Category Archives: Case Studies

Talking shop with managers about how they’re using GroupSpaces to keep their groups running smoothly.

Manager of the Month: Stephen Lake of the H28 Association of Australia

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“If you are not a project manager, then find one quick.” This is the very first piece of advice Stephen Lake offers leaders of non-profit and/or community organizations. As a professional management consultant/project manager and active committee member of a number of community organizations, Stephen Lake is something of an expert on coordinating people to work towards a common goal. “The challenges,” he recognizes, “are many. Changing technologies, the constant pressure to cut costs, leaders who lack vision, the nature and politics of voluntary organization, I could go on…” Yet Stephen manages to meet those challenges, whether he’s consulting for Governance Today and Advantage International or volunteering for The Rotary Club of Melbourne or the Institute of Management Consultants.

One of Stephen’s tenets of good management is never letting yourself become indispensable – to do so, he explains, creates a risk for your organization. Which is why it was so important to use management software that is accessible and easy to use. It is a testament to Stephen’s thoroughness that he only decided on GroupSpaces after completing “a detailed analysis of 15 vendors found on the internet or from past experience and word of mouth. GroupSpaces ticked most of my ‘boxes’.”

Of all his groups, Stephen has been especially pleased with the success of the Herreshoff H28 Association of Australia, Inc, an association which supports a fleet of classic wooden and modern fibreglass yachts throughout Australia. Stephen was tasked with implementing a website for the association when he joined the Committee. He began with a Google Website but quickly made the upgrade to GroupSpaces where he is able to maintain a website, a membership system, a subscription system, and event management system from a single place. “GroupSpaces has revolutionized the organization. We have gone from a state association, struggling to get subscriptions in, with multiple versions of membership records, to a simple-to-manage and efficient organization which attracts members whose yachts we never knew existed. We started with 70 known yachts and now have over 150 in just 12 months.”

Although GroupSpaces is a big help, Stephen has many years of experience to aid him in managing organizations well. What are some of the insights he’s developed over the years? “Be clear on the benefits you expect to realize,” he begins. “Actively practice risk management, check your assumptions regularly in case they change. Never run an implementation longer than 9 months – by then the world will have changed. Don’t forget to document – wiki’s are great for this. No matter how much you have emotionally invested in a solution, be prepared to listen to and learn from all criticisms.”

You can get a first-hand look at how Stephen is making use of GroupSpaces on the websites for Rotary E-Club of MelbourneGovernance Today, and the H28 Association of Australia.

Manager of the Month: Dan Sloss of the Canberra Classical Guitar Society

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This month we get to know Dan Sloss, the manager of several standalone groups for musicians and music lovers in Canberra, Australia.  Dan started the Canberra Classical Guitar Society, an organization of classical guitar players and supporters in Australia’s capital city, in 2007 along with Tim Kain, the Head of Guitar at the Australian National University’s School of Music.  “Most people who learn and play guitar have no fraternity because it’s a solo instrument,” Dan explains.  “I was in need of something to do and I’m a good organizer so I thought what Canberra seems to be lacking is organization at the classical guitar level.”

As a former commanding officer in the US Navy and US Naval attaché in Australia, Dan was more than up for that organizational challenge.  While searching for a membership management solution with an opt-in/out public mailing list for his new society, Dan discovered GroupSpaces.  He found that he could use GroupSpaces to keep members organized and to simplify the distribution of musical scores amongst the society’ guitar ensemble members.   “Personally, I like to manage as simply and efficiently as possible, and GroupSpaces makes that doable.”

When Dan later got involved with the  Canberra International Music Festival, an acclaimed annual art music program organized by the non-profit Pro Musica Incorporated, he knew immediately that he could help streamline their online management processes.  Previously, Pro Musica juggled multiple accounts with numerous services, and updating their website was an ordeal that could only be undertaken by one admin.  With Dan’s assistance,  “Pro Musica has reduced their website administration to a single domain with GroupSpaces. Loading webpages is simple and making corrections on the fly is no longer high drama.”

As with his guitar society, Dan is using GroupSpaces’ file sharing capabilities to distribute music scores to the hundreds of musicians participating in the festival.  They’ll also make great use of the photo gallery, Facebook integration, and newsletter features, and are currently exploring the possibility of selling tickets to the festival via GroupSpaces.

The 2012 Canberra International Music Festival will be held May 10-19th.  Dan’s Classical Guitar Society group can be found here.

Group Manager of the Month: Jackie Jobes of the Bright Futures Society

The Bright Futures Society was started over 35 years ago to prepare students for life after school and university.  With committees operating all over the UK, the non-profit educates UK students on employment opportunities and arms them with the skills necessary to hit the ground running after graduation.

JackieJobesWith over 50 university committees spread throughout the England, Scotland, and Wales, Society Manager Jackie Jobes has her hands full ensuring each society remains supported and successful.  Having first joined Bright Futures as a student, Jackie found the experience so enriching she joined the team after graduating, quickly progressing from South England’s Regional Manager to her current position, overseeing the entirety of Bright Future’s societies, while planning and hosting National Conferences and managing the organization’s online presence.  When GroupSpaces was first recommended to her at a networking event, she thought it was precisely the simple management solution the societies needed.

Jackie and the Bright Futures team created individual group websites for each university committee in their organization and then handed the group management over to local leaders. She remains a manger of every group to keep an eye on things and assist when needed. The goal of each committee is to build local membership and organize events and activities to boost the overall employability of the student community, and an online presence is necessary to promote growth and keep members informed.  “Our groups enable each of our societies to have their own fully functional website and database management system,” Jackie explains.  “It is also great for them to promote and manage their events and communications to their members.”

Jackie admits that implementing big changes like the move to GroupSpaces can seem daunting.  “It is always a challenge taking on a completely new software,” she relates, “never mind encouraging over 50 students groups to understand and use it effectively too!”  But never one to shirk from a challenge, Jackie got Bright Futures through any “teething pains” with the help of GroupSpace’s support team, and the non-profit is the better for it.  “We love the fact that we have a fully integrated system where all our members from all our separate groups come into one,” she reports. “It is much easier to manage this way and saves a hell of a lot of time!”

To see examples of what local Bright Futures Societies get up to, check out the groups Jackie created for Birmingham, Manchester, or Bristol.

Does your manager keep your group running like clockwork?  Drop us a line to nominate them for a  feature in a future post!

Featured Group Friday: Le Petit Chien … the small dog!

For this month’s Featured Group Friday, we’re talking to Susan of ‘Le Petit Chien … the small dog!‘

Susan has been an active member of our community as a manager, beta tester and regular contributor of feature requests and bug reports through our helpdesk. We spoke to her about running her group and what she enjoys about using GroupSpaces to do it.

Hi Susan, can we start with you telling us where you and your group are based? 
Le Petit Chien … the small dog! is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA) and has been serving the Greater Philadelphia area since 2007. We also welcome virtual members, many whom are located throughout the United States and Canada.

What is the purpose of your group and why did you first start it?

Le Petit Chien is a not for profit organization that has been providing education and support since 2007 for the Greater Philadelphia dog community. We also offer adoption assistance, educational seminars, dog training classes and socialization opportunities for small and toy breed dogs. Our meetings feature off-leash play along with discussions led by veterinary professionals. We also hold several fundraisers a year for local rescue groups and area shelters.

In 2007, my husband and I added two Chihuahuas to our family. When looking for socialization opportunities for our puppies, we were unable to find a suitable organization that provided a safe and friendly environment for our tiny dogs. Dog parks were not a viable option, so we organized Le Petit Chien … the small dog!

What is the best part of running Le Petit Chein?
Meeting and socializing with other like minded pet guardians. Over the years we have formed many wonderful friendships while supporting our local dog community and area shelters.

What is your top group management tip for other group managers who may be reading this?
Have a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish with your organization. Differentiate your organization from any other that may be located in your geographic area and finally, listen to member feedback.

Why did you choose GroupSpaces as your management tool?

Le Petit Chien … the small dog! was originally located on another online social networking portal. Over the years, Meetup’s vision changed, their platform became too restrictive and their customer service severely deteriorated. During January 2010 we began beta testing alternative platforms and discovered GroupSpaces. We found GroupSpaces to be highly customizable while offering many of the tools that we required to manage our organization. GroupSpaces’ management was also open to developing new subscriber requested features and their platform was virtually bug free.

What has been your favourite part about using GroupSpaces to manage your group?
Interacting with GroupSpaces’ courteous customer service department. The customer service representatives have been very prompt in helping me to resolve any problem that has arisen. Their courteous and friendly assistance is a refreshing change from the poor customer service that we experienced at our former platform provider.

Any final thoughts?
Moving Le Petit Chien … the small dog! to GroupSpaces has been one of the best decisions I have made for our organization.
Take a look at Susan’s Group here. 

Featured Group Friday: Sketchy Doodle

Every month, Featured Group Friday will showcase a group that we feel is doing a great job whilst getting the most out of the group management tools GroupSpaces provides. In the first ever Featured Group Friday, we speak to Annie the manager of Sketchy Doodle Drawing Group!

Hi Annie, can we start with you telling us where you and your group are based?


We are located in Tempe Arizona, USA. Our group members are from all around the Phoenix area.

What is the purpose of your group and why did you first start it?
Our purpose is to get together for group drawing sessions. These are not art classes, just people who like to draw or paint as part of a group. I started the group because this is kind of a niche activity and it can be difficult to find people who have the same interest.

What is the best part of running Sketchy Doodle?
As the organizer I get to meet pretty much everyone, even those people who aren’t very active in the group. I’ve been able to get to know a lot of really great people this way.

What is your top group management tip for other group managers who may be reading this?

It really helps to have a clear vision of what you want before you start the group. It’s important to listen to feedback, but you can’t please everyone, so knowing what you want to accomplish really helps to maintain focus when making decisions about the group.

Why did you choose GroupSpaces as your management tool?

We were part of the big migration from Meetup. I choose GroupSpaces because the site is highly customizable but still easy to use. We can present whatever information we want on our pages to show the unique characteristics of our group.

What has been your favourite part about using GroupSpaces to manage your group?
The friendly and helpful people who run GroupSpaces! I’ve received an answer every time that I’ve asked for help. That kind of personal attention is hard to find.

You’re too kind! Thanks Annie!

Make sure you check out Annie’s group at http://groupspaces.com/sketchydoodle

Do you think your group is worthy of being featured in our Featured Group Friday? We are always accepting nominations, so feel free to email me on sam(@)groupspaces.com