Learn how to engage your members with your membership CRM!

Membership CRM | 6 Exceptional Tips to Engage Members

Associations like yours can’t just rely on outdated association management software for membership management anymore. Your needs are far too complex — you have events to plan, renewal letters to automate, and membership fees to collect, not to mention a vibrant member community to maintain.

What if you could do it all within one solution?

The right membership CRM will provide your association with myriad opportunities to engage your members — improving the member experience and increasing recruitment and retention — without leaving the platform.

To get you started, we’ve put together a list of seven strategies to engage your members through your membership software solution:

  1. Invest in a true-cloud membership CRM.
  2. Segment members into communities and chapters.
  3. Automate membership renewal and fee processing.
  4. Set up membership levels.
  5. Host members-only events.
  6. Send feedback surveys to members.

With these techniques on your side, you’re sure to bring your members closer together than ever. Let’s jump into them!

Choose a true-cloud solution to ensure your membership CRM is always up-to-date.

1. Invest in a true-cloud membership CRM.

When choosing membership software, you have two main options for hosting.

As we cover in our essential guide to membership software, those two options are local servers and cloud servers. Your choice will depend largely on your need for a scalable solution:

  • Locally hosted solutions rely on your own servers, whether they are in your office or at a hosting center. Going with legacy AMS limits the amount of data you can store because you can only use the space you have on your own servers, unless you add more hardware.
  • True-cloud solutions store membership data in the cloud. Because cloud servers are decentralized, there’s no practical limit to the amount of storage cloud-based databases offer.

Though your administrative staff will definitely consider the storage space issue when selecting a membership management database, your members might not have that issue in the front of their minds. Instead, they’re much more likely to notice when problems don’t get fixed right away.

If you invest in a cloud-based membership management system, updates are resolved as soon as they’re pushed out. You don’t have to buy any new hardware or manage your own software installation process. The system takes care of itself and presents you with the most accurate, up-to-date information whenever you need it, allowing you to improve the member experience. Updates in Fonteva, a true-cloud solution, are easy to view and install:

Invest in a true-cloud solution for your membership CRM.

Choosing a membership CRM that like Fonteva is based in the world’s largest cloud-based CRM platform, Salesforce, offers another benefit to enterprise-level associations: flexibility.

Salesforce services more than 23,000 companies, organizations, and associations, all of whom have access to AppExchange. When you invest in a Salesforce-native membership database software solution, you can find solutions to any specialized needs not covered by the program’s own features in point solutions on AppExchange. Your members will appreciate staying on the same platform they’re familiar with even as you add new modules to accommodate your association’s growth.

Use your membership software to segment your members into communities and chapters.

2. Segment members into communities and chapters.

One of the most efficient ways to get your members invested in your association is to foster a strong member community that sustains itself independently of your staff’s efforts. Give your members the agency to make their experience their own, and they will invest in the areas and projects that they love the most.

A great membership CRM will afford your members the capability to manage their own experience through features such as communities and chapters. These online communities foster camaraderie among members through features like:

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces that encourage social interaction
  • Custom permissions based on member profile
  • Communication features between members and administrators
  • Options to update membership profiles, renew membership, and pay fees
  • Member-created subgroups and subcommittees

Even if your members are spread out across the country or the world, you can encourage them to see themselves as active participants in your association via the virtual social spaces of communities and chapters. These types of online communities are especially useful for associations whose members need to coordinate plans with one another, such as volunteer-based associations, Greek alumni, or student organizations — just check out this alumni chapter in Fonteva:

Empower your members to interact with the communities and chapters in your membership CRM.

By incorporating these intuitive virtual chapters and communities, your association can encourage its members to interact with the membership CRM, each other, and your association.

Look for a software solution that is already geared towards your particular type of association or membership group. This way, the segmentation process can be that much more specific. For example, a Greek organization choosing a database software solution targeted specifically for Greek organizations will find it easier to segment their communications by categories such as members who are active, associate, inactive, or alumni.

Increase retention with automatic membership renewal notifications.

3. Automate membership renewal and fee processing.

It’s impossible to engage members who forget to pay their membership fees and fall off the map. Everyone forgets a deadline now and again, even invested members who want to stay in the program. Make sure you invest in a membership CRM that can keep you updated on your membership renewals, like Fonteva:

Stay up-to-date with your membership renewals within your membership CRM.

To ensure that the members that want to stick around have every chance to do so, you should automate your renewal process as much as possible. You should also take the opportunity of automatic renewal reminders to ask your members to upgrade their membership!

Program your membership software to send automatic messages to your members when:

  • Their membership is coming up for renewal, giving them plenty of time for them to submit their member dues.
  • Their membership has been renewed, thanking them for renewing or upgrading their membership.
  • Their membership has expired, letting them know you would love to have them back someday.

The top membership and association management software solutions will offer renewal automation as part of the package. Some will offer more customized solutions than others, so to ensure you’re implementing the right solution for your association, check out Double the Donation’s ranking of the top membership software.

Use your membership CRM to automatically apply membership benefits.

4. Set up membership levels.

Enterprise-level associations offer multiple membership levels to accommodate as many members as possible. Higher membership fees earn your higher-level members more benefits, special access, and a greater stake in your mission.

Why shouldn’t your membership CRM reflect those membership levels? A membership management system that can automatically recognize membership level will actually increase member engagement through:

  • Badges and certificates on member profiles.
  • Priority registration for events.
  • Authorization to join communities and committees.
  • Automatic benefits applied to online purchases.

Software that automatically recognizes and applies the benefits associated with higher membership levels makes upgrading to those levels more appealing to your members. Plus, with Fonteva, their membership profile will display their membership level to anyone who sees it:

Engage your members with badges on their membership profiles.

Think about it from your members’ point of view: if they can automatically register a day earlier, earn a special badge, or get a higher percentage off their online purchases just by upgrading their membership, without any other hassle, why wouldn’t they? These kinds of customizable features should definitely be taken into consideration when you start comparing different membership software solutions.

Use your membership management software to host events for members.

5. Host members-only events.

Nothing makes your members feel special quite like an exclusive invitation to a members-only event. The more spectacular the event, the more your members will want to participate.

Of course, more intricate events are harder to plan. As much as you want to host amazing events to strengthen your member community, is it worth the effort?

With the right membership CRM, the answer is yes, absolutely! Just look at how much control you have over your events when you use Fonteva’s membership CRM event planning features:

Plan members-only events right in your membership CRM.

Just think about the benefits of managing events within the same platform as your membership CRM:

  • Data: Eliminate the need to manually transfer data between systems by centralizing event participation data in the same place you house your member profiles.
  • Local events: You’ve already organized local committees and chapters, so why not invest in software that empowers them to organize their own events?
  • Registration: Automatically apply member permissions to the registration process, including member discounts and early registration.
  • Upsell: Do nonmembers want to attend your event? Upsell memberships at registration and automatically apply any member benefits to the same purchase.
  • Payment: Save time and startup fees by using the payment gateways you’ve already set up for membership fees for event ticket purchase.

Membership management software built in a flexible platform such as Salesforce can integrate seamlessly with the top event management features offered by the platform. That integration will save you and your members time and energy in planning a spectacular event.

Engage your members with feedback surveys sent through your membership software.

6. Send feedback surveys to members.

Membership engagement is a two-way street. Your association could spend hours planning blowout fundraising events and organizing online communities, but that would be time wasted if you’re not giving your members what they want.

To ensure that your members are getting what they need and want from your association, incorporate feedback surveys and polls into your operations. Use your membership CRM’s communications features, like Fonteva’s Chatter, to establish a direct line between you and your members that you can use to ask for feedback when needed:

Use your membership CRM to communicate with your members and ask for feedback.

Consider soliciting feedback:

  • Immediately after events.
  • Surrounding a membership drive.
  • Along with membership renewal notifications.
  • At the end of the calendar year.
  • During a fundraising campaign.

In your feedback surveys and polls, be sure to ask what your members enjoy about your membership program as well as what they would like to see change in the future. You can use their positive feedback in future marketing materials — just be sure to ask their permission to publish their comments!

Constructive feedback benefits your association on several levels. On one hand, your membership program gets better every time you incorporate feedback from members who care about its future. On the other, your members feel validated when they see that their feedback has been taken into account.

Now that you’ve got your members engaged through your membership CRM, learn more about what your membership software can do for your association by clicking on the links below:

Learn more about choosing membership software.

Make sure you choose a membership management system with all the features you absolutely need!

7 Essentials for Your Membership Management System

Learn the top challenges and opportunities for membership organizations. and As your association grows, your requirements for your membership software grow, too — so much so that you’ve outgrown your current membership management solution!

So after congratulating yourselves on another successful year, it’s time to buckle down and find your next membership management system.

In this post, we’ll walk through the top seven essential features you should look for when purchasing membership software:

  1. Robust member profiles
  2. Automatic member renewals
  3. Events management
  4. Payment processing
  5. Analytics and reporting
  6. Online self-service member portals.
  7. Full database customization.

Before we get started: it’s important to remember that the perfect membership management system looks different for every association out there. Features your association couldn’t do without wouldn’t even cross the minds of another association’s executive team.

More important than any of these features alone is the flexibility of your membership management system platform. If you choose a membership software solution that affords your team access to excellent support and training, a marketplace of supplementary apps and plugins, and drag-and-drop, coding-free customization, then you’ll be able to take advantage of the features your association needs without overspending on a completely custom-built platform.

Once you’re familiar with the kinds of features to look for, make sure to conduct a comprehensive membership software comparison to start narrowing down your choice. Let’s jump in:

Comprehensive member profiles are essential to any membership management service.

#1 Essential for Your Membership Management System: Robust Member Profiles

No matter what kind of membership program you operate, you wouldn’t be looking for a membership management system if you didn’t need comprehensive member profiles.

While all membership software should store basic information such as contact details, more sophisticated solutions will automatically populate more specific information from other features you integrate into your membership CRM:

  • Event attendance: When your members attend an event, your membership CRM should record the type of ticket they bought as well as any add-ons they opted into.
  • Connections: Your membership CRM should reflect relationships between members, like membership in the same chapter or employment at the same workplace.
  • Membership level: Your membership CRM should apply badges, special permissions, or discounts for online purchases to profiles at different membership levels.

The best membership software will also allow members to modify their own profiles. Encouraging members to keep their profiles up to date doesn’t just ensure that your data is current — it also fosters engagement in the greater member community. Users will explore a member directory if it’s robust, and they’ll want other members to see accurate information on their own profile.

Check out what member profiles look like on Fonteva’s membership management system, built natively in Salesforce:

The best membership management services automatically update member profiles with new information.

You’ve found the right system for your association if…

It gives your team the ability to learn and analyze all the essential information that you need to know about your members.

Find membership software that automatically sends renewal reminders.

#2 Essential Feature: Automatic Member Renewals

Retention is a constant topic of conversation for associations. Membership software that can automate the renewal process will drastically increase your members’ chances of renewing.

Look for membership software that can identify individuals whose membership is up for renewal, then send them automated renewal reminders. These reminders should be:

  • Timely, giving your members plenty of time to pay their dues before their membership expires.
  • Recurring, often enough to keep renewal on your members’ minds without annoying them.
  • Personalized, with your members’ name and a link directly to a renewal form.

Membership software should also be able to send automatic welcome messages to new members and expiration notices for members who don’t renew in time.

Having membership software that can send lapsed members an expiration notice or renewal letter can help increase your membership retention rates.

Think about it: a lapsed member that is sent a reminder email with information on the benefits of the program and the impact it has on the organization is more likely to have a reason to stay a member. Whereas, members that don’t receive any reminder will forget about your membership program (or at the very least, take longer to rejoin).

If you want to know more ways to make your membership renewal letters more alluring, check out this guide full of tips and examples.

Your membership management system should help your team keep track of your renewal cycle.

Your membership management system is right for your association if…

It supports your association’s member retention strategy through automatic renewal tools.

Manage events with your membership management software.

#3 Essential Membership Management System Feature: Events Management

You might not think that events management is essential for a membership CRM, but think again! The benefits of integrating your member database and your event planning software are practically endless:

  • Eliminate manual data transfer from a third-party platform, saving time and accuracy.
  • Avoid implementation and transaction costs from a second software solution.
  • Upsell memberships at registration, then apply member benefits to the same purchase.
  • Empower local chapters to plan their own events.

And those are just the benefits to your planning team. Think about how helpful an integrated events feature is for your members.

Members get automatic discounts, priority registration, and special permissions when they register, and their attendance records are automatically stored in their member profiles. They can check the member directory for others who registered for the same events both before and after.

Not all association management software solutions offer these features! Make sure you research alternatives to popular solutions before committing.

With Fonteva, your association can manage ticketing, speakers, sponsors, and basic event information all within your membership CRM:

Membership-based organizations hosting events should integrate event management features into their membership CRM.

You’ve found the right system for your association if…

It empowers your association to build connections with your members and increase member engagement through event planning and management capabilities.

Make it easy for members to process dues with your membership management service.

#4 Essential Feature: Payment Processing

It takes time and a good bit of research to find a payment processing solution that works for your association. The most popular choice isn’t always the best for you!

So once you find the best payment processor for your association, you need to ensure that your membership CRM will integrate seamlessly with it, tracking and managing:

  • Membership purchases.
  • Member dues, including recurring payments.
  • Registration and ticket purchases.
  • Refunds and deferred invoices.
  • Prices for online purchases.

Your membership software solution should be able to produce reports based on this data, providing your administrative team with a birds-eye view of your accounting.

Integrating payment processing with Fonteva also provides a seamless experience for your members. When shopping from your online store, they get automatic discounts and other benefits without a special code just by shopping with their member profile:

Make sure your membership management service supports your chosen payment processor.

Your membership management system is right for your association if…

Your new software solution helps your association increase its non-dues revenue through easy payment processing.

Learn more about membership management software with our free checklist.

Stay on track with your membership program using your membership database software.

#5 Essential Feature for Membership Management Systems: Analytics and Reporting

Speaking of reports, there’s nothing more valuable to an association’s long-term goal than comprehensive analytics. There’s no way to know how to move forward if you don’t know what’s worked well — and what hasn’t worked so well — in the past.

The best membership CRM will make it easy to create custom reports for different departments, special committees, and projects with:

  • Reporting on standard as well as custom fields.
  • Simple customization interfaces, no coding required.
  • Easy export to common file types.

When every member of the team can customize their own reports while drawing from the same central, always up-to-date database, every aspect of your strategy will benefit. Keeping track of everything from fundraising metrics to non-dues revenue and more can only help your organization grow. Plus, you don’t have to learn how to use a complicated reporting software. Just stick to the interface you already use with other Fonteva modules:

Custom dashboards and reports make it easy for every member of your team to pull the data relevant to their own projects.

You’ve found the right solution for your association if…

You can create custom dashboards to get the most effective bird’s-eye view of your data, and empower each department to create dashboards that suit their own needs.

Online self-service member portals are an essential membership management system feature.

#6 Essential Feature: Online Self-Service Member Portals

When you choose a membership management system, you know that the focus of the software solution has to be on your members. That’s why one of the most crucial features of your membership management solution is the option to offer online self-service member portals. 

Beyond the member profiles that we mentioned before, you need to be able to empower your members to really own their engagement with different options such as:

  • Full control over their membership tiers and status.
  • Easy online event registration and check-in.
  • Online networking and communication strategies.
  • Continuing education, certification, and accreditation options.

Members will want to continue or expand their engagement with your association when you offer them a smart membership CRM that improve their interactions with your organization and help them further their careers. Check out this example of a self-service member portal, powered by Fonteva:

Empower your members to engage with your organization through membership management systems.

Your membership management system is right for your association if…

Your members feel confident in their abilities to manage their memberships, as well as take advantage of all the benefits that your association can offer.

The ability to customize your database is an essential membership management system feature.

#7 Essential Membership Management System Feature: Database Customization

You know that to use your database to the best of your abilities, it has to be able to work for your organization. Your members rely on your association’s ability to meet their needs, so you need a software solution that fits yours!

When looking for a membership software, make sure you choose one that allows you to customize your database. Depending on your association, this comes in the form of:

  • Customizable member fields, so you get all of the information that you need and none that you don’t.
  • Member segmentation options, so you can analyze your members and target your communications.
  • Customizable views, so that your staffers can always see the most relevant information for their daily tasks.

Your organization is going to continue to grow and change, so don’t settle for a membership management system that can’t change with you. Look at this customized database, built for an event:

Strengthen your data strategy through a smart membership management system that supports customizable databases.

You’ve found the right software for your association if…

Your team is able to mold the database to best fit the needs of your association. The best membership management software solutions should be able to scale up as your association does.

With these essential features on your radar, you’re sure to find the best membership CRM for your association!

To learn more about membership software, check out some great resources below:

  • Membership CRM | Tips to Engage Members. Your membership CRM isn’t just a place to house your members’ information — it’s also a tool of member engagement! Read all about engaging your members with your membership software here.
  • Top Abila Alternatives. When searching for association management software, don’t just choose the first solution you find! Research these top alternatives to one of the most popular solutions on the market, Abila, before making your final decision.
  • Best Membership and Association Management Software. Begin your purchasing process with Double the Donation’s guide to the best membership and association management software.

Ready to learn how Fonteva can help you? Check out our virtual tour