Imagine that there was a radical shift in legislation in your industry and your members have to change the way that they do their jobs. They need to learn the new rules and how to follow them, and they need to do it quickly. So your association comes to the rescue with a cutting-edge training program to get your members up to speed.
You're ready, willing and able to step up and help your members, there's just one problem. Your cutting-edge training program is too expensive, and the association can't afford it. The CFO nixes the idea on the spot. It's members vs finances, and either your organization or its members will be let down.
There's a disconnect here.
Too often in associations, employees are either focused on business needs and finances, or they're focused on members and providing value. While these two focuses can and should work together, they often don't. It's one of the major problems that both associations as a whole, and individual employees, struggle with.
In an industry known for a dichotomy between the financial side of the organization and the front-line member engagement teams, it will serve your organization and your career well to bridge the gap.
With today's technology tools and tech-savvy members, bridging the gap is easier than ever before. Here are five secrets to impressing your CFO by becoming more financially-minded with your project initiatives.
5 Secrets to Impressing Your CFO
Secret #1) Monetize Content
As the center of your industry, your association already has content in the form of reports, studies, expertise, and tips, so why not monetize it? By monetizing your content you can increase both dues and non-dues revenue, which will win points with everyone in your association, CFO included.
Put Content Behind a Login
By putting some of your best content behind a login in your online community or membership management system, you turn that information into an exclusive member benefit. People will be motivated to join your association to get access to that content and its value, boosting your dues revenue.
Just remember to keep a few tantalizing pieces of content available to the public so prospective members have a preview of what your association offers. For example, you could give the public access to three blog article from a popular series for free, but ask them to become a member in order to access all articles.
Once the bulk of your content is behind a login, use your online community software to increase non-dues revenue from both members and non-members. Choose special interest group communities and online educational courses that people can purchase for an additional fee.
Learning management software makes it easy to build in these extra fees for eCourses, and online communities can be integrated with AMS softwware and payment systems to make it easier to gate entrance to certain communities.
You can further tailor these options by membership tiers. Depending on each member's tiers, they may get a discounted price, while non-members and prospects access to your entire content selection at appropriate prices. This gives prospects a deeper look into what your association offers and may help motivate them to join, increasing both dues and non-dues revenue.
Secret #2) Create a Virtual Membership Option
Many aspects of daily life are transitioning to virtual forms, including jobs, publications, and even membership. Today, organizations often create virtual memberships to extend their reach and generate revenue from people who can't, or are simply not ready, to buy a full membership. International professionals and students, for example, often get high value from a virtual membership.
If you have the tools in place, such as an online member community, then creating a virtual membership option for your association takes very little work. Just build out the benefits and what areas of your online community and AMS platform virtual members have access to.
Your virtual membership is another channel for dues revenue, and is a great option for improving finances. It works especially well if you already have a strong online presence with content and networking opportunities that provide value for virtual members.
Secret #3) Optimize for Mobile
CFO's are forecasters, which means they look forward to the future. They not only secure your association's current revenue, but they're consistently looking for ways to ensure future revenue as well. You can help safeguard revenue in the years to come by optimizing for mobile.
Even today, members are using mobile more and more. A new study from Fractl and BuzzStream found that today's millennials now use mobile almost as often as desktops to access content online. This trend will continue, so if you want to provide benefits and generate funds from online content and virtual memberships, your platforms must be optimized for mobile.
Optimizing for mobile is as easy as choosing platforms with responsive design. This applies to your AMS software, your online community, and the other tools you use to deliver benefits to members. With responsive design, your content is available on any device, at any time, ensuring that your association and its value remains relevant in the future.
Secret #4) Improve Data Collection and Presentation
Finance requires high quality, actionable data, preferably on initiatives that influence the money coming in to and going out of your association. The more data you can provide, the better.
Investments in technology, events, and other high-spend projects might fall in this category, so get quality data on how efficient your technology is, and how effective your events are. Are your events driving member upgrades and new memberships? By how much? That's something your CFO likely wants to know.
To improve your data collection and presentation, use the tools available in your member management software. Activity data, which shows what actions your members are performing online, might show recent transactions in your online store, and what blogs members are viewing. Use activity data to find out what content and benefits interest members, so you can create more of them.
Dashboards are another idea for improving data presentation, as they add graphs for fast, easily-viewable member snapshots.
Secret #5) Consolidate Systems
Increasing revenue isn't the only way to improve finances. Cutting costs is just as effective, and when you reduce the number of technology systems you have, you can decrease costs substantially, as well as increase efficiency.
Many associations have several different systems, such as an AMS platform, email engine, event registration system, online community, or survey tool. With the diverse tools in AMS and online communityplatforms, however, many associations can slim down their technology systems. If your online community has an email engine built in, why pay for a separate one?
Consolidating systems also helps keep data clean and ensure better reporting because your data lives in fewer places. It's easier to maintain data quality in fewer systems, and reduces the need to update or manually transfer information in multiple platforms.
Improving Your Association's Finances Takeaway
The key to impressing your CFO is to align the needs of members with the business (and financial) needs of your association. Focus on ways to bring in money, reduce inessential costs, and ensure your association's revenue streams have a solid foundation for the future.
When you combine these end goals with strategies that are easy and affordable to implement, you'll be well on the way to forwarding your careers and bridging the disconnect between finance and member-engagement teams.