Managing an organization can be a balancing act at best these days. You have new members to court and existing members to retain. You have funds to raise and dues to collect. You have budgets to fret about and an executive board who wants to know or see more of what you’re doing. You’re being hit by words like transparency, social media and budget cuts and you’re starting to doubt that it’s possible to be all things to all people.
Breaking down a big decision like entering into social media and bringing more efficiency to your business processes can be a daunting undertaking. Enter the Lesson of Three:
Establish what is important. What is your primary goal for your organization? Pick one and only one. It must be measurable, practical and attainable. Creating and offering a private online community by year’s end is a good example of a measurable, time-sensitive goal. Another is to increase annual online dues collection by 25 percent over year prior. That’s a quantifiable goal.
Figure out where you are. Assess how far off you are currently and/or how you plan to get there. Go to a quiet place and think about the goal. Be honest with yourself – are you on your way? If not, admit that and ask how far off am I from the beginning steps? What can I do to get back on track? What roadblocks are in my way? Maybe you have started checking out vendors who can help you with social networking or maybe you’ve already signed up on a free online community site but want more. What is left for you to reach the goal?
Ask directions. You know where you want to go – you’ve set a measurable goal. You know what it takes to get there – you’ve assessed the difficulties and have a plan in place. Now you have to make it happen – you must eliminate the obstacles in your path. Brainstorm ways in which to blast through them. Garner a consensus, if needed. Ask directions from people who have been where you want to go. Even if you don’t have any direct contacts who have experienced what you have, the Internet is a vast community of people willing to help instruct you and share their experiences. Look for referrals, look for a vendor who wants to be a part of your success not one who punishes you for having a robust online community through higher fees and licenses.
You, too, can accomplish much with minimal investment in an online community (for your members) that delivers powerful membership management features (for your admins).