Adopting new technology is a sometimes stressful, always necessary responsibility for association leaders. During the pandemic leaders rethought how they handled all aspects of their organization more than ever before. But technology is the key factor that continues to be impacted today by the effects of COVID-19 in our society.
According to Liane Radford of Dennison & Associates, due to the upheaval of the past years “organizations have started to change their mindset on budget, needing to get more flexible on what they spend.” The Community Brands 2022 Association Trends Study has also noted this trend, reporting half of all professionals say their IT budget will increase over the next year. Of the professional associations surveyed, 65% said they plan on having a flexible technology budget.
But why is having a flexible IT budget crucial for your association? Keep reading to learn both why and how to adapt a flexible IT budget to transform technologically for the better.
Four key features that make up your flexible IT budget
In a post-pandemic world, Gartner reports traditional fixed IT budgets aren’t working. According to Gartner research, more organizations are planning for multiple scenarios within their budgets. Having a plan for a challenging year enables your association to accomplish more as you plan to purchase new technology.
Remember, investing in new technology not only brings benefits to your organizational operations, but it improves the member experience. According to the Community Brands Study, there’s a direct correlation between innovative technology and member satisfaction. Members who view their associations as early adopters of tech are 72% satisfied with their organization and are more likely to stay connected, renew membership, and promote their association.
Here are the four features that should make up your flexible IT budget:
1. Association Management Software: Your association management software (AMS) is the main technology your organization will need to upgrade if you feel your current software isn’t connecting you to all areas of your organization. An AMS should help your association manage membership records, optimize marketing and sales efforts, streamline communication campaigns, and other important office tasks.
If your current software fails to meet these requirements, or is built on a legacy system, it’s time to consider a new AMS. Not upgrading to a modern AMS, can lead to wasted opportunities due to pricey customizations. While the upfront cost for an AMS might be more expensive than you initially expect, in the long run, purchasing new technology will save you money. Therefore, having a flexible IT budget is key.
TECH TIP: With Nimble AMS, get more bang for your buck with free continuous upgrades, while also ensuring your association is always using the latest technology. Because Nimble AMS has continuous upgrades, you’ll never experience costly or unexpected upgrades, saving your association money over time.
“As an Executive Director it is huge to not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on outside consultants just to make sure things don’t break with every upgrade. I can now spend that money on value-added things…That was impossible in our old system,” says Bruce Moe, Executive Director of the Missouri State Teacher Association and Nimble AMS customer.
2. Learning management system: Consider adding auxiliary software like a learning management system (LMS) to your association. Doing so will help provide great member value, enhancing the member experience. According to the Community Brands Study, certifications and credentials are the fourth most important member priority. When choosing an association, Gen-Z members specifically search for organizations with education and professional development opportunities.
Offering an education program based on an innovative LMS is a fantastic way to bring in non-dues revenue to your association. Because members want learning content, they’re willing to pay for the training opportunities. Investing in this auxiliary technology will pay for itself over time.
TECH TIP: Keep your IT budget flexible so you can integrate Nimble AMS with Crowd Wisdom, a Community Brands LMS. Crowd Wisdom will help to level up your current education program by offering online learning content with a personalized member experience.
3. Career management software: Adding flexibility to your IT budget allows you to purchase career management software to add more value to your association. Individuals join associations for industry insights, job boards, career fairs, and recruitment guides. Buying career management software also ensures non-dues revenue for your association in the form of career events, employer fees for job boards, and sponsorship fees for recruitment guides.
“Not only has YM Careers been a great source of non-dues revenue, but it’s also been a valuable resource for our members,” says Rachel Daeger, Communications Director of Raybourn Group International.
4. Event management software: Your AMS will likely help you organize the pertinent details for your routine association events. However, if your organization plans any major events like an annual conference or convention, consider adopting software to help take your event to the next level. Event management software offers countless solutions for exhibitor management, lead retrieval, floorplan management, onsite event check-in, and attendee tracking. Showcasing more opportunities with your event management software is also a great way to boost association non-dues revenue.
TECH TIP: Consider keeping your IT budget flexible to integrate Nimble AMS with Expo Logic, Community Brands event management software. With Expo Logic you’ll have the power to create a seamless attendee experience from beginning to end with a robust series of events solutions.
“Expo Logic has revolutionized our process…People start off with a positive experience and are happier and more satisfied with the meeting overall. Plus, our staff is happy. There is no need to work weekends anymore and we’ve saved weeks of staff time and expense,” says Erik Brown, Database and Registration Manager of Association of American Law Schools.
Learn more about the importance of a flexible IT budget for your association
As you approach your next technology purchase, ensure your association has a flexible IT budget. Learn more about how to prepare your association for a new technology purchase by viewing our on-demand webinar: Technology Assessment Checklist for Today's Association Professional.