The Basics for Associations Online

In the next couple of months I’m going to do a few specific reviews of various association types relating to what they clearly do on their web site and online. There are a LOT of things that associations can offer their members online, but there are some fundamental capabilities that at this point – 20 years into the Web World – you would think associations would offer. Now not all associations – or their memberships – are the same, and the personality of leadership OR the general membership can have a great impact on what associations do online. But, we see the following as basic elements for association web sites:

  • Content Management System (allowing the association to use the browser to maintain the content of their site)
  • Contact Management System (basically an online member database which allows the association to email, and perhaps text, their management, and hopefully more than that)
  • Online Transactions (Allowing members to pay online for membership, event registrations and other items)
  • Social Media (allowing the association to use a forum BIGGER than their web site to present information of value to the association)
  • Members Only Area (there’s a lot of content members may want to access but shouldn’t be available to the general public – and it should be provided online that way)

Now, we’re not the only ones saying this. The marketplace is saying it loud and clear – if you look at any website software specifically made and marketed to associations, you’ll find this functionality.

Most of the time it’s best to manage all these functions together if an organization can, but money, time, expertise and focus can prevent that as a starting point – but it seems to me that eventually that’s where associations will be.

Next week I’ll be reviewing the nation’s State Recreation Associations with an eye on how they are doing in these categories, just as an example of how much difference you can find from organization to organization WITHIN the same industry field.