Making the decision to use online software for your website, sales, or volunteers is a great idea! Between computers in the home and office, and smart phones, almost all families now have reliable access to the internet.
We have put together a list of the key features and questions you should be asking when choosing online software. In addition to the top 21 questions we have listed below, don't forget to review their customer service.
Is It Easy?
Going paperless and online should make parents and board members happy with the online convenience and time saved!
Your membership, volunteers, and fundraising will only be successful if your online software tools are easy and intuitive for members. If you need multiple pages of instruction for members to follow to purchase a membership, you will lose their interest and participation – you need to consider a different solution.
- How easy is it for members to use?
- How easy is it for your board to keep your website updated?
- What level of computer experience will your site administrators need?
A Site that Meets Your Needs
Every club or organization has unique goals and activities. What are your organization's goals? To increase communications? To increase fundraising? To increase member happiness and member engagement? To simplify processes for your board members? Start with your goals in mind and assure that the software you choose helps you accomplish them.
- Can you customize your database?
- Can you customize your online site and forms so that it is consistent branding?
- Does the software solve only one goal or does it help you accomplish many goals?
Privacy Policies - Whose Data is It?
- Will the company sell or give your members' information to 3rd parties?
- Will they use their information captured to send them advertising from 3rd parties?
- Where is your data stored and how is the data transmitted?
- Can your members update and control information that is included in an online directory?
We believe that organizations should always control 100% of their content, including advertisements and sponsorships. Sponsor Programs are a great way to increase fundraising and we encourage all of our customers to consider a Sponsor Program as one component of their fundraising plans.
- Will the software company be advertising for 3rd parties on your website or contact your members with advertising?
- Will you have control over advertising?
- Does your Board approve using an online software company that will capture your members' information and then market 3rd party companies to them?
Money - Credit Cards & Security of Information
Board members have a fiduciary responsibility to assure that the organization’s funds are spent wisely. Before choosing online software, consider the following:
- What are the transaction fees for online purchases? There are companies that run “donation” programs for membership organizations and keep 40-60% of the donations. Your members make a donation of $100 and your organization only keeps $40 - $60. I doubt your members will think this is a good use of their money.
- Who is in control of the funds? Does the online processing company hold "your" funds for 30 days before releasing to you?
- Are donations made online tax-deductible? If you collect donations online and the funds are being deposited into a 3rd party account, are these tax-deductible donations? If you are asking members to make a tax-deductible donation, be sure you are within the state and federal guidelines for accepting donations.
- Secure connections - keeping members’ information safe. The website needs to have a SSL certificate to assure that personal information and financial information is securely transmitted. Never allow your credit card information to be transmitted over an internet connection that does not include an SSL certificate.
- Where will credit card information be saved and who will have access to it?
English As A Second Language
Over 60 million people in the US speak a language other than English in their homes. The good news – online forms, websites, and blogs can easily be translated. Can your website, online store and forms be translated into languages other than English?
Using mobile phones to access the Internet is becoming more common than using a desktop or laptop. It is important that you choose software that is mobile friendly. Websites and online forms need to be mobile responsive to make it easy for parents to read your website, sign up to volunteer, or make a donation – all from their mobile device.
- Is the online software mobile-friendly?
- When you pull up the online forms on your mobile device, are you able to easily complete all of the actions and find the information that you need?
At Membership Toolkit, we are dedicated to helping small organizations eliminate the busy work so you have more time spend on what is important. We have easy-to-use software that's all in your web browser--If you can type an email, you can update your site, send newsletters, and create online forms. Schedule a demo with us to check it out!