Monday, March 16, 2009

How Can Smaller Non-profits Better Use Technology?

20 years ago I founded a small nonprofit. It wasn't easy. I used the computer at my church since I didn't own one. I enlisted my children to stuff envelopes. I created the newsletter on a Brother electronic typewriter. And I spent $80 of my own money to get a Post Office box. There was that incident where I accidentally erased the Wordperfect file that had all the members and donors information on it and I went home, sat at my kitchen table and cried. Luckily I had the hard copy record but it took me hours and hours to re-create the file. I certainly could have used something like ClubExpress back in the day. Dan Ehrmann, President of ClubExpress, saw the need of small nonprofits without sophisticated IT departments to manage their information, renew members and maintain their data and he figured out a way to meet it. Bunnie

How Can Smaller Non-profits Better Use Technology?

Dan Ehrmann
President, ClubExpress

In the US alone, there are more than 500,000 smaller membership-based organizations with fewer than 5000 members. Every one of us belongs to three or four such groups, whether it’s a running club, a mother’s playgroup, a local chamber of commerce, a fraternity or alumni club, your homeowner’s association, a professional or trade group, or your community Rotary club.

Most of these clubs and associations are run by volunteers who work within limited budgets, sometimes only a couple of thousand dollars per year. They face continual challenges managing memberships and renewals, organizing events, communicating with members and raising funds to support programming. Very few clubs spend time growing the organization because they spent all the available time running the organization. A small group of officers face problems attracting other volunteers to take time from a busy schedule to work on club activities which are often boring and mundane (for example, stuffing envelopes). Expertise is always a problem; not every group has an experienced web designer or accountant on the membership roster, and few have the resources to hire professionals.

The typical club has a membership database in Excel, mailing labels in Word, a static web site, and a printed newsletter. Few have an interactive web site although almost everybody wants one. They charge between $25 and $100 per year for membership, with few other sources of funds. When the group’s board members change, the new team often struggles to ensure continuity as data and files are transferred from one person/computer to another. And what happens when the membership director is on vacation and others need to get access to this data, or his computer dies and the club discovers that there is no current backup?

ClubExpress was designed to solve these problems. ClubExpress is an Internet-based platform for club and association management which was designed specifically for smaller clubs with a limited budget and where the people who run the club are not professional web designers.

ClubExpress starts with your club website and the tools to build and maintain the site. If you know how to use a word-processor, you can pick up ClubExpress very quickly; no programming experience is required. ClubExpress includes all of the tools needed to build web pages, upload photos and documents, and configure an event calendar, committees, interest groups, surveys, discussion forums and a storefront to sell club merchandise through the site.

Your association’s membership database is securely built into the website and every member has their own username and password to login and update their own information in the database. New members can sign up through the website and the system automatically handles renewals and expirations. The website includes areas for the public, for members-only and for adminstrators. ClubExpress supports family and business memberships with multiple people under one account, and the platform also supports chapters, districts and regions for larger clubs with multiple locations.

ClubExpress includes credit-card processing for memberships, event registrations (for both members and non-members), donations, and storefront purchases, with the funds deposited directly into your bank account. Or an administrator can record check or cash payments. ClubExpress includes multiple levels of security and we automatically handle backups, web hosting, email accounts and Internet access. So now your data is securely and reliably available at any time to any authorized user, which also really helps with continuity.

The platform includes a full suite of administration tools to run the organization. More than 120 reports and 20 data exports are built in, most with extensive filtering capabilities. Most importantly, there is no advertising and clubs own their data at all times.

ClubExpress charges a one-time setup fee and a low monthly fee based on the number of members in your organization. There is no long-term contract so you can cancel at any time. And this fee includes unlimited support for admins and members! If your members have a problem logging in, renewing their memberships, registering for an event, updating their profile or making a payment, they can call us.

ClubExpress has been in business for more than 5 years. Hundreds of clubs and associations use the system to manage their complete front-office and back-office, allowing the board to focus their energies on the three things that every membership-based non-profit cares about: 1) how to reduce the time you spend managing the group so you can spend more time focused on the mission; 2) how to create a richer experience for current members to increase retention; and 3) how to attract new people, building membership and strengthening the vitality of the association.

For more information, visit
Or call (866) 457-2582


  1. Thanks ever so much, very useful article. If you do not mind, please visit my article related to travel to Pandeglang district in Banten, Indonesia at Kenali dan Kunjungi Objek Wisata di Pandeglang

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  2. Nowadays, technology makes everything easy. We have Google Docs to keep track of everything, no more crashes.

    ClubExpress is a nice tool to keep everything together :)

  3. I recommend that they find a simple yet effective nonprofit software to help them stay organized and track performance.

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