400+ websites within 1 Drupal environment: an online community platform for the Association of Lions Clubs The Netherlands.

Submitted by
Cipix Internet
The Case
Category
Social / Community
Short introduction
The Lions were a global community long before there was a worldwide web. Founded in 1917, they are the largest service club organization in the world today. Their 1.4 million members strive to serve their local communities through community-, youth- and environmental programs. Besides the local focus the Lions provide relief in case of a natural disaster anywhere in the world and run a variety of global health programs.

The Dutch Lions branch consists of 11.500 members, they are united in 435 clubs which are governed by the Association of Lions Clubs The Netherlands. The online community of the Dutch branch is crucial for internal and external communication and is mainly created to assist members in sharing knowledge and best practices.
Launch date
Background
Local clubs are independent bodies which exist by the grace of volunteers. This organisation structure can be both challenging and complex. The association ran a national website and due to various causes - but mainly due to technical impediments - the local clubs did not want to use their own environment within this website. Because websites are a key tool in their community work, the clubs started to develop their own websites. This resulted in a myriad of local websites that varied in quality.

Focusing on the online community aspect, this presented the following major problems:
• No effective exchange of information (e.g. knowledge base, protocols, best practices, events, projects and news) between the national association and local clubs and vice versa. As a consequence valuable information on national events, best practices etc. was missed by many Lions members.
• The poor quality of the local websites were no good representation of the Lions and did not appeal to future members.
• The safety risk of the local club sites was a continuous concern for the national webmaster. The vast majority of the club sites ran on WordPress and were scarcely -or never- updated. As a consequence some sites were hacked and there was a concern for the protection of data.
• Finally the websites were not responsive and the integrated extranet and web shop were complicated and unpopular.
Objectives
A. General objectives are:
• Create a community platform which includes all the local Dutch clubs, district websites, extranet environments and web shop and which provides access to external databases and cloud based solutions.
• Facilitate local clubs by providing them with a responsive, safe and easy to use website with an extranet environment and digital newsletter functionality.

This project is divided in several sub projects, each with own objectives.

B. National website objectives are:
• Sharing knowledge with local clubs.
• Engaging local clubs and individual members in national matters and projects.
• Servicing members by providing easy access to all kinds of databases, information and the web shop.
• Facilitating the registration and payment of meetings and conventions as well as the authorization of attendees.
• Actively approaching members by using a digital newsletter.

Requirements:
• User friendly and responsive web design.
• Easy creation of a new club website, including selection of a design template and navigation concept.
• Easy management of users, sub websites, structure and content.
• Single sign on authorisation and synchronization of user profiles defined in the Lions member administration system (existing custom-made PHP system).


C. Local website objectives are:
• Increase Lions visibility in the community.
• Recruit future Lions club members.
• Actively approaching local community using a digital newsletter.

Requirements
• User friendly and responsive web design.
• Integration local social media accounts.
Results
1. Within 6 months following the launch of the new online community, over 100 clubs (25%) made the choice to use the Drupal based club website. The remaining websites are expected to migrate in 2017.

Because local clubs value their own identity within the national association they are presented with multiple options regarding their own website within the Drupal environment. This customization in combination with the user-friendliness and safety were major contributors in the acceptation of the new club website. For extra encouragement we have organized special support for webmasters. Each website is provided with a customized online manual, directly accessible via the CMS interface. Finally we’ve set up various ‘train the trainer’ instructions. These trainers are now the constant and direct support system for club webmasters nationwide.

The national webmaster can create a new club website within seconds. By selecting the desired template and navigation concept a new website is created. The necessary data like specific club information, roles and rights is being synchronized automatically with the custom member administration system. Further customization is possible by integrating the club logo in the header and add the social media accounts if desired (You will find a screenshot of the web form in the attachment).

2. The online community platform is responsive and automatically shares content with local clubs. Recent news items and upcoming events are pushed on the homepage of local club websites. This automation is a simplification of the publishing process for all webmasters and that is an instant win because it saves time. Furthermore there is an increased engagement with the national organisation because the local members are confronted with national news and events on their local website.

3. Local club websites allow the clubs to interact with the community by:
• Using a digital newsletter which can be send to specific user groups selected by the local webmaster, e-mail recipient list are generated automatically by the member administration system.
• The specific Facebook timeline of a club can be integrated into the club website (the display of Facebook feeds is optional, the webmaster is able to manage this).
• Content derived from the member database system, like board members and contact information, is included into the footer of the club website.

4. The new web shop is a perfect fit with the desired order- and fulfilment process. Payments are processed by Buckaroo and are transferred to a specific account. The fulfilment saves time which is paramount because this is done by volunteers.

5. Registration for events (meetings and conventions) is easier, both for members and organizers. Thanks to comprehensive registration lists it is easy to see who has registered and paid online, and if specific wishes apply.

6. Extensive newsletter options. It is easy to create and send newsletters to various groups that are defined in the custom member system. Through a custom-made integration module these groups are synchronized in the Drupal user database.

7. We took into account that the volunteers that manage the community websites are no IT or communication experts. The managing of club websites, users, content and payments is easy and intuitive.
Technical challenges
• The Domain Access, Domain Alias, Domain Blocks, Domain Block Title, Domain Configuration, Domain Menu Access, Domain Settings, Domain Theme and Domain Views modules cooperate in order to create 435 websites within one code- and database.
• The use of the Domain Access API.
• Commerce Buckaroo customization which allows Buckaroo as a payment provider to handle two different Buckaroo accounts. This was necessary because the revenue of some products had to be wired to a different bank account than the other products.
• The connection with the custom Lions member database, in order to synchronize data on users, clubs, access rights and roles for country- district- and club websites.
• The requirement to setup a local club website with 1 easy to use and comprehensive web form. For this we developed a custom module.
• The use of the Drupal Simplenews module, in combination of specific recipient lists from the member database.
Challenges in (combination of) modules
See our answer on Technical challenges.
Contribution form the project to the Drupal-community
For this particular project our contribution to the Drupal community can be classified as a 'soft' one. We have introduced 400+ webmasters to Drupal. A large percentage of them were WordPress users and they were biased towards what they thought to be the ‘non-user-friendly’ Drupal CMS. Our Drupal installation and the extra attention for user support has changed this. It’s always fun to observe the faces of webmasters we introduce to Drupal. First there are signs of relief and they are followed by enthusiasm.
Name client
The association of Lions Clubs The Netherlands
What does the client think about the project?
Quote from our client, Ir A.C.J. Besselink, Chairman SICTA Lions Clubs The Nederland:
“We are extremely satisfied with the implementation of this project thanks to the constructive cooperation with Cipix. They had the ability to be flexible and supportive during this project, which actually consisted of multiple projects. Since the launch we’ve received many positive feedback from the Lions community.“
Screenshot