Volunteering for my GMO from Behind a Keyboard

I joined my local USDF GMO for the first time in 2016, and my first thought upon registering was "Oh wow, this registration process is...clunky."

A long time ago, when I was 19ish, I decided to double major in Equine Studies and Digital Media Communications in college.  I thought I would offer equine business owners complete technology services: website, sales photography/videography, stable management software, etc.

19ish me and Venice, with Mary in the background

And then I discovered that I HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE websites. They're finicky, they change constantly, and managing them annoys me.  And then I fell in love with the high tech industry and my career path totally changed.

#careerpath #pleasedon'tbecomeobsoleteanytimesoon

But I did get those degrees and I do make the occasional exception. And when I went through that registration process earlier this year (which involved filling out a .rtf file out in WordPad, manually calculating your total, and going to PayPal.com to do a "Send Money" or mailing a check), I knew I wanted to help change it.
My brain on this .rtf file: "Let me help you!"

So, as it goes with volunteer organizations, I offered to help and immediately was told I was on a committee.  Heh.  I never heard from them, though, and started researching platforms, plugins, and prices, knowing I would have to present them with a functional rough draft rather than getting hung up on details with a committee.

Finding a plugin/platform that would allow me to collect PayPal payments and didn't cost an arm and a leg was hard, yo!  I eventually settled on hosted Wordpress with a paid-for plugin (one time, $30) called FormMaker Pro.  I also had to pay for a new domain name and site because the current site isn't built on WordPress.  (My long game is to get them to turn the entire site over to me and consolidate the two...gotta take that goal one step at a time, though...)


For anyone who may be looking for something similar for their GMO or other organization, I really like it.  When the user clicks "Submit", it drops them off at a PayPal checkout page with the correct total based on the options they chose.  It also automatically sends the user a personalized welcome email, and emails their sign up info to the membership chair.  You can also pull an Excel spreadsheet of sign ups at any time.

The committee and the club ended up loving it and putting it straight into service.  Right now we are only using it for memberships and generic volunteer interest, but in the future, it could be used for schooling show entries (online Coggins uploads and PayPal entry fee payments!!), actual show volunteer sign ups, committee sign ups, annual meeting dinner reservations, and more.

Here is a link to our new membership form.  Since this crowd is savvy enough to set up blogs, are any of you volunteering to do tech work for an equine organization?

26 comments:

  1. I have very similar roles in a few of our local organizations. I'm desperate for an alternative to Wild Apricot, which one uses for membership, web design (kill me now), hosting, calendar, etc. It's just such a nightmare. I will check out this plug in--it looks very sleek and efficient!

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    1. For sure! Let me know if you have any questions.

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  2. Awesome! It is fun to do work like that to help out the horsey orgs now and again. I was a website person in a former life and have helped a few barns and still do the website for my local AQHA affiliate. Other than HTML and CSS, I'm not great at the programming side - so that form plugin for wordpress looks kinda handy. You should see the entry forms the AQHA shows here use! Awful!

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    1. OH man, drives me crazy. How is the equine industry so far behind in technology in general?

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  3. Hi Jen, I have some specific questions about the Word Press and Form Maker Pro that you used. Could you please send me an email at Donovan(dot)Jenn40(at)gmail(dot)com? Thanks!

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  4. This is fabulous Jen! Long overdue update for IDS - way to go :)

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  5. I'm the VP (possibly soon to be the pres in 2017) of my local GMO and I'm currently in the process of (slowly) changing their website. When I tried to join I was very frustrated by how outdated it was, so the first thing I volunteered to do was update it. I am definitely going to have to check out this plug-in -- we currently don't even offer the option to register online, ughhh.

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    1. Definitely do. I did a ton of research and this was my favorite. Not too expensive too compared to a lot of them.

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  6. Ooh, I'm going to have to check out that plugin! Online schooling show entry has been on my to-do list for at least a year. I run the local GMO's website (and use Wordpress)!

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  7. Signing up for equestrian stuff is the WORST. Not just GMO pages but have you tried signing up for a rated show? The UX designer in me wants to throw things.

    Good for you for fixing it!

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    1. Uh oh, do I or do I not want you to analyze my site from a UX perspective? Kidding. The only thing that really makes my eyes bleed is Connor's super long girth billets in the picture.

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  8. Ooooohhhh...I'm the president of my local GMO, and we are still doing paper membership registration and checks only. Hahahahahahaha. I am far from a tech genius, but I run our website as well. It's not great, but far and away better than the thing they had before, which looked like it was from the 90s (spoiler alert- it probably was). I'm trying to find ways to streamline registrations for both membership and shows/events. I'm definitely going to have to check this one out. My email is emilyjdieleman@gmail.com. If you've got time, I'd love to I'd love to pick your brain sometime!

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  9. Love it! I know someone who might enjoy this post!!

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    1. Nice! I'm happy to answer questions if they want.

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  10. Super cool. I've offered a few times, but my offer seems to be perpetually stuck in 'waiting for the next meeting to discuss'...'so-and-so might have some ideas too..." mode. You were very wise to bring a sample version to the table :)

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    1. Haha, can you tell I am an accomplished red tape cutter? The best way to avoid discussions is to thoroughly understand the requirements, then build something before the discussions can even happen. Not that I knocked it out of the park the first time, there were some things I had to modify based on feedback, but there was something concrete and not theoretical to modify, y'know?

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  11. Way easier than what ours is. They are sloooowly starting to come up with the times. A few shows are offering online entries, which I much more prefer. No waiting on pins and needles hoping that my check makes it there, and makes it there on time.

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  12. Awesome job. My husband and I always complain about equestrian websites. I don't belong to any smaller organizations, but I would certainly fix their websites if I did.

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  13. I did it for my trainer for a long ass time as well as working the points for the local organizations (hey I'm great with databases guys!)

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