As an important staff member of your community’s recreation department, you are responsible for managing, promoting, and executing events and programs that benefit your community. Your job is undoubtedly important. However, it can be easy to become discouraged when your work becomes increasingly overwhelming, even if it’s inherently valuable.
Fortunately, software tools enable us to work more effectively and efficiently while also reducing the amount of stress we experience. Recreation software is a series of integrated software tools that will connect, organize, and streamline all aspects of your parks and recreation department so you can better manage activities, facilities, sports leagues, community centers, and more.
You may be asking yourself, “Is the process of selecting new software going to become an overwhelming source of stress?”
While there are plenty of recreation software platforms to choose from, picking the right software for your needs will be easy if you are equipped with the right knowledge.
As you search for recreation software, make sure you ask yourself these questions:
- What features should I look for in my recreation software?
- Why should I adopt recreation software?
- How can I raise funds for new software?
It can be difficult to know when you need to adopt a software platform or upgrade from your previous platform. This post will let you know everything you need to know to purchase recreation software. Reading this post is the first step in lightening your workload and improving the management of your community recreation centers and programs.
1. What features should I look for in my recreation software?
It’s no secret that not all recreation software is created equal. Not all software will incorporate all of the features you need to be successful, and this will only result in even more frustration as you manage your recreation programs and facilities.
Of course, there are plenty of features that would be beneficial to your department, but a few stand out among the rest as absolutely necessary. Make sure your recreation software comes fully equipped with tools to facilitate:
An easy registration process.
A quick and easy registration process is perhaps one of the most important aspects of any parks and recreation department which prides itself on the programs and events it hosts.
When community members register for your department’s programs or attempt to become more involved in your community’s recreation activities, they should not have to wrestle with your software platform to complete their registration. The software you choose should also enable you to create customized online forms so you can easily capture information including:
- Emergency contact information.
- Medical and allergy alert information.
- Permission slips.
The easier it is for people to register — and the easier it is for you to manage the registration process — the more people will register! Don’t forget, the more people register for your events, the more money you will be able to raise!
Online payment processing.
Without integrated processing capabilities, your users would not be able to complete their registration and join your network of community participants. However, as is always the case with accepting payments online, you should be particular about which software tool you use.
Make sure your payment processing tool:
- Can accept all forms of digital tender including all credit cards and e-Checks.
- Is PCI compliant.
- Allows payments, refunds, voids, and chargebacks for any transaction.
This tool will ensure community members are able to easily increase their involvement in your community recreation programs and easily complete transactions their own devices.
Everyone hates being on the receiving end of a mass email. Your community members are no different! With targeted messaging capabilities, you will be able to send messages to specific individuals whose interests and needs will align with the content in your message.
No matter who your audience is, you should always try to improve your email messaging strategy. The best messaging tool will do this by allowing you to:
- Send attachments.
- Personalize your message to the recipient.
- Edit your sender and reply addresses.
- Segment your recipient list.
With this tool’s capability, you will be able to update specific individuals with the information they need about events including cancellations and location changes.
Want to offer your community members the best ways to maintain their involvement with your department and its offerings? Your recreation software should help you manage all memberships to your programs and facilities. This may include:
- Seasonal passes.
- Guest passes.
- Rolling memberships.
- Multi-visit passes.
This software feature will encourage individuals and families to become involved and stay involved.
To see more about membership management, check out this guide to pool membership software from CommunityPass.
2. Why should I adopt recreation software?
Your parks and recreation center is likely not a single entity that can easily be run with a few spreadsheets and a finite amount of funds. Your department needs to be judicious with how it spends its limited resources, but it also needs to be a well-oiled machine that operates at maximum efficiency.
Your department exists to serve its community and provide fun, recreational activities for every single member of your community. But successfully engaging community members isn’t always easy! When you adopt recreation software, you will:
- Save time. By relying on the software to perform monotonous, time-consuming administrative tasks, your staff will be freed up to focus on other tasks, greatly increasing how much can be accomplished in a limited timeframe. This can greatly increase how much can be accomplished in a limited timeframe.
- Reduce costs. Running an operation like a recreation department can be costly. You and your staff should take advantage of the opportunity to reduce costs in any way you can. Recreation software will not only reduce labor costs by streamlining operations, but it will also decrease the amount you need to spend on physical resources like printing and postage.
- Increase accuracy. As is the case with any manual data entry and management, human error can be a potential obstacle to your operations. When you use a software system to record and manage your data, you will increase the accuracy of your data.
Recreation software has the potential to dramatically increase your recreation department’s ability to provide for your community. You won’t be held back by common limitations as you allow your administrative staff to focus on the important big-picture components of your organization’s operations.
Check out this guide to learn more about incorporating software with your parks and recreation department.
3. How can I raise funds for new software?
Fundraising is an important aspect of nearly every public service entity. As a recreation department, you likely have limited funds to work with. This is where an effective fundraising campaign can make or break your department’s ability to contribute to its community.
There are many ways to implement fundraising best practices in your community, but make sure you personalize your strategy to fit your audience and potential donors.
A great way to reach supporters is by including donation pages in your online registration process. This ensures that your audience is invested in the programs you offer and is more than likely interested in the continuation of these programs—plus, they will already have their wallets out!
However, while this should be a component of your fundraising strategy, it is also important to host additional fundraisers to supplement these donations and reach new audiences.
One tried-and-true fundraising idea includes selling branded t-shirts. Using a t-shirt design platform like Bonfire, your department will be able to sell t-shirts that are specifically created with your community in mind. Your department can create shirts that:
- Promote upcoming events in your community.
- Advertise local businesses with whom you have a partnership.
- Relate to an important aspect of your community.
These shirts will all be unique to your department and should have your recreation department’s logo prominently displayed. This not only serves as a great way to raise money, but the extra visibility will help raise awareness for the programs and events you offer.
You may also wish to incorporate fundraising events that require members of your community to physically come together. This will enable members of your department and your loyal supporters to engage new members of your community. Try some of these quick fundraising ideas for any organization that are sure to be effective in your community.
Remember to get creative and appeal to your audience, which loves sports and outdoor recreation! This means there are lots of opportunities to explore great fundraising ideas, which could include walk-a-thons, running shoe drives, and community field days. No matter what, your software platform will be able to manage the incoming donations with ease!
Adopting a new software for your recreation department doesn’t need to be a hassle or an obstacle to your success. By incorporating recreation software into your department’s operations, you will be able to streamline your entire operation and reduce inefficient resource allocation.
As long as you approach purchasing recreation software equipped with the knowledge you have gained in this post, you will be more than ready to effortlessly integrate the software into your operations.
This post was contributed by Joseph Oriente.
Joseph Oriente is the President and Founder of Capturepoint, creator of CommunityPass software. Joe established Capturepoint in 1999 and launched CommunityPass in 2003, which was initially created to provide online registration and payment for a local town sports council that was overwhelmed with an increasing number of paper registrations. Since then Joe has been responsible for expanding CommunityPass nationally to become one of America’s most well respected and complete online management solutions with registration, membership and facilities software serving the recreation and school markets.