Helping the Greensboro Association Go Online
Over the last few years, I have worked with a number of larger associations to modernize their online experience and build and enhance community among their membership. With the advent of web 2.0 and social media, these associations recognized that to sustain their membership and attract new members, they needed to deliver a more compelling experience online. At the same time, I have had the good fortune to serve on the board of the Greensboro Association in Vermont. We are a very small community organization to enhance the village and the beautiful Caspian Lake area by promoting practices that enhance community interaction, protect the lake and serve members and visitors to this idyllic place in northern Vermont. As the demographics of the community are changing and fewer summer members spend an extended time in the village and local residents become more engaged in the Association, the community will increasingly rely on the online experience to stay engaged with the community and the Association on a continuous, year round basis.
As part of this team, I volunteered to help launch a new web site and services for the community. Naturally, with the size of the organization, we did not have the luxury of a fully customized web presence and needed to deliver value within a low budget! What was the solution? I worked with the committee to select and launch the site on a strong back-end Joomla platform so we could take advantage of the plug and play modules and extensions available in the open community and the long term flexibility. The site was deployed with an off-the-shelf template, which provides a lot of flexibility- though we know that, over time, we will want to enhance the user experience. We decided on a number of extensions to enhance the functionality to include:
- Online member directory
- Resources application
- Discussion forum
- Community calendar and event listing
- Connected Facebook group
Our membership is diverse demographically and not all members are fully comfortable with online experiences. Going forward, we will need to help committee and association leaders take a more active role in managing the online discussions, publishing content and engaging the site as an extension of the collaborative experience of the Association. We consider the online experience an extension to our already rich human interactions among the membership – while also appealing to those more comfortable and familiar with online 24×7 access now available.
I am sure an approach like the one we took would work with community organizations of a similar size and focus. Below is a presentation I made recently at the Annual Meeting. This presentation will give you an idea of the site and its functionality.
- The Pan Mass Challenge
- Best Buddies Challenge
- Vermont Council on Rural Development
- Greensboro Association