DONA Connect: Community Strong
DONA International is the world’s first, largest and leading doula certifying organization. DONA’s primary function is to provide excellent doula education and certification to a diverse population of doulas world-wide. DONA International has 13,000 certified doulas and 5,200 members in 50 countries.
Many associations are revisiting their engagement strategies from an integrated, holistic approach. This means taking a look at every touchpoint used to connect with members, analyzing data on how those touchpoints are performing, and seeing trends in behavior internally and externally.
DONA International knew they had a global network of members who were craving collaboration but the methods for engagement were disjointedly residing in social networks, email, and informal networking groups. In 2018, the DONA Board strategically made it a priority to increase member engagement at all levels with the goal to elevate the opportunities members had to learn, grow, share, mentor and improve their work and business operations.
Bostrom formed a strategic partnership with Higher Logic back in 2017 to provide its clients with community and marketing automation platforms that were affordable, scalable and seamlessly integrated with the Association Management Software (AMS), ACGI’s Association Anywhere. DONA evaluated the platform in-depth, attended Higher Logic’s Super Forum and decided to implement their own community they branded, DONA Connect.
Launching an online community for the first time can be a daunting task. This is a crucial, long term component of the organization’s strategy that will ultimately support or impinge the investment’s success. How the online community is positioned and put together from day one is critical. Taking time to prepare, assess and strategize is necessary. Because DONA took the time to plan and had a clear vision, a smooth and successful launch was achieved.
- MARCH: Technology requirements, integration and platform buildout planning
- APRIL: Design and structural planning and implementation
- MAY: Volunteer and staff training along with platform testing
- Launch and communications rollout which included:
- External Testing after launch with small group – about ten people
- External Testing after launch with ambassadors and regional directors – about 30 people
- External Testing after launch with trainers – about 100
- Email sent to members about this being available
- Email sent from DONA Connect letting them know about the tool
- 2 follow up emails, information on the website, information on the newsletter (including article)
- 4-page article in International Doula magazine
- Recorded zoom call to explain the why and how
62% of DONA’s members have logged in and created their profile which is right at that benchmark according to the Higher Logic Marketing General 2017 study. DONA has 32% of contributors in their communities which is way over the industry average of 12% and the platform hasn’t even been live for four months! Other metrics include:
- Communities 46
- Community Members 24,246
- Connections Made 1,597
- Content Contributions 3,795
- Profiles Created 7,492
- Profiles with Pictures 516
- Total Logins 11,148
DONA will continue to monitor, promote and utilize the platform as a key component in their content and engagement strategies. It was a heavy lift from both the staff and volunteer side but the investment has proven to be well worth the effort so far!
Thoughts from President-Elect Melissa Harley:
DONA Connect is a game-changer. It has given our members a dedicated space to talk shop, stay informed about the happenings within the organization, as well as receive peer-to-peer mentorship. Some have questioned why we needed a space off of social media, and I can’t highlight enough how great it is to not be reliant on social platforms to disseminate information and support to our members. It is our hope as DONA Connect matures that people come to it as a hub for all things DONA; community, connection, file sharing, continuing education, and more. The sky is the limit! Our Bostrom team was immensely helpful during the launch of our new higher logic platform and having them involved in the community now allows for an even better experience for our membership.