From the President: February 2016

Suzie Rodriguez

From BATW President Suzie Rodriguez:
I’d like to tell you about a big change that’s coming to BATW in approximately two months: our transition to a new membership management software company.
Here’s a bit of background. Large corporations and organizations usually have an Internet Technology (IT) staff that builds and maintains large, complex websites capable of handling every imaginable need of the parent organization.
Like the vast majority of small associations, especially small nonprofits, BATW doesn’t have the resources to afford IT pros; we rely, instead, on companies that provide software solutions to manage needs such as member enrollment and renewal, database maintenance, meeting invitations, and much more. The companies provide only; they don’t run the software for us. BATW volunteers do that.
We began using MemberClicks (MC) about 10 years ago. Back then, there weren’t nearly as many companies in the member management software (hereinafter MMS) business as there are now. After analysis, MC seemed to be the best choice available.
However, a decade later, there are far better options around. MC is, and always has been, difficult to use even for the most seasoned tech volunteers among us. In a world where software “friendliness” is valued, MC is the opposite. There are no drag-and-drop solutions, nothing at all is intuitive, and it is very easy to make mistakes when trying to accomplish a task. Two years ago we stopped using MC’s built-in invitation software and began using a third-party solution, EventBrite, because there were just too many time-consuming problems involved with sending invitations via MC.
One of the goals Laurie King and I had during our co-presidency was to modernize and upgrade BATW’s infrastructure. One result is our new website (parts of the old website had stopped working). A second goal was to move away from MC. Last summer, when Laurie began looking at MMS replacements, she enlisted the help of member John Williamson (a retired IT professional). They ultimately favored a company called Wild Apricot. It’s ranked the #1 MMS by Capterra, a business software directory company (MC is #8 in this ranking).
At that point, several people, including me, took Wild Apricot’s product tour. I set up a dummy BATW site, imported about 10 profiles from our database, and began trying things out. This software is friendly, intuitive and geared to regular people rather than IT pros. It’s got everything we need – once established, we’ll be able to send invitations from there, rather than from EventBrite. There are many advantages, including price, which is much lower than MC.
So what will this mean to you? Fewer problems with renewal and many other aspects of membership, and a much greater ease of use all around. Your profiles will have a more modern, streamlined look, too. And if you have to cancel invitations, it will be much easier than now. And that’s just the beginning. This software offers us many tools we didn’t have before.
For our volunteers, all tasks should be a whole lot easier. In particular, the renewal process has been extremely difficult and enormously time-consuming for our Treasurers; we think renewal will be vastly easier and quicker in the future. I’d like to thank former Treasurer (now Assistant Treasurer) Janet Wilson, and Treasurer Wendy VanHatten for their unfailing good natures in dealing with all the MC difficulties.
To cut down on transition problems, we’ll have an overlap period of about two months, continuing to run operations out of MC while we set up Wild Apricot. I expect the transition to begin in mid-March. By that time all renewals will be completed and the need for intensive MMS work will be at a low point, making the transition easier.
I’ll keep you informed as matters progress.
And for our second big change: Elections for BATW’s 2016 Board of Directors took place at our January 16 Board meeting (see results below). 
President: Suzie Rodriguez
Vice President & Membership Chair: Tom Wilmer
Secretary: Karen Misuraca
Treasurer: Wendy VanHatten
Programs & Events: Carol Canter
Marketing & Outreach: Laura Deutsch
Assistant Treasurer: Janet Wilson
At Large: Bill Scull, Ashok Khanna
Have a terrific February!


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