1.Membership list 2.??? 3.Non-profit!
October 21, 2014 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I've taken over a position as a general administrator of an artist workshop with 400+ members, and set myself the task of automating what is still a manual or paper organisation. Looking for advice on membership software and good practices - getting a bit lost among all the CRM options and features.

We're one of the largest artist collective workshop in Sweden, with 400+ members active in one or more of our 13 workshops. (metal, wood, electronics, print, etc.) Our current membership list resides in the invoice software, and whenever I want an updated list of emails I have to manually export it and import into either the email client or Mailchimp. I figure that while I'm at it, I might as well start from scratch with a more future proofed system and even expand on it's usability beyond a mere membership list.

The way we're structured is that each workshop has two volunteer overseers who manage each shop; email their users, arrange cleaning days, plan exhibitions. They need to be able to have an up-to-date email list at least, preferably an editable member account to update phone numbers, etc.

Some members are part of multiple workshops, so a way to add a "workshop to a member" rather than a "member to a workshop list" would be simpler to administer. (i.e. Not only a workshop page which lists all members, but a member page which lists their affiliations with different shops)

We have a board of directors, and committees for recurring events. We offer some courses and keep in touch with non-members, other workshops and press about events and opportunities and exhibitions.

A system which allows us to add fields as needs arise would be super. For example "picked up key %C at date %d".

Smartphone accesible, dedicated iOS / Android app a plus if it's well designed.

Swedish localisation is almost a must, but if it's doable I could translate the most important parts.

I wouldn't mind leaving Mailchimp in favour of either in-CRM mailing or using our own mail server (perhaps the CRM would could offer an LDAP or similar service for our desktop mail apps?)

I've read all the posts I could find here on CRM, and although the general consensus is that CiviCRM can be a monster, it could perhaps be wrangled into our monster. Looking over their demo site it doesn't seem all that user friendly though, and I'm worried about how easy it'll be for our volunteer overseers and board to use.

Of all the commercial/subscription CRM systems I've seen, all are focused on customer relations, sales and pledge drives, and although that is their intended use, it's not particularly important for us. But when searching for "Membership management" it's those sites and apps which show up, so I'm thinking that I could use one of them anyway, and just ignore the "conversions and deliverables" stuff.

Nimble seems like a competent system for managing members, and although I get an icky feeling from their social media thrawling for "contact cultivation," their way of handling membership information seems useful.

So, my questions are:
* Given the above requirements, would you recommend civiCRM as a membership management system?
* Do you have experience with Nimble or other commercial CRM which would serve our non-commercial ends?

Planning ahead, I'd like to introduce some other functions for our members and administrators, which might affect which CRM I'll go with if it can be expanded to cover future needs:

* Workshop wide discussion forum (Looking at bbPress which would integrate with our WP install)
* Todo / suggestions list for individual shops and the whole org (I'm using Trello but it'll likely not scale well - requires quite strict enforcing of how to use a todo-list, and separate login)
* Knowledge repository. Documentation of the work processes for machines, videos from exhibitions, contact lists for repair companies and routines.

I have a tendency to over-systematise when looking at these things, and some workshops are smallisch and informal and don't need a big digital support structure, but if I have it ready I'd be able to integrate a shop if the need arises. I feel that this would also help new members get involved more easily than today, when communications can be unclear and a lot of energy is wasted because someones suggestions for improvement are stuck in an obscure Google document or email.

Part of my job description is to expand the workshop as a whole, write grant applications and initiate new projects, so the more of the administrative stuff I can simplify the more time I'll be able to spend on evolving the organisation. So whatever solution I go with has to reduce the workload of membership administration, first of all, even though there'll be an initial time cost.
posted by monocultured to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know that it would meet all your requirements, but a nonprofit that I'm a part of just completed a search for membership management tools and we ended up picking Wild Apricot. It does a lot more than membership management!
posted by purple_bird at 9:08 AM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Purple_bird, can you tell why you went with that instead of the other similar ones? Any particular needs or expected needs that it's fullfilling?
posted by monocultured at 1:37 AM on October 22, 2014

We had a special committee find and evaluate options for us, so I don't know all the details. The main objective was to get our membership renewals out of the paper format. I think some of the reasons we went with Wild Apricot was their track record with similar orgs, that the system looked easy to use and that the people running it seemed really approachable. I got the impression that they're so nice you could call them up and chat about your needs and they'd tell you whether or not it would work for you.
posted by purple_bird at 4:02 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I should add that we're just ramping up using it as a membership tool but we're looking at using it for all kinds of things. It has the capability to host documents for you (for us, that might be newsletters, survey results, the member handbook) and for an events calendar. We're also going to use it for registration for a workshop we're putting on later this year. I think you can even specify some events to show to the public and others only to logged in members. Sorry I don't know more!
posted by purple_bird at 4:08 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

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