Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) span across the United States, and through fundraisers and parent donations, each of them can raise thousands of dollars per year. But up until recently, many of these school-adjacent non-profit organizations have used antiquated technology to keep their organizations up to snuff, missing out on opportunities to bring their communities and local businesses even closer to the school environment—and the revenue it could bring.
That’s where Raleigh-based MemberHub comes in.
MemberHub is a membership management and communications platform with some e-commerce mixed in, said CEO Will Bowen. The platform enhances communication among members in community organizations and helps them fundraise more efficiently using updated technology.
MemberHub has focused its resources on addressing an under-served need for a communications platform among PTAs, PTOs (Parent Teacher Organizations) and booster organizations across the country. However, the platform can be used by any community organization regardless of its type, Bowen said. It has even been used by a horse-racing group in the United Kingdom.
Bowen and Co-Founder Matt Harrell came up with the idea for this platform based on MemberHub’s predecessor, a membership management and communications software firm that Harrell had started in 2008 to facilitate communication between community groups, like churches and pre-schools. In 2018, Harrell and Bowen saw the opportunity for a pivot, focusing on communications between non-profit school groups outside the jurisdiction of the school districts.
“We both have children in Wake County Schools,” Bowen said, “and there’s a big technology gap in how parents get involved. There are all these different sign-ons and platforms out there, and it causes a lot of parent confusion.”
MemberHub mitigates this confusion by providing a singular portal for parents to access any and all information that their school PTA, PTO or booster club is sending them, instead of opening a never-ending stream of emails.
Once they join MemberHub, organizations can customize their own websites with their school logos and invite parents to join the page. From then on, the MemberHub page is the center of information for all school-fundraising activities and events.
The e-commerce element of MemberHub allows organizations to sell merchandise and to fundraise online—opening them up to revenue-generating options outside of traditional coupon books or selling cookie dough or wrapping paper. Through MemberHub, local businesses can support their communities by offering fundraising opportunities relevant to their communities’ needs like braces or food, Bowen said.
“It becomes a give-back program on things parents actually want to buy,” Bowen said. ”Businesses can come in and sponsor a school, put an actual good or service up and the PTA can get a percent of the proceeds as an affiliate fundraiser.”
MemberHub makes most of its revenue from online transaction fees from the digital marketplace manifested in its platform, as well as digital sponsorships.
Since MemberHub pivoted in 2018, it has become the largest PTA software-provider in the country, serving almost 12,000 parent groups—in North Carolina, the rest of the United States and abroad.
It has also recently launched the Marketplace program, sponsored by Allen Tate Realtors, which aims to raise $1M for Wake County Schools this year.
“There’s actually a direct correlation between parent engagement and student achievement,” Bowen said, “so if parents get more involved, there is a social good that comes to their kid’s education.”