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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?
Association Management Software is a database of contact data used by a variety of organizations to manage memberships, respond to requests and automate many time-consuming tasks.
Organizations such as professional associations, chambers of commerce and industry trade organizations use these systems to store constituent data in a central location, associations can streamline the handling of constituent requests and automate common processes, including:
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:
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.
Facilitates mass communication with members and supporters through email, social media, phone and mail.
Allows 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.
Allows users to track member progress and participation in certification and other education programs.
Administrators can designate which members have access to committee-related documents, such as meeting minutes, task lists and more.
Users can create and maintain donor records, track donations and pledges and manage recurring donations.
Allows associations to manage a repository of content, as well as control where it’s published and who can access it.
Benefits of Association Management Software
Institutions that adopt an association management software can realize many benefits, which include the following:
Multiple needs answered with integrated suites: Association management software offers a bundle of tools that are integral for any member-based organization. The solution acts as a one-stop shop to manage all the needs of the association. It may also include applications, such as fundraising, event management, reporting and analysis, marketing management and CRM.
Better engagement with effective communication: To improve member engagement, associations can regularly run targeted marketing campaigns and provide relevant content and products to their constituents. They can also customize predefined emails and newsletter templates to suit each member. Keeping an open line of communication helps build, and further improve, relationships between the association and its members.
Easier payment processing: The software allows associations to check various lists, such as outstanding dues or list of payees. Association members also have the flexibility to pay their membership fees via various online payment options, such as net banking, Paypal and mobile money wallets.
Handle membership management: Association management software allows nonprofits to take care of constituents more efficiently by having different categorizations, such as member types, groups and categories. This categorization helps in fixing the ticket pricing for different members and creating segmented communication for each group.
Manage events online: The solution allows users to manage events, such as conferences and conventions, without having to use additional software. Members and non-members can sign-up for events on the online events pages. The application also takes care of sending automatic communication to attendees with all the event details.
Enable self-service: Self-service portals help associations cater their members’ request 24/7. They enable members to do various administrative activities, such as profile updates, payment of dues, becoming a member, renewal of membership and record checking, on their own.
Innovate data management: Most of the nonprofits still use manual methods, such as Excel sheets and paper notebooks, to capture and manage data. Association management software helps in capturing and organizing the data and reduces the effort of manual recording.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Almost any type of large member-based organization or association that wants to manage not only members, but also other aspects of the organization can benefit from using association management software. Here are a few types of associations that should consider buying this software:
Student associations: Almost all colleges, universities and schools across the world have student associations and committees. These organizations are run by the students themselves, who act as council members, and may also include staff or teachers in advisory positions. Managing these associations is a huge responsibility for the council members. Their most important job is to regularly communicate important information and updates that impact the everyday lives of the students on the campus.
Industry associations: Industry associations are required to manage contacts, keep them updated, add and delete members and keep the contact information constantly synced for the use of all their members. This software can help them network and build industry relationships with their peers.
Sports associations: Sports administrators are required to do various admin tasks such as facility or field scheduling, event creation, player registrations, contact management as well as membership and ticket payment processing. All of these tasks can be handled with the right association management software.
Alumni associations: These associations are focused on maintaining relationships with the alumni. They also take care of maintaining contact information, managing memberships and fundraising, which are the key offerings of some association management software.
Nonprofits: Nonprofit associations need to have multiple capabilities, such as managing donations, basic finances and membership; maintaining the content of the website; and keeping a track of the partnerships and associations.
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:
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 range of solutions to fit a range of budgets.