How to Choose the Best Association Management Software — A Guide to Finding the Right AMS

An association management system (AMS) helps you build, maintain, and track member relationships within your association. Through it, your staff can handle records, hold discussions, share ideas, and make decisions jointly. It will enhance your marketing and event management efforts, too.

Top features to look for in an AMS

A good AMS platform should allow both manual and automated data entry and reporting through an intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This feature will help your association to understand its reach through data, identify growth areas, and track its members.

Think you’ll need an AMS for your association? Here are the key features you need to understand.

Comprehensive member profiles and database reporting capabilities

Membership relationship management is one of the most challenging association management tasks.

Hours upon hours can be spent handling leads from your association’s website and inputting data from members and other contacts. For instance, there are tasks that involve:

  • Updating of contacts
  • Membership registration input
  • Membership fee billing
  • Volunteer scheduling for event coordination.

These tasks can be very rigorous and time consuming for your administrator. A reliable AMS can do this faster and more effectively.

Fundraising tools

At least 16% of associations raise their non-due revenue from charitable donations. One way to grow non-dues revenue is to leverage your AMS to drive more online giving during fundraising events.

Online giving is growing by the day, rising from 4.1% to 4.6% between 2016 and 2017. Your association management software should enable online fundraising that is optimized and easy to navigate for donors.

The fundraising experience should also be mobile friendly so that you can receive donations from the larger population that uses mobile devices to operate online. The AMS should have ample payment processing, email campaigns, and landing pages built in for optimal management of fundraising campaigns.

Targeted Emails

Do you know that marketing automation integration can bring up your membership numbers by over 5%? This, however, is not the only benefit of an AMS with a targeted email feature.

This tool can save you at least half the time that was originally spent on sending emails manually. The targeted emails also have the advantage of potentially getting over 23% more engagement than your run-off-the-mill types of emails.

Powerful event management features

Events and meetings are the lifeblood of many associations. You need to easily boost your attendance, save time and money, and communicate effectively with members.

The key event management to look out for include:

  • Registration forms
  • Payment processing
  • Pricing tiers (e.g. early bird, VIP, etc.)
  • Attendee management

The AMS should be used to tap into the association’s data reports and contacts to enable easy scheduling of events faster.

Website integration and other third-party integrations

Your association will grow as it expands its member list. More members mean more strength and management resources.

The right AMS can help you save time and energy that is needed to reach the goals of a growing association. This will leave your members with more time to create engaging programs that enable the professional development of each member.  

The best association management software will integratel best in class software to enhance functionality. This ensures that you do not have to put aside any software systems that work well for you for your new AMS platform. Check to see which AMS can integrate with the tools you’re already using — that will give you a serious advantage in the implementation process.

Member communities and tools

An association needs a member portal where they can quickly and easily communicate with each other. This portal can also help them access all the information they need. Newer chapter members can also log in and update their membership data as required.  

This feature can help the members to build customized committees and communities that bond them together. By giving them the ability to not only form but also manage groups interactively, a good AMS will empower members to collaborate.

A review of top AMS platforms

Let’s check out some of the best platforms out there.

MemberClicks

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MemberClicks is a top choice for small association group management.

It is cloud-based but can be integrated within your association’s website. Through it, members can connect, network privately, send messages, or share photos. Its top features include:

  • Engagement tools for members
  • Communication functions
  • A robust member directory

MemberClicks offers one-click renewals for membership through member profiles, the website, or via email. It also has a top-notch marketing functionality.

Higher Logic

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You’ll love this for its intuitive interface.

It’s discussion boards are designed in an online forum style, which makes it easy to initiate member conversations.

It’s Magnet Mail Social has a very low learning curve, and any member can use it to build landing pages or forms. Or to build campaigns and journeys.

It’s databases are highly customizable, and it has robust fundraising tools.

Wild Apricot

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This association management software is perfect for mid-sized and small associations.

Small organizations especially love its ability to keep tabs on members as well as bill them in time for events and other dues.

It is easy to set up Wild Apricot. Importing your member’s data from a spreadsheet and integrating email automation is a breeze.

However, it lags behind the curve in the social media integration docket. Here’s why:

While it integrates with social media platforms such as Facebook, it does not allow you to tie membership goals to an individual’s social media actions.

Such actions would be much easier to accomplish if the Wild Apricot could pull the social media profiles of an association’s members into its database.

123Signup

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123Signup is a fantastic association and event management AMS.

Its outstanding event registration tools will help your association to automate event sign-ups and incorporate online payments as well.

You can enhance communication between your members and track their donations and financials. The email marketing tool here is fantastic.

Just like Wild Apricot, it is not social media savvy and lacks the social media muscle needed to build robust interactions with members on social media.

Euclid ClearVantage

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Euclid ClearVantage is the perfect AMS for large and midsized associations with complex data organization needs.

It offers a wide range of data customization options and access to reports. The platform has 25+ integrated modules that are easy to configure.

It will assist your association in managing web content and private social networks.  

Fonteva

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Fonteva is the best association management software for large and medium associations that use SalesForce.

SalesForce is a top-notch CRM with business organizations management features. Fonteva is inbuilt into SalesForce to customize it further for use in associations.

(Note: Fonteva has also partnered with Gather Voices to ensure that associations that use the Fonteva AMS have access to a video relationship management platform).

Through Fonteva, you get comprehensive member data management and reporting tools. It has fantastic event management features.

The platform also has tools that help link the association’s communities for organized collaboration.

The Best AMS + Video = Success

When picking the best association management software, research is critical. An AMS is a significant investment, and you need one that is up-to-date with the trends, reliable and scalable as your association grows.

Once you get your best pick, consider pairing it up with video.Traditionally, video production has been expensive, complicated, and slow. But Gather Voices empowers associations to create dramatically more video, powered by real member stories recorded on their personal mobile devices.

Want to transform how your association tells member stories? Schedule a demo today to see how we can help you drive member engagement through video.

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