An Interview with the Wisconsin Nonprofits Association
The Wisconsin Nonprofits Association (WNA) is a statewide membership organization with the mission of strengthening Wisconsin’s nonprofits.The association provides public policy information and advocacy on nonprofit issues, access to education and training opportunities, technical assistance and offers a cost-saving package of benefits to their members. The association currently has over 100 organizational members, as well as many individual and for-profit affiliate members and foundation supporters.
Cividesk recently spoke with WNA to learn more about how they made the transition to CiviCRM and how their organization has benefited from using the database.
Originally, the association was tracking their membership using Excel spreadsheets. Many hours were spent updating current membership information, tracking address changes and adding new partners. Membership lists were maintained by three different staff members on three different computers and didn’t always match, especially regarding membership status. WNA wanted a solution that would store all the information in a centralized location and create a more efficient process for their membership renewal. They researched several different options and selected CiviCRM since it is open source, “easy to use, intuitive and the customization is excellent”.
After speaking with another association of nonprofits that recommended Cividesk, they decided to hire Cividesk to manage the installation, the configuration of CiviCRM and the integration with their Joomla website. They also liked the idea of the continued monthly support that Cividesk provides.
As part of the set-up, Cividesk delivered training classes on several modules. WNA staff found the database easy to understand, simple to implement and appreciated how the Cividesk training demonstrated a topic and then allowed the participants to practice exercises through a screen share program. Another benefit of the Cividesk monthly service is the access to online trainings provided each month. These classes are great either as a refresher course or to train new users when there is some staff turnover. “Cividesk has been really helpful answering support questions and are very responsive to issues we’ve had.That kind of responsiveness to clients isn’t always common in this industry”.
One of the main goals of WNA in implementing CiviCRM was to make it easier for members to renew their membership online.They also wanted the contact information of the member to auto populate on the renewal form. Cividesk created a member portal where members can login and renew their membership with a form pre-populated with their existing membership information. Additionally, when members log into the portal using their Joomla user account, if they have a membership in good standing they are allowed to access members-only pages on the WNA website that are only accessible to current members. Another useful feature of the member portal is when an expired member logs in, they are automatically directed to the membership renewal page and can no longer access the member-only pages. The organization also has an online membership directory on their website that is dynamically updated with membership information coming from CiviCRM.
Since WNA has rolling membership where members can join at any time of the year, they take advantage of scheduled reminder emails which go out several times before a membership expires, and then again after the expiration date, if the membership has not been renewed. Retention of members and renewal rates has been quite good using CiviCRM as their membership management. Another goal of WNA is to increase their use of the activities feature in CiviCRM to track interactions with members and other contacts and to increase member engagement.
The Wisconsin Nonprofits Association has been very pleased with CiviCRM and Cividesk services. “Cividesk is a great company. They know what they are doing and what they’re talking about, and they have the experience and team to make things happen”. The implementation of CiviCRM and a member portal has streamlined the renewal process for WNA members and centralized contact and member data. Now instead of spending hours updating Excel spreadsheets, staff can better focus on their mission of helping other nonprofits.