Usually, the best moments at a conference are the conversations outside the meeting room when you get to share ideas with other attendees. We decided to bring those conversations to center stage at this year’s Association Component Exchange (CEX) hosted by Mariner Management & Marketing and Billhighway. We invited 16 component relations professionals (CRPs) to tell us about their favorite chapter tech tools.
In this series of posts, we’re sharing their advice on chapter tech tools for:
- Collecting chapter information and data
- Providing resources to chapter leaders
- Creating visual content for chapters and chapter leaders
In this first post, we hear how five CRPs use tech tools to collect chapter information and data—and we get a bonus tool from CEX co-host Peter Houstle of Mariner Management.
Online form builder: JotForm
Cindy Anderton, director of affiliates at the Association for Vascular Access (AVA), recommends using JotForm to create custom online forms. She uses for:
- Chapter annual reports and tax reports (990N)
- Chapter membership applications and volunteer applications
- Event registrations, poster submission forms, and certificates of attendance
- Product order forms
- Board meeting RSVPs
- Expense reimbursement and time off request forms
Cindy sends her chapters a link to the annual report form and they submit everything electronically, including any document uploads that AVA requires. Her annual report form asks for information such as:
- Leadership contact information
- Social media account links
- Current dues structure and how the chapter collects dues so she knows what kind of resources they need
- Membership statistics including the number of chapter members, National members, and members with certification
- Meeting/event details such as number of meetings held in 2018, details of the chapter’s 2018 meetings (presentation titles, dates, speakers, etc.), and number of meetings proposed for 2019
- Names of members willing to help at AVA’s National conference
- Open space for additional comments, concerns, or questions
You could also use JotForm for calls for nominations, award applications, certification applications, and speaker presentation submissions.
How JotForm works
The JotForm library includes 10,000 form templates you can use to create your form. If you like another association’s form, you can copy an existing form from any JotForm user’s web page. Or, you can copy an existing form from your own library. Form layouts include one form on one page (classic) or one question per page (card).
It’s easy to edit a form. You can customize the form to your chapter needs by switching out colors and logo.
You can use IF/THEN conditional settings on your form. For example:
- IF Active Member, THEN Reduce rate to $75
- IF Pay by Credit Card marked, THEN Hide payment address field
- IF XX Option is chosen, THEN Send XX Auto Responder
You can customize auto responders (email notifications). For example, after an AVA chapter member attends an educational program, they submit a form for CE credits. AVA is notified by email and a certificate of attendance is automatically sent. On ASAE Collaborate, someone said, “You can set up email alerts so the person submitting [the form] maintains a copy and the person receiving receives a copy.”
You can export form data into Excel, your AMS or other systems. Think about the possibilities: you could upload form data to an AMS analytics module, Tableau, or another BI/analytics tool. JotForm also integrates with many third-party services like PayPal, Dropbox, MailChimp, and Salesforce.
JotForm has a freemium option as well as plans that go up to $99 per month depending on the number of submissions you have per month. A Collaborate user said,
“JotForm seems to always be on the cutting edge for their field—and they offer good support.”
Another online form builder: Wufoo
Wufoo (a SurveyMonkey product) is a popular choice for CRPs. Both Tanya M. Coogan, director of membership and chapter relations at the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and Christine Tipton, CAE, director of division services at the American Psychological Association(APA), spoke at CEX about Wufoo.
Wufoo is another online form builder you can embed in your website. Tanya and Christine use it as an alternative for (the dreaded) fillable PDFs. Instead of having to go back and forth with emails to chapters, you can get everything you need to know by using a Wufoo form.
Here are some additional ways to use an online form builder:
- Leadership contact forms and roster updates
- Online surveys, including chapter leader pulse surveys
- Chapter event support/promotion requests
- Speaker requests
- Award submissions
- Grant submissions
- Internal tracking functions
Like JotForm, Wufoo forms can be customized. For example, you can create a theme for each chapter. Someone on ASAE Collaborate said about Wufoo,
“We can embed forms in web pages, take attachments, and link to secure payment.”
Wufoo is so intuitive that any National or chapter team member can easily use it. It saves time because you don’t need to get IT involved. Since it’s web-based, it’s available anywhere.
Wufoo offers multiple price plans from $19/month. Tanya and Christine agree that it’s a good bang for your buck. They’re coming up with new ways to use it every day, and other departments want to use it now too.
Online form developed with the help of IT
Louise Burnette, MPA, chapter services manager at the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), told CEX attendees about a tool the AGA IT department developed for her team. For AGA’s quarterly chapter recognition program, their chapters voluntarily report what they’re doing and get credits (points) for activities and compliance requirements. Chapters used to submit this information via spreadsheets, but Louise’s favorite IT guy flowcharted the cumbersome process and wrote code for a new online form app.
The chapters go to the website landing page for the program and enter their data into the form. Their answers go into a database from which AGA generates reports showing the breakdown of credits by chapter. Louise said this program makes it possible to have better conversations with chapters. “We see their activities and know whom to ask about next practices. It’s also a way to identify who isn’t reporting.”
Granted, a project like this may be out of reach for associations without this type of in-house IT talent, but the concept is worth considering. Perhaps you can use your database’s form application or an online form builder like JotForm or Wufoo to collect data and export it to another tool where you can manipulate the data. Sit down with your IT team to see what’s possible with your existing technology.
Spreadsheets: still rocking after all these years
Wesley Carr, senior program manager of chapter and volunteer relations at the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), proved that low-tech tools still have their place. He uses a spreadsheet for his chapter engagement matrix.
This spreadsheet or matrix tracks each chapter’s activities at three levels of metrics that were agreed upon by chapter leaders:
- Minimum requirements (or “low lifts”) include the number of chapter activities, the chapter’s participation in global (RAPS) planning, and the makeup of the volunteer leadership team.
- Member engagement metrics track how well members are engaging with the chapter virtually and face-to-face. These metrics include the number of chapter activity participants, percentage of committee members who participate in chapter activities, and number of online community members.
- Aspirational goals represent metrics that are “nice-to-have” but aren’t necessarily required. They include the number of dues-paying members in the chapter community, year-over-year performance, number of unique chapter community logins, and number of people in the volunteer database.
The chapter engagement matrix and metrics were rolled out along with a training program for volunteer leaders. Sponsorships offset expenses, making this a sustainable program for RAPS and its chapters.
Bonus automagic tool: Zapier
Zapier is the category-busting tool that makes all of your other technology work even better. Peter Houstle, co-founder and CEO of our CEX co-host, Mariner Management & Marketing LLC, is a big fan of Zapier because it automates routine tasks by tying different applications together.
Zapier makes more than a thousand integrations possible. For example, with Zapier, you can use Eventbrite ticket orders to create Zoom webinar registrants. A member registers and pays in Eventbrite and then Zapier “automagically” creates a new webinar registrant in Zoom.
Here’s another example using Wufoo form entries to create MailChimp subscribers. First, you create a list in MailChimp for those new subscribers. A member enters their email address and other contact info into a Wufoo form on your website. Zapier automagically (we like that word of Peter’s) sends the new form data directly to that MailChimp list.
Collaborate users provided even more examples of how their associations use Zapier to integrate system data:
- PayPal with QuickBooks
- Microsoft Dynamics with MailChimp
- Salesforce with WordPress, Informz, and ON24 webinar platform
- Smartsheet with Trello
- netFORUM with Salesforce and Elevate LMS
A new tool won’t always automagically solve your chapter issues, but it certainly could help you save time by streamlining processes. It’s worth the investment of time at the front end so you can free up your schedule to work on more strategic tasks.
Stay tuned for the next two posts where we’ll share CRP advice about tech tools that make it easy to provide resources to chapter leaders and create visual content for chapters and chapter leaders.