Explore the basics of association software solutions and our top provider recommendations.

Association Software Solutions: The Basics + 12 Top Picks

Watch a demo from Fonteva to learn more about our association software solution.

Managing an association takes a great deal of scheduling, organization, and coordination within your leadership team. Emailing members, recruiting prospects, and ensuring payments are received on time can be daunting tasks, especially as your membership base expands. That’s where association management software (AMS) comes in. 

Whether you’re looking to invest in an AMS for the first time or you need to upgrade your solution, it’s worth it to take the time to explore which choices best suit your current size and needs as well as your long-term goals. This list of providers spans a variety of niches and comprehension levels to give you a clear sense of the particular balance of specificity, utility, and ease of use that will best suit your needs. 

Here’s what you can expect from this guide:

  • Top AMS Software FAQs
  • The Best Association Management Software Platform
  • Other Top Association Software Solutions

Before we explore these top picks, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions concerning association management platforms.

Top AMS Software FAQs

What is association management software?

Association management software is used to automate membership management, fundraising, event management, chapter management, and financial processing. Your organization should choose an AMS with features that align with its size and goals. 

What does association management software do?

The best AMS solutions are designed to meet the unique needs of individual associations. They can help you organize and record the data of your organization based on the information collected from members over time, such as their contact information or their level of engagement with your organization. Depending on your organization’s goals, AMS solutions can also assist with event planning and communication with members. 

What is the difference between an AMS and CRM?

Oftentimes, the terms “AMS” and “CRM” are used interchangeably—however, they have two distinct purposes. This graphic from Protech illustrates the key differences and similarities between the two:
This Venn diagram shows the differences and similarities between CRMs and association software solutions.
Customer relationship management software (CRM) is defined as a software solution that tracks and manages all of an organization’s interactions with its customers (in this case, your members). While an AMS is used to manage association-specific tasks, CRMs are used more widely by many other industries. The primary purpose of a CRM is to organize data about these interactions to help your association deepen relationships and increase renewals.

Your AMS has a broader scope of features than a CRM, but ideally, the two tools should work together with the ultimate goal of providing valuable, positive member experiences. To get the best parts of each software, look for a CRM-based AMS.

What features should you look for in association management software?

Each AMS provider includes different features, and some even offer various tiers of complexity for associations of different sizes. Here are some of the most common and useful association management software features to look for when choosing your software:

Membership management. Membership management software gives you a full view of member activities, members’ depth of engagement, and potential for growth. This solution can include a member directory and CRM to keep your membership data organized. 
Member portal. This feature allows your members to login in to view their payment records and customized membership resources. You can often tailor member profiles to provide differing levels of access for various membership packages. 
Event management. This feature makes it easier to host in-person or virtual events with tools like live streaming, panel platforms, event registration, and event promotion.
Financial management. Financial management features allow associations to record and process payments. The system can also be used to remind members about late dues.  
Communication management. With this capacity, your association can stay connected with members through text messages, email updates, and newsletters. Associations can also create online discussions to stimulate dialogue among members. 

With these key features, your association will be able to track and visualize data more accurately. This convenient access to data gives you real-time snapshots of the state of your membership, progress toward goals, and financial health. With this information, your association can adjust its strategies to operate more efficiently and effectively.

The Best Association Management Software Platform

1. Fonteva: Best for Salesforce Users

With comprehensive features and an intuitive structure that can get your team up and running in a timely manner, Fonteva is one of the best AMS solutions out there.

Focused on offering your team both big-picture planning capabilities and more specific tools to fine-tune your strategies, events, and communications, Fonteva is a powerful partner for any membership-based organization. Retain more members and grow like never before with one of the most agile and intuitive AMS solutions on the market.

Association management software overview: The software is built on Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM platform for businesses. 

Recommended for: Fonteva is great for any size association because the software is completely scalable, so it can grow with your organization and integrate with the other systems you already use. 

Favorite Feature: Member-360 provides your association with a 360-degree view of your members with insights into their engagement and interests. You can also customize membership pages for tailored experiences and seamless communication.  

Pricing: Contact the Fonteva team for a demo and custom pricing.

As a fully native Salesforce app, Fonteva offers associations the power and flexibility needed to not only fit comfortably within your operations but also to streamline every aspect of them. 

Additionally, there are no “growing pains” with Fonteva as it’s a completely scalable solution. As a true cloud solution, Fonteva Membership allows you to choose the functionality you need when you require it. You can easily add additional tools as your association grows and your needs change.

To learn more about Fonteva’s association software solution, watch a demo of the software.

Other Top Association Software Solutions

2. Protech: Best for Microsoft Users

Association management software overview: Protech is built for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and is best suited for associations that currently use the Microsoft ecosystem. The system includes a variety of database, financial, e-commerce, and analytics tools. If you’re searching for a Microsoft-based platform that includes member, leadership, and staff engagement capabilities, look no further!

Recommended for: Associations who use the Microsoft suite of products and are looking for an easily-integrated AMS. 

Favorite feature: Protech’s BI & Analytics empower associations with automated and shareable reports like membership reports and financial reports. 

Pricing: Contact the Protech team for pricing.

For associations using Microsoft technology, contact Protech to learn more about this Microsoft-based association software.

3. Wild Apricot: Best for small to mid-sized organizations

Association management software review: Wild Apricot offers powerful association management tools that would otherwise be inaccessible for mid-size associations such as a member database, website builder, payment processor, event management platform, and mobile app.

Recommended for: Small to mid-size associations looking for a cost-effective association management platform. 

Favorite Feature: Wild Apricot’s mobile app feature allows admins and members to access their profiles on the go. If you’re an active leader who is frequently attending regional chapter settings and conferences, this can help you keep your association organized from any location. 

Pricing: Payment plans are based on total association size including staff and members. Wild Apricot services range from $60 per month for 100 people or less to $900 per month for 50,000 total people. For discounted rates, consider pre-paying for one to two years’ worth of the software.

4. MemberPlanet: Best for groups with smaller budgets

Association management software review: MemberPlanet offers a lightweight association management solution with simple payment processing, a member directory, and member messaging capabilities. 

Recommended for: Smaller associations or those with multiple chapters who are looking for integrated chapter solutions. 

Favorite Feature: MemberPlanet’s online payments feature includes customizable payment forms and several payout options. It accepts all credit card payments, making transactions simple for you and your members. 

Pricing: All versions of MemberPlanet’s association management software plans include a payment processing fee of 3% + $0.30 per transaction. The basic plan is free with a 4% platform fee.

5. MemberClicks: Best for groups looking for an all-in-one solution

Association management software review: MemberClicks can help you recruit new members, grow your revenue, and promote your organization with their suite of member-centric tools. 

Recommended for: Associations looking for a tailored, all-in-one association management solution. 

Favorite Feature: MemberClicks’ MC Professional platform can evaluate membership profiles to help you understand your engagement rates and improve both retention and recruitment. 

Pricing: Contact the MemberClicks team for pricing.

6. EZ SignUp: Best general cloud-based platform

Association management software review: EZ SignUp is an association management software solution focused on event management. You can customize event registration forms and email templates for optimal event promotion and member engagement. 

Recommended for: Associations that frequently host in-person or online events. 

Favorite Feature: EZ SignUp’s flexible event pricing makes it simple to set tiered pricing, early bird deals, and member rates. 

Pricing: Contact the EZ SignUp team for pricing.

7. Novi AMS: Best for QuickBooks users

Association management software review: Novi AMS was created by association professionals as the ultimate QuickBooks-integrated association management solution. This platform has a built-in CMS and features like email marketing, member portals, and accounting. 

Recommended for: Trade associations that have members join as employees of a company rather than individuals. You can track familial relationships and business affiliations when needed in this AMS. 

Favorite Feature: The Novi AMS task center allows your association leadership to set and assign tasks to team members, creating more organized and efficient workflows within your association. 

Pricing: Novi AMS offers scalable pricing based on your annual revenue. Prices start at $719 per month with $2,995 in onboarding fees. 

8. ClubExpress: Best for clubs

Association management software review: ClubExpress is an online association management solution that is an excellent option for quickly building your website, recording membership data, and processing payments. After signing up, your association will have access to a template website, so you can dive right into managing your events. 

Recommended for: Small associations and clubs that want an online association management software solution with no download or onboarding necessary. 

Favorite Feature: ClubExpress’ jobs board allows association members to publish job openings for their peers to stimulate networking and communication. 

Pricing: ClubExpress has a minimum fee of $42 per month that increases based on how many active members are in your organization.

9. iMIS: Best for member recruitment

Association management software review: iMIS is a platform that combines the power of AMS, CRM, and CMS to bring you an advanced engagement management platform. It is a popular, scalable solution that your association can use to streamline membership recruitment and community-building efforts. 

Recommended for: Associations focused on enhancing membership experience to help with recruitment and retention. 

Favorite Feature: The iMIS membership management feature enables you to customize the online experiences of your different membership tiers.

Pricing: Contact the iMIS team for pricing.

10. Raklet: Best for customer support

Association management software review: Raklet offers a wide range of services that you can customize for your organization’s needs. Their plans scale up depending on the size of your organization and the number of features you need. 

Recommended for: Associations with at least 50 members and financial means to use the optimized plan or offset additional fees. 

Favorite Feature: Raklet’s discussion board feature allows members to connect and communicate about topics that interest them and potential career opportunities. Raklet can connect with thousands of other online apps, giving your members the opportunity to share their experiences far and wide. 

Pricing: Raklet charges a transaction processing fee between 1-4% + $0.60 per transaction. For 50 members, plan coverage starts at $0 per month and ranges to $299+ per month for 10,000 members. For unlimited contacts, admins, and storage, contact Raklet’s team for custom pricing.

11. Almabase: Best for alumni associations

Association management software review: Almabase is an alumni association management software with powerful tools to cultivate your alumni membership through events, email marketing, and an online alumni forum. 

Recommended for: Alumni associations focused on maintaining a close network of members and engaging them in virtual events. 

Favorite Feature: Almabase can connect with Facebook and LinkedIn to provide easy ways for members to engage with their peers and view interests. Members can also create their own affinity groups within the association platform, allowing them to facilitate their own mini-events. 

Pricing: Contact the Almabase team for pricing. 

12. StarChapter: Best for multi-chapter groups

Association management software review: StarChapter is an excellent solution for large associations with multiple chapters that are looking for a streamlined approach to membership management. This association management solution allows for board members and other staff roles to be customized in the backend of the platform, allowing for greater efficiency. 

Recommended for: Associations with multiple chapters looking to unite their leadership and members under a larger system. 

Favorite Feature: StarChapter’s email marketing enables associations to promote events, send automated newsletters, segment their member audience, track email engagement, and receive feedback from members. 

Pricing: StarChapter offers pricing based on organization size with the essentials plan starting at $83 per month with a $779 setup fee for 150 members and 1,000 additional contacts. Their pro plan is $165 per month with a $1,559 setup fee for 1,200 members and an additional 8,000 contacts. 

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in finding more information about AMS features and management, look no further. Review these articles to learn more about using association management software for your organization:

Check out our demos to learn more about Fonteva’s association software solution today!

Engage and retain association staff with these tips.

How to Retain Your Association’s Staff: 3 Best Practices

Your association’s staff facilitates your programs, ensures members continue their engagement, and manages all day-to-day operations. Just like you aim to create a positive member experience, you should also cultivate a positive work environment for your staff. Doing so will help you retain top staff members, reducing turnover and maintaining consistent operations. 

Retention is impacted by numerous factors, including compensation, professional satisfaction, and work culture. Associations interested in taking an active approach to improving retention should consider starting an employee engagement program. These programs aim to retain staff by identifying their top concerns, implementing structured paths for improvement, and regularly checking in with employees to verify their success. 

To help your association improve staff retention, this guide will explore three best practices you can incorporate into your employee engagement program. 

1. Show your appreciation. 

Your staff works hard, and a simple “thank-you” can go a long way toward making them feel like an integral part of your organization. Of course, you can improve retention by expanding your efforts to ensure your staff feels valued and appreciated. 

While verbal and public appreciation can be meaningful for many employees, consider incorporating more tangible benefits into your association’s employee appreciation strategy. For example, eCardWidget’s guide to recognition awards suggests a few bonuses that associations could give top employees:

  • Physical awards. Certificates, plaques, and trophies are tangible representations of all that your staff has done for your association. Design physical awards for specific achievements, such as a plaque for a work anniversary; or create an award that’s regularly handed to different employees, like an employee of the month trophy. 
  • Donations. Employees want to work for organizations that promote social good. Show your association’s staff your commitment to making a positive difference by donating on their behalf. When an employee qualifies for a donation to be made, provide a list of potential causes to donate to or let them choose the nonprofit organization themselves. 
  • Perks. Little perks like branded merchandise add up to create a more positive, appreciative work environment. These perks can be given individually or along with another award. For example, the staff member who receives employee of the month might also get access to a VIP parking spot.
  • Time-off. Appreciation awards can take the form of compensation, such as extra time off. Give employees an extra day off, allow them to work a half day, or double their lunchtime. 
  • Celebration lunch. If you want to appreciate multiple employees at once, a celebration lunch provides an effective way to bring your staff together to socialize with one another and be honored all at once. 

Outside of leadership appreciating staff, consider also implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program. This could take the form of a bulletin board where employees leave positive comments, direct emails where leadership is CC’d, or opportunities for employees to present awards from leadership to each other. Doing so can create a culture of appreciation and allow employees to be recognized for day-to-day accomplishments leadership may not always notice. 

2. Offer paths for growth. 

Employees appreciate careers that allow them to grow and advance. Often, employees will change jobs if they feel a position at a different organization offers clear paths for advancement. Ensure your association provides opportunities for growth by following these strategies:

  • Meet with staff about their growth and development. Ensure your association’s staff are aware of advancement opportunities that align with their career path. Talking with staff members individually during performance reviews or check-ins demonstrates that you’re taking each employee’s career growth seriously. Additionally, you may discover that staff members want to grow in different ways, allowing you to guide them individually in a direction that fits their professional goals. 
  • Provide training opportunities. Your association likely offers online courses to help members advance their careers. Provide your staff with the same opportunities. This could be free access to your association’s courses or giving them designated time during the work day to complete external training courses. 
  • Allow employees to share ideas and feedback. Let your staff influence not just their own career paths, but the direction of your association as a whole. Regularly surveying your staff to gather feedback can provide valuable insights into how your association could improve, while also ensuring staff feel heard. 

As your staff begins following these paths to professional growth, ensure you have opportunities for them to demonstrate their skills. For example, if you have an employee interested in expanding their technical skills, you might give them a chance to partner with your technical team to complete a project for your website. This allows employees to showcase their growth and feel that their work to advance is paying off.  

3. Cultivate a positive work environment. 

How do your staff feel about coming to work every day? While the workplace may not be fun, it can be a rewarding environment that allows employees to focus, feel motivated, and know they’re supported. You can make your association’s work environment more positive by:

  • Providing and updating employee resources and tools. All of your staff should have the equipment and resources they need to complete their daily tasks. This might entail ensuring each team has enough members to manage their workload or updating your association management software if the organization has outgrown its current system.
  • Host engagement events. Give your staff an opportunity to get to know one another and build comradery outside of a work environment. These can be events hosted by leadership, such as an employee volunteer day, or you can let individual staff members plan and oversee engagement events. Letting staff take the lead can free up the time of executives, but be sure to set a few parameters, such as the event’s budget per person. 
  • Create a corporate philanthropy program. As mentioned, showing your commitment to giving makes staff feel motivated by their employer. One easy philanthropy program to implement is matching gifts. Double the Donation’s guide to starting a matching gift program outlines the core steps: set a budget and gift parameters, create an application form, inform employees about your program, and facilitate donations when employees give. 

When making changes to your work environment, consider how you can align your association’s values and work culture. Doing so will increase employees’ trust in your organization by showing you’re committed to your stated ideals. For example, an association that has a value of community would likely want to focus on programs that inspire collective action and collaboration rather than facilitating competition. 

Retaining your association’s staff year-to-year ensures your organization maintains a professional, skilled team who can provide a consistent experience for members. Persuade your staff to stick around by implementing an employee appreciation program, listening to their feedback, and striving to create a workplace where employees can succeed and thrive.

As the world's cloud-based CRM software, Salesforce can be an incredible tool for associations. Explore these strategies to make the most of Salesforce.

Salesforce for Associations: A Comprehensive Guide

With more than 150,000 businesses leveraging its software and over 3,000 apps built using its interface, Salesforce is one of the most widely used platforms in the world. 

However, Salesforce isn’t just a tool for businesses. The power and scalability of Salesforce have made it one of the most intuitive platforms for creating and powering association management software. As an association professional, you’ve no doubt heard of Salesforce and its power to streamline the many operations of running an association, but it can be difficult to wrap your head around how to begin using Salesforce and its many apps to benefit your association. 

To help you navigate Salesforce, we’ll cover the following topics:

Let’s get started by exploring the basics to prepare you to join the Salesforce community, confidently navigate your current Salesforce association tools, and even prepare for an upgrade.

Contact Fonteva to learn more about how to use Salesforce for associations.
Start learning about the basics of using Salesforce for associations.

What is Salesforce?

Salesforce is the world’s leading cloud-based CRM software provider. It allows users to leverage its platform to manage their data, connect with their constituents, and enhance the internal operations of their organizations. 

However, for association professionals not well-acquainted with the technical side of their membership’s operations, this definition might sound a bit confusing. In other words, you can think of Salesforce as the engine through which different organizations build out their management systems. 

What is Salesforce used for?

While Salesforce itself is not an association management software (AMS), it provides the foundation that association experts can use to create association management platforms like FontevaAn AMS powered by Salesforce provides your association with the flexibility it needs to grow, deepen relationships in your community, and manage financial data in a single platform.

There are a variety of ways to use Salesforce for associations. For example, your association can use Salesforce to manage memberships more efficiently by personalizing members’ experiences and keeping their data safe. Salesforce can also help your organization adapt to changes in technology (like AI) and adjust to members’ needs and expectations more quickly.

How can Salesforce benefit your association?

There’s a reason that Salesforce is considered the industry standard for CRM and native-built association platforms. Other popular AMS software, such as iMIS, require users to have extensive coding and backend experience to effectively perform customizations. Because this AMS software uses separate systems for its various tools, it can be difficult to move data among your entire AMS suite.

Instead, consider how an effective Salesforce platform can help streamline operations for your association:

By using Salesforce for associations, leaders can house all of their operations under one log-in.
  • High levels of customization. Salesforce offers a robust foundation of CRM tools, such as constituent data reporting and constituent portals, on top of which software creators can create custom management systems for your association.
  • Ease of use. Platforms like Salesforce offer a safety net for association professionals who aren’t quite tech-savvy enough to use code to customize their AMS. With drag-and-drop interfaces and dashboards, it’s never been easier to navigate an AMS system than those built on Salesforce.
  • Member community capabilities. With powerful member portals, a Salesforce AMS enables you to host vibrant member communities. These online communities allow members to initiate conversations with one another, connect and explore your resources, and engage more closely with your association.
  • The AppExchange ecosystem. The Salesforce AppExchange is a robust library of software systems built on Salesforce. With a Salesforce-native AMS, you have access to the entire collection of 2,700+ apps that can be easily accessed, purchased, and directly integrated with your current association management tools. If you’re looking for association event management software, you can save time and money on implementation and messy data imports by integrating your new Salesforce event management app directly into your suite of AMS tools using the AppExchange.

Salesforce can provide a customizable yet approachable option for streamlining your association’s operations, giving you more time to connect with members and plan engaging opportunities and events.

These strategies for using Salesforce for associations can help you manage members more effectively.

Using Salesforce for Associations: 5 Membership Management Strategies

Salesforce association management software comes stocked with intuitive, powerful tools and capabilities to take your association to the next level. These membership management strategies can help you take advantage of the platform’s best features.

Discover how you can personalize your members’ experience by using Salesforce for associations.

1. Personalize and Automate Member Communications

Communication is the building block of any effective member engagement strategy, and Salesforce’s comprehensive communication features hold the key to enhancing your member communications. 

Using Salesforce, you can automate communications to members like:

  • Emails
  • Certificates
  • Event tickets
  • Receipts

You can use Salesforce to level up your existing email communication and marketing strategy. Rather than sending out generic email blasts your members may begin to tune out, incorporate Salesforce’s branded email templates into your messaging. This allows you to create unique, custom messages that can be automatically sent out to an entire list of members, with their names and personal details filling in the gaps. 

These emails are branded to your association and can be scheduled to send at any time. This means that you can automatically reach out to members with information about their dues, upcoming events, and other important communications at precisely the right time. 

2. Explore the Salesforce AppExchange

The Salesforce AppExchange is one of the most valuable resources afforded to you by using a Salesforce-native AMS. With the AppExchange, your association can choose and implement the tools that are suited to your association’s needs and its potential for growth. 

For example, while you may not currently have the bandwidth to host very many in-person or virtual association events, you could find yourself on the hunt for a dedicated association event management toolkit in just a few years.

With the AppExchange, you can build out your own custom toolkit of membership software, from powerful e-commerce software to seamless membership platforms.

3. Create Thriving Member Communities

With a Salesforce AMS and membership platform, you can create a rich online resource for members to communicate, explore, and access important resources. Leverage these tools to improve the online member experience:

  • Self-service portal. A dedicated member portal gives online users access to guides, downloadable resources, videos, and other member content that helps them to shape their own membership experience.
  • Group creation and collaboration. Enable members to form groups within your membership platform. From forming casual, special-interest chatrooms to more formal member committees, your members will be able to take a more active role in your association and how they engage with it.
  • Member directories. Membership directories can be used both to promote your association to the public and to offer a way for members to take charge of their own networking opportunities.

From empowering members to drive their own engagements to freeing up time for your association team, this membership management strategy can create significant gains for any association.

4. Look Out for Upgrades

Make sure that your Salesforce AMS solution abides by Salesforce’s quarterly update schedule. With association technology constantly evolving, it’s important to be able to rely on an AMS system that is frequently improving to keep up with advances in the membership sector. 

With Salesforce, your AMS should be able to install critical software upgrades with just the click of a button. Additionally, Salesforce operates on a true cloud system, meaning that an AMS system fully built on Salesforce should be able to perform upgrades on any device, at any time.

5. Leverage the Flexibility of Salesforce

One of Salesforce’s most popular features is its customization. In particular, be sure to make the most of these features to create custom: 

  • Dashboards. Improve your team’s view of member data and allow each department to effectively manage its own workflow with configurable dashboards. 
  • Reports. Track specific key performance indicators, schedule reportage, and better manage your association’s unique data with custom reports.
  • Messaging. From branded email templates to customizable surveys, be mindful to personalize your messaging with members for maximum engagement. 

Through coding or drag-and-drop interfaces, the right AMS system allows you to easily control and configure your membership management operations within its suite of tools.

Learn how Fonteva can help you start using Salesforce for associations.

Fonteva: The Ultimate Salesforce-Native AMS

If your association is in search of an AMS solution that takes full advantage of the tools and capabilities of the Salesforce platform, then look no further. 

Fonteva AMS is 100% native to Salesforce, meaning that our suite of association, event, and membership management tools is built from the ground up using the Salesforce engine. With perfect integration capabilities between other applications in the Salesforce AppExchange, Fonteva is the best solution for association leaders who are searching for the true Salesforce experience.

To learn more about Fonteva’s association and membership management software and how we can optimize your association’s operations, explore our Membership page.

Check out Fonteva’s membership page to learn more about how using Salesforce for associations can benefit your organization.

From simplifying internal operations to enhancing the membership experience, the right Salesforce AMS solution can completely transform how your association manages itself and its members. With these strategies and with Salesforce-powered software, we hope that your association can begin to take steps toward reaching its fullest engagement and management potential.

Want to learn more about association management and engagement strategies? Check out these resources:

Additional Resources

To start using Salesforce for associations, request a demo with Fonteva to learn more.
Align your marketing strategy and nonprofit website with these tips.

Your Marketing Strategy and Your Website: 4 Best Practices

A good marketing strategy is key to getting the word out about all of the great resources and benefits available to members of your association. And the star of your strategy? It can (and should!) be your organization’s website.

Your association’s marketing strategy likely includes a handful of channels that you use to share your offerings and engage with current and potential members—social media, email marketing, events, webinars, and virtual events, SEO, maybe some ads, and…a website. All of those various channels can be made stronger and more effective with a great website serving as the hub of your marketing efforts, a place to send people from every other channel to learn more and join you.

In this post, we’ll walk you through four best practices for using your website to bolster a larger multi-channel marketing strategy. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

  1. Set clear goals for your website. 
  2. Optimize your landing pages for conversions. 
  3. Boost your site’s visibility. 
  4. Connect your social media profiles to your site. 

1. Set clear goals for your website.   

Your website has the potential to help your organization’s marketing strategy thrive. But that does not necessarily happen right out of the box. Setting and working toward clear goals for your site over time can help you transform it into the marketing powerhouse that we all know it can be.

As you’re setting your goals, consider the SMART framework and make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Choose 1-3 specific goals where results can be measured after a predetermined time frame, that are within reach based on your team’s capacity and current website results, and that are connected to your association’s overarching goals.

Every association’s website objectives will be different, depending on your focus and organizational purpose , but some potential goals might include:

  • Get 100 people to join your association this quarter 
  • Increase online donations by 15% this year
  • Secure 400 event registrations before May
  • Drive 10% more visitors to the website this month compared to last month

Starting with clear goals for your website can help you be more successful in building an effective marketing strategy. But, if your goals turn out loftier than you have the internal capacity or know-how to achieve, nonprofit web design company Cornershop Creative recommends you partner with a company that focuses on digital strategy to help you bridge the gap, refine your goals, and prepare your site to accomplish them.

2. Optimize your landing pages for conversions. 

To make your website an effective hub for your marketing efforts and your member engagement strategy, it needs to be optimized for action. With your new goals in mind, take steps to work toward them and encourage action on key landing pages.

That work can include updating your content with your audience and what you’d like them to do on your site in mind. You can also make updates to improve the user experience on your site. This work can get more people to stick around, engage with, and act on your content.

These types of updates might include:

  • Focusing on the action that you want visitors to take and making it as obvious and easy as possible to do
  • Shortening and simplifying forms to make them easier to complete (and to increase the chances that visitors will actually do it)
  • Decreasing load time to avoid frustration and site visitors abandoning a process (this is a common issue for tools like membership directories)
  • Making the pages accessible so that everyone can use them as they’re intended
  • Making the pages mobile-friendly to prevent frustration from those visiting from smaller screens
  • Branding your pages so that they are clearly related to your organization to instill trust
  • Running A/B tests to continually optimize the content and design elements on your most important pages

Ideally, you’d create a website that is fully optimized for conversions on every page that a visitor might land on. However, it’s more realistic to focus on a few really important pages that you can then funnel traffic to through your marketing strategy to meet your goals.

3. Boost your site’s visibility.  

So your site is working toward goals and is optimized for conversions, but what good is that if no one is finding you? You can boost your website’s visibility in a variety of ways, but getting more of your target audience to click through to your website from other places around the web is a primary objective.

These methods and goals will typically be built into your marketing strategy and might include:

  • Nonprofit search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. These include making both technical and content updates to improve your chances of ranking organically within search engine results pages and to make your website better for both bots and real people.
  • Paid ads through the Google Ad Grant. According to Cornershop Creative’s guide to Google Grants for nonprofits, this grant helps you drive even more search traffic to your site with a free $10,000 monthly ads budget.
  • A solid social media strategy. This includes consistently posting and using social media ads to send followers and other potential new members to your website from the places on the web where they’re already hanging out.
  • An email marketing strategy. Your strategy should engage your recipients and convince non-members already interested enough to have given you their email address to click through to your website and eventually join your association.

However you decide to do it, a strategic plan to continually send new (and returning!) visitors to your website is a must if you want your website to be able to work its magic and help you meet your goals.

4. Connect your social media profiles to your site. 

The best marketers know that to capture an audience, you go to them rather than expecting them to find you in a digital maze.

With that mindset, make sure you’re including social media links across your website so that visitors can see the platforms that you’re active on and choose to stay in touch if they’d like. Encourage social media visitors to like, comment on, and share your social media posts. 

To take things one step further, you could use your current members and followers to spread the word to their personal networks. To incentivize this type of social sharing amongst members, you could:

  • Gamify sharing with giveaways and shoutouts.
  • Spotlight (and tag) individual members—a regular post like “Member of the Month” encourages that member to share the post with their family and friends.
  • Create great content—no one wants to share a post that’s poorly written, boring, or irrelevant to their network.

You might already know the difference that awesome association management software can make for your staff. Your website has a similar opportunity to take your organization’s marketing strategy to the next level— expanding your current audience and meeting more of your organizational goals.

But that’s only possible if you take the time and effort to make it work for you! Following these four best practices will set you on the right path to a website that makes your organization’s wildest marketing dreams come true.

Now, you might be thinking, “All of that sounds wonderful, but who has the time?” Don’t give up on your website just yet! Partnering with the right nonprofit web design company can help take much of the website strategy work off your plate, giving you the time and space to focus on your mission and members while their team handles the rest. 

Best of luck!

What is Customer Experience (CX)? Crash Course

When your association engages members, how do you conceptualize and measure their experiences? Associations understand the importance of engagement and loyalty since member retention is of such critical importance. However, they also might lack a framework to measure and study the various factors that shape the member engagement and retention trends they experience. 

To better understand the root reasons why members join and stay with your organization, associations should take lessons from the customer experience (CX) playbook. CX is a relatively new field of business strategies that all types of organizations can use to ensure their customers, clients, or members have their voices heard and problems addressed. 

But what is CX? To help your association’s team understand CX, why it matters, and how to get started with it, this article will provide a crash course, reviewing topics such as:

Even if the term CX is new to your organization, know that the principles are not. Listening to your members, showing empathy for their problems, understanding their feedback, and taking steps to make your association a better place should all be core aspects of your member engagement strategy. With CX best practices, your association will be able to take a targeted approach and improve customer relationships with data-driven decisions. 

What is CX?

CX is the concept that interaction a business has with customers, from initial outreach or marketing to ongoing retention efforts, shape and define the customers’ overall feelings towards the organization. The customer experience can be actively studied and strategically improved through CX management to create a seamless experience. 

For your association, this means every touchpoint you create and interaction you have with members throughout their membership journeys is part of the entire member experience that you offer. 

Why does it matter?

Chances are that your association likely already has a membership engagement strategy in place. However, an intentional CX strategy provides structure that enables associations to deliberately and consistently collect and act on their members’ feedback, making it far more valuable than an ad-hoc approach. 

Most associations understand the importance of listening to members, and a CX strategy gives you the framework to do so. 

What are the benefits of an intentional CX strategy?

Often, customers have high expectations and little patience, and it’s important to show empathy when they encounter a pain point. Implementing a CX strategy allows organizations to make improvements to every part of their customers’ journeys, meeting their expectations throughout their entire engagement. For your association, this means you’ll be able to create better, near frictionless experiences for members whether they’re filling out their first sign-up form or attending their twentieth virtual event

A robust customer (or member) experience strategy can bring these benefits for any organization:

  • Stand out from competitors. Your CX strategy will allow your organization to continuously make improvements and adjust to your members’ needs, making your association more responsive and unique when compared to competitive organizations. 
  • Improve retention. Often, associations are only able to catch that a member is about to lapse when it’s already too late. With CX, your association will open the doors to early communication, allowing you to get ahead of problems before they can lead to membership lapses. Consistent feedback collection even allows you to more easily resolve individual issues in real time.
  • Boost word-of-mouth referrals. According to NPOInfo’s charitable giving statistics, 57% of associations report that word-of-mouth is their most successful method for recruiting members. A good CX program makes it easy to identify your “promoters” or highly satisfied members, who you can then ask to help spread the word about your organization. 

Ultimately, the focus of CX is on proactively learning about and responding to your members’ needs to ensure your association is cultivating enjoyable, convenient, and meaningful experiences. By implementing a CX strategy, your association will experience a number of benefits, including:

  • Gain deeper insights into your customer journey
  • Gather data to back up strategies and decisions
  • Improve your brand loyalty, recognition, and reputation
  • Discover how to course correct in real time
  • Create more touchpoints with high impact customers 

A new CX strategy doesn’t need to replace your current approach to membership management, but rather strengthen it. For example, you may already use your membership software to create member customer profiles. With a CX strategy, you would continue maintaining these profiles but with additional details, such as automated notes about interactions that triggered a survey, the details of their survey response, and what your association has done to act on this feedback. 

Understanding the CX Process

CX management is a continuous process. Each experience you create should collect data to help inform your members’ next experience. PeopleMetric’s guide to the customer journey breaks down this process with this graphic: 

  1. Create intentional experiences. Intentional experiences can include any relevant touchpoint along the customer journey. For example, an association interested in driving community conversations may look at the experiences they’ve created around networking, communication, and community-building. 
  2. Measure your performance using surveys. To learn how members feel about your experiences, send out surveys to ask them. Many organizations will establish a set of trigger interactions that will result in a survey being sent out. Have you ever received an invitation to provide feedback after buying a product, getting technical assistance, or using a service? That’s CX management in action. 
  3. Manage your experience proactively in real-time. As you collect feedback from members, plan how you can incorporate it into your association’s strategies. Take note of what situations require an immediate response, such as receiving negative feedback that could be smoothed over with an empathetic, timely response. In other cases, your association will need to gather enough data to make informed decisions based on a significant number of members’ feedback. 
  4. Keep it running as a continuous feedback loop. Continue facilitating new customer experiences, and continue collecting feedback from members about them. This will allow you to continue responding to customer needs as new concerns are raised, previous changes result in notable improvements, or new audiences with new interests join your association. 

You can take a similar approach to managing your employees’ experiences as well. Doing so can help you motivate, manage, and retain employees, saving your association time and resources that would otherwise need to be devoted to managing staff turnover. 

Ways to Manage and Improve Your CX

After implementing your initial CX strategy, there are additional steps you can take to ensure you are collecting useful feedback and leveraging it as effectively as possible. Specifically, your association should try to:

  • Use dedicated tools. While theoretically your association could use free survey tools to collect member feedback, dedicated CX software comes with a variety of enhanced features, such as comprehensive analytics tools, survey accessibility options, and automation capabilities. 
  • Act in realtime. As mentioned, acting on member feedback in real time shows that your association is responsive and cares about their input. Emphasize to your member engagement team the importance of showing empathy for their struggles when responding to a customer who has encountered a pain point. This helps reassure members that they’re being understood and your association cares about them.
  • Remove silos. Often, organizations collect feedback but fail to act on it due to internal data silos. Assess your internal processes for places where communication could be improved or staff members can be empowered to take more direct action. 
  • Develop new initiatives as needed. To manage your CX strategy, try setting up a customer advisory board (or member advisory board). These boards consist of a selection of your highest-impact members with the purpose of gathering their feedback. Modern CX software has allowed organizations to hold meetings entirely online, making it easier than ever to benefit from this focused approach to feedback collection. 

Before implementing your CX strategy, determine what metrics you’ll focus on to measure improvement. For example, an association may review its overall retention rates and the number of new member referrals, or they may look at more specific metrics, such as the attendance rates for their next event. Your KPIs will naturally vary depending on what part of the member journey you’re seeking to improve using the overarching CX framework.

Applying CX Principles to Memberships

Your association’s members are your customers, but implementing a CX strategy designed for for-profit businesses may require more flexibility. Specifically, associations getting started with CX should review their: 

  • Member journey. What are the current touchpoints on your membership journey? How do these differ from a for-profit business and are any of those differences relevant to your CX strategy? For example, associations will need to consider their approach to renewing memberships, which may be an opportunity to create an improved, more convenient member experience. 
  • Communication practices. How does your association currently communicate with members? Are there any surveys you already regularly send out? When you implement a CX strategy, your association will be getting in touch with members more often to ask for their feedback. Make any necessary adjustments to your current communication approach to avoid overwhelming members with too many survey requests. 
  • Internal culture. The CX process works best for organizations with a culture of iterative improvement and measurement. Meet with your staff to explain what the CX process is and why your association is implementing it to help gain employee buy-in. 

As mentioned, your current association management tools can be a reliable resource throughout the CX process. Take a look at any member feedback you’ve already collected, note if it has been implemented, and what strategies you can take to make the transition to your new CX process as smooth as possible. 

Your members’ experience with your association determines how much they’ll engage with future programs, whether they’ll recommend your association to peers, and if they’ll renew their membership. By getting started with CX, your association can take a proactive approach to these essential parts of the membership journey.

About the Author
Sean McDade has been helping companies optimize customer experiences for over twenty years. An angel investor in the Philadelphia region, he is also the founder, CEO, and visionary of PeopleMetrics, a leading provider of experience management software and advisory services. In addition to working with a number of leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, he is the author of two books.

Dive into the fundamentals of AMS systems, as well as our top picks for the best association management system software solutions.

AMS System: What is it? and 5+ AMS Software Solutions

The day-to-day tasks of modern association leaders are filled with emailing members about upcoming renewal dates, planning exciting events, and coming up with valuable engagement opportunities for members to enjoy.

Juggling so many different tasks isn’t easy—that’s where association management software comes in.

You might already have tools you depend on, but not every association management solution is equal. As more associations begin offering virtual programs and online events, using a reliable and comprehensive AMS system to keep your members connected is essential. Whether it’s your first time looking for a solution or you’re thinking of an upgrade, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide will walk you through the following topics to prepare your team to find the right technology for your association:

Ready to invest in an AMS that fosters a strong membership community and provides them with unforgettable programming and events? Then start your search here! 

Explore Fonteva’s all-in-one AMS system.

What is an AMS system?

In many contexts, this term can be used interchangeably with “association management software” (AMS). However, at its core, it does have a slightly different meaning. An AMS system refers to your association’s broader, more holistic approach to association management.

This term is more comprehensive, encompassing everything your association uses to manage its members and association operations. Your AMS system likely includes some kind of AMS or management tool, but it may also factor in association management services like consulting, implementation assistance, or ongoing tech support. Generally, the scope of an AMS system is wider and emphasizes the importance of management tools outside of software alone.

What is association management software?

Association management software, on the other hand, refers to comprehensive software solutions aimed to help automate and digitize many of your recurring tasks. From communicating with members to managing and planning events, your AMS should do it all. Keep in mind that this does not include any other management tools, services, or strategies that fall outside of the scope of the software.

Using these capabilities, your AMS also gathers and organizes important member information. This not only ensures you create valuable courses, events, and other programming, but it also optimizes your communications, marketing, and reporting processes.

What is Association Management?

Association management is a rather unique field as members pay dues in exchange for being a 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.

Associations are usually governed through a board or an elected committee to help oversee the member journey or member experience, event planning, registration processes, and member communications. And 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 are the benefits of using an AMS system?

Benefits for your staff

Your staff works hard to provide content, educational materials, conferences, events, and ongoing opportunities for your members. Without the right technology in place, your team also has to juggle the day-to-day operations of fact-checking member profiles and tracking due payments. 

The best systems not only streamline these tasks but enhance their value, providing your association with:

  • Efficient and secure flows. 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. Reliable integration capabilities are essential to make this possible. An even better option—invest in a platform solution.
  • Increased security. Consolidating your association’s information in your AMS database is more secure than having it live in an Excel spreadsheet. Association database management is more accessible to your staff when it is housed in an online software solution, and we’re not talking about a Google doc. 
  • Increased recruitment and retention. With an AMS optimizing your communications and ensuring you offer the best member experience, your association can not only acquire new prospects but also better retain current members. Plus, automatic dues payments and pre-scheduled dues reminders can also prevent members from lapsing. 
  • Decisions backed by data. With all the data collected from emails, events, and other online engagements, you can make more informed decisions about your association’s future. For instance, use data to help you figure out which marketing outreach strategy has the highest chance of success by observing past ones. Or, pick the next online webinar topic by looking through feedback from your other learning opportunities.

Benefits for your members

Your AMS system or membership platform isn’t just there to increase efficiency for behind-the-scenes operations. The member experience is reflected in your rates of member retention. The more intuitive and engaging your technology is, the more likely it is that your members will continue to contribute to your community. With an upgraded AMS system, your members will have:

  • Consistent and improved experiences. With an AMS, your association can create eye-catching 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. The right association management software can even create a members-only portal to provide white papers, informational guides, and educational courses.
  • Community building opportunities. In addition to advancing in their career and participating in valuable learning opportunities, individuals join your association to meet other like-minded people and be a part of a community. Your association software can promote this with online discussion boards, engaging event ideas, and much more.

What are some top AMS system features to look for?

The features you’ll want in your own association management solution will differ depending on your association’s unique needs. If you often host online webinars, an AMS with a learning management system (LMS) integration is a no-brainer, whereas another association might not find this necessary.

While every association has different priorities, no matter what, your AMS should have these essential features:

These are the essential features of an AMS system.
[These are the essential features of an association management system.]
  • Membership management. One of your most important tasks is managing your members. This not only involves member registration but what you do with their valuable member data. Gathering and storing accurate member information can impact almost all aspects of association management, so having a solution catered to this is essential.
  • Member portal. Not only can your association management software provide you with tools to oversee member information, but the best ones should also offer a member portal. This should include a navigable directory where members can learn more about other members in the association, helping them get familiar with one another. Members can even self-edit their profiles!
  • Event management. Along with managing members, you also have to provide them with exciting opportunities and valuable engagement experiences through association events. The right software solution makes it easy for attendees to register and participate in your programming, whether the event is a large conference or a small class or presentation. You should be able to register members, offer automatic discounts, and tiered registrations.
  • Financial management. Processing event registrations, membership registrations, and dues payments requires a financial management and payment tool. Make sure your system’s payment processor is secure and integrated with your other tools. Also, check that it can facilitate recurring payments to make dues payments easier.
  • Communication management. For both member and event management, you’ll need a capable communication tool, specifically one with automation features. Automated communication keeps your members in the loop and saves your team time drafting and sending each message. This way, you can focus on your content rather than when and how you’ll deliver the message.
  • Reporting tools. An AMS is the perfect tool for compiling data, so make sure yours comes with robust reporting features. Your solution should offer both customizable and pre-built reports to help you learn from past data. The best reports present data in a visually intuitive format, making it easy for anyone to understand and take action.

5+ AMS System Providers to Explore

No association management solution is built the same. Some are more comprehensive or “all-in-one,” whereas others are created to meet industry-specific needs. In order to help you find the software that’s best for your association and its members, we’ll walk through these different solutions:

  1. Fonteva Membership Software
  2. Protech
  3. MemberClicks
  4. MemberLeap
  5. NoviAMS
  6. iMIS

Fonteva: All-in-One AMS System

This is a screenshot of Fonteva's AMS system website.
[This is a screenshot of Fonteva’s association management system website. ]

Say hello to one of the most comprehensive and robust association management solutions on the market. Packed with far more power, flexibility, and capabilities than a typical AMS system, Fonteva Membership is a dedicated, all-in-one Association Software Platform built on the power of Salesforce, the world’s leading Customer Relationship Management software. The Fonteva Association Software Platform supports and nurtures both new and existing member engagement, empowering your organization, members, and staff to reach their full potential. 

Fonteva is built for associations looking to streamline processes and make the day-to-day tasks of management more effective. As a true-cloud software solution, Fonteva gives users the benefit of accessing updated data in real-time, no matter where they are. With over a decade of experience partnering with associations, Fonteva knows exactly what today’s leaders need to succeed when taking their associations online. Fonteva’s tools are flexible and built to grow with your association. 

And, as a Salesforce-native association management platform, Fonteva has access to every app on the Salesforce AppsExchange, letting you pick and choose which capabilities to add as your association expands.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Fonteva’s association management platform has functionalities to aid with any of your managerial tasks. In particular, Fonteva users can:

  • Connect members to valuable opportunities with direct access to a member directory, event calendar and sign-ups, and continuing education classes.
  • Plan and host events (both in-person and virtual), making it easy for members to sign up and engage with others in meaningful ways. 
  • Automate membership dues with its integrated payment processor. It can also apply discounts to certain members if they’re eligible when registering for an event or purchasing something from your e-commerce store. 
  • Easily create reports using compiled data to make key insights about how your association is currently performing and note areas for improvements. Fonteva offers both pre-built and customized reports that you can use. 
  • Access any of the apps on the Salesforce AppExchange as well as integrate with existing Salesforce tools with ease, something only a truly native Salesforce app can provide.
  • Fonteva Payments delivers a best-in-class payments platform that provides processing and a secure payments gateway. Additionally, it delivers a single source of truth about payments for members, with orders and payment data built-in.

Protech: AMS System Overview

This is a screenshot of the Protech AMS system website.
[This is a screenshot of the Protech association management platform website.]

Backed by the world-class Microsoft Dynamics 365 system, Protech’s association management platform has an incredible capacity for customization. With Protech, your association can skip the growing pains of setting up a new software system and immediately begin integrating and personalizing its suite of tools with a platform tailored to your specific needs.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Protech’s association management platform boasts a variety of features, such as:

  • Seamless connectivity with Microsoft AppSource tools, as well as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business applications.
  • Streamlined member and donor management features, including customizable constituent profiles, mobile outreach, and personalized communications.
  • Intuitive event management tools, from simplified registration procedures to management for exhibitor booths and transactions.

MemberClicks: AMS System Overview

This is a screenshot of MemberClicks' AMS system website.
[This is a screenshot of MemberClicks’ association management system website. ]

MemberClicks is an AMS that serves all types of associations, chambers, and universities. With MemberClicks, you can simplify the way your association engages with members, while also providing them with a platform of integrated tools to take their experience to the next level. 

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

MemberClicks offers these capabilities: 

  • Integrated learning management system to provide members with exciting opportunities.
  • Dues management tool to make payment and reporting easy.
  • Association website building tools to stay connected with members online.

MemberLeap: AMS System Overview

This is a screenshot of MemberLeap's AMS system website.
[This is a screenshot of MemberLeap’s association management system website.]

MemberLeap offers affordable and easy-to-use software that helps any association streamline its basic member-based administrative duties. Because of its flexible build, associations and organizations of all sizes can leverage MemberLeap’s platform with ease.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Check out these top features from MemberLeap:

  • Member database so that you can easily manage members, cross reference data points, and search for key metrics.
  • A mobile app that allows members to have quick and easy access to various MemberLeap tools.
  • Email tools that can set up drip campaigns, organize message boards, create and send out newsletters, and more.

NoviAMS: AMS System Overview

This is a screenshot of NoviAMS AMS system website.
[This is a screenshot of NoviAMS association management system website.]

Novi AMS is an AMS solution that is both designed by and for association professionals. Specifically, they tend to cater to trade associations, aiming to help their members develop professionally and make valuable connections with each other. Additionally, NoviAMS makes it easy for your association to keep track of important accounting information through its integration with QuickBooks.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Here are some of the top features of NoviAMS:

  • 2-way, 24/7 integration with QuickBooks, making it easy to track invoices, online payments, and other important financial data.
  • Web building tools to help trade association professionals create a beautiful and engaging website without the necessary coding experience. 
  • Flexible member types, allowing associations to organize members by whether they’re company-based, individual, or a hybrid combination.

iMIS: AMS System Overview

This is a screenshot of iMIS AMS system website.
[This is a screenshot of iMIS association management system website.]

iMIS association management software is a system created by ASI, Advanced Solutions International. It aims to help associations streamline member engagement and encourage growth within their membership base. 

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

With iMIS, you have access to these features:

  • A library of features and add-on apps that you can enable/disable for a customized experience.
  • A visual dashboard that helps you turn hard data and metrics into actionable insights.
  • A modern, cloud-based solution, allowing staff members access even from their mobile phones.

From recruitment to retention, your association management system is the most efficient tool in your association’s toolbox. Engaging your members in a strong member community starts with forethought and the best software available! When it comes time to start comparing various association management software solutions, prioritize the features discussed above.

For more information about association and membership management software, check out these additional resources:

Download our guide to determine which association management software will function best with your AMS system!

Learn how to effectively leverage your member engagement strategies with these top tips and software.

Member Engagement: An Association Strategy & Software Guide

Association memberships are unique in the way that they provide ongoing, rewarding experiences in exchange for the dues members pay to continue to be a part of the organization. That’s why it’s important that your association actively works to keep members coming back year after year, offering unique value through engaging opportunities and events.

Whether your association is made up of professionals in the same field or alumni who attended the same university, strengthening member engagement should always be one of your top priorities. Engagement secures your association’s relevance and fuels healthy member retention.

It’s likely that you’ve developed a set member engagement strategy over the years. However, with advancements in technology and an online world saturated with virtual experiences, it’s always a good idea to review the basics and look for opportunities to improve. Using your association management software (AMS) system, you can leverage your tools to further engage your members, encourage member-to-member networking and community-building, and enhance your overall approach to member outreach.

In this guide, we’ll be reviewing some member engagement basics and walking you through a couple of key questions. Follow along from the top, or skip to the section that interests you most using the following table of contents:

Don’t wait for your engagement strategies to become obsolete. Use these lessons, tips, and software recommendations to brainstorm new ways to not only keep members renewing each year, but attract new ones as well. Let’s dive in!

Improve your member engagement strategy with Fonteva.
What is member engagement for your association?

What is member engagement?

Member engagement is the ongoing outreach and interactions between associations and their members to keep constituents informed, educated, and motivated to continue their memberships. 

By extension, a member engagement strategy is the different messaging, content, and opportunities that associations share with their members to ensure that they remain engaged.

Essentially, once a member joins your association, you need to actively work to nurture member relationships. You’ll know when member engagement is successful when the value associated with the actions you take and the experiences you offer outweigh the expense of membership dues.

However, not every association will measure engagement in the exact same way. Member engagement varies based on the type of association and your member’s preferences.

Defining & measuring member engagement

The way that a university association measures member engagement will look noticeably different than how a professional association will measure engagement. The former will typically look at event attendance, while the latter might refer to their learning management system (LMS) to gauge how often members take advantage of further education opportunities.

Since no two associations are the same, the way your association measures member engagement will also be unique. To begin setting your own benchmarks for member engagement, think about what your long-term goals are, whether it’s to increase member retention or encourage community-building.

As you review what member engagement means to your association, take the time to gain insight into where your members are already active. In other words, consider the various experiences and engagement opportunities that your association offers and the platforms where your members already are. Using a data-driven approach, observe how your members engage with those experiences, including:

  • Social media platforms.
  • Email marketing.
  • Live events.
  • Learning opportunities.

Once you get a clear sense of what member engagement means to your association, you can then turn these engagements into measurable numbers. This can be done by setting, tracking, and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs).

Setting KPIs for member engagement

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are strategic business metrics that your association can set to measure your progress towards specific, quantifiable goals.

KPIs will help you and your staff measure the performance of your association based on key objectives. After defining what member engagement means to your association, you can then set KPIs to evaluate your success at reaching specific engagement targets.

Here are some examples of KPIs based on where your members may be currently active:

Set key performance indicators to measure the success of your member engagement strategies.
  • Social media platforms. Consider measuring how often you gain and lose followers, level of post engagement, the number of profile tags or references, and which of your posts get the most attention.
  • Email marketing. Consider measuring your email open and click-through rates, which members opted to receive your newsletter, and how often members respond to your correspondences.
  • Live events. Consider measuring how many people registered, total attendance, how people found out about your event, and the type of tickets people have bought.
  • Learning opportunities. Consider measuring metrics from your association’s LMS system, such as which classes are most popular, how many members received accreditations, and how often members start courses but do not finish.

Determining effective KPIs is an important part of measuring the success of your member engagement strategy. Seeing actual data metrics will help you make the best future decisions. For more examples of KPIs, this article on data analytics offers detailed information about essential metrics to look out for.

Why is member engagement important to your association?

Why is member engagement important?

When most organizations think about member engagement, it’s easy to go straight to data and measure specific transactions. However, you have to look beyond the numbers and understand the meaningful experiences your association offers its members and the mutually beneficial value they provide.

Increased member retention

Lots of associations utilize their member engagement strategy to increase member retention.

From a management point of view, prioritizing member engagement is crucial to promoting member retention. The more you engage your members, the more likely they will renew their memberships.

Focusing on member retention is generally more cost-effective than member acquisition, so building up a loyal member base will better support your organization’s stability in the long run.
Consider what your association can offer to boost the value delivered to members in exchange for membership dues. No one will pay to be a part of your organization without gaining something meaningful in return.

Provide your members with opportunities and experiences that they will actually appreciate and motivate them to keep coming back. Keep in mind that positive member engagement results in a positive member relationship.

Member engagement and community-building

Associations often use member engagement to encourage member community-building.

Member engagement doesn’t just help you develop better relationships with your members. It can also encourage members to interact and engage with each other. 

Oftentimes, individuals join associations to meet and network with others with similar interests or professionals in the same field. This way, they can learn and grow with other like-minded people, or even advance their careers. 
This is what makes it so important for members to feel like they’re a part of a growing community. So consider basing your member engagement strategy around encouraging member networking and interaction. In particular, you might:

  • Host live events. Events are the best way to engage your members and encourage community-building. This is because they provide a space for members to interact face-to-face. For example, a conference allows members in the same industries or sectors to come together and talk about new innovations or improvements in their field.
  • Provide an online member portal. While your association may have recurring in-person meetings and annual events, a growing membership requires an intuitive online member portal. This way, members can communicate with each other through forums and browse other profiles to get a better sense of their community.
  • Organize a member directory. Member directories provide your members with an important networking resource to explore your association’s member base and reach out to their peers. Additionally, they act as a great form of marketing for your organization, allowing you to show off to the public the size and professionalism of your membership program.

Member engagement and non-dues revenue

Certain member engagement efforts can increase your non-dues revenue.

Many associations prioritize raising funds outside of their regular membership dues to continue funding and enhancing their services. The key to unlocking these non-dues revenue streams is to offer additional, paid engagement opportunities for members to further enhance their membership experiences.

Of course, asking members to pay fees on top of their regular dues might sound challenging, but it is entirely possible as long as these paid opportunities are valuable, unique, and worthwhile.

For example, event ticket sales are a great way to increase non-dues revenue. While tickets are an extra cost, events offer a rewarding experience that justifies the member’s purchase.
Other engaging ways to increase non-dues revenue include running fundraising campaigns and offering branded merchandise through an online store.

What are some association member engagement strategies you can use?

Top Association Member Engagement Strategies

Use these member engagement strategies to create a memorable experience.

Since every association is different, it’s difficult to definitively say exactly which association member engagement strategy you should follow. Depending on your ultimate goal and members’ preferences, your member engagement strategy will be built around your specific KPIs and data metrics.

However, there are a couple of common strategic moves that can help to strengthen any member engagement strategy.

1. Send out member engagement surveys.

Always establish a direct line between you and your members. This way, you have a reliable communication channel and platform to gauge how your members are feeling.

Whether it’s delivered through a social media platform, mobile events app, or email marketing tool, regularly send surveys and polls to your members. This way, you can gain a more direct understanding of your members’ needs and preferences.

When is the best time to send out surveys and polls? Consider these approaches:

  • After events. This is when the event is most prominent in your members’ eyes, so it’s a great time to get feedback on how your event went and what can be improved.
  • With membership renewal reminders. As members are deciding whether or not to renew, it makes sense to also get some feedback from them. If members decide to leave the association, ask them to reveal why!
  • At the end of the year. When the holidays begin to wrap up, this is a great time to get members to reflect on the year and what your association has offered them.

2. Segment your members by interests.

To better engage your members, segment them based on their interests. This way, you gain a better understanding of which members respond best to different member engagement tactics.
For example, you can start customizing content to resonate with certain segments of your members. Younger members may be more receptive to one type of message, while another version appeals to older members.

3. Use advertising to promote engagement opportunities.

Chances are, you’ve spent time crafting meaningful member engagement opportunities like members-only events and learning opportunities. Now, you need to make sure your members know about these opportunities. Paid advertising can be a fantastic way to amplify member perks and inspire people to engage.

Here are a few paid advertising strategies for nonprofits to promote member engagement:

  • Google Ads: Use Google Ads to promote your website and encourage members to explore online resources like webinars, educational materials, and discussion forums. You can also promote your events. Best of all, eligible 501(c)(3) organizations can leverage this paid advertising channel for free through the Google Ad Grant program.
  • Social media ads: Show up in members’ news feeds by running ads for upcoming events, membership drives, and other initiatives to encourage participation. By using targeting features, you can reach current and potential members alike.
  • Retargeted ads: Reconnect with users who have previously engaged with your website or social media content. Whether they abandoned your membership form or an event registration form, you can inspire them to complete specific actions personalized to their interests.

Paid ads can be immensely helpful in engaging current members and inspiring new prospects to sign up. With thoughtful strategies, you can increase visibility for your initiatives, deliver ads to the right audiences, and drive more traffic to your site and social media.

4. Improve your communication strategies.

People get bombarded with emails and messages every day, so don’t bog down their inboxes with unnecessary content. As you’re developing your member engagement strategies, consider ways that you can improve your communication strategies.

For starters, consider letting members choose their preferred mode of communication and deliver messages in a way that they’re most likely to respond to. To do so, you can take a proactive approach by asking members for their preferences. Alternatively, you can also explore previous engagement data to determine which channels a particular member responds best to.

For example, one group of members might indicate that they like to be contacted through direct mail, while others tend to favor digital channels. When you communicate with each individual in the way they prefer, they’re more likely to respond positively.
Additionally, segment your members and tailor each message based on their particular preferences and engagement histories. This can be done by customizing existing templates within your AMS platform to more personally address each recipient.

5. Host engaging events.

One of the most appealing factors of joining an association is the events. In-person meetings provide significant value, as they reinforce to members that they’re a part of a real community. There’s little loyalty or emotion involved when all of the other members you “meet” are just photos on a screen.
In addition to serving as a strategy for boosting member engagement, events offer learning and networking opportunities that might not be found elsewhere. Remember that what your association offers should outweigh the costs of the membership dues, so actively consider ways to make your event stand out.

6. Make new members feel welcome, and existing members feel valued.

Your member engagement strategy should start on day one. As soon as a member joins your association, focus on engaging with them. Send a welcome packet containing relevant association information, as well as instructions to access the online portal and information on any upcoming events. It’s important to immediately communicate the value of engaging with your robust member community.

However, don’t forget about those who have stayed loyal to you over the years. Tenured members should still feel valued, as their retained contribution and engagement are still vital to your association. Maintain positive member engagement by continuously communicating your appreciation for their membership.

7. Offer many ways to engage.

Avoid focusing on only one method of member engagement. While it’s wise to have a goal for your association to work toward, don’t let other engagement opportunities fall to the wayside. We’ll be discussing both digital and in-person member engagement strategies.

Here are some digital member engagement opportunities:

  • Online member portal. Provide a space for members to connect with others in their community.
  • Community message board. Members can actively engage with each other through forums, collaborate on files, and comment on each other’s ideas.
  • Learning management system. With an effective LMS, you can offer online courses and classes for members to further their education and gain certifications.

However, don’t forget about the value of face-to-face engagements. Consider these in-person member engagement opportunities: 

  • Events. Host conferences, presentations, and more to engage your members in-person. This way, they can actively interact with each other throughout the event.
  • Learning opportunities. Offer in-person classes and learning events for members to further their education.

Meetings. Oftentimes, your association will have committees and subsections. Encourage them to meet in person on a daily basis so that they can accomplish objectives in an efficient manner.

8. Make it easier with an association management system.

Invest in an association management system to help you manage your member engagement strategies.

To compete with other organizations vying for your members’ time, money, and attention, relying on software solutions has become more of a necessity than a suggestion. This is especially true as your association continues to grow. 

After all, as more members flock to your association, you want to ensure that each individual continues to get the same level of attention and keep closely engaging and participating with your organization. And how can you effectively engage your members when you and your staff are bogged down by daily internal processes like manually sending dues reminder emails?
By investing in the right association management software solution, you can automate the upkeep of daily tasks, streamline communications, and closely monitor and analyze your various engagement activities.

Consider Fonteva’s all-in-one membership management platform and member engagement solution.

Fonteva: Our Member Engagement Software Solution

If you’re on the hunt for an effective and reliable association management solution, then look no further. Fonteva has worked with associations for over a decade, and through our powerful Salesforce-native association software, we strive to reduce the burden of association management and member engagement. 

With more powerful and comprehensive tools than a simple association management system, Fonteva provides an all-in-one association management platform that gives you and your team access to:

  • Online member profiles. Engage your constituents online by providing a public member directory. This gives members a chance to get to know each other and even interact on an online message board. Members can also edit their own profiles and update any inaccuracies.
  • An intuitive member database. An intuitive CRM system makes it easy to personalize member communication. Fonteva is also 100% native to Salesforce, which means that your member profiles will be fully fleshed out and regularly updated with engagement metrics from event attendance, payment preference, and more!
  • Event planning and management software. Fonteva’s association management platform includes event management tools, so there is no need to look for a third-party solution. You can easily host an event microsite, create a mobile event app, and manage all of your key event personnel on one streamlined platform!
  • Continuing education opportunities. People join associations to stay up-to-date on best practices and innovations in their field. With Fonteva, you can offer certifications, learning events, online courses, and more.

Fonteva’s comprehensive association management platform also helps your association to visualize past data to improve your member engagement and retention strategies for the future. With flexible reporting tools, you can easily see which communications, events, and other forms of outreach are working and which need to be tweaked.


Actively engaging your members is an ongoing journey, but certain strategies can simplify the process. For example, consider your association’s overarching goals and areas where your members are already actively engaging. Additionally, by investing in reliable association management software, you can easily compile reports to understand these goals and form measurable KPIs to take appropriate action.

Eager to learn more about strategies and tools that you can use to elevate your association and engage your members? Check out these additional resources:

Improve your member engagement strategy with Fonteva's software.
Are your e-learning courses underperforming? Here are four ways to elevate your courses to increase both member interest and engagement in the new year.

4 Ways to Elevate Your Next Association E-Learning Course

It’s your job to provide worthwhile networking and professional development opportunities that keep members engaged year after year. High engagement means increased revenue and membership… low engagement for multiple years in a row could mean your association is struggling in numerous ways.

However, providing those opportunities can be expensive. The last thing you want to do is invest in custom-creating a new e-learning course only to have few members (if any) purchase it. Just like a forgotten instrument, treadmill, or book gathering dust in the corner of your closet, courses that members don’t complete provide little value for your organization.

Whether lack of personalization, relevance, or even accessibility, there are several reasons why you might be seeing low engagement with your e-learning courses.

If you’re investing in custom e-learning course development, these courses need to be top-tier and worth the investment. Here are four tips to elevate your next e-learning project and increase engagement all at once.

Create content that helps members do their jobs better.

What’s the story behind your industry? Who was the Benjamin Franklin, Milton Hershey, or other innovator who made the initial discovery that led to the roles your members serve in today?

We’d guess that there’s a storied history that led to what your industry looks like today. It can be tempting to include tidbits of that story throughout your courses (or, take a deep dive into it at the start of each course). Don’t do this! Remember—what’s interesting isn’t always helpful.

Focus on creating courses that will actively help members be more effective in their day-to-day roles. To do so:

  • Incorporate tips that are specific to your members’ experiences. Take OSHA compliance, for example. Workplace safety guidelines can differ drastically depending on if your members work in offices or construction sites. Adjust your compliance training to align with what your members actually experience in their roles, rather than providing generic best practices.
  • Keep courses updated. Consider the past two years. Chances are, a lot has changed across your industry. From working from home to new office safety procedures, we’d guess that life looks substantially different for your members. That’s how quickly parts of your courses can become outdated! Regularly update your courses to provide valuable information for members as the world changes.
  • Remove “fluff.” This is where your history lesson falls. Take a critical look at each line of information you include in the course. Ask yourself how this will directly help learners do their jobs better. If you can’t think of a direct action that the information will improve, cut it!

Creating useful content is by far the most important tip to elevate your e-learning courses. You can overcome most obstacles with slight updates to your courses—but if the content inherently is not helpful to members, you’re behind the starting line.

Prioritize accessibility for all learners.

Have you ever watched a movie in which a door gets stuck, and the main character jiggles the handle incessantly until the handle inevitably falls off? Then, a comedic montage ensues as the character waits for someone to set them free.

The character wasn’t able to open the door. This wasn’t because they didn’t know how to use a door—but that when the handle fell off, they no longer had access to the tools to use the door. If you create an e-learning course that’s not accessible, you’re replicating that experience: you’re providing educational materials with no “door handle” for learners to access them.

There are a few key tenets to keep in mind when it comes to accessibility in e-learning:

  • Accessible Graphic Design: Select a design theme with sufficient color contrast, which is helpful for learners with visual impairments. Don’t use light gray text over a white background, for example, as it may be challenging to read the text.
  • Descriptions of Visuals: Use alternative text for all images, illustrations, videos, and animations. This text alternative should describe the visual content, helping users who can’t discern the image to better understand it. Additionally, include closed captions for all audio elements so individuals who have hearing impairments can read the content.
  • Navigation: Design your course so that it can be navigated using a keyboard. This will help individuals with mobility impairments, as they’ll be able to press the “Tab” key to go from page to page and press the “Enter” key to activate any buttons. If your course can be navigated with a keyboard, individuals using assistive technology (such as an eye tracker) will also be able to maneuver through the content as well.

All learners, including those with visual and hearing impairments, deserve to have a positive experience with your course. Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought. Instead, make it a priority from the start.

Consider ways that members can personalize their learning experiences.

Let’s say you’re going shopping for a new suit. When you arrive at the store, the fitting attendant presents you with only one option—a plain black, boxy suit. For others, that might be the perfect fit… but it’s not your style. You soon discover that it’s the only suit that the store offers. Would you stay there? No!

The same idea applies to your e-learning courses. While your association is a collective, it’s full of individual members. Each member will have slightly different interests, learning needs and styles, and goals. These individuals will see your courses as significantly more valuable when they’re personalized to their experiences.

There are a number of ways to “personalize” e-learning courses to make them more relevant and valuable on an individual level.

For example, you could create supplementary microlearning courses that expand upon topics that are skimmed over in a larger course. If learners take the larger course and are curious, they can check out your micro-course offerings for more information on specific topics.

You could also build out “Choose Your Own Adventure” branching scenarios. Essentially, you’d build the course like a tree, and learners would click to navigate down “branches” and learn more about topics that interest them. The point is, you need to create a customized experience that reels your learners in until they’ve finished the course.

Remember that content should be both educational and engaging.

Step into one of your learner’s shoes for a minute. Are you a busy healthcare professional, currently tackling your normal duties with the unhelpful addition of a global pandemic? Or, are you a marketing professional who normally would work in an office setting… but now your office is in your home, and you’re working double the time to make up for lost sales in the past year?

The idea here is that, regardless of what role your members serve in, one thing remains true—they’re busy. Very, very busy. That brings us to a hard truth: if a training course isn’t explicitly required (such as for a certification), your members may not want to purchase it. They just don’t have the time to make the purchase worthwhile!

It’s up to you to make a compelling argument for investing in ongoing professional development courses. Do that by making courses that are both educational and engaging.

Keep the following tips in mind to ramp up the interest in your e-learning courses:

  • Use scenario-based learning to immerse members in the course. Let’s say you’re discussing video conferencing best practices. Rather than listing out the tips, have members participate in a simulated Zoom meeting. They’ll be able to practice how to use the mute button (an essential skill) and be immersed in the course.
  • Empower members to practice key skills with gamification. You can create a multi-level e-learning game through which members can learn a specific skill and practice it, while having fun. Each level could cover a different skill or even get more challenging as the learner progresses through the game.
  • Consider innovative, interactive methods to display information. What’s more likely to help you remember the steps in a process: reading them on a page or dragging-and-dropping them to sort them in the correct order? The second one. Consider how you can make each part of your course interactive to keep learners engaged.

With these tips, courses won’t just be helpful to have, but enjoyable as well. It’s easier to make time for things you enjoy doing!

When it comes down to it, elevating your association’s e-learning courses simply means making them as useful as possible for members. When they see value in the courses, they’ll keep purchasing them and you’ll see engagement rise.

These tips are a great starting point. Good luck!

If your association conducts an awards program, then it is essential for you to know the fundamentals of creating an effective and engaging program website.

Designing the Optimal Association Awards Program Website

What Roles Do an Association Website and AMS Play for Awards?

An association’s AMS is a critical point of record and the association website is an essential platform for marketing the activities within the association. Having an effective awards program requires both a software portal for application submission, as well as a public-facing website for promotion.

Oftentimes the association’s website will dedicate one page to promote the awards, as a homepage, and then the awards website will be on a separate platform. Most associations view their main website as an entry point for the awards program. The awards management software will then use a public-facing website to detail the association’s submission process, categories and deadlines.

When it comes to the AMS, the awards program creates a lot of useful data. If the AMS and awards website are not speaking to one another there is a tremendous amount of valuable membership information that remains siloed. In addition, an AMS can enable judges and applicants to seamlessly log in using their same AMS credentials, otherwise known as the single sign-on.

Designing the Optimal Awards Program Website

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the design and aesthetics of an awards program website:

  1. Keep it really simple and focus on the reliability of the platform. It just needs to work.
  2. Branding and custom design is essential.

One is not better than the other, but it is important to decide where your priorities are because that will influence how you approach optimizing your website and content. There is also a significant difference between having a website dedicated to a single awards program versus having a website that encompasses many programs at once. 

In the following article we will cover everything from a basic site to advanced custom site design to help you identify the best possible approach for your own organization.

The “Keep it Simple” Approach

If your organization’s priority is simplicity and functionality, then a basic design is the approach you will wish to take. Below is an example of the American Geophysical Union’s Fellows program landing page. They are utilizing OpenWater’s default look and feel that comes with a standard navigation banner. You can also upload a banner of your choice.

Take a look at this simple, function awards program design from Union Fellows.

The landing page content is dedicated to the Union Fellows program with a call to action in the navigation bar to “Nominate a fellow”. You may also wish to have additional navigation bar items that include FAQs, policies, rules, or contact information for administrators.

The benefit of a simple design like the above keeps the applicant focused on just completing the work required and reduces any clutter or distraction. It also reduces the burden of implementation by requiring a banner and some content. No other design items are required.

About half of all OpenWater customers go with this default look and feel.

The “Match Look and Feel” Approach

The next most common approach is to do what is known as a Match Look and Feel. This means that your awards program submission form and website match your own website. There is no differentiation between your awards website and your regular website.

This approach is best if you want a consistent brand between your organization and the submission process. This makes the most sense for something like a grant or scholarship application. It is also a good choice for those who run multiple grants and scholarships on a single site. Let’s take a look at the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s page below.

The Institute of Engineering and Technology takes a clean, consistent branding approach to their awards program website.

They do a great job listing some basic instructions followed by a call to action. Additionally, they provide a table of programs along with their availability and Apply Now links.

What you are looking at is still the OpenWater platform, but the header and footer match that of the IET website to ensure consistent branding between both platforms.

Advanced Custom Design and Branding

In some cases, the awards program itself is the brand, not the organization. Notable examples of this are the Grammys, Oscars, and Emmy Awards. And if you want to build a brand around your awards program, then you should have a dedicated website with its own brand.

The MSL of the Year Awards run by the Medical Science Liaison Society is a relatively new awards program, but they have done a fantastic job creating a website showcasing the program.

MSL of the Year starts off with a full page, designed banner with a large call to action to “Submit a Nomination.”

Take a look at the elaborate and sophisticated awards program web design from the Medical Science Liaison Society.

The next section conveys important information about the awards program, such as dates as well as categories.

Take a look at the elaborate and sophisticated awards program web design from the Medical Science Liaison Society.

The section below categories is a video highlighting the MSL of the Year awards and previous winners and finalists.

Take a look at the elaborate and sophisticated awards program web design from the Medical Science Liaison Society.

Highlighting the judges and their expertise is a great way to further the brand.

Take a look at the elaborate and sophisticated awards program web design from the Medical Science Liaison Society.

As you get lower down the page, you provide additional information on eligibility and FAQs.

Take a look at the elaborate and sophisticated awards program web design from the Medical Science Liaison Society.

A timeline of events keeps both applicants and judges informed on important dates of the awards program.

Take a look at the elaborate and sophisticated awards program web design from the Medical Science Liaison Society.

Other great examples of custom design websites are AdAge’s A-List & Creativity Awards and Sandow Media’s Awards.

You may also draw inspiration from AdAge's bright, clean, and orderly awards program website design.
Check out Sando Media's impressive HiP awards program website design.

We hope sharing these different approaches inspires your team to evaluate your awards program branding and decide what is best for you. Go here to learn more about OpenWater awards management software

Other Awards Website Best Practices

1. Include a Winners Gallery

Having historical data of your awards in a gallery is a nice thing for visitors to see, not just to look at, but also to get a better feel for your program. (Take a look at the website for The Oscars as an example.) Providing an archive of your awards adds to your legitimacy and prestige; by adding a gallery of winners, you are enticing entrants with the prize itself.

2. Review & Update Your Information

Keep information on the site updated regularly so visitors will be able to easily find what they need. Make sure all of the submission information is clear and concise. Review your website with the eyes of a newcomer and see if there’s anything you could add to help entrants. (Remember: better instructions means better submissions.)

Awards Call for Entry Best Practice

The call for entry (CFE) page on your awards website is nothing without the right elements in your CFE itself! When you’re carefully crafting this, be sure to include these 9 vital elements:

1. About the Awards – Your CFE is meant to excite people! By including information about your program’s history and tenure, you can generate interest and establish legitimacy too.

2. Categories – Listing out your categories will let interested entrants know whether or not their submission would be a fit for your program.

3. Judging Criteria – Showing how entries will be judged will help entrants structure their submissions and heighten the qualities of the entries as well.

4. Entry Criteria – Be sure to tell entrants all of the information they’ll need to submit upon entering! This will help them prepare and evaluate eligibility requirements.

5. Judges – Judges are typically industry experts, meaning that they can attract potential entrants too. Be sure to show off your judges for additional publicity.

6. Relevant Dates – Let entrants know when your CFE begins and ends so they can prepare their submission in time.

7. Fees – You don’t want entrants to get to the end of your program and then be surprised (often in a negative way) by the necessary fees. Detail different costs (like general entry fees, early-bird discounts, and late fees) explicitly and your entrants will thank you.

8. How to Submit – Include a link to the application to simplify the submission process for those who are interested. This can increase your number of entrants and create a hassle-free process for everyone involved.

9. Contact Information – Contact information makes it simple for those who have questions or want additional information to get it quickly and efficiently.

How OpenWater and Fonteva Work Together

Trade Associations and Membership Societies that use Fonteva as their AMS can integrate with OpenWater for single sign on, membership specific pricing and to exchange data with the AMS to enable seamless reporting on nominations for awards, submissions, judging and much more. Click here to learn more about OpenWater’s integration with Fonteva.

This is the feature image for this article about top membership management software and reviews.

Top Membership Management Software Options & Reviews

As your association grows, your requirements for your membership software grow, too — so much so that you’ve outgrown your current membership management solution!

After congratulating your members on another successful year, it’s time to get to work with your association leadership team and find your next membership management system. Your task is to find the best association management software that can handle your organization’s specific needs and scale with you as you continue to grow.

There’s no shortage of systems to choose from, and parsing through all your available options can quickly become overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll review membership management software basics and describe top options to give you a clear picture of how to proceed. We’ll cover these topics:

As you work through this post, keep in mind that the perfect membership management system looks different for every unique association. Features your organization can’t do without may not even cross the minds of another association’s executive team.

Ultimately, your members are the heart of your association, so keeping your member community and their needs at the forefront as you decide which management solution is right for your organization is essential. With that, let’s jump in!

This section will describe the basic features and purpose of membership management software.

What is Membership Management Software?

Membership management software is a specialized customer relationship management (CRM) system that association leaders use to stay on top of the administration of their association’s membership program.

These software systems store crucial information about association members, such as member profiles, continuing education history, and preferred communication methods.

In addition to storing this essential data, association management software enables association leaders to complete various administrative tasks meant to streamline management processes, improve communication with members, and boost member engagement.

For example, with the member information you gather through your software system, you can create courses, events, and other programs based on your audience’s preferences. This system can also keep track of members’ continuing education credits and event registrations, boosting personal and professional development. Additionally, communication features allow leaders to automate association-wide updates for a simplified notification process.

If your organization has yet to implement a full-fledged membership management system, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities it can reveal. You can ditch the messy spreadsheets and clunky communications systems you may have used in the past for an all-in-one solution that simplifies your management duties for maximum engagement success.

These are the seven essentials for your membership management software system.

7 Essentials for your Membership Management System

No matter what kind of membership program you operate, there are several essential features you should look for in new membership management software. Here are the top seven features to look for in a membership management system:

Robust member profiles are important features of membership management software options.

1. Robust member profiles

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

  • 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 CRM should apply badges, special permissions, or discounts based on membership level when members make online purchases.

The best membership software will also allow members to modify their 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 can explore the robust member directory to identify and connect with members for personal or professional networking opportunities.

For example, Fonteva’s member profile platform allows members to input basic information such as job titles and contact information, link their Twitter profiles to connect with other members on social media, and keep track of their subscriptions:

This is an example of the member profile page offered by Fonteva's membership management software.
Your membership management software should be able to handle automated membership renewals.

2. Automatic member renewals

One of the most significant benefits members receive from being in an association is joining a strong network of like-minded professionals. These connections are symbiotic and can help further each others’ careers through career advancement opportunities or sharing advice.

To maintain the strength of these networks as a member benefit, member retention is paramount. Membership software that can automate the renewal process will drastically increase your members’ chances of renewing by simplifying the process of renewal for both members and the staff tasked with notifying them.

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, 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 send automatic welcome messages to new members and expiration notices for members who don’t renew in time.

Here’s the process of how these updates boost renewals:

  1. Your organization sends a reminder email to a member who’s up for renewal or a lapsed member with information on the benefits of staying involved. Depending on your organization, these benefits may include receiving training through an educational course or getting involved in your membership mentor program.
  2. You also describe exciting upcoming events, such as a virtual networking night or a new speaker series.
  3. Your member receives the message, personally addressed to them, and it gives them a reason to maintain their membership. They see how staying involved will benefit them personally and professionally.

On the other hand, members that don’t receive any reminders 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 enticing, check out this guide full of tips and examples. For example, it’s good practice to use a personal greeting and friendly tone and incentivize early renewals with discounts or other perks.

Event management is an important aspect of your membership management software.

3. Event management

You might not think that event management is essential for membership software, but think again! The benefits of integrating your member database and your event planning software are practically endless. Your event planning team will be able to:

  • Eliminate manual data transfer from a third-party platform, saving time and promoting 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 events.

And those are just the benefits to your planning team. Think about how helpful integrated event features are 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 event to strike up a conversation about what they learned or experienced.

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

For example, check out what Fonteva’s integrated event management platform looks like:

This is Fonteva's event builder, a critical feature in this membership management software option.

As you can see, Fonteva’s membership management software allows event organizers to manage ticketing, speakers, sponsors, and basic event information all within your membership CRM. This saves your team time and ensures everyone’s on the same page through every step of the planning process.

Your membership management software platform should also handle payment processing.

4. Payment processing

eCommerce and payment processing solutions are not only necessary to manage member dues, but they’re also crucial for driving non-dues revenue for your organization. These revenue streams, such as event tickets or online courses, are likely an important funding source for your association.

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. Top options also provide a seamless experience for your members, allowing them to easily and quickly submit online payments.

You'll want to choose a membership management software system that offers analytics and reporting features.

5. Analytics and reporting

Speaking of reports, there’s nothing more valuable to an association’s long-term goals 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 — 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 team member can customize their own reports while drawing from the same central, up-to-date database, every aspect of your strategy will benefit. Keeping track of everything from fundraising metrics to non-dues revenue and more helps your organization grow by allowing you to set data-driven goals that move the needle. Plus, you won’t have to learn how to use complicated reporting software that’s separate from your central system.

Self-service member portals are another important feature of membership management software.

6. Online self-service member portals

When you choose an association management system, you know that the solution’s focus 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 we mentioned before, you need to be able to empower your members to take charge of their engagement with options such as:

  • Full control over their membership tiers and status.
  • Easy online event registration and check-in.
  • Online networking and communication outlets.
  • 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 improves their interactions with your organization and helps them further their careers. 

You'll want to choose a membership management software that offers full database customization.

7. Full database customization

You know that to use your database to the best of your abilities, it has 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 membership software, make sure you choose a system that allows you to customize your database. Depending on your association, this could look like:

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

Your organization will continue to grow and change, so don’t settle for a membership management system that can’t grow and change with you.

Based on these necessary features, few software options offer these requirements, but there’s one choice that stands out on top. Read on for an overview of our top software recommendation.

Learn more about membership management software with our free checklist.
Fonteva is our top membership management software recommendation.

All-In-One Membership Management Software: Fonteva

Overview of this Membership Management System

Fonteva Membership is a true-cloud association membership software native to Salesforce, the world’s foremost CRM system. Fonteva has over a decade of experience working with associations, professional societies, association management companies, and local governments. These organizations all use Fonteva to enhance management and engagement strategies with a cloud-based, scalable platform.

With Fonteva, organization leaders can complete these necessary functions with ease:

  • Empower members with easy access to the member directory, event sign-ups, and continuing education opportunities.
  • Manage ticketing, speakers, sponsors, and basic event information all within their membership CRM.
  • Integrate payment processing and automatic discounts for members who shop using their member profiles.
  • Access automatically-generated reports based on any number of metrics.
  • Give members access to a self-service member portal.
  • Create customized databases to fit specific needs.

With Fonteva Membership, organizations also receive implementation and data migration support and ongoing training on best practices for using the software. Transitioning member data to a new system can be a major undertaking, but with Fonteva, associations have a helping hand throughout the entire process. We’re with you every step of the way.

Why Fonteva Membership Stands Out

One of Fonteva Membership’s greatest assets that sets it apart from other options is that it’s built on top of Salesforce. Salesforce is the world’s leading CRM provider for a reason — it offers a highly scalable and customizable platform and employs an army of developers and partners to support customers and continuously devise new and innovative products.

With Fonteva, organizations receive updates, code-free customization, and 24/7 customer support from Salesforce. With the backing of Salesforce, users also rest assured that their membership system is protected with high-level security measures.

Fonteva has many other advantages — for one, it’s an easy-to-use system that doesn’t require an in-house IT department to get up and running. Additionally, since Fonteva is cloud-based, organizational leaders can access the system from any location, with any device.

Here’s a practical example of what Fonteva can do for associations. Check out this customized database, built for an event:

This is an example of how you can conduct event management through your membership management software.

A comprehensive dashboard provides a high-level overview of the most important reports and trends related to the event, ensuring organizers can carry out activities effectively and analyze data once the event concludes.

Fonteva offers the flexibility and extensive, yet user-friendly features to simplify management practices, save association leaders time, and strengthen communities through a personalized member experience.

Here are other options for membership management software.

Other Top Membership Management Solutions

Your choice in membership management software is a critical decision, so it’s essential to not rush into any solution too quickly. In addition to Fonteva, there are several other software options that may also be equipped to meet your organization’s needs.

Protech is another great option for membership management software.

Protech: Overview

Leveraging Microsoft’s intuitive Dynamics 365 software, Protech provides a rich membership management solution that can help streamline your association’s membership management processes from event planning to member engagement.

The Protech platform is another powerful option for membership management software.

Take a look at a few of the many tools available with Protech’s powerful AMS, such as:

  • Access to robust, enterprise-level e-commerce features, streamlining the online shopping and event registration process for both members and staff.
  • Seamless integration with AppSource tools, Microsoft Office and Business applications, and various third-party platforms.
  • Automated, personalized marketing and communication features, allowing associations to both simplify their outreach and maximize engagement across multiple channels.

Additionally, Protech provides event software, professional development tools, and a variety of other built-in or integrated features to help complete your association’s membership management toolkit.

Regpack is another option for member management software.

Regpack: Overview

Regpack combines association management and membership renewals into an all-in-one solution. It offers flexible and integrated payment processes, automated communications, and reporting systems.

Regpack is an option for membership management software.

In addition to expected features such as event registration, member databases and portals, and automated dues, organizations can use Regpack to:

  • Embed member application processes into their websites.
  • Offer donation opportunities through their websites.
  • Save money through optimized registration processes.

Regpack doesn’t just offer membership software — it also has systems for camps, schools and other educational programs, travel groups, and more. Therefore, a wide range of organizations turn to Regpack for management assistance.

MemberClicks is another option for membership management software.

MemberClicks: Overview

MemberClicks works with associations, chambers, universities, and association management companies to provide comprehensive software solutions that increase engagement and generate revenue.

MemberClicks is another option for membership management software.

Beyond just a membership management system, the integrated platform offers a suite of software tools, including:

  • A learning management system to store and distribute educational content and track members’ learning progress.
  • Job board software that helps connect job-seekers to new opportunities, providing additional value to members.
  • Membership website and CMS to create a modern, responsive site that engages and informs visitors.

MemberClicks also provides training resources for organization management and member retention.

GlueUp is another option for membership management software.

GlueUp: Overview

GlueUp provides a sophisticated yet easy-to-use CRM platform for associations, business networks, and chambers.

GlueUp is another option for membership management software.

GlueUp’s membership software solution contains these features:

  • An event management suite that allows organizations to set up branded event pages, ticketing, and event promotions.
  • A training management suite to create engaging, monetized webinars, manage certificates, and promote courses.
  • A community engagement suite to facilitate discussion and networking.

With GlueUp, organizations also receive access to two mobile apps: one for community members and one for association management teams.

HiveBrite is another option for membership management software.

HiveBrite: Overview

HiveBrite is a community management platform used by professional networks, school and university alumni groups, corporate alumni groups, and nonprofits.

HiveBrite is another option for membership management software.

With HiveBrite, organizations customize the platform to fit their specific needs and requirements. Associations appreciate HiveBrite for its:

  • CRM and member management tools that allow users to apply filters and conduct targeted member communications.
  • Content management to maintain an updated website.
  • Communication tools such as in-app messages and mobile notifications.

Like GlueUp, HiveBrite also offers the ability to create a customized, branded mobile app. HiveBrite’s “Who’s around me” app feature allows members to use a map to discover other members nearby.


From member recruitment to retention, your association management system is the most efficient tool in your association’s toolbox for completing essential tasks. Engaging your members in a strong member community starts with forethought and the best software available.

You may still have lingering concerns or questions about membership management software options or how to get the best ROI for your choice. If that’s the case, check out these additional resources before making your final decision:

Ready for a membership management software platform that can do it all? Contact Fonteva today.