Don't miss out on these features when purchasing an association management database!

5 Association Management Database Features to Know

When it comes time to upgrade your association management software, you shouldn’t go into the marketplace blind. Making a smart purchasing decision can set your association up for success for the future — the right association software will address your current needs and expand with your association as it grows.To ensure your enterprise-level association gets the necessary flexibility, scalability, and support from your new solution, go with a true cloud solution. Without the restrictions of a locally hosted solution, true-cloud solutions can provide all of the above and more.

Once you’ve narrowed your options down to cloud solutions, what else should you look for?

Here are the top five features to keep in mind as you embark on your association management software purchasing mission:

  1. Drag-and-drop dashboards
  2. Event management
  3. Member-driven committees
  4. Revenue accounting
  5. Advanced personalization

Integrating these features with your association management database allows your association’s administrative team to stay on track to meet your ambitious goals, all while encouraging your members to engage with the member community. The right association management database will do both: keep you organized and empower your members!

Get ready to take notes as we dive into it!


Stay on top of your operations with your association management database's dashboards.

1. Custom Dashboards

As your membership base expands over time, your operations and offerings should expand, too! More members means more revenue to fund new programs and initiatives, but it also means more responsibility to deliver what members are looking for.

To ensure you can identify those areas in which your association can improve, choose an association management database with robust reporting features.

When your association management database can produce reports, you can pull membership data without having to export to an expensive third-party reporting solution. You might be looking for:

  • Membership sign-ups
  • Renewal rates
  • Event attendance
  • Overdue invoices

With true-cloud association software like Fonteva for Associations, every member of your team can craft custom reports by pulling any of this data and more from any corner of your operations. And, through Fonteva’s drag-and-drop interface, you can do it without any help from IT.

Maintain a birds-eye view of your operations with your association management database's dashboards.

The ability to create custom reports without any coding is key for large associations with multiple departments taking on a variety of initiatives.

During your search for an association management database, be sure to ask about customization and configuration. If you will need to coordinate with the vendor or in-house IT every time you need a new reporting view, you’ll waste precious time jumping through those administrative hoops.


Plan events within your association membership software.

2. Event Management

Most associations, especially professional ones, plan events of some kind for their members. Whether those events take the form of networking cocktail hours or weekend-long conferences, they’re easier and more efficient to run within your association management database.

Not only will an integrated system save you money by eliminating the cost of third-party event management software, but you’ll also make the event registration and management processes quicker and more reliable. Your association management database can populate registration forms with your members’ data saved within it and record event attendance data and badges directly into your member profiles.

Besides the benefit of eliminating timely and costly data transfer, with events integrated into your association database, you can take advantage of:

  • Membership benefits — Encourage member attendance through special discounts, priority registration, or free add-ons automatically added to their ticket purchase.
  • Branded event sites — Consolidate registration, event details, updates, and photos on one branded website to get attendees excited about the event.
  • Member leadership — Allow local chapters or other member groups to plan their own events, saving your team time and encouraging member engagement.

Especially if your association hosts many events, consider looking for an association management solution based in Salesforce, like Fonteva:

Manage events from ticketing to sponsorship with Fonteva's association management software.

Salesforce event planning apps automatically integrate with your association’s member database because they’re hosted within the same platform!


 Empower your members with committees within your association management database.

3. Member-Driven Committees

Empowering your members to take the lead on some of your projects is beneficial for both you and your members:

  • For your association, member initiative results in less work for your team.
  • For your members, taking the lead brings them even closer to the member community.

To bring your member community closer together by encouraging your members’ initiative, you need software that can support member-driven projects. In your software search, look for solutions with built-in group features, like Fonteva for Associations:

Empower your members through your association management database with committees.

With committees in Fonteva for associations, your members can:

  • Request to join and manage those requests.
  • Communicate with other committee members.
  • Share documents, including meeting minutes.
  • Plan events for committee members or all members.
  • View the directory of committees.
  • Manage the committee’s calendar.

These features allow members to tackle special projects with minimal oversight from your administrative team. Just set the infrastructure in place and encourage them to use it!


Keep a sub-ledger of your finances within your association software.

4. Revenue Accounting

As your association grows, its revenue will grow alongside it! But as you start new programs or expand popular ones, your expenses will grow, too.

You already have an accounting solution that works for you. To support your association’s expansion, you need a more streamlined bridge between your association’s ledger and your books.

When purchasing your association management database, look for solutions that can centralize your financial data, not just your member’s contact data. We’re talking about:

  • Member dues
  • Product sales
  • Registration costs
  • Debits, credits, and refunds

Then, you need this sub-ledger to integrate with or export to your accounting solution. Try a solution like Fonteva, which can accommodate multiple currencies and export journal entries in common file types for easy integration with your existing accounting system:

Export your sub-ledger from your association membership software to your accounting solution.

The more streamlined your accounting can be, the more confident you can be as you plan your budget to grow your association.


Use your association management database to offer flexible pricing to members.

5. Advanced Personalization

No other association operates exactly the same way as  yours, which means your association management solution needs to be flexible enough to address your unique needs.

Take pricing rules, for example. Your members love to receive benefits associated with their membership. Depending on your association, those benefits might include:

  • Early access to event registration
  • Exclusive invitations to events
  • Coupons for your online store
  • Discounted membership renewal

A great association membership database can apply these benefits automatically to purchases your members make when logged in with their credentials. But the best software can also apply variable pricing rules based on the details in your members profiles, which greatly improves the member experience:

Apply variable product pricing within your association management database.

For example, you could offer a higher discount for gold members (20%) than you offer to silver member (10%). You could also offer an earlier registration slot for an upcoming conference to members who register more than a month before the event, or those who attended a certain training class, or those who made a donation of a certain amount in the past year.

Some members might purchase a membership just to take advantage of these benefits. To ensure that your office isn’t flooded with calls from new members wishing to take advantage of their new membership benefits, make sure that the association management database solution you choose is able to apply benefits to the same purchase when a membership is added to the cart.

Your next association management database is an investment! Let these tips guide you to a solution that will grow along with your association in the long term.

In the meantime, check out these association software resources:

Download the guide to association management databases!

Learn how to engage your members with your membership CRM!

Membership CRM | 6 Exceptional Tips to Engage Members

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

What if you could do it all within one solution?

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

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

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

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

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

1. Invest in a true-cloud membership CRM.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Segment members into communities and chapters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increase retention with automatic membership renewal notifications.

3. Automate membership renewal and fee processing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use your membership CRM to automatically apply membership benefits.

4. Set up membership levels.

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

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

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

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

Engage your members with badges on their membership profiles.

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

Use your membership management software to host events for members.

5. Host members-only events.

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

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

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

Plan members-only events right in your membership CRM.

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

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

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

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

6. Send feedback surveys to members.

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

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

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

Consider soliciting feedback:

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

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

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

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

Learn more about choosing membership software.