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nSiteful Delivers Automated Membership System for SouthEastern Bluegrass Association

nSiteful Delivers Automated Membership System for SouthEastern Bluegrass Association

Alpharetta, GA — October 21, 2007 — nSiteful Web Builders, Inc. and the SouthEastern Bluegrass Association (SEBA) have successfully designed and implemented a comprehensive suite of database-driven Web applications for administering the non-profit organization's membership management functions and for supporting and enhancing member services. The system was built to streamline and centralize the organization's administrative functions and to provide enhanced customer service to the organization's members.

The turnkey automated system, built in PHP and MySQL, consists of administrative modules through which SEBA's management maintains real-time membership data as well as member-accessible modules through which SEBA Organizational Members can create and publish their own Member Web pages.

Before the automated solution, the burden of maintaining the membership database and of generating the required outputs rested on the shoulders of a single individual. That SEBA volunteer was responsible for updating a PC-based, flat-file database program whenever members joined, renewed, or lapsed; manually manipulating the database every month to generate mailing labels for the monthly newsletter; and massaging the data once a year to generate the organization's Member Directory. The process of analyzing the data to produce membership statistics and reports was manual, time-consuming, and error-prone. Members joined and renewed their memberships by mailing in checks or paying their dues in person at any of the many SEBA meetings and events that are held every month. Payments and member data had to be funneled to the treasurer and to the individual responsible for maintaining the database, and, because SEBA's officers, directors and committee workers are all volunteers, the internal communication process was challenging and subject to delays.

Also before the automated solution, members could have their own Web pages on the SEBA Web site, but the process of maintaining those pages required interaction with the organization's Web-site consultant (nSiteful); required considerable manual processing; often suffered from delays; and cost the organization money. For example, whenever a member band changed its personnel (or, say, the banjo picker started singing harmony vocals), the member page would either be outdated or require updating.

Under the new centralized Web-based system, the responsibility for maintain member data is shared by any number of SEBA volunteers, requiring no specialized knowledge of HTML or Web technologies. A Web-based membership application form allows individuals and organizations to join and renew their memberships and to pay their dues online. Applications are integrated with the back-end membership database. Member data is added and edited via a simple, user-friendly Web interface. Mailing labels are generated by the click of a mouse, and an up-to-the-minute Membership Directory can be printed at any time. Membership statistics can be viewed by SEBA's system managers at any time, and an automated membership summary report, showing a breakdown of members by chapter and type as well as a listing of all new members and renewals for the past 28 days, is sent by e-mail to designated SEBA officers every Thursday morning at 6:00am Eastern Time.

The automated solution also provides SEBA's organizational members (Bluegrass bands, Bluegrass-related businesses, and event promoters) with the valuable perk of being able to publish, edit and re-edit their own Member Web Pages. The password protected Web-page publishing interface was designed to be as easy as sending off an e-mail.

When members join or renew, the system generates and sends them automated "Welcome Messages" over the signature of SEBA's Membership Chairman. For member bands, businesses and promoters, that Welcome Message includes their Membership IDs and PINs, allowing them to log into the Member Page area to create or modify their personal Web pages. Edits they perform are updated on the Web site in real time. Members who forget their Membership IDs and/or PINs need only click on a hyperlink located on the public Web site, and that information is immediately and automatically e-mailed to the contact person of record for that member organization.

"As a long-time member of SEBA, and, by the way, having had the privilege of being SEBA's Web vendor for several years, I get it that serving the membership and promoting Bluegrass music is what SEBA is all about," says Jeff Cohan, founder and President of nSiteful. "With this system, we wanted to do a number of things that would serve all of SEBA's members. The first and most basic thing was updating members' paid-up status as soon as possible after they paid their dues. Since one of the great perks of being a SEBA member is the award-winning monthly newsletter, the SEBA BREAKDOWN, people expect to get their newsletters once they've paid their dues. Before the new system, processing lag-time sometimes meant that members had to wait a month to receive their newsletters or SEBA volunteers had to manually send them out.

"What we wanted to create for SEBA's organizational members was an easy and effective way to promote themselves, which, in turn, promotes Bluegrass music throughout the Southeast. We wanted to give SEBA's loyal members really good reasons for maintaining their memberships, and we wanted to draw new members from the Southeast and beyond.

"Mike Soucie and Tony Salazar (the past and present Chairmen of the SEBA Membership Committee, and a banjo-picker and guitar-picker, respectively) were incredible team members on the project. I don't think SEBA's other officers and directors have any idea how much time, energy, expertise and insight these two guys contributed to the project. Mike was the guy who had managed the membership database for many years, and he and I did most of the initial design of the back-end system and worked out the database conversion issues. Tony, who took the Chairman's gavel from Mike earlier in the year, got up to speed really quickly and was instrumental in designing the part of the system that members use. This project has been a perfect example of vendor-client teamwork. SEBA is incredibly lucky to have people like Mike and Tony working on its behalf, and, although it sounds clichť, the project never could have happened without them."

Mike Soucie, long-time SEBA member, former Chairman and former Membership Committee Chairman, says, "Having the responsibility of the organizationís member database on my computer alone had a number of disadvantages. I always worried that I had the only copy of the database that could have been lost in case of computer or home disaster. Other Board members had no direct access to the database and, therefore, could not respond to membership questions and issues without involving me. In addition, I was the only person who could generate mailing labels for the newsletter or membership directories. All of these problems have been solved by the new system. Now the data reside in a secure environment with regular backup and any Board member has access to the data and can perform any of these tasks.

"I particularly love the automated email notes that let members know when their membership dues have been received. This was a time-consuming additional task before the new systems made it automatic.

"The ability to join or renew online not only makes it simpler for members, but I donít have to go to the post office to pick up the applications, and I donít have to go to the bank to deposit the checks. Now, members who use this method can begin receiving the benefits of their membership right away.

"Working with Jeff during the development and testing of the new database was a breeze. He anticipated many of our needs and suggested useful features that we didnít even know we would need. He was always available to help with the testing and was extremely responsive when we had special requests.

"I was impressed with nSitefulís professional quality work on this project and have been very satisfied with the end result of our collaboration. The database is simple to use, flexible and very reliable. I anticipate that as we explore methods to further utilize the capabilities of this tool, the new system will continue to enhance our organizationís ability to serve our membership."

Tony Salazar, SEBA Vice President and Membership Chair, says, "When I first joined the SEBA Board, one of our major challenges was to do a better job reaching out to Bluegrass enthusiasts throughout the entire south east. Since SEBA's Web presence is an essential tool in our marketing strategy, we naturally consulted with our Web vendor, nSiteful. Jeff Cohan — who is a long-time SEBA member — listened to us, understood what we wanted to accomplish, and worked hand-in-hand with us to get us there.

"Aside from his technical expertise, Jeff brings tremendous marketing savvy and insights to the table, and we are extremely happy with the results of our collaborative venture. We have expanded from two to five chapters; managing our membership database is now almost effortless; and we've given our organizational members (bands, businesses and promoters) powerful and user-friendly tools to market themselves via the SEBA Web site. Our whole purpose for being is to serve our members and to promote interest in Bluegrass music. Personally, I can't help but believe that the world becomes a much better place in direct proportion to the amount of bluegrass heard. And I really believe that the improvements we've added to our Web site are getting us there."

For more information, visit the SEBA Web site.

About SEBA (from the Web site):

SEBA is a non-profit organization of fans, musicians, promoters, vendors, and friends of BLUEGRASS music, joined together to preserve, promote, and publicize the music and BLUEGRASS activities, and to serve as a source of information through our award-winning newsletter, The SEBA BREAKDOWN.

Your membership in SEBA will unify and organize efforts to bring more BLUEGRASS music to festivals, clubs, radio, and television, and give you a personal voice in the progress of these efforts, as well as a chance to socialize and/or do some pickin' at our monthly meetings and festivals.
About nSiteful Web Builders, Inc.

Metro Atlanta-based nSiteful Web Builders is a full-service Web design & development firm. We have designed and built (and continue to maintain) Web sites and Web applications for businesses and organizations representing a variety of industries all over the country.

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