- So what is a hosted online community?
- From the Online Community Toolkit, “[An] online … community is the gathering of people, in an online “space” where they come, communicate, connect, and get to know each other better over time. From that point on, the rest is up to you. Your community will be what you and your members make of it!” At Alumni Channel we have created a suite of features and tools to help facilitate the collection and dissemination of information between you and your membership.
- How long do we have to commit / sign a contract for?
- Our service is year-to-year. You will have the option to renew your website annually, and since you own the data on your site, you have access to it at anytime should you leave the Alumni Channel network. We also offer a money-back guarantee for not only the first 30 days (full), but for life (unused).
- What are our options for collecting dues/funds/money online?
- Currently we have a relationship with Click and Pledge (4.5%) and PayPal (2.9% + $.30 per transaction). You set up your own account with one of these vendors, or any other of your choice.
- Are there report generating features which we will be able to customize?
- Our site administrators will find a “Membership Report” which allows you to customize the columns and the data returned. You can then export your results in various formats. Other reports and statistics are also available.
- What security exists for updating the site? Will there be an “administrator” login page with password for the person updating the site?
- While your members will have access to register and post inside the forums, only your administrator(s) will have special access to update your site’s news, photo gallery, reunion information, links and more. This login will also have the ability to edit other’s profiles, create new message board forums, and send newsletters to your membership.
- We have members from different schools and different years. Is it possible to include two registration categories?
- Our system supports two different registration categories, e.g., years and campuses. During registration, members select their “year” and are then asked to choose one of a set list of choices (school, location, campus, etc.).
- We already have a lot of members. Can we create users in a batch or would I have to ask them to re-register? That would cause us to lose a lot of members.
- For a fee, we can use our tool to import your membership list (first name, last name, year, address, etc.). We will provide you the specific format that will enable you to reduce your data import cost.
- Can we make the member base private? I.e., only members registered could do searches, see who’s online etc.
- Only registered members can do searches, bring up detailed lists by class, contact members, participate in the message boards/forums, or see the personal statements of registered members.
- Is there a moderated distribution list, and a digest option (like Yahoo Groups) — I.e. members send messages, and a moderator approves them?
- One of the common features of our forums is called the moderated forum. This type of forum allows users to create posts but those posts don’t appear until a moderator has a chance to read through them and then approve them. While not automatically turned “on”, and not the choice of most of our sites, when enabled, this feature allows the Administrator or the Moderator to “Approve”, “Hold” or “Delete” a users post before it is shown to the public. This can be combined with message board subscriptions that send an instant e-mail to members when activity is detected. Other than this message board format, there are no automated timed mailings / digest of messages.
- Can members can select to receive a notice one at a time, or a digest (daily/weekly etc.) of message board postings?
- I would assume that registrants would enter their email address. Can the school “harvest” these email addresses for porting to an Excel file?
- Yes. Each registrant enters his/her own email address and password during registration. The Administrator of your site (your alumni coordinator) has access to reports (many formats including Excel) of all alumni, as well as access to individual member profiles. The reports allow easy export of the data for mailings or sharing of the data. Other data available is mailing address, date of birth, employer information and more.
- Do you have filtering in place to prevent objectionable postings?
- Our message boards utilize a “bad words” feature that masks objectionable words (examples could include h*** and d***). Within the personal messages of alumni profiles, we do not filter as there is no fully accurate method of doing this.
- Do you have policies in place to preclude bogus registrations, members claiming to be an alumnus that are not?
- To begin, we offer three options for data collection.
1. We can upload your data and have your membership search for their record
2. You can ask members to register on their own and you approve each registration
3. Members register and verify their e-mail address is correct.
- Having the site administrator involved in the process (option 1 or 2) will yield the best results, but will take up the most time. Your coordinator/administrator would always have access to delete a profile that shouldn’t be there and this remains the most popular way of weeding out incorrect profiles.
- Are there ways our site could earn money itself? Is there an option to sell apparel/clothing? What percentage of sales would our organization make and how would the reporting occur?
- We have a partnership with PrepSportswear, an online vendor of branded clothing and other items, which will return you 7% of all online sales.
- Tell me more about data storage and privacy.
- Our community data is stored on servers located in Columbus, OH. The data center sports multiple backbone providers, redundant cooling systems, diesel power backup facilities, and much more. We take privacy very seriously and do not use the data collected by our clients, nor do we sell or share any of this information.