Give Your Members the Power

Allow members to self-service their own profile

The administration of an association is no small task. Doing it well requires diligence, commitment, patience and sharply focused attention to detail. However, even with a hall of fame roster of administrators, as your membership grows, even they will become overwhelmed by the incredible volume of effort required to effectively service members.

If your administrators are being exclusively utilized as button-pushers and paper-shufflers, spending all of their time entering and processing data, your association will have an end date. This approach is not sustainable.

The role of administrators in the overall success and growth of your association is invaluable. Administrators are the most direct connection between the association and members. They are the gateway to the contentedness or dissatisfaction of members and their perception of the value your association provides.

It goes without saying that the crucial data members provide needs to be entered into the system. However, if that’s all administrators are able to accomplish – because they are inundated – any positive perception members have of your association will eventually dwindle. Members need meaningful and consistent interactions with association representatives if a healthy community is ever to be stimulated. What you really want is members freely and frequently connecting and interacting with fellow members. But, this will not happen unless that environment is first encouraged by administrators, who create an active forum of discussion and cooperation.

The key is to free up administrators so they can take on this community-nurturing initiative in a purposeful way. You could hire more administrators so you have more resources to throw at your growing membership. However, that will only be a temporary solution and it is not cost-effective.

What you should consider is investing in an AMS – or, if you already have one, leaning on it a little more. If your member management system isn’t taking a load off the shoulders of your administrators, you may need to consider another option. The AMS you implement should empower members to complete certain processes on their own. This way, administrators will not become bogged down in monotonous tasks that can be easily accomplished by members with just a couple of clicks.

So, what tasks should your AMS empower members to complete themselves? The following are a few of the processes that members should be able to (and made to) fulfill on their own – that administrators can take a hands-off approach to.

Member Registration
Any prospective member of your association should be able to easily sign themselves up to your association. Whether sign-up occurs within your website or via a portal that generates your association management system, it should be clear to the prospective member the steps they need to take to fully register. If sign-up is confusing or unclear, the inquiring party may become discouraged and change their decision to join. Furthermore, administrators should not be made to collect a prospective member’s information to register their account for them. In this day and age, this analog approach is unnecessary. People are very used to and accepting of sign-up processes. Registering to online accounts has essentially become second nature in this digital age. So, prospective members will not be bothered or feel inconvenienced in conducting registration themselves, since it is such common practice.
Event Registration
Once an event invite has been sent out from your AMS, members should be able to easily RSVP and register to the event without any support from administrators. Within the invite should be clear instructions on how to register for the event. From there, registration should be just a couple of clicks away. All steps toward registration should be clearly marked and visible. And, once the member is registered, they should receive an auto-generated message providing them with the event information and details. All of this should be able to be accomplished by the members – on their own – leaving administrators to logistically plan for a success association event.
Whether a member is making association dues payments, investing in courseware provided through the AMS, paying for content behind a paywall or making registration payments to attend an event – the process of making payments should be able to be completed by members. Having members send information to administrators, so that they can submit their information (on their behalf) into a manual payment process is slow, disorganized and archaic. There is no reason why members can’t make payments themselves. What’s more, with perceptions on privacy as they are in our modern online world, members will most likely want to handle payments on their own anyway, since it involves personal and sensitive information they will want to share as little as possible. Frankly, if your association doesn’t have a system that allows members to make payments on their own, it may dissuade some from becoming members in the first place.
Profile Information Entry
Members should be able to curate their own profile and account details on your association’s member management system. Whether they want to add organizational positions, professional experience, educational background or training and credentials – any profile details should be able to be entered by the member themselves. Administrators should have the ability to review and deny changes if necessary, but on the whole, members should be able to manage their own profiles satisfactorily.
Course Completions
When e-learning courseware is added to your AMS, members should be able to access, register to and complete those professional development programs without having to go through administrators.
Document Uploading
Members should be able to upload documents to their account or to share through the AMS with other members, without having to send them to administrators to upload for them.

All of these processes should be simple and quick enough for members to accomplish on their own. If your AMS allows empowers your membership to complete the above, this is quite a bit of time being recovered for administrators. Admins can repurpose this time to have healthy interactions with existing members (building the strength of the association’s community) and take on initiatives to continue growing the membership.

Give your members power through your AMS. We should not only depend on administrators to build a strong community. We must also draw on those you make up the membership to contribute to an optimized association environment.