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Call us for a free FastStart Consultation: +1 844 746 1795


by Justin Guinn,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: October 7, 2016

For associations to be successful, they must maintain accurate records, build relationships with constituents and manage benefits. An association management system (AMS) can help your organization’s staff do all this and more.

With this software, association leaders can use the most up-to-date information to personalize communications based on constituents’ interests and past involvement levels, generate accurate reports, effectively plan events and more.

This buyer’s guide provides a brief overview of AMSs, including:

What Is Association Management Software?
Common AMS Functionality
Association vs. Membership Management: What's the Difference?

What Is Association Management Software?

An association management system serves as a database of contact data. It is intended for use by organizations such as professional associations, chambers of commerce and industry trade organizations.

By storing constituent data in a central location, associations can streamline the handling of constituent requests and automate common processes, including:

  • Subscription renewals
  • Event registration
  • Class sign-ups
  • Publication submittals

An AMS also gives managers immediate access to the most up-to-date member data, which can help guide decision-making.

Common AMS Functionality

Association management software functionality varies from vendor to vendor, but typically includes the following core applications:

Constituent management Allows users to manage constituent contact information and history, track renewals and dues, set membership levels, manage benefits and discounts and more.
Conference and event management Streamlines the coordination and planning of events, meetings and conferences by providing tools to support scheduling, registration and payments.
Communications management Facilitates mass communication with members and supporters through email, social media, phone and mail.
Reporting Lets administrators create custom reports and filter constituent data for insights on engagement, satisfaction and other key indicators.

In addition to the core applications listed above, an AMS may have the following modules:

Accounting and financial management Allows users to create invoices; track transactions, dues and receipts; and handle other accounting tasks.
Certification management Lets users track member progress and participation in certification and other education programs.
Committee management Administrators can designate which members have access to committee-related documents, such as meeting minutes, task lists and more.
Fundraising Users can create and maintain donor records, track donations and pledges and manage recurring donations.
Content management Allows associations to manage a repository of content, as well as control where it’s published and who can access it.

Association vs. Membership Management: What's the Difference?

Both AMSs and membership management software products store contact information and track constituent interactions. AMSs, however, are generally better suited to the needs of large associations, such as:

  • Conferences
  • Sponsorships
  • Publications
  • Certifications
  • Committees
  • Job boards

What’s more, membership management is often a single, stand-alone application. But an AMS is typically an integrated suite of several applications that handle tasks related to such activities as fundraising and advocacy.

Furthermore, AMSs typically have higher up-front license and implementation costs than membership management systems, though there are a solutions to fit a range of budgets.

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