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August 11, 2017
Strategies for Sisterhood Success: Sisterhood Websites
by Waynette Besser
Treasurer of Temple Israel Sisterhood, Memphis, TN
When I became treasurer of my sisterhood three years ago, one of my early goals was to find a way to make it easier for members to pay their dues, pay for events and/or make donations by credit card. To facilitate that easily, our current website needed to be updated. 
Our sisterhood’s website was created years ago but the member who created it was no longer interested. Another member tried updating it but told me you had to know computer code and it was beyond her expertise. After acquiring the administrative sign on information, I decided to take a stab at updating it myself but I didn’t have a clue as to where to begin. I started looking at other website builders and discovered how easy it was to create a new website but the costs were more than we were currently paying.
During this investigative time, I joined a committee that met with the temple staff person who maintained their website with the intention of learning how to update our sisterhood page on the temple website. Right away, I knew I didn’t want to invest the time it would take to update this page because of the many steps involved. 
I went back to our outdated website and started playing around and figured out how to design it based on knowledge acquired during my research. I realized that I did not need to know code, and could just drag and drop boxes to add content, photos or videos, and links. I was able to update our website to add the new functionality I was looking for so that members could register for events and pay online.  
One early challenge was to make sure that we met the guidelines established by our temple regarding fonts, logos, etc. and that the messages we conveyed were in sync with our mission. Since I sit at a computer all day, keeping the home page current has been easy for me. Now that I am accustomed to how this website builder works, I can upload graphics or photos and add content within minutes. 
During this process, I learned that a website is the perfect answer for many tasks:
  • Registration for events - Instead of losing money from attendees not showing up to events, members can make reservations directly on the website, making it more cost-effective for sisterhood and more convenient for the attendee.
  • Platform for all events - Especially for large sisterhoods, it is hard to balance which events and programs are taking place at what times and places. With the website, all information can be located in one central hub.
  • Joining the age of technology - Everyone is constantly online these days and now with an updated website, your sisterhood can be as well. Social media accounts can also be linked directly to the site and feature different posts in Realtime. 
Now, at every function, we push the website as a vehicle for members to find information about sisterhood and our web address appears on our monthly e-newsletter to our members. 
Once I got my feet wet with creating a website and managing a membership of over 575 women, I realized that there had to be an easier way to manage our membership database and communicate with target groups of women within our organization. Working and sorting spreadsheets is time consuming and mistakes are easily made. 
After much research, we have decided to move to a membership database platform that comes with a website builder and event planner. Spreadsheets will no longer be needed. Members will be able to update their own profiles, select which groups they want to be in, pay dues, register for events, make donations as well as access an online or app driven directory. It will take me a couple of months to get it up and running but in the meantime, I am still updating our current website – check us out: www.tisisterhood.org
I hope that sharing my experience in learning about and implementing new technology to benefit my sisterhood will help you evaluate your needs and embolden you to explore new tools to make your sisterhood more efficient and user friendly.

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Study guides for this parashah and more from The Torah: A Women's Commentary are now available.

Save the date for FLC 2018, March 1-4, 2018! Find more information here.
Looking to become a leader within WRJ? Consider applying to be a WRJ Board Member today! The application closes September 1.
How can we benefit you? What subjects do you want us to discuss? Consider submiting a topic suggestion for our weekly Strategies piece. 
WRJ is excited to provide Outreach Grants of up to $1,000 to WRJ sisterhoods to fund programs in their communities that reach out to interfaith families and non-Jews.
This week on the WRJ blog, Maya Weinstein, WRJ RAC Legislative Assistant, writes about the pressing issue of military sexual assault
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