All posts by Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda

About Joanna Pineda

Joanna’s business card reads CEO/Chief Troublemaker for a reason. She relishes a challenge and introduces change wherever she goes. She knows anything is possible and that clients come to Matrix to hear "Yes", not "No." Matrix is purple because of Joanna. Staff like to call her JP.

Help, My Most Important Member Just Got Deactivated from the Database and The Importance of Data Entry Verification

The CEO of one of my clients called in a panic to say that the database deleted the profile of an important member. He was the primary contact at one of the association’s larger members. “Help,” my client said. “When I went to look for his number, his record was gone. This guy is really important. What happened?”

Turns out one of the association’s admins had deactivated the member’s record after receiving a bounce from a mass mailing. She had been instructed to do so by her boss and did it without thinking.

“Oh my God. I can’t have admins just deactivating important members! What can you do about it?” Well, MatrixMaxx has the Change History Report by person and by company. In MatrixMaxx you can also run a report of changes to primary contacts, titles, etc., so this association can and should be looking at deactivated records, changes in titles, etc., to see if any changes have far-reaching consequences for the association.

What we can’t do is stop association staff from making certain types of database changes, unless a client wants to invest in potentially costly programming to limit access to specific tasks.

You see, assuming you have the tools to run these reports, this isn’t a technical issue. As an association, you want to have clean data and clean data means cleaning up bounces. But not all email bounces mean a person has left an organization. It could be that the email server was having trouble that day; or it bounced messages after reaching a threshold number of the same email going to people at the same domain; or the anti-spam filtering didn’t like some words in your email.

Who the heck knows? All we know is that it’s important to review data entry changes to your database and to have policies in place so that certain types of database changes (e.g., primary contact leaving, big title change, move to a different state) get escalated to someone higher up in Membership or even to the President of the organization.

One association CEO and MatrixMaxx user runs the change history report once a month and sends congratulations emails to members who have just received promotions, calls members who have switched jobs, and contacts organizations when a key contact leaves the company. How smart is that?

BTW, this happened at Matrix Group last year. An admin who had not received proper training was given the task of deactivating people whose emails had bounced in MailChimp. The results? Some really important clients and consultant partners stopped receiving our newsletter and almost didn’t receive a holiday card. Yikes! Thank goodness we caught the problem and have since strengthened our database management training.

Don’t let this happen to you! Invest in data entry training that goes beyond the technical. Develop an escalation protocol to report important database changes. Tell your admins to escalate when in doubt.

Is it Time to Add Diversity and Inclusion Demographics to your Membership Profiles?

I registered for an ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) meeting a couple of weeks ago and was surprised that the registration form asked about my gender, race and ethnicity. It felt a little intrusive for ASAE to be asking these questions. But I dutifully answered the questions because I’m a proud Filipino-American.

This experience got me thinking. Today’s association executives are thinking hard about strategies to widen their reach. They’re looking to attract millennials and people from groups that have historically not been involved in the association.

I’m thinking about a finance association that Matrix Group works with. My Content Strategist, Elaine, and I are helping this organization create personas of their target audiences. As we always do, we made up names for the personas and made them a mix of genders and races. When the client saw them, he laughed and said, “I wish my association were this diverse. Truth is, most of our members are middle-aged, white men.”

Finally, I’m thinking about the trade association that’s looking to attract the next generation of leaders to its membership ranks. They next generation is comprised of Generation X, Generation Y and Millennials. They are less apt to join and they are more tech-savvy.

So how do we know that we’re making progress toward attracting new audiences if we don’t track the proper demographics? How will you know if you’re increasing the number of women in your committees? The number of minorities in your Young Leaders forum? Etc.?

I say it’s time to have a conversation with your Membership Committee and your AMS vendor about updating the demographics you collect. Your members may be reluctant to provide this information at first, but if you provide a respectful and well-reasoned argument for WHY you collect this data, I bet you’ll have at least some of your members filling out these fields. You can and should also fill in this data on the staff side, to supplement member-provided data.

Here’s to 2017 and to your association having more and better data!

Your AMS: What Doesn’t Matter?

What happens when you’re told that what you’re doing doesn’t matter? It’s part of your decision-making process! How can it not matter?

Gretchen Steenstra, Senior Consultant at Delcor Technology Solutions is the kind of person who poses that kind of question.

I got to catch up with Gretchen during the AMS Fest hosted by ReviewMyAMS‘s Teri Carden. Gretchen shared with me the session “she should have done” at the festival.

Her message? CRM vs. AMS doesn’t matter. Platform vs. Premise doesn’t matter. The current obsession with CRM and other tools and tricks is overblown.

Check out our Matrix Minute on what really is important when it comes to your AMS.

Training and Trust: Keeping AMS Data Clean and Correct

People get a bit intimidated by AMS implementations and integrations. I get it. There are a lot of moving parts, but with the right tools, team, and know-how, things can go really smoothly.

In the last blog post, I shared the Top 10 AMS Implementation Tips from Bruce Moe, ED at Missouri State Teachers Association because he’s so right about ways to make an implementation successful.

When he revealed Tip No. 8, Decentralize data entry, at May’s AMS Fest,  Bruce caused a sensation. Everyone in the organization getting access to the  individual and organization records? Madness!

But, as our Matrix Minute video will show you, it was brilliant madness.

Top 10 AMS Implementation Tips from Bruce Moe, ED at Missouri State Teachers Association

brucemoe-medLast week, I attended AMS Fest, an event organized by ReviewMyAMS that brought together a half dozen association management software (AMS) vendors and association execs exploring new systems.


One of the speakers was Bruce Moe, Executive Director of the Missouri State Teachers Association. MSTA recently went through an AMS implementation, and Bruce shared his top ten implementation tips. I loved his list so much I jotted them down to share.

  1. Put together a cross-functional team to be in charge of the implementation. A diverse team will bring different perspectives to the project, and team members can report back to the rest of the organization.
  2. Spend on technology as needed. For example, don’t limit the spending to the AMS project. You may need to upgrade laptops so staff can take advantage of new AMS functionality. You may need to upgrade your office connection to the internet.
  3. Invest in training and don’t stop. Staff who are trained in the system will be able to do what they need to do, and satisfaction with the system will increase.
  4. Make data hygiene a priority. Staff and members will trust the database only if it has good data. So put systems in place to make sure good data goes in from Day One. Get your vendor to put in good validation. Develop good policies and train to them. Audit data entry regularly.
  5. Ask for robust APIs. No single system will handle all of your membership needs, which means you’ll need APIs to connect all of your systems together. Develop use cases and ask your partner or potential vendor if they can accommodate your needs.
  6. Bend business process before bending the AMS. This is my favorite tip, btw. This is a fancy way of saying, “Rethink your processes and try to use baseline functionality before asking your AMS vendor to customize their system.” And please don’t try to replicate the databases and workflows from the old, broken system that you are trying to leave behind.
  7. Insist on “one truth” or the master database. Bruce said that when they started the migration process, they found a lot of rogue databases in Excel and Access. It’s hard to truly measure member engagement if data is not in one place, so he and his staff have worked hard to eliminate the rogue databases.
  8. Decentralize data entry. It’s impossible to have accurate, complete data if only a couple of people are responsible for data management. MSTA allows members to edit their own records. More importantly, every MSTA staff member has full access to edit individual and organization records because Bruce wants good, accurate data, and he expects staff to update the database when they learn of a change.
  9. Standardize processes and document them. You can’t have an effective staff training program unless you have defined your procedures and documented them somewhere.
  10. Stay current with upgrades. If you don’t stay current with your AMS, you’ll end up needing a major upgrade or reimplementation in the near future. Besides, keeping current means you get the latest security patches and new features.

Many of these tips sound so obvious but when followed, they will result in a really great, effective, low-drama implementation. How about you? What implementation strategies have worked for your organization?