July 30, 2014
TRENDS Attends: Technology initiatives in nonprofits

By Rhonda Lees | 10/24/2013

Association TRENDS

A TRENDS Live Breakfast this week focused on Technology Initiatives in Nonprofits, with Tom Lehman of Lehman Associates, discussing technology as strategy, and Keith Moulsdale of Whiteford, Taylor and Preston providing an update on the legal issues surrounding technology.

Not too long ago, IT was viewed as an expense. Technology allowed companies to educate members, utilize office software, and track dues quickly and automatically. With today’s technology options, which will themselves give way to newer, better, and faster selections, an association can engage with constituents at the member and community level, and not only with a personalized message but one that can be adapted based upon the type of device a member is using, and where.

The ability to personalize messaging is the result of a number of trends:
1. Association Management Systems allow organizations to customize the solutions without changing the code.
2. A strategic model that uses content, collaboration and email can engage members in essentially a one to one experience.
3. The data collected allows for predictive analysis.

Although the lines between Customer Relationship Management and AMS are blurring, it was noted that associations favor the CRM within the AMS model, allowing deeper engagement with constituents, and better matching of interests and expectations. Data analytics, increasingly provided by third parties, turn the raw data into actionable intelligence that can enhance the meeting registration, email marketing, advocacy or operations experience, and provide analytical and operational dashboards.

Integrating technology into an Association’s Strategic Plan will help the Association position itself for future growth and increased value to members.

But enhanced technology comes with increased risks.

Cybersecurity is a major and real concern. Associations are not immune to breaches of personally identifiable, health, or credit card information. A number of federal and state laws, some of which are inconsistent, come into play when there is a breach. Most associations look to the state with the most restrictive laws, currently Massachusetts, to set their security policy and procedures. These data requirements include risk assessment, secure user authentication protocols, secure access control measures, appropriate vendor safeguards included in contracts and regular monitoring. The written security policy, for example, needs to include the Association’s physical, technical and administrative safeguards, as well as breach notification policies, record retention, and the security procedures of vendors and contractors. If the data is collected or maintained outside the U.S., there are even more laws to follow. Even beyond the issue of compliance, associations care about public image and member’s opinions, and want to ensure that data is protected.

Maximizing technology can enhance the member’s experience with the association. By focusing on security of data at all levels, associations can continue to serve their members and maintain their trust.

Rhonda Lees, Esq. American Diabetes Association rlees@diabetes.org.


Association TRENDS