(left to right): Danny Mizrahi, Founder and CEO, Contango IT, Institute Speaker; John Hearon, Account Development, Shmittech, Institute Speaker; Tim Baer, Vice President, Business Development, American Technology Services, and member, NYSAE Technology Committee; Robert H. Lane, PhD, Principal and CEO of Lane Services, LLC, Institute Speaker; Patricia Ahaesy, CMP, President, P&V Enterprises, and Chair, NYSAE Technology Committee; Lee Hornstein, Founder and CEO, (C) Systems, LLC; Paul Vitale, Vice President, Finance & Administration, Toy Industry Association; and David Teisler, Director of Communications, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and Vice Chair, NYSAE Technology Committee.

Collecting data and storing critical association records and making sure that information is secure was the focus of NYSAE’s Technology Institute, held in April at The University Club.

Know Your Members Through Data Segmentation
The purpose of data collection is to better understand your member/donor needs so that you can provide the correct programs and services and develop unique, go-to marketing strategies for communicating those activities to your members. “Really knowing your members ensures that your association is the go-to place,” said Robert H. Lane, PhD, Principal and CEO of Lane Services, LLC, who spoke on Get Personal: Taking the Next Step in Database Segmentation. “It also allows the association to reach the right people at the right time with the right message, specifically geared toward them. Data segmentation is the key to understanding your membership.”

Among the additional benefits of database segmentation:

  • Leverage your existing assets (systems, data, people);
  • Increase staff effectiveness and performance;
  • Reduce unnecessary selling and marketing expenses;
  • Boost member /donor loyalty; and
  • Truly know your members.

While each association is different and collect different kinds of membership information, there are several ways to segment your data, including: email; source code; job title; geography; referrals; networking; inactive donors/members; email click-throughs; or phone numbers, to name a few. Unless that gathered information is put to use, however, it is all for naught.

“The ultimate reason for data segmentation is member or donor engagement,” said Lane. “The point of all this is to have a marketing plan that this information can go into. The data doesn’t develop the plan; it supports the plan.” Data collection is only worthwhile if the association acts on the results of that information.

Cyber Security
Associations and nonprofits need to protect their member and/or donor information. “There are so many ways to unhinge your association,” said John Hearon, Account Development, Shmittech, who spoke on Cyber Security. “Attackers might not be interested in bringing down your nonprofit, rather they may want to get to member information and infiltrate their organizations.”

The big questions for many nonprofits, particularly those with smaller IT staffs, are where to begin? How do you control and protect yourself?

Hearon pointed out that many organizations don’t like to add a layer of security because it might mean less flexibility for their members and staff. However, he added: “Technology is very expensive if you are going in the wrong direction.”

Associations should develop guidelines and action plans to deal with potential threats. Consider your risk and attack potentials. Could a security risk come from a former staff member? Could it come from someone signing into your system from an unsecure WiFi network? Could it come from what you thought was a resumé attachment emailed to your human resources department? Threats abound. More importantly than developing a plan is communicating it to everyone and updating it frequently.

Concluded Hearon, “Don’t panic. Attackers may be persistent about getting in. Associations need to be as persistent as keeping them out.”

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing uses a network of remote Internet servers to store, manage, and process data, rather than using a local server or a personal computer. “Cloud computing is an extension of your team,” said Danny Mizrahi, Founder and CEO, Contango IT, who spoke on Cloud Computing 201. 

From email, calendar, and contacts, to online collaboration, to file storage, to backup for disaster recovery, cloud computing allows an organization to extend beyond the physical office. “Some people recommend not putting anything on the cloud, but the largest cloud systems have greater security systems than individual company or association can put into place,” said Mizrahi.

For associations, cloud computing can provide the ability to be back to work immediately following a mishap or disaster. “File storage on the cloud is a poor man’s disaster recover plan. Hosted dedicated servers are the rich man’s disaster recovery plan,” he explained noting there is a big difference, however, between backup and disaster recovery. Backup is information stored. Disaster recovery is the ability to work right away.

NYSAE’s Technology Institute was followed by a Vendor Showcase and Reception and the 2015 Synergy Awards Luncheon honoring the best of the best in the association and nonprofit field.

Nicole Millman-Falk, CAE, is President of Millman-Falk Communications, LLC, providing strategic communication services for trade associations, professional societies, and donor-based organizations. In addition to her own company, she serves as Editor for Apogee Publications, which provides turnkey association newsletters, magazines, and membership directories. She is Editor of NYSAE’s InView and is Chair of this year’s Awards Committee. She can be reached at 201-652-1687; mfc32@optonline.net; or through her website at www.millmanfalkcommunications.com