I'm currently the secretary of the New Zealand Political Studies Association. We are a small professional association (there are about 150 people in our mailing list) which basically disseminates announcements of interest to people who study politics in New Zealand, presents a number of awards for NZ postgraduate students, and helps fund and coordinate our annual conference. I am basically in charge of membership matters. My problem is, our membership records are a bit of a mess. Right now, we have a jury-rigged system involving a Google spreadsheet to keep track of new and existing members, but existing records do not allow me to tell for sure who is and is not a member (so our mailing list probably overstates the extent of our paid membership), and it is more difficult than we would like for members to pay their fees. So we've been looking into upgrading our system for keeping track of members and processing membership renewals and requests, and I thought that my (wise and discerning) readers might have some good ideas about how to go about doing this.
Ideally, we would like a system that:
- Allows people to become members/renew their membership and pay their membership fees online via credit card or some other means (a modest NZ$20 per year - NZ$10 for students).
- Allows members to update their own membership records
- Sends automatic reminders to people whose membership is about to expire
- Allows exec committee members to send e-mails to the entire membership or to specific "sections" (we have a political theory and a media and communications network)
- Allows members to register their interest in being available to the media or other people as experts in some particular field (e.g., elections, MMP, etc.) and makes the names, contact details, and fields of expertise of these members available in a searchable database
- Is easy to maintain and not too expensive
I've looked at a couple of membership software packages and a few other things (including Zoho Creator), but nothing seems quite right. We could also pay someone to set up a system like this (like a very limited version of the APSA website), though we have limited funds. Do my readers have any ideas about this? If you have any thoughts/suggestions, leave them in comments below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.