1 comment | Posted: 21 April 09 in Interviews, by Robert Evans
To get it started, could you tell me about MemberHub, what it is, who it is targeted at, and it’s purpose?
MemberHub creates a centralized place for churches to handle organization and communication among ministries, groups and teams. MemberHub allows church staff and members to seamlessly handle the logistics, administration and communication that often drain time and money. Churches can provide the means to build relationship-oriented communities through one simple login. Through the use of private, online hubs, members can connect with and contribute to their various ministries by accessing an easy-to-use shared calendar with automatic reminders, discussions, shared documents, and customized announcement streams via text messaging (SMS). Members are empowered to get organized and connect with each other, while giving staff the tools to better manage those interactions. Staff can manage membership information, schedule events and have small groups manage themselves in their own private communication hubs.
It is our intention to build a generic tool that can be used by any member-driven organization to enhance communication, member involvement and ultimately membership management. We have strategically decided to first address the needs of churches as many churches begin to explore online community software and using the internet to enhance communication and collaboration among the various ministries, small groups, sunday schools, other groups. After churches, non-profit organizations and associations are a natural fit.
So, initially MemberHub was created with the Church in mind, but keeping it open to non-profits in general? What makes MemberHub unique when compared to other similar tools like StaffTool?
Eventually, MemberHub and StaffTool will have many similarities on the membership management side of features. StaffTools does a great job of managing member “records” and is clearly a tool for church administrators. They also have group communications tools, but not to the extent that MemberHub does. The key element to MemberHub is the “hub”. Each group gets their own hub where members not only get a mailing list, but powerful shared calendar, a place to upload files (and photos soon) and ways to receive instant notification and reminders via text messaging. Members interact in the hubs and the real strength in MemberHub lies in the fact that members can be affiliated with multiple hubs…even across multiple organizations (your church and your non-profit). So we’ve focused on the member side a lot. The rest of this year we will be focusing on membership management. While we do have existing features to help church administrators manage groups and members, we have more features to add like importing member records, adding people manually, registrations, donations, pledges, etc. before we can bill ourselves confidently as membership management app.
What was your motivation for building MemberHub?
There are various things that motivated us to build MemberHub!
- First off, Loren has much experience building membership management applications in his early days as a programmer and has been motivated to create a web-based version of one using his knowledge.
- Every church, non-profit, association, club, etc. always sights member communications as a problem. Or I should say it’s the number 1 complaint among members every year. The COO of the YMCA of the Triangle told us that their yearly member surveys’ reveal this trend. Members of organizations are looking to use the internet to not only communicate with other members, but take care of the business of being a member of groups in those orgs…planning, logistics, registering, coordinating. Members want to do it but aren’t empowered. MemberHub empowers ministries to get organized and it saves the church admins time!
- We love building software; we’re both developers!
- I’m passionate about building “usable” software
- Dad and I were looking to build a business together
- We want to serve!!
The pricing strategy is very interesting and similar to the style of Amazon. What were your thoughts behind this?
So this is a very interesting and timely question. We’re getting ready to change the our pricing model in a few weeks! Basically the price that we came to is based on looking at competitors and also asking what’s an affordable price to offer for our services. We want to be the simple, affordable solution to group communication and eventually membership management. We feel as if $0.10 cents per person per month is more than affordable and by selling this in blocks of 100 people it makes it easy to calculate your costs. We will be changing our price to $0.12 per person per month and will offer a couple of different packages based on that rate. We’ve realized that for larger organizations with thousands of members we can offer even more discounted prices.
So, tell me what it is like to work with your Father?
It’s been a huge blessing to work with my dad. At first, we certainly were curious if we’d be able to work so close together. We quickly realized that not only could we with each other, but that our gifts are different and they compliment each other. He’s more of the direct, independent and self-motivated type. While I’m a little of the same, I tend to deal with people and conflict better and motivated by teams and exemplify servant leadership. Although I’ve never met a bigger servant in my life than my father. There are times that are challenging, but we’re literally best friends and business partners and we work side-by-side every day. I praise God for that!
How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
After putting God on the back burner for much of life I started to really seek towards the end of my college days. God directed my footsteps and I became involved in my church and other bible studies where God’s word began to shape and change me. I became confident in my faith in Jesus during a men’s bible study here in Raleigh in April of 2001. So my walk with Jesus has been a longer one then some. It certainly wasn’t an overnight thing. I know faith itself is a gift from God and I’m thankful for that too.
Anything else you’d like to say to the Godbit readers?
One thing that I would like to share is that I tend to agree with other leaders in the online community that we as Christians don’t need or want a Christian social network. To reach others for Jesus is worthy goal for using social networking. However, there are so many instances where churches are looking to use social networking for communications, logistics, planning, etc. when that’s not at all what social networking is intended for. It’s intended to “network”.
But when you’re in a church and are involved in various ministries and groups you don’t need to network with these folks, you need take care of the business of being a member. You need to plan, share a calendar, get reminders, have discussions and generally be accessible to each other. Technology and the internet is perfect for that! It’s not about social networking. It’s about giving the groups in your church and other organizations a place for them to connect, share information, share ideas, pray for each other, continue the conversation, plan, and again, be accessible to each other. This takes the burden off the administrators of the church, by empowering the ministries to connect and get things done on their own accord. This is what churches can accomplish when they use MemberHub. And we’re here to help them every step of the way!
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