New Year's Resolution for Charities from Wild Apricot

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Wild Apricot offers some simple New Year's Resolutions for charities that are sure to get 2009 off to a successful start

Our team talks to passionate, hard-working administrators, board members and volunteers every day

The holidays are traditionally the time to make New Year's Resolutions. For 2009, charitable organizations, big and small, will be making resolutions focused on doing more with less. As they crunch their budgets, revise strategic plans, brainstorm ideas and make plans to survive the tough economy, Wild Apricot offers some simple New Year's Resolutions that are sure to get 2009 off to a successful start.

Wild Apricot Smart Software - all-in-one website and membership management and communications tools - is used by thousands of non-profit organizations, from charities to associations, churches and service clubs. "Our team talks to passionate, hard-working administrators, board members and volunteers every day," says Dmitry Buterin, Chief Apricot. "It gives us insight into the many challenges they face and has made our resolution to give them the online tools they need to survive during these difficult economic times even stronger."

Here are seven New Year's Resolutions for charities that are easy to keep:

1.    Take baby steps
Take a hard look at big projects and ask yourself is there a way to split them into small steps? Divide each project into bite-sized steps and look at your results as you complete each one. If it met objectives, go onto the next step, if not, shut it down.

2.    Have your supporters pitch in
Give your supporters, donors and members the right tools and they will be happy to do the work for you. Online donation forms, application forms and event registration can save time and money (and there are many free and inexpensive tools online to help make it happen.)

3.    Do not drive blindfolded
Don't spend money on a project unless you cannot define and measure results. Instead of an expensive ad campaign, consider online marketing initiatives - an email, web or a social media campaign - and carefully track the web page visitors, donors, members and subscribers it generated.

4.    Improve the efficiency of your communications
Cut down on hard copy newsletters and direct mail. Shift your communication online - e-newsletters and website pages and you'll spend less on design and printing. Keep your communications short, relevant and useful - stay away from abstract and boring platitudes!

5.    Engage with your support community online
Yes, your donors and members might be older and less tech savvy than kids living on MySpace or Facebook. But this doesn't mean that they wouldn't become engaged by modern online tools like discussion forums and blogs. Just make sure they're user friendly, and that you invest the time and effort to keep the online conversation going.

6.    Ensure the security of private data
Trust is hard to get - and easy to lose. How well do you protect the private data of your supporters? If you use desktop software, do you keep the operating system and all the installed software up to date? Do you email database information to members? There are lots of pitfalls when it comes to online security - consider storing your data in a reliable and secure web-based service instead - it will likely have much better security procedures in place to backup and secure your private data.

7.    Consider pay-as-you-go software (aka Software as a Service)
Carefully count your dollars - weigh monthly subscription and service costs against the total cost to buy your own software and run it in-house. For most charities it's a no-brainer: at least 80% of their technology needs are common and can be handled very efficiently and economically by web-based software online services. Here's just one example: Wild Apricot software-as-a-service costs from $25/month, all inclusive flat fee - with free support and updates. There is more than $2 million worth of R&D and counting behind it. Economies of scale make online software economical - Wild Apricot has more than 10,000 non-profit organizations as clients.

Simplify your life
In 2009, more charities then ever will use technology to raise money, increase efficiency and energize their supporters. Make a New Year's resolution to be among them - and go from surviving to thriving with Wild Apricot Smart Software. Here's what Kathryn Robson from Meals on Wheels said in a recent TV interview about the immediate benefits of using Wild Apricot: "Historically we were unable to accept online donations - in the short time since launching our new Wild Apricot website, we've already received 28 donations online that were completely unsolicited. It has delivered immediate and tangible benefits to our organization. "

Happy New Year from the Wild Apricot team!

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Dmitry Buterin

Colin Trethewey
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