A Conference in Crisis
SCIRA was running a world-class literacy conference every year, outshining their better-funded sister organizations in other states, and garnering effusive praise from their parent organization. The conference, which is self-funded through registration costs, had been well-attended for years.
Then the 2008 global financial crisis struck.
Every organization was hit hard, and SCIRA was no exception. After the financial crisis, conference attendance dropped. School districts could no longer afford to send groups of educators, and teachers couldn’t afford to fund their own attendance.
When things were going well, SCIRA was comfortable using outdated methods for managing conference registrations. Forms were sent in by mail, and payments were handled by cheque or via over the phone credit card processing. These methods were expensive and time consuming — particularly for non-profit organization run by volunteers.
Despite the drop in registration and funding, SCIRA was still hosting stellar conferences. But they needed help adapting to the post-crisis reality.
By digitizing the registration forms, we saved SCIRA countless man-hours that were previously wasted hand-processing every form.
By connecting the registration forms to a payment gateway, we saved SCIRA thousands of dollars in processing fees.
Because the new registration process was easier and quicker to use, registration numbers increased, and SCIRA is now moving towards 100% digital registration, saving them even more time and money year over year.
With the registration problem solved, it was time to bring the rest of the conference process up to date.
SCIRA was relying on paper mailing to inform potential attendees about the conference.
The high cost of printing and mailing meant that all the conference details needed to be finalized before information could be sent out. Potential attendees delayed their decisions until this information was available, leading to a swath of last-minute registrations.
We designed and developed a custom website for the SCIRA conference. With a customized content management system, SCIRA is able to update conference details as they become available, keeping potential attendees informed of every development.
The new SCIRA conference site is fast and responsive, allowing attendees to keep on top of conference updates anywhere, any time, on any device.
The CMS also allows SCIRA to update the logo and colours to match their annual conference theme. We even developed an automatic name tag printing process to save SCIRA more time and effort.
Cascadia South enabled SCIRA to keep conference attendees up to date without delay, leading to earlier registrations. Budget considerations can now be made earlier in the year, and registrations are spread out over a period of months, instead of pouring in at the last minute. This means SCIRA officers can focus on the time-sensitive tasks involved in setting up the conference, rather than processing registrations.
With a killer website and a streamlined registration process, SCIRA still needed help getting updates to its officers and members. They were relying on their daily email accounts to reach out to members, and were being hampered at every turn.
Emails were being sent with no indication that the sender was related to SCIRA. In some school districts, spam filters were blocking entire other districts from getting through. And SCIRA had no reliable way to know which emails were getting through, or if they were being read.
Leveraging the power of Amazon’s Simple Email Service, we created a complete email solution for SCIRA, including official @scira.org email accounts for SCIRA, and proper DKIM records to whitelist the domain with spam filters.