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.

Using Salesforce for Associations | 5 Strategies for Success

With more than 150,000 businesses leveraging its software and over 3,000 apps built using its interface, Salesforce is likely the world’s frontrunner in cloud-based customer relationship management, application development, and enterprise software. 

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 when you’re dealing with a platform that is capable of so much, it can be difficult to wrap your head around how to begin using Salesforce and its many apps for the benefit of your association. 

To help you navigate Salesforce and the marketplace of tools that would be useful to associations, we’ve prepared these essential best practices and strategies for making the most of the world’s leading CRM:

With this information, you should be far better prepared to join the Salesforce community, confidently navigate your current Salesforce association tools, or even prepare for an upgrade.

Request a demo of one of the top Salesforce AMS solutions on the market: Fonteva.
Explore the fundamentals of Salesforce, its uses, and how it can benefit your association.

The Basics: What is Salesforce?

Before we dive into critical strategies for using Salesforce, it’s essential to understand what Salesforce is, how it works, and what to look out for in regards to strengthening your association’s toolkit. Let’s begin with a brief overview of the Salesforce platform and its key benefits.

What is Salesforce used for?

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 simple terms, you can think of Salesforce as the engine through which different organizations build out their management systems. 
Salesforce itself is not an association management software (AMS)—it’s the foundation upon which association experts have created association management platforms, like Fonteva.

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, can become unwieldy for your association in that these legacy systems require users to have extensive coding and backend experience to effectively perform customizations. Additionally, because this AMS software uses separate systems for its various tools, it can be difficult to move data between your entire AMS suite.

On the other hand, consider how an effective Salesforce platform can help to streamline operations for your association:

From customization to the Salesforce AppExchange, AMS systems built on Salesforce boast an array of effective features.
  • High levels of customization. It’s no wonder why nonprofits, businesses, and associations alike can all leverage the Salesforce platform to the benefit of their specific organizations. 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 organization.
  • Ease of use. While it can take a moment to get the hang of any new AMS system, platforms such as Salesforce offer a safety net for association professionals who aren’t quite tech-savvy enough to exclusively customize their AMS using code. 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 organization.
  • The AppExchange ecosystem. The Salesforce AppExchange is a robust library of the various 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. Are you searching for association event management software? With the AppExchange, 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.
Consider these essential membership management strategies to use your Salesforce AMS to the fullest capacity.

Using Salesforce: 5 Membership Management Strategies

Salesforce association management software comes stocked with intuitive, powerful tools and capabilities to take your association to the next level. However, its benefits will be limited if you don’t understand how to effectively use the software that’s now at your fingertips. 

To make the most of your Salesforce-built AMS, consider these membership management strategies that take advantage of the platform’s best features:

These membership management best practices will enable you to make the most of your Salesforce AMS.

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. 

Rather than sending out general email blasts until your members slowly lose interest in your messages, 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 important information about their dues, upcoming events, and other important communications at precisely the right time. 

This automation can also be used beyond just emails. Certificates, event tickets, and receipts can all be automated to maximize your member communications.

2. Explore the 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 isn’t forced to purchase a pre-built package of tools that aren’t the right fit for your association’s current needs. 

Instead, your suite of association management tools is scalable to your association’s goals and growth. For example, while you may not have the bandwidth at the moment to host very many in-person or virtual association events, you may 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 membership 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.

Be on the lookout for an AMS that takes full advantage of Salesforce’s community-building features. 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. 

Best of all, 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 important, popular features is its customization. In particular, be sure to make the most of these customizable features: 

  • Custom dashboards. Improve your team’s view of member data and allow each department to effectively manage its own workflow with configurable dashboards. 
  • Custom reports. Track specific key performance indicators, schedule reportage, and better manage your association’s unique data with custom reports.
  • Custom 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 should allow you to easily control and configure your membership management operations within its suite of tools.

Explore Fonteva AMS, the most effective association management software built on Salesforce.

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 are 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.

Take a tour of our association management and membership to find out how our Salesforce system can impact your association.

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 towards reaching its fullest engagement and management potential.

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

Additional Resources

Request a demo of Fonteva's software to begin using Salesforce to its fullest potential.
Explore our top picks for the best Salesforce plugins for associations!

Salesforce Plugins | Top Picks for Your Association

Learn how business intelligence empowers the modern association in our whitepaper!

If your association uses Salesforce, you already know why it’s the world’s leading CRM and management platform for businesses and organizations of all sizes. Its features are comprehensive and offer an unrivaled level of functionality.

However, the Salesforce AppExchange is by far one of the platform’s biggest benefits.

The AppExchange is a central marketplace for Salesforce apps and plugins, which allow for the complete customization of the platform’s utilities. This makes it incredibly easy to build your own toolkit of features, all designed to work seamlessly on the management platform you’ve come to rely on.

We’ve written elsewhere on the top Salesforce plugins for event management, but hosting member events is just one part of what your association does.

Associations have complex needs. From membership management to fundraising, partnership building to digital marketing, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Study up on the wide range of plugins for Salesforce available on the AppExchange with our top picks:

  1. Fonteva Membership
  2. Fonteva Events
  3. Salsa
  4. OneCause
  5. SwagIQ
  6. Marketo
  7. SMS Magic Interact
  8. Ebsta
  9. Automate.io
  10. CalendarAnything

These top plugins offer a fairly comprehensive overview of the level of quality and utility to expect from top-notch apps. Let’s dive in:

Fonteva Membership is a top Salesforce plugin for associations looking to streamline management.

1. Fonteva Membership: Best Salesforce App for Association Management

Plugin Overview

Designed to be the last management tool you’ll ever need, Fonteva Membership is the future of association management software. With comprehensive data management, member engagement, and eCommerce features, Fonteva’s AMS solution is a top plugin for Salesforce that should be on every association’s radar.

The intuitive features of Fonteva Membership makes it one of the top Salesforce plugins.

A few features and characteristics make this plugin a top association management software solution, including:

  • Full member profiles. Comprehensive profiles are automatically populated with new engagement data, combining the robust CRM foundation of Salesforce with the management insights of Fonteva. Easily track key engagement metrics at every level.
  • Member portals and communities. Create public and private microsites and member communities. Empower your members to engage in new ways with self-service options and interactive chapter, committee, and group portals.
  • Intuitive reports and dashboards. Draw from your wealth of data to generate customized reports at the push of a button. Refine your engagement and management strategies in real time with built-in dashboard capabilities.
Intuitive data reporting tools make Fonteva Membeship a top Salesforce plugin.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

It can be a challenge to find the right association management solution to meet your needs, but if your association already uses Salesforce, this one’s a no-brainer.

Because Fonteva is a native Salesforce app, that is, software built entirely on the Salesforce platform, the integration is seamless.

This translates into several major benefits for your association. As a true-cloud solution, Fonteva Membership software is always up to date. Your management and database tools speak the same language, meaning all your data is automatically reported.

The intuitive, comprehensive, and lean features of Fonteva Membership give your team the flexibility to effortlessly switch focus from individual metrics to big picture trends and fine-tune your strategies like never before.


Fonteva Events is a great Salesforce plugin for nonprofits that need to plan and manage events of any size.

2. Fonteva Events: Best Salesforce App for Event Management

Plugin Overview

As Fonteva’s suite of event planning and management tools, Fonteva Events is a fully native plugin for Salesforce. Designed to streamline even the most complex, enterprise-level events like major conferences and expos, Fonteva Events packs a punch with its comprehensive features.

Fonteva Events is one of the most powerful Salesforce plugins for event planning available.

Associations regularly plan and host all kinds of events for members, partners, and their communities. This plugin makes planning events in Salesforce a breeze because it offers features like:

  • Event lifecycle management. Comprehensive planning features and intuitive management interfaces let you track the progress of your events every step of the way. Get big-picture insights as you manage micro-level details.
  • Dynamic session builder. Association events have to be engaging, and Fonteva Events makes it easier than ever to create custom session tracks for your attendees. Your member communities can even collaborate on their own sessions for the big day.
  • Custom event sites. An event website has to accomplish a lot, from promoting your sessions to processing registrations and payments. Fonteva Events offers an all-in-one solution to host your event website and report its generated data directly to your Salesforce database.
Custom event sites integrated with your database makes Fonteva Events an excellent Salesforce plugin for associations.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Like its counterpart membership management suite, Fonteva Events is the perfect Salesforce app for event planning and management because it’s fully native to the platform.

In the past your organization might have used a third-party event planning tool to organize and manage your meetings, conferences, and fundraisers. If that’s the case you already know that a lot can fall through the cracks when your team is busy switching between platforms.

With Fonteva Events, all your management data and tools reside within your Salesforce CRM.

This allows your team to make more informed decisions at every step in the complex event planning and management process. Plan smarter events, manage them more efficiently, and then learn more from them than ever before.


Salsa is a top Salesforce plugin for online fundraising.

3. Salsa: Best Plugin for Online Fundraising

Plugin Overview

While not available as an app on the Salesforce AppExchange, Salsa offers a robust online fundraising suite that fully integrates with your Salesforce CRM.

For associations that devote considerable time and energy to raising money and processing payments online, Salsa’s collection of tools can be an invaluable addition to your toolkit. Its full integration with Salesforce means it speaks the same language as the management platform on which you’ve already built your operations.

Some top features of the Salsa suite of online fundraising tools include:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising capabilities
  • Customizable fundraising and donation forms
  • Donor, advocate, and volunteer-specific tools
  • Embedded matching gifts database access
SalsaLabs is a Salesforce plugin that offers a full suite of online fundraising tools that fully integrate with Salesforce.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Integration with Salesforce means your set of online fundraising tools from Salsa can draw directly from your data, helping you make smarter decisions in any campaign.

For instance, integrated fundraising tools make the perfect addition to the list segmentation features of Salesforce. Target your members and supporters better than ever while raising more along the way.


OneCause is a top Salesforce plugin for donor engagement.

4. OneCause: Best Plugin for Donor Engagement

Plugin Overview

OneCause leads the race in donor and member engagement tools.

Besides offering a suite of online fundraising tools, OneCause makes a powerful partner for associations that need to better engage their members. Even better, it offers a free plugin for Salesforce to ensure that all the valuable engagement data you generate goes exactly where it needs to be — in your Salesforce CRM.

OneCause specializes in a few main areas of donor and member engagement, including:

  • Text-to-give software
  • Online payment processing
  • Mobile bidding tools and apps
  • Online auction planning and management
OneCause is an effective Salesforce plugin for donor engagement.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Auctions are among the most reliable fundraising and engagement techniques for all kinds of enterprise-level organizations and associations. OneCause leads in online and mobile auctions because its tools were the first and continue to be the best in the space.

If your association needs a new engagement-boosting set of tools for its arsenal, the integration provided by the OneCause plugin for Salesforce might just be the icing on the cake.


SwagIQ is a top Salesforce plugin for building relationships.

5. SwagIQ: Best Plugin for Building Relationships

Plugin Overview

Your association has a lot of crucial relationships to foster and cultivate. From sales to partnerships, marketing to engagement, it’s essential that your team stays on top of managing the web of relationships that supports its efforts across the broader space.

SwagIQ is designed to help you close more deals, attract more partners, and break through the noise by simplifying and managing your interactions.

As a plugin for Salesforce, this means your whole database of information is at your fingertips as you use any of SwagIQ’s key features:

  • Create and manage your swag gifts and products for members, partners, and donors
  • Boost your marketing efforts by making real connections
  • Track shipments, direct mail, and digital marketing campaigns
  • Trigger outreach at the right moments with real-time, rules-based alerts in Salesforce
Swag IQ is a top Salesforce plugin for building and managing relationships.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Relationships with their members, whether individuals, businesses, or other organizations, is of utmost importance for associations. Smarter tools and plugins for Salesforce like SwagIQ make it easier than ever to drive engagement and grow your influence with both physical and digital outreach.


Marketo is a top Salesforce plugin for digital marketing.

6. Marketo: Best Plugin for Digital Marketing

Plugin Overview

More and more, associations depend on their ability to engage members online and attract new audiences using digital content and tools. Digital marketing is a challenge for many associations, but the right tools can help.

You already know that Salesforce offers powerful tracking and reporting capabilities for your marketing campaigns. Adding the Marketo suite of marketing and email automation tools to the mix is a smart move for any association.

Some of Marketo’s top features and tools include:

  • Email campaign creation, management, and tracking
  • Smart automation tools to maximize the impact of email communications
  • Lead nurturing features for cross-channel campaigns
  • Lead scoring and analytics to track potential donors, members, and upgrades

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Of all the aspects of your association’s operations, the ability to easily access and analyze your data is perhaps the most important when it comes to marketing. Marketo is an ideal plugin to help your team better streamline its marketing activities and learn more from your past campaigns.


SMS Magic Interact is a top Salesforce plugin for communication.

7. SMS Magic Interact: Best Plugin for Communication

Plugin Overview

Smarter communication strategies are an essential way for modern associations to maintain the healthy cultures of engagement that they encourage among their members.

Salesforce apps like SMS Magic Interact make it easier than ever for those associations to reach members where it really matters — on their smartphones. Increasing visibility in the right places goes a long way toward increasing member engagement.

Consider these features:

  • Central text conversation management, segmentation, filtering, and alert tools
  • Industry-specific message templates for easy use
  • Fast text campaign set-up and customization
  • Video and image embedding

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Like Fonteva’s suite of association management tools, SMS Magic Interact is a native Salesforce app. This means all of your text message tools, past campaign data, and member contact information are within easy reach of one another. Take your communications to the next level to keep your members engaged!


Ebsta is a top Salesforce plugin for integration with LinkedIn.

8. Ebsta: Best Plugin for LinkedIn Integration

Plugin Overview

It’s likely that many if not most of your members and other contacts use LinkedIn to stay connected and updated within their professional circles. Information that your members add to their LinkedIn profiles is valuable for your association’s communications and outreach efforts.

Ebsta is a plugin for Salesforce that allows you to update your Salesforce records as you browse your members’ and other connections’ LinkedIn profiles. Because Ebsta is an extension that you can access right from your web browser, you don’t have to leave LinkedIn to add information to Salesforce.

Using Ebsta, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify records that already exist within Salesforce as you browse LinkedIn
  • Update Salesforce without having to navigate away from LinkedIn
  • Gather information from other professional networking sites and job boards
  • Log and plan calls, tasks, and other interactions with your contacts
Ebsta is a top Salesforce plugin for integrating with LinkedIn.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

The more updated information your association has on your members, the better you’ll be able to stay in contact with them. Ebsta helps you gather the most important details into Salesforce for easy reference and more effective outreach.


Automate.io is a top Salesforce plugin for integration with WordPress.

9. Automate.io: Best Plugin for WordPress Integration

Plugin Overview

Your association uses several online platforms to keep in touch with your members and provide them with opportunities for professional growth. One of the most important locations for your members to stay up-to-date on your association’s offerings is your website.

If your association has built your website on WordPress, one of the most popular CMS platforms around, you can use Automate.io to integrate your Salesforce member database with your WordPress website as well as over 100 additional apps your association may be using.

Automate.io can help your association:

  • Eliminate the need to import data manually between apps
  • Automate communications with members
  • Create workflows that allow you to market and sell your association’s offerings
  • Gather valuable information from emails and social media sites
Automate.io is a top Salesforce app for integrating with WordPress and other popular apps.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Especially as your association expands, keeping all of your members updated on your news, events, services, and other offerings can require a lot of effort! Save your team time and energy using a Salesforce app like Automate.io.


CalendarAnything is a top Salesforce plugin for scheduling.

10. CalendarAnything: Best Plugin for Scheduling

Plugin Overview

Whether your association is hosting a conference, sending out communications to members, or planning additional opportunities, scheduling is an essential part of your process. Creating an effective schedule becomes much more manageable when you can do so directly within Salesforce.

With the CalendarAnything scheduling plugin for Salesforce, your association can create calendars right in your member database. Customizable color coding and views, as well as a mobile app, make it easy to stay organized.

CalendarAnything offers features such as:

  • Calendar creation from preexisting standard and custom objects in Salesforce
  • An easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface
  • Sharing capabilities via the Salesforce1 app and Office 365
  • Messaging capabilities for greater collaboration
CalendarAnything is a top Salesforce plugin for scheduling across your association.

Why This Plugin Stands Out

Scheduling your association’s various activities and offerings—and making sure that all of your members are aware of these opportunities—is a more efficient and effective process with a Salesforce app like CalendarAnything.


If your association is smart enough to use the world’s leading CRM and data management platform for businesses and organizations, you owe it to yourself to explore the AppExchange.

Plugins for Salesforce can completely change your interactions with the platform, taking it from an excellent foundation to the ultimate toolkit.

Be sure to continue your research with a few additional resources too:

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