Each year, associations work hard to host memorable events and offer educational courses to keep their members engaged and invested in the community.
Going through the daily motions of administrative duties and repetitive tasks can take up unnecessary time for your association’s team. Without some sort of management software solution, your association doesn’t have the right resources and tools to consider more pressing matters and long-term goals, such as increasing membership retention and event attendance.
Your organization may already depend on some sort of tool to help run your online operations. However, as your association continues to grow, consider reviewing your software and upgrading to a more fleshed out and robust association management software (AMS) system to help manage the increase of data.
Investing in a new AMS system can be intimidating and take a lot of research, so this guide is intended to give you a head start. Though you probably know a bit about association management software systems, it’s always helpful to recap the basics so you move forward with a solid foundation. After reading our guide, you’ll be able to answer these questions:
- What is an AMS?
- What is an AMS system?
- How does an AMS help your association?
- What are the most important features of an AMS?
- What is the best AMS?
The best AMS system for your association is out there, so don’t let your day-to-day operations bog down your team’s productivity. Make online processes and data management easy for everyone by selecting the right AMS system for you.
What is an AMS?
What is association management?
Association management is a rather unique field because members pay dues in exchange for being part of the community. For those seeking guidance from colleagues in the same professional field, associations provide far-reaching networking opportunities to help further their careers and increase knowledge-sharing for community building.
Associations are usually governed through a board or an elected team to help oversee and handle all of the event planning, registration processes, and member details. As your membership increases and your association grows, management becomes an arduous process.
However, with specialized association management software, you can find solutions to help save time and let your team focus on big-picture goals, like increasing member engagement and retention.
What does association management software do?
Association management software helps associations stay on top of their administrative duties. Most management tools deal with simple membership data management needs and can handle basic accounting functions for collecting dues or tracking donations. While certain tools might save you a little time, there are more robust software solutions out there.
Advanced software solutions with integration capabilities help your team gather, organize, and segment key pieces of data about your members. The more data you have, the better your team can plan and create engaging programs such as events, conferences, and educational courses. The best AMS system solutions will offer your association:
- Event management tools.
- Online store and e-commerce capabilities.
- Automated dues payments.
- Marketing and communication options.
While a basic association management tool will handle some of your daily tasks, a more powerful AMS system should even include, or be able to integrate with, other tools that your association relies on. An underlying data management solution like Salesforce is a good example.
What does an association management company do?
An association management company is another option if your team is feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day operations. An association management company helps associations manage their internal executive, administrative, and financial duties.
Association management companies might lift the weight off your team’s shoulders, however, you risk them becoming the public face of your association. A smart AMS system offers internal solutions for your association instead of having to depend on a separate firm for help.
What is an AMS system?
Equipped with the right set of tools, your association can view trends over a wide period of time and pinpoint why members happen to be more engaged during the holidays or what factors affect membership retention.
The best AMS system provides your team with a 360-degree look at all of your association’s members. Advanced AMS solutions keep track of data and metrics generated by your various association management tools and member-facing outlets, providing all the information needed to formulate intelligent strategies for upcoming events or campaigns.
Here is what a well-rounded AMS system provides for your association:
- Member registration capabilities
- An organized, easily accessible, cloud-based database
- An intuitive website builder
- Sets of email marketing tools
- eCommerce capabilities
- Online event registration functionality
- An online payment processor
Having a robust AMS system may very well depend on whether you pick a platform or stand-alone software solution. An advanced AMS platform is poised to develop and grow as your association has new needs. Because it is built on a single code base, platforms can expand functions more easily over time while keeping your data centralized.
However, moving to a platform may take a bit of time and require a lengthier investment in updating your association’s information architecture. If your association doesn’t find itself constantly in need of adding more tools to keep up with your growth, an advanced AMS software solution with integration capabilities may be a more appropriate option.
How does an AMS help your association?
Benefits of an AMS for your staff
Your staff is working hard to plan content, education, conferences, and other events for your members. Without the right AMS system, your team also has to deal with the day-to-day operations of fact-checking member profiles and keeping track of due payments. The best AMS system will streamline and add efficiencies to these tasks, providing your association with:
- Efficient and secure flow. When your staff and team are planning your next engagement strategy, an AMS solution can make it easier to transfer and view data from multiple databases. For example, to get a full view of your members, you might need to pull data from your event management tool as well as your membership management tool. Make sure your AMS has reliable integration capabilities to make this possible— or even better, invest in a platform solution.
- Increased security. Consolidating your association’s information in your AMS database is more secure than having it loose in an offline Excel spreadsheet. Association database management is more accessible to your staff when it is housed in an online software solution.
- Data for smarter marketing and engagement strategies. An advanced AMS system with far-reaching integration capabilities will provide insight and help you make more data-driven decisions that will actually make a difference in your member engagement.
- 360-view of member engagement. Upgrading to an AMS system offers your staff a fully comprehensive view of your members. Your team can easily locate key member engagement metrics like event attendance and donation history.
Benefits of an AMS for your members
Your AMS system isn’t just there to increase efficiency for behind-the-scenes operations. The member experience reflects in your membership retention numbers. The more intuitive and engaging your AMS system is, the more likely your members will continue to contribute to your community. With an upgraded AMS system, your members will have:
- More intuitive and engaging communications. Your AMS can help you create automated emails, invoices, newsletters, and reminders to ensure members are updated in real-time. If your AMS is integrated with a reliable CRM system, you can pull data from there to personalize your communications as well.
- Consistent and improved experiences. With an AMS, your association can create beautiful websites with individual pages and forms that are simple yet effective, all completely branded to your association.
- Access to a wide variety of relevant resources. Your association members are there to connect with others like them and learn from the experiences your association curates. Make sure your members have the resources they need. Your AMS can even create a members-only portal to provide white papers, informational guides, and educational courses.
What are the most important features of an AMS?
Your entire suite of management tools works together so your team and staff can put more effort into engaging your members. Whether it is through various software integrations or tools built into your platform solution, your AMS system should provide these important features:
- A membership database and member profiles. Even the most simple AMS solutions should have capabilities for storing member data and organizing profiles. With a more advanced option, you can pull information from your CRM system and compile well-rounded member profiles full of personal information, payment preferences, and other relevant data.
- Communication options. If you want to increase your member engagement, you have to look for an AMS system with robust communication abilities. Your management tools should include automated marketing and communication options to keep your members updated on due payments, events, and more. Whether it’s through social media, email, or phone calls, look for an AMS system that can do it all.
- Event management tools. The main way your association encourages member engagement is through the events your team plans and launches each year. With tools such as customizable forms, automated marketing communications, and data analytics, AMS systems with event management functionalities will help you impress your members and keep them coming back.
- Collaboration tools for members. Some AMS systems emphasize community in their association engagement and host communal message boards where members can post comments and suggestions, providing a place for feedback and collaboration.
- Reporting and data visualization tools. One of the most helpful aspects of association management software is the reporting and data analytics tools. Your AMS system is storing and organizing massive amounts of information from different streams, whether it is data on your members’ business affiliations or event engagement metrics. Having capable reporting and data visualization tools offers your staff a 360-degree view and gives insights on how you can improve your future events and marketing techniques.
What is the best AMS?
With so many different solutions out there for your association to take advantage of, our top pick is Fonteva.
Fonteva is a platform solution for all of your association’s management and member engagement needs.
We know that a centralized AMS platform is the future for association and organization management. Software solutions may come with vast integration abilities, but platform solutions are built to expand and seamlessly take on new functions, not simply to fit into an increasingly complicated toolkit of integrated but still separate solutions.
Fonteva is also 100% native to Salesforce, one of the most popular, effective, and robust CRM systems available. This means that from the very beginning, your team has access to the powerful underlying Salesforce infrastructure as you customize your AMS platform. Other management software will claim they’re compatible with Salesforce, but Fonteva is one of the few that actually is made for Salesforce.
Fonteva’s platform solution provides your team with an entire software ecosystem full of tools that can perform administrative duties. On a Salesforce-based platform, you can also configure Fonteva to your association from the very beginning. Customizations are easier than ever and more simplified than if you were working across multiple separate solutions and tools.
With Fonteva, your association will:
- Eliminate data silos, point solutions, and costly integrations.
- Gain access to a community of Fonteva experts to help you with any problem or question you may have.
- Handle seamless upgrades and improvements because each tool runs and develops on the same code.
The best AMS system will save your team time and money while helping your members feel a part of an enriching and engaging community. Stop feeling frustrated with day-to-day operations and administrative duties for your association and check out Fonteva
Hope you enjoyed this article!
If you want to take the time and do some more research on your own, here are a few additional resources to check out next:
- Association Management Software: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide. If you’re interested in how Fonteva compares to other AMS solutions, read this ultimate buyer’s guide.
- Membership Management Software Comparison. Having trouble with handling your member growth is a blessing and a curse. While your association is thriving, look into different ways you can manage your members.
- Top Salesforce Apps for Nonprofits and Associations. Does your association run on Salesforce? Check out this guide for other apps that may be able to help you as well.