“I wish we would have used CommUnity from the beginning.” Abby Swett from the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) sat down with us to share her experience with our MC Professional association management software and CommUnity platform. One thing she consistently brought up, over and over, was how she wished they had started using CommUnity sooner. Needing an online community AWIS knew that their members craved the benefits of an online community. “We have over 5,000 members and only about 25 active local chapters. So we have a lot of members who aren’t plugged in to a local chapter. They wanted a way to connect with each other. And our chapter leaders were also looking for a way to connect with their members online. I was looking for a platform that fit all of those needs.” With the knowledge of their members’ needs to drive their research, Abby and her team dove into finding the best community software for the job. The right community software for you When looking for a software that would meet their needs, Abby was immediately drawn to CommUnity. CommUnity is also a Personify product and was built to integrate with their MemberClicks MC Professional AMS. But a key feature that really won her over was the benefits of that integration. Because the software connected to their existing member database, it took away a lot of the frustrating work of copying member info and organizing access for members. This point was especially important because AWIS has a lot of different member attributes. “One of the reasons why we chose CommUnity is because it syncs so well with MC Professional. We have so many member attributes and specific needs for different members. Because it connects to our database, we can break out these groups within the community. Because of this integration, we’re able to build a sort of speakers bureau that we’ve always wanted to, but never done before. It was also so much work for us to build it out manually and we never did it. With CommUnity, we’ve added this as a profile section where members can make a note if they’re willing to speak and what they can speak on in their bios. This way, we and other members can search and find people who can speak on specific topics. This is only possible because of the integration between MC Professional and Community.” Comparing online community software options for the best fit When choosing software, you want to make sure it ALL fits: features, functionality, ease of use, and — you guessed it! — pricing! When looking at other options for online community software that integrated with their existing AMS, costs were HIGH. Looking closer to home made CommUnity that much more appealing. “Pricing wise it fit really well into our budget.” Success for AWIS with CommUnity “[CommUnity] has built a bridge between our members across the US. Otherwise, they would have had no way to connect unless they were at a conference.” Building a connected membership The benefits of having an online community were apparent from the start. One of AWIS’s members had lost their job and posted in the online community asking for connections, job information and just for some support through this time. The community rallied around her in a way that only a community can. “Three people responded right away and said, ‘Hey email me today, I might have something for you!’ To see other members come to her right away was really awesome.” Small staff can manage CommUnity with ease Managing your online community can seem like a daunting task, but not for Abby. She talks about how straightforward onboarding was. “For me, it was really easy to learn. I was able to go in and figure out a lot of it on my own, which was nice. We’re a staff of five, so we all wear a lot of different hats and one of mine has been keeping up with and managing our CommUnity.” See how AWIS uses their CommUnity Abby keeps their members informed and engaged by sharing their monthly program recaps. Each AWIS chapter group are segmented out and private so only those in that specific group can access them. This helps to support smaller groups within the community. They have different discussion categories so that members who are passionate about various topics can join and post to connect with others who care about the same things they do. There are also more global categories, like career and personal development. It’s great to have a mix of formal and more educational categories with lifestyle and fun ones. Your online community can be a social and informational space for members. A beneficial investment for any organization “For other associations or groups that are thinking, “do we need an online community?” just start. Go with it right away. I’m a team of one and I’m able to manage this CommUnity on my own and watch it grow. I am confident that you could, too!” “The ability to tack on CommUnity with MC Professional was an awesome thing… I wish we had just done it from the beginning.” The key to starting an online community with a small team? Patience. Growing a community can take time. Since October, AWIS has had over 300 active members in their CommUnity. Would you recommend CommUnity and MemberClicks to others? “I definitely would recommend and refer CommUnity and MemberClicks to others, especially in the association world…I’ve used a lot of different platforms at other groups I’ve been with, and this is very user-friendly.” A proud partner of associations, nonprofits and chambers MemberClicks is proud to work with amazing organizations like the Association for Women in Science. A special thank you to Abby Swett for the time and thought that went into this case study. If you’d like to learn more about AWIS and how they’re changing the world of science, visit their website here.