How Tech Transformed an Association Into a Powerful Online Support Network

Jessica Montaño and the team at NMASBO took a chance on new technology in the middle of the pandemic—and it’s paying off in ways they couldn’t have predicted.

Serving as Deputy Executive Director of the New Mexico Association of School Business Officials (NMASBO) can be at times exhausting and stressful, but for Jessica Montaño, it is never thankless. “Our members are always so grateful for what we do—especially during this past year and a half.”

NMASBO serves all school districts, charters, and regional educational cooperatives in New Mexico, providing training for all of the state’s finance administrators. And in her 12 years of working at the association, Montaño has never seen a greater need to provide a platform for members to connect and engage with one another—and do it fast.

Up until recently, the site was utilizing a platform that had forum capabilities, but Montaño says, “It wasn’t very user-friendly. It was much more work than helpful for people.” Montaño believes that in order for an association to stay healthy and thrive, it must be adaptable and willing to make changes. And so, despite being in the middle of a pandemic, the NMASBO team decided to implement a new community platform, powered by Higher Logic. “We had no choice,” she says, “We had to adapt to connect our members so that they could learn from one another and not feel so alone.”

Upon implementation, it was an immediate success. “We didn’t need to seed any questions, engagement grew organically. People were thrilled that at the click of a mouse, they could quickly communicate with one another, and engage with the association when there were no in-person events.” While she has not yet dug into the analytics of user engagement, she has noticed an indicator that lets her know it is going in the right direction: “We never have radio silence.”

NMASBO members are very busy people and are always in need of quick answers about things like payroll, annual leave, and paying out retirees, says Montaño. And these questions and answers are helpful in more ways than one. “If a hot button topic comes to light through our community engagement, that might lead us turning it into a session at one of our conferences. It helps us develop our curriculum seeing their needs.”

Delivering useful content and easy-to-use community boards is great for members—and for the NMASBO’s value proposition as an organization. “It encourages people to become members and remain members because this is another level of support.”

Montaño says that NMASBO is moving toward reconnecting people physically at their conferences, but virtual meetings aren’t going away. Nor is the strength of this online community. “Higher Logic was the glue that kept us all together in the pandemic,” she notes, “And our members are so appreciative that we have this area for them to stay connected online. They can stay up to date on what’s going on. Changes seem to come every day in regard to mask mandates and virtual learning and in-person learning. And for us to be the nucleus in the middle of everything means the world to us because that means we’re living out our mission to be an information resource and a safe haven for our members.”

Higher Logic, the industry-leading, human-focused engagement platform, delivers powerful online communities and communication tools to engage members at every stage of their journey. Higher Logic provides a robust engagement platform and strategic services with over a decade of experience in building personalized and scalable community engagement programs. We serve more than 3,000 customers, representing over 350,000 online communities with greater than 200 million users in more than 42 countries worldwide.