Leah Monica

Leah Monica

Who Should be in Charge of Your Membership Database Migration?

interlocked hands

I get asked this question a lot by clients and prospects: CEOs and Executive Directors who are about to embark on a move to a new membership database want to know who should be in charge
of the migration.

My answer: Not IT. Create a small committee that includes membership, meetings and IT, maybe one more department. Let me explain.

When IT is in charge of a project, the rest of the organization often tunes out the project. They assume the project is way too technical and they don’t need to be involved.

But a move to a new database is just the opposite. The entire organization must be aware of the details of a move to a new AMS (association management software): why you’re moving, what the new system is, how the organization will benefit, the process for the move, staff responsibilities, requirements and testing burdens, and the timeline.

Membership should be involved because, well, it is THE membership database after all. Membership needs to define the rules for who gets to be a member, who gets tracked, what information goes into the AMS, yada, yada. Membership also needs insight into why and how people and companies become members, which the database should provide.

Meetings should be involved because for more associations, conferences and courses are a major member benefit and revenue source. The new AMS needs to support the various events your organization sponsors AND have a user-friendly interface that encourages people to sign up.

If your organization has other, significant departments that must be supported by the database (e.g., publications, sponsorship, foundation), then by all means, give them a seat the table. In fact, insist they be at the table.

IT must be involved because IT can respond to the technical requests of your new vendor. Questions like: what version of SQL Server are you on? How does staff connect to the database to run reports? Can we get an export of all the data? What does this field mean? What are the legal values possible in this field?

Create a small committee, give the members joint responsibility, make them jointly accountable, and tell them they all need to love the new system before it can go live. If you need to assign one ultimate neck to wring, you decide which neck that will be. I vote for Membership. And tell membership to play well with the other departments in the sandbox.

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

The Best Membership Database for Trade Associations

If you work with or for an association, you know that a key difference in association types is whether the members are companies or individuals. Associations that have companies for members are typically called trade associations. While MatrixMaxx serves BOTH trade associations and professional societies, we have some unique features that specifically benefit trade associations.

  • Each company record can have one or more primary contacts. The primary contact can manage not just their own individual record, but also the company profile, and the profiles of all people attached to the company. Primary contacts can also mark staff attached to their company as former staff, retired or deceased, as well as add new individuals.
  • Companies can have relationships with other companies, which means we can support complex organizational hierarchies, e.g., a company that is a parent of three companies, and is it self the subsidiary of another company.
  • Individuals can have multiple affiliations because we know that in the corporate world, John Smith can be CEO of a holding company, President of the North American division, and Trustee of yet another firm.
  • We know that in many corporations, a single person must manage travel and event registration for multiple people at the company. This is why our Group Registration module allows a meeting coordinator to register up to hundreds of people from a family of related companies, pay with one credit card, and indicate who should receive the email confirmations and receipts.

There are many, many other ways in which MatrixMaxx is uniquely suited to the needs of trade associations. We hope you’ll request a demo to learn more!

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

AMS Implementations are 20% Technology and 80% Governance

AMS Implementation Team Working Together

AMS Implementations are only 20% technology; the rest is governance.” Such were the provocative words by Thad Lurie, VP of Operations and CIO at EDUCAUSE, during the opening session at AMS Fest 2017 in Chicago earlier this month.

He made the case that with so many terrific and feature-rich AMS and CRM systems available to associations and non-profits, the success of an implementation and indeed the life of a system is no longer all about the data.

I couldn’t agree more. In our experience, it’s governance that ends up making or breaking an implementation. What makes up good governance?

  • Having executive sponsorship and interest in the project. When the person at the top is paying attention, a project gets resources, people pay attention, and things get done.
  • Having representation from all teams and departments on the implementation team.
  • Not viewing the AMS and the implementation as an IT project. Putting IT solely in charge of your AMS implementation is akin to making membership recruitment is an IT project because applications are processed online.
  • Being willing to change your business process to avoid costly customizations and to increase productivity.
  • Having people on the team who are able to make decisions about changes to business process.
  • Having a timeline that is aggressive, but not too aggressive.
  • Devoting time each week to the implementation so the project doesn’t get stale.
  • Having amazing project management on the client and vendor sides.
  • A strong commitment to initial and ongoing training.

The system you select must meet 90% of your requirements and it must support absolutely mission critical functions, like your special membership eligibility rules that are in the bylaws. But beyond that, the success of your implementation really depends on the people and processes you put in place to manage the project. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

Who Should Be in Charge of Your Association Management Software (AMS)?

During pitch and kickoff meetings, clients and prospects often ask me, “Who should be in charge of my Association Management Software (AMS)?”

Should it be the IT department? Membership? Finance? Meetings? GR?

In my mind, there’s no question that the Membership Department should ultimately be in charge. Why?

Because at its core, any association management software is a tool to track membership and custom applications, activities and engagement.

As a membership organization, if the membership team doesn’t love your AMS and feel ownership over it, they are not going to use it, they won’t be zealous about data integrity, and they won’t take the time to become expert at it and mine the data for trends and insights.

Of course, other departments should have a big voice during selection, implementation and management. The meetings department must have the features it needs to generate revenue from webinars, conferences and courses. IT needs to be comfortable with the security aspects of the system and be able to run more technical reports and configurations. The finance team must be able to get the accurate reporting it needs to generate good financial reports for the association.

In the end, good stuff happens when any “thing” has an owner. Let the Membership team own your AMS and see what happens to membership recruitment, reporting and engagement.

Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda
CEO & Chief Troublemaker

Is It Time to Add a Gender-Neutral Honorific to Your Forms and Directories?

I was in the car a few weeks ago when I heard a story on NPR about Mx, a gender-neutral honorific that is being adopted by many organizations because not everyone wants to identify their gender in the traditionally binary ways (e.g., Mr. or Ms.).


In 2015, the New York Times wondered if Mx has gained the same stature as Mr. and Ms.; two years ago, the answer was “not yet.” But in March of this year, HSBC began offering clients up to 10 gender-neutral honorifics, including:

  • Mx
  • Ind (which stands for Individual, meaning free of gender)
  • Mre (which stands for mystery)

The MatrixMaxx database has a free-form Prefix field. This field is free-form because while most clients use traditional honorifics like Mr. and Ms., some use formal Honorifics like Dr. and Excellency.

It will be up to your organization to decide whether or not you wish to adopt gender-neutral honorifics. The good news is that your MatrixMaxx database already supports it.