As many universities are preparing to be fully or partially online, Beta Alpha Psi chapters are changing the ways they recruit and engage members online. It is essential for chapters to have an online presence to promote their chapter. For this guide, we will show how a website was built that accepts online membership applications, collects dues, collects sponsorship payments, and collects event registrations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) chapter.
Creating a website
For recruiting new members, email is an essential way to communicate with students, but having a website where you can direct them to with all the details about membership will aid in the recruitment process. For the purposes of this guide, we will use the Squarespace web platform as an example, but note there are other acceptable platforms such as Wix, WordPress, Weebly, and others.
1. Getting started
You will want to see if your university has guidelines around the creation of new websites. Some universities may offer free websites on the university web server or student organization web platform.
If your university does not offer free web hosting, decide if you have funds to pay for external web hosting. There are free options available; however, we recommend paying for hosting in order to accept dues online, have a custom domain (eg: uabbap.org) instead of using the free domain (eg uabbap.squarespace.com), along with other features.
If you have funds, Squarespace is a good option. You can start with a free 14 day trial to see if it is right for you.
2. Preparing your website content
- Before you start your Squarespace trial, you will want to do some initial groundwork to prepare your content and decide on the pages you will need. See the section titled Recommended Website Pages below for a list of recommended pages and what to include on each.
3. Building your site
Once you have decided what pages you need and what content and photos will go on those pages, start your Squarespace trial.
The first step will be to choose a template. Squarespace has many templates that you can choose and customize. The UAB chapter website uses the Hayden template.
Now that you have your site set up, you will want to begin creating your pages.
4. Choosing your domain
- Before launching your site, you will want to choose your domain name (URL).
5. Choosing a billing plan
- The Business plan or higher is required to collect dues, have a custom domain, have multiple editors on the site, and access other premium features.
Guide: Squarespace Getting Started guide
Recommended Website Pages
Below is a selection of recommended pages you may want to include on your website. Each page is linked to an example from the UAB chapter.
1. Sponsors: recognize chapter sponsors
2. Sponsorship and Employer Payments: an online option to allow organizations to submit sponsorship payments and event registration fees
3. Leadership: list the chapter advisor(s) and officers with their contact information
4. Membership: list membership types and pledge/initiation requirements for each membership type. Include a link to your membership application on this page.
- Application: using the Squarespace form tool, you can collect information about applications. The form submissions can be stored in a Google Drive account and/or emailed to an advisor or officer.
- Pay Dues: this page will use the Squarespace Store function to accept credit card payments. See more about setting up the store in the below section called Setting up an Online Store to Collect Dues
- Check Hours: this provides an easy way for members to check their hours. One way to do this is to embed a Google Sheet into the page.
5. Events: include upcoming chapter events
6. Photo Gallery: this is a helpful recruitment tool to show activities and events the chapter is hosting and to give prospective members an idea of what to expect
7. Contact: contact information for your chapter
Setting up an Online Application
An online form tool is the best method of collecting online applications. Squarespace has a built in tool, as other web platforms do as well. If you have an existing web presence other than Squarespace, check and see if your university offers any form tools such as Qualtrics or Google Forms. These will work just as well as Squarespace forms.
1. Set up your form
- Create all the fields for the information you need to collect from applicants
- Set up an email address for the new submissions to be emailed to
- If you want an archive of all the submissions (this is recommended), you can create a Google account or link an existing account to sync submissions to your Google Drive
2. Promote your application
- You will want to link your application form prominently on your homepage and site navigation
- You will also want to include the link in emails and communications to students
Guide: Squarespace Forms guide
Setting up an Online Store to Collect Dues
The way you collect dues will vary depending on your university guidelines for collecting funds. Many universities require you to use an approved e-commerce platform. However, if your university doesn’t, you can use Squarespace to collect dues. This method requires that you have a bank account separate from the university’s bank account. If you are using a university e-commerce tool, you will most likely be able to get a link to the online store that you can add to your site, and you can skip all the steps below.
1. Connecting your bank account
- To connect a bank account to your Squarespace site, you must first connect it to either a PayPal or Stripe account.
2. Accounting for processing fees
- Both Squarespace and the payment processing tool you choose (PayPal or Stripe) will charge a credit card processing fee.
- One way to mitigate this is to add this into your chapter dues. You may want to include a note on the site that outlines this extra online fee.
3. Setting up online store and due amounts
- To create your online store, create a new Products page
- Once created, you will be able to create Products for each dues amount
- These Products will need to be set up as a Service type, as there isn’t an option for dues and membership type products.
- This process can be duplicated to create a page to accept payments from firms for sponsorships, Meet the Firms attendance, etc.
Guide: Squarespace guide for connecting a payment processor
1. Why does our chapter need a website?
- For recruiting new members, email is an essential way to communicate with students, but having a website where you can direct them to with all the details about membership will aid in the recruitment process.
2. Who manages the website?
- Designate an officer role to manage the website. Many chapters will have an officer role dedicated to managing and overseeing the content of the chapter’s website.
3. What website platforms should we use?
- Research your universities policies on creations of new website. Some may offer free websites on the university web server or student organization web platform. Make sure to familiarize your officers with the university policies around student organization websites.
- If your university does not offer a website, there are several free or low-cost website options to choose from such as wix.com and squarespace.com.
4. What do we need to do to get started on creating a website?
- Consider investing in a web hosting service that will provide a domain name and that offers an option of collecting chapter dues online. Bluehost or Microsoft Azure offer low cost accounts.
5. What content should we have on our web page?
- We strongly recommend including the following content items on your chapter’s website:
- Description of Beta Alpha Psi and your chapter name and a bit of your chapter history.
- Leadership: List the names and photos of your chapter officers and a point of contact for an interested student to reach out to.
- Candidate and Membership requirements
- Online application: Most chapters use Google Forms or Squarespace to create an online application for interested students to submit to the chapter.
- An online payment application for the student to pay their chapter dues. Google Forms or Squarespace are suggested applications to consider.
- For any online payment system outside of the university e-commerce platform, your chapter may be required to have a bank account and tax id to connect to a PayPal or Stripe account.
- Chapter Meeting Information: List the location, days and hours when the chapter meets. A calendar of events is also suggested. (Keep up to date!)
- Photo Gallery: Post photos of your chapter events!
- List any sponsoring firms or supporters of your chapter on the website along with their logos.
*Make sure to follow the Executive Office branding guidelines.
6. Once the website has been completed, then what?
- Promote Beta Alpha Psi in the following ways:
- BAP Candidates and Members can earn service hours by tutoring other students in accounting, finance, business analytics and digital technology. Make those students aware of Beta Alpha Psi.
- Hold virtual meetings at least twice a month via Zoom or Skype.
- Post the virtual meeting hours on your chapter’s website.
- Ask faculty members to help spread the word of Beta Alpha Psi.
- Invite as many students as possible to the virtual meetings to make them aware of your chapter.
- Invite professionals to the virtual meetings.
- Hold meetings where the professional presents on a technical topic.
- Hold a meeting where the students present to the professionals what they learned about technical topics.
- Hold a student wellness virtual meeting.
- Report all applicable hours in the Reporting Intranet
- For committed candidates and members offer the below professional development resources that can be accessed virtually and during the student’s personal time. Once the student completes the virtual webinars, they should submit to the chapter reporter the hours to report in the Reporting Intranet.