employees to manually follow up with each member as their renewal deadline approaches, automate an email campaign through your membership CRM to do the reminding for you!
For example, draft an email that will include all the relevant member data from your CRM, and set it to be sent out 90 days from the member’s renewal deadline. Write a separate, more urgent email to be sent out 60 days from the deadline. Write another, even more urgent email to be sent 30 days out, and so on and so forth.
With this system in process, your employees only have to reach out to those who don’t renew by the deadline after all the reminders. They can talk to the member about why they do or do not want to renew their membership, and hopefully convince the member to stay.
Plus, with the renewals being automated based on information in your CRM, you never have to worry about a member being forgotten through pure human error during renewals season.
Marketing for events.
When your association has an event coming up, your employees are going to be busy as bees lining up panels, organizing networking opportunities, and managing registration and payments. They’re not going to want to follow up with your association’s entire population to ensure that you get everyone on the list!
If you can automate your marketing tactics to your sure-bet attendees, you’ll be able to dedicate more time to converting more curious members into passionate attendees.
Segment your member population by attendance history, proven interests, and region. Then, automate your email and social media invitations to these groups by drafting messages to them encouraging them to register for your event.
When you don’t have to think about sending out email invites on-time, your employees will have more time to make your event the best it can be.
These are only two ways to automate your employees’ repetitive processes, but they represent a whole lot more. When your employees spend less time sitting at their computers alone and more time working as a team to solve big problems, everyone wins.
If your employees are able to spend less time on low-effort, high-volume tasks and more time on the high-effort issues that demand a lot of brain power, they’ll be able to solve problems more quickly and use their creativity and critical thinking skills for your association.
Saving your employees’ time across the board is crucial for your association’s future growth. If they’re spending all their time maintaining your marketing tactics and member retention numbers, they’ll never have the time they need to brainstorm ground-shaking ideas for the future of your organization.
By following smart time-saving solutions, you effectively give your employees—and your association!—more hours in the day.
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 event.