Making New Connections

March 1, 2014, Department, by Barbara Tulipane

Barbara Tulipane, NRPA's president and CEO, discusses the benefits and challenges park agencies face when they accept private money for public parks.In 2010, we launched the “Networks,” NRPA’s online communities. The goal was to create a way for members to engage, and by all accounts, they have been successful. On any given day, the Networks are active with members sharing data, best practices, advice and support for professional challenges. NRPA has benefited from these communities as well through magazine articles, ideas for new services, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to brainstorm on emerging issues in real time. 

We have also had our share of bumps along the way, including a complicated log-in process, slow connection speeds and complex document depositories. You will be happy to know that beginning in late March, these challenges will be eliminated as we move to a new software provider. Not only will the Networks be easier to use, the entire NRPA Connect platform will receive a facelift. Many features you have grown to love will be enhanced, and you will have faster access, video posting capability, and new ways to store and retrieve documents. The new site will also be mobile-optimized for use on your smartphone and tablet.

In preparation of this change, we evaluated the Networks and how each was being used. This led NRPA to remove Networks that no longer met the needs of the national membership. At the same time, it allowed NRPA to respond to members by investigating new ways of providing meaningful engagement opportunities for members across the nation. We have received positive feedback on creating groups based on agency size, and we are excited to bring you this new opportunity. You will see these changes on the new platform.

Interestingly, as the Networks grew in popularity, NRPA’s member retention rate also improved. Eighty-six percent of members renew their membership, and we are very near 100 percent on our Premiere membership packages — an outstanding achievement in the association membership community. While we can’t attribute this increase solely to the Networks, we do believe that as members have more opportunity to participate, their satisfaction in NRPA increases. Expanding opportunities for member participation will continue this month as we unveil a new volunteer program. You will be notified of important volunteer opportunities giving you a chance to participate in your association, expand your contacts and demonstrate your leadership abilities. These opportunities will vary in the time commitment required, but each will have a deadline and a level of accountability.

But wait, there’s more! This spring, we will begin delivering content to you based on your interests. If you shop online with a retailer like Amazon, then you know what I am talking about. Based on your web activity, conference attendance, professional designations and certifications, we will tailor our communications and more efficiently provide you with the information you need and want. For example, if you are certified and your certification is up for renewal, we can tailor the content you see online to provide the information you need to meet the recertification requirements. These developments have been made with you in mind, so be sure to check out the changes. We hope they make it easier for you to connect with other professionals in the field and make the most of your membership. 

Barbara Tulipane, CAE, is NRPA's President and CEO.