ACPA – College Student Educators International, the leading comprehensive student affairs association that advances research and scholarship, and their translation into the professional practice of student affairs on campuses, joined with Ledgeview Partners to build a new Association Management System (AMS) using Salesforce as the system’s foundation. This allowed ACPA to utilize Salesforce’s best-in-class integrations to develop a customized system helping ACPA fulfill its mission.
ACPA, founded in 1924 by May L. Cheney, has 6,300 individual and 450 institutional members representing 1,200 private and public institutions from across the US and around the world. In addition, ACPA has 21 peer or affiliated association and organizational partners. ACPA members include graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in student affairs and higher education administration programs, faculty, and student affairs practitioners from entry level to senior student affairs officers, presidents and provosts, as well as companies that are engaged in the campus marketplace.
ACPA is all about delivering value to members. They publish the industry’s leading Tier 1 journal since 1954, they provide a host of online resources and learning opportunities at ACPA Video on Demand, they organize the ACPA annual convention, they’ve created multiple site based Institutes, and more. The portfolio of content and events offered by ACPA is impressive, especially when you consider it’s conceptualized, created and brought to market, implemented and assessed by a lean team of eight staff and volunteers. ACPA Video on Demand had more than 75,000 viewers in 2015-2016, the largest digital engagement platform of its type in Student Affairs. The National Press Club selected ACPA as one of its top innovators in the use of media for engagement in 2016.
This trajectory means ACPA has to constantly be ahead of the demand curve, so it’s easy to understand why ACPA needed a very innovative, nimble and end-to-end AMS to ensure dynamic, yet very stable connections with members. ACPA’s AMS was outdated, cumbersome and a source of frustration to end-users, producing 15 percent of the responses regarding constituent dissatisfaction in 2014. For example, the system’s process for providing automated support for resetting member passwords was so cumbersome that ACPA team members were spending an inordinate amount of time on customer service requests.
The bottom line for ACPA? Change had to happen and quickly. Fifteen years of member data had to be preserved. The next move had to work well. Jon Gilmore, Jr., ACPA’s Senior Team Lead for Data Systems and Structure, began looking for a partner to help develop the right plan for moving forward.
“I’m glad we went this route. We needed to make sure our members’ dues are helping them learn and develop, not just supporting our IT infrastructure”John Gilmore, Jr., ACPA Senior Team Lead for Data Systems and Structure
ACPA leadership had already honed in on an approach to solving their problem. They were going to build their own AMS using Salesforce as the foundation for the system. Salesforce offers a robust portfolio of integrations and aggressive nonprofit pricing. ACPA would start with Salesforce for membership management, then add best-in-class integrations to help with other key functional areas like event management and marketing. All they needed to get started was a Salesforce expert to help them make their plan work, and they found that partner in Ledgeview Partners. Gilmore explains their early relationship this way:
“We actually connected with Ledgeview when we were researching other systems, but were excited to hear that they worked with Salesforce, too. I was very clear with them that I was going to lean on their expertise in the Salesforce and CRM realm. My experience was with AMS’s, so they’d need to tell me the most effective way to do things as we went along.”
Ledgeview worked with Gilmore’s team to set up Salesforce, successfully import ACPA’s data, and build integrations that allowed ACPA to meet specific goals including:
- Enabling members to keep their own info up to date
- Allowing members to join or renew their membership
- Providing automated support for things such as password resets
- Reducing the amount of time internal staff needed to spend providing IT support, therefore decreasing the percentage of member dues spent on ACPA’s internal IT infrastructure
- Creating dynamic communities of like interests and expertise. Today, there are more than 50 member communities established including Commissions, Coalitions, Communities of Practice and State Chapters.
ACPA’s new Salesforce-based AMS also includes event management functionality through integration with Cvent, marketing functionality through MailChimp, and a complete learning management system through Totara. Gilmore says, “I’m glad we went this route. As a small-staff, small-budget association we needed to make sure our members’ dues are helping them learn and develop, not just supporting our IT infrastructure.”
“Ledgeview Partners is a really great partner. They worked with me to make the implementation successful, leaving no stone unturned and asking great questions.”John Gilmore, Jr., ACPA Senior Team Lead for Data Systems and Structure
ACPA’s new Salesforce system went live in January of 2016. Gilmore explains, “Our Executive Director said she’d never seen a launch go so well! It was also the least amount of glitches I’ve ever experienced with a launch.”
Over the last twelve months, Gilmore has seen a dramatic decrease in the amount of time staff has had to spend providing IT support for members. In addition, ACPA’s data quality has improved and continues to improve. ACPA staff is excited about the increased efficiency that the new system offers, driven by increased member functionality and custom reporting. They are also delving into next/best practices for member recruitment and retention as well as engagement using Salesforce. A major goal is to begin to identify customer or member lifetime value and it helps that ACPA has members who’ve been part of ACPA for 50 years or more.
ACPA continues to work with Ledgeview Partners for support, as well as continued phases of development. Gilmore explains the experience of working with Ledgeview this way:
“They are a really great partner. At the beginning, I saw them as a vendor. They would build something, then train me and we’d take over. But they’ve been there through the glitches. They collaborate, and support me if I want to do some of the backend work to save the association money. At one point, we had a disagreement and Ledgeview acted swiftly taking care to help rectify the situation, as they cared about the relationship. I felt they did a great job at resolving conflicts fairly and transparently. They worked with me to make the implementation successful, leaving no stone unturned and asking great questions.”
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American College Personnel Association (ACPA) – headquartered in Washington, D.C. at the National Center for Higher Education, is the leading comprehensive student affairs association that advances student affairs and engages students for a lifetime of learning and discovery.
ACPA, founded in 1924 by May L. Cheney, has nearly 7,500 members representing 1,200 private and public institutions from across the U.S. and around the world. ACPA members include graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in student affairs/higher education administration programs, faculty, and student affairs educators, from entry level to senior student affairs officers, and organizations and companies that are engaged in the campus marketplace.
Visit http://www.myacpa.org/ to learn more!