In a time of unparalleled isolation and social distancing, when nearly all associations have shifted their staffs to working remotely, cloud-based software offers the much-needed ability for us to connect. If we weren’t familiar before, we’ve certainly all used some version of cloud-based software in recent weeks to do things like attend or host webinars, enjoy screen share services, and send messages via software to coworkers, clients or friends.
But did you know that your association can also leverage the power of the cloud to communicate with your membership at a time when in-person connections are unavailable? Let’s take a quick look at how association management software (AMS) uses cloud-based technology, and how that can help your association achieve more.
To better understand how cloud-based software can be essential during times of crisis, let’s first answer the question: What is cloud-based software? In simplest terms, cloud-based software means that the product is accessible on-demand via the internet. This is opposed to “hosted” or “on-premise” software, where something needs to be physically installed and maintained at the user’s location. With cloud-based software, all you need in order to get into your system is access to the internet. You can be on any device, at any location – and as you can imagine, that approach has some distinct advantages in the current climate.
Having a cloud-based system ensures that you are always connected with web-based access to your association’s membership database and website. As we mentioned, the system isn’t saved to a desktop or server in the office, it’s accessible anywhere you can connect to the internet. If you’re working from home, that’s no problem. Your system login works on any computer or tablet that connects to the internet – even if you were notified stay-at-home orders so abruptly that you weren’t able to grab your work laptop. You can easily send out emails to target cross-sections of your membership, organize webinar registrations, manage dues and finances, and keep your website up to date from your home computer.
An equally important component is that your membership also will always have access. The basic functionality of most AMS platforms includes “self-service” features on a member’s profile. At any time of day, a member can log in to update contact information, check on or pay a bill, view past receipts, register for webinars, and more. This always comes in handy, but particularly so when offices are closed and communication with association staff may be more difficult than usual.
It’s worth noting that, many of your members are also at home, and they’re likely browsing the internet and check through their emails throughout the day – even during nontraditional office hours. This makes it the perfect time to keep your website up to date with fresh information and send relevant emails to your membership through your AMS.
Staying connected is the most difficult part of office closures and self-isolation. But with cloud-based software, those connections are always within reach.