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:
- What is Membership Management Software?
- 7 Essentials for Your Membership Management System
- All-in-One Membership Management Software: Fonteva
- Other Top Membership Management Solutions
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!
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.
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:
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:
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:
- 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.
- You also describe exciting upcoming events, such as a virtual networking night or a new speaker series.
- 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 works with associations, chambers, universities, and association management companies to provide comprehensive software solutions that increase engagement and generate revenue.
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 provides a sophisticated yet easy-to-use CRM platform for associations, business networks, and chambers.
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 a community management platform used by professional networks, school and university alumni groups, corporate alumni groups, and nonprofits.
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:
- Best Association Management Software: Our Top Picks. If your organization is more niche or you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of AMS platforms with unique functions, check out this article to explore even more software options.
- Association Management Software: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide. Check out this guide for a high-level overview of what association management software does and recommendations for approaching the buying process.
- Association Management Systems: 7 Tips for Strong Community. This post provides specific tips for maximizing your use of association management software to engage your member community.