Building Stronger Communities with YMCA: Reflections from Denver ACTIVE World: Local

Leslie Persaud, Director of Product Management

This post was written by ACTIVE Network’s new Senior Director of Marketing, Cristine Kao. Cristine came away from her first ACTIVE World: Local conference with a few observations:

Earlier this week we kicked off our annual ACTIVE World: Local conference (AWL) in Denver. Since last year’s conference, 11 new associations joined the YMCA user group community. Now over 35 associations strong, with nearly 1 million members representing more than 8 million activity registrations processed, 2017 marks our most engaged event yet.

Passion for their members

As the leading non-profit organization for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility through a variety of different programs or services, each YMCA is passionate about providing equal opportunity and access to their members.

New programming at the Y extends beyond wellness programs. It now includes family social services such as the Autism Support Group at the YMCA of Metro LA or Teen Leadership Program at YMCA of Boulder Valley, and stronger community connections through support of local charity programs at YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Open Y: Strength through Collaboration

In 2016, a core team of YMCAs, including the Greater Twin Cities, Greater Seattle and Greater Houston, recognized the need for online collaboration through the use of various digital technology. Open Y was established as a platform for free content management, offering individual YMCAs a mobile-friendly, multi-media, brand-compliant website to help members access program updates and find convenient locations more easily.

27 associations are already committed to using Open Y in their next major website update, with 29 undergoing evaluation!

Along similar lines, ACTIVE Net’s soon-to-be-available Gateway API Services also looks to offer further integration that delivers a seamless experience to help participants find group classes or register for programs.

The Power of Collaboration

Many associations shared with me that their priority continues to be optimizing programs and streamlining services for their community. For example, YMCA of Greater Seattle is establishing common processes across its multiple locations to provide consistent, quality service for members.

I am reminded of the three elements of any successful organizational transformation: People, Process, and Technology.  The use of digital technology such as ACTIVE Net is simply one part of the puzzle to solving this type of change. You need staff that are knowledgeable and a culture that fosters on-going training and knowledge transfer, combined with a process built from central governance which enables continuous best practice sharing.

At ACTIVE, we are committed to the YMCA community beyond technology:

  • ACTIVE World: Local, where associations meet in person once a year to learn about latest product updates and network with their peers
  • YMCA Strategic Council, where 8 associations are represented to help validate product roadmap, provide input into future development. This group meets virtually every 3 weeks and in person annually.
  • User Group monthly calls lead by our Consulting team where members share updates and best practices
  • New in 2017, the quarterly Virtual Summit, where ACTIVE shares additional updates.

This type of process has already yielded great results. One perfect example is the Common Configuration project with Phase 1 to be complete by Nov 2017.

Read more about Common Configuration

With a common set of configurations, YMCAs can take advantage of best practices and accelerate adoption during the initial phase of implementation. From Common Configuration, various resources such as eLearning and support documentation are easily created, as well enable faster development of enhancements.

Progress Through Partnership

We’re excited to be a part of strengthening communities through our partnership with YMCAs across the country and looking forward to continued innovation, collaboration, consistency and member support. I look forward to meeting more of our YMCA partners around the country.