4 Lessons I’ve Learned from a Decade of Membership Tech Projects

Dec 29, 2020

Most people have a love-hate relationship with technology. We love what it can do for us, but the set-up and maintenance can be overwhelming, costly, and – quite simply – just an all around “ugh” experience if anything goes wonky.

And yet, all of that worrisome stuff doesn’t diminish the importance of having great tech in place. 

I thought it might make sense this week to share some of the lessons that I’ve learned over the years as I’ve helped countless organizations make tech improvements with the aim of improving member experience.

Lesson #1: 

There is no perfect software. I’ve seen organizations paralyze themselves by having a list of requirements that is so long and so rigid that it’s simply not possible for any software to meet all of the criteria. 

At some point, you have to flip the way you look at software and think, how can I leverage what this tool does do, rather than dismissing it because of what it can’t?

Lesson #2:

If you are a small organization with a small budget – maybe you’re a volunteer-run organization – don’t expect the same level of customizations that you could have if you were a Fortune 500 company with tens of thousands of dollars to invest in technology.

It’s more likely that a web-based tool like Wild Apricot for membership management, or Mighty Networks for an online community, is going to be what fits your budget and your tech capabilities.

Lesson #3:

Never, ever, ever lose complete control over your tech accounts, especially your organization’s domain account (that’s what gives you your unique address on the web… the yourorganization.org – or whatever it is). 

Sometimes, as I’ve started working with a client, I’m able to locate the name of a point-of-contact, but that person is completely unknown to the current leadership. I’ve even had situations where not only does no one recognize the name of the listed contact person, but also the contact information is no longer functional, so it becomes extremely difficult to gain access to the account. 

This can be a special challenge for organizations without permanent staff – where the responsibility for a website gets passed from person-to-person as committee chairs change. 

Lesson #4: 

The right tech partner can save many hours of trying to figure things out yourself. Finding a partner who can show you the shortest path to what you want to accomplish is simply smart business. 


I could probably go on for hours on this topic, but I’ll stop at these 4 lessons because, truthfully, even remembering these 4 can help you avoid really big problems and prevent tech upgrades from getting stuck in the muck.

Technology is the focus of the collaborative content series happening on The Joy of Membership podcast right now. The first episode in the series was an interview with Alex Sirota from NewPath Consulting who talked about growing in the digital age. 

This week, Michele Clancy from the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (one of Alex’s clients) shared her organization’s story about leveraging technology to improve their member experiences.

Listen in on my interview with Michele here!

I’d love to hear from you, too, as this series is happening. How does your organization leverage technology in the delivery of your member experience?

Considering a Tune-Up in 2021?

Paying attention to the member experience that you’re delivering is so incredibly important in today’s noisy world… and a lot about what your members are dealing with has changed in the last year.

If you’re feeling like it’s time for a tune-up, I invite you to consider hopping into the Member Experience Makeover Program in 2021. This is my signature program for diving deep into your member experience and sort through what’s working and what’s not… what’s valuable and what can be trimmed out. 

The program is designed so that you can move at your own pace and you have access to me at built-in checkpoints all along the way.

You can find full details about the program here! And, of course, if you have any questions at all, I’m just a quick email away.

Let’s make 2021 the best year ever for your members!

Like this article?

   I’ll bet you’re going to *LOVE* JourneyCARE…  what is JourneyCARE?

Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

If you’re the type of person that is committed to providing an exceptional member experience and you’d like to attract, engage, and retain members more easily, you’ll want to check out the new software platform I’ve created to support you.

It’s called JourneyCARE, http://journeycare.app, and there’s a good chance that when you see it, you’ll realize that you’ve always wished for something exactly like it.

Come on over and check it out.  I’ll see you over there.