While I believe even the smallest association can benefit from an online presence, it’s still a strange new world to many groups. Fortunately, not only is it financially easy to support an association site, it’s also technically easy. The services and options described here at the Journal are chosen based on functionality, ease-of-use and cost.
So, why make the effort to go online? There are many benefits to both the association and its members. Here’s just a few . . .
- It provides a central location – accessible at any time – for organizational information such as by-laws, policies, upcoming events, membership requirements and costs and important announcements.
- It offers additional methods for distant members to participate in the association. By taking advantage of social systems like blogs and photo-sharing services, your distant members can stay up-to-date on association activities and post comments of their own. Free and low-cost online communications systems can even allow them to attend meetings.
- Your site will help attract – and keep – new members. Your site is working 24/7 to promote your organization.
- It provides an additional revenue stream for association publications. New publishing-on-demand services offer opportunities for developing an archive of association publications for members to purchase without requiring up-front expenses or the need to warehouse and handle the shipping effort.
- It can expand your research efforts. Sometime back, the Library of Congress posted thousands of photos to the photo-sharing site, Flickr, to learn more about them. Within days, millions of people had viewed and added comments to those photos. You may not attract millions of viewers, but you can make it easy for local and distant members – and the general public – to view content you’d like to learn more about and add their comments.
Is this too good to be true? Not at all. While you won’t jump into all of these services at once, it’s not unreasonable to set goals to move your association forward within a reasonable amount of time. This site will help. We describe technology options and offer suggestions on how they can be used. This is an interactive site so it’s easy to ask questions and offer additional ideas to benefit all of us. Your participation also increases your knowledge – showing you the power of this medium.