In the UK there are over 100 corporate bodies and membership associations that have been given the royal charter, a formal document issued by the monarch.
The purpose of any membership association is to bring together like-minded people, specifically those in the same occupation. Associations organise various events, a networking opportunity for members, as well as striving to set out guidelines and higher standards in a respective field and establish best practice methods. Furthermore, for students and new graduates, it can be a means of getting onto their career ladder and provide them with access to the relevant training, learning and educational material. In fact, regardless of what stage one is in their career, an association provides the means for constant support and opening of new doors for members if others close.
It is imperative for any membership association or institute to find the means of attracting new members to their organisation, whilst retaining existing members. This is usually the responsibility of a membership coordinator, manager or director.
A membership manager is in charge of (not limited to) developing strategies to retain and attract new members, organise events, assist members with any issues they’re being faced with, play an active role in recruitment and organise training programs.
Another side of their responsibility is all about administration and data management. They’re tasked with conducting periodic surveys and questionnaires such as member’s census survey and other annual or monthly surveys as required. Additionally, there is data to be collected when a new member joins an association, registering members for events and collecting feedback from members after events and training programs.
Moreover, there is some ad-hoc data management such as updating membership information to ensure records are up to date and managing member grievances through complaints procedures.
Understandably, managing and collecting large amounts of data is time consuming. Data that is collected from surveys, application forms and registry forms is usually manually typed out into a database or system and thereafter kept up to date.
Manual data entry takes up a lot of resources in time and administration cost as well as being prone to error. As a result an association is susceptible to making administration errors that can potentially negatively impact daily processes, causing grievances to their members. For example, a member may not get registered to a specific event or a new member application form may take longer than expected, if there are errors and delays in processing new members.
At an organisational level, it is in their interest to know and understand what members think of events, training programs and knowing the outcomes of census surveys as soon as possible because it gives them the platform to improve future events and training programs and make other organisational changes, if need be.
Manually processing all documentation simply does not permit this due to its slow and laborious nature.
Automated data capture is the means by which an association can eliminate manual data entry and its associate time and cost consequences. Using automated data capture, an organisation is able to process all surveys, feedbacks and training forms and applications quicker. This is because automated data capture eliminates the need for manual data entry, being able to get the data from paper surveys directly into a system or database.
As a result, an association can see the outcomes of events, training programs, and censuses quicker and process the application of new members faster.
A now much quicker turnaround time means the following:
- Changes can be made to future events and training programs immediately, allowing members to get more value from them. This extends to one-on-one mentoring programs.
- New members are registered and up and running quicker.
- Use census data to understand membership demographics and thus can target geographical areas, a specific age group or gender that current your association has slow registrations in. Additionally, identify strategies to attract these scarce demographic groups.
- Save costs in administration.
- Save time.
The end result is that your members are kept happy and your internal processes are streamlined and made efficient. A better run organisation means your current members are satisfied whilst providing the platform to attract new members and grow as an association.