Membership Management Tools: 8 Software Features to Know

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Software for managing memberships can incorporate a very wide array of features. Some features are considered core to the function of almost all organizations, while some others may only be important for a smaller subset.

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Here are some of the main features that you should find in any membership software:

Membership Management Features for Administrators

Event Management

Central to all membership-based groups is the need to assemble. Association staff should be able to easily create an event registration page and process that has all of the information about the event in an easy-to-digest format, as well as a straightforward and intuitive interface for event registrations. The creation of a variety of registration options that allow each member type and member status to see and pay the prices that pertain to them provides a powerful user experience.

Website Management

The front-end website presence is the first thing most members will see. Integrating this with the database provides the best route to maintaining fresh content and member-specific content driven from the database. Most associations will not have HTML experts on staff, so the creation, editing, and management of content on the site should be simple. And, it's the 21st century - all websites should be mobile-friendly and responsive.

Targeted Communications

Gone are the days when a mass email to everyone would suffice. With today’s technology, associations should target their communications to focused, smaller groups; and a good membership management software should help segment the membership. Through the creation of subsets, or groups, of the membership, staff can target communications to only those members that would care to read it. Break down your members on a variety of demographic characteristics, like age, years in the profession, geography, leadership roles, etc. Very often associations will find an increase in email open rates as they target their communications. Emails are no longer considered blanket spam when the messages are more relevant to the readers.

Creation of Non-Dues Revenue

Current best practice states that membership-based organizations should not rely heavily on membership dues. It is best to divest the revenue portfolio. One way to accomplish this is through monetization of the website through advertising, featured directory listings, and other creative applications. Most membership-based organizations have vendor members who would be interested in having their name, logo, and contact information in more visible and accessible locations on the website.

Software Integration Options

Hosting varied and disparate systems is a sure-fire way to misplace information, lose track of vital member records, confuse staff, and frustrate members. The easiest way to avoid this unfortunate situation is through integration. Integration, managed through three magical letters – API – is the process by which different software programs ‘speak’ to each other.

Here are some examples of integrations that help maintain clean data:

  • Sync with accounting software
  • Single sign-on with trade show mapping software
  • Credit card processor reconciles directly back into accounting
  • Database manages targeted lists of members and syncs with email software

Membership Management Features for Association Members

Online Registration and Renewal

In modern times, most potential members expect to be able to join and renew online, rather than through paper forms. Associations should never create barriers to entry. A complicated and manual process for joining could chase prospective members away. Instead of making it easy for potential members to walk away because of a painful join procedure, provide a great user experience and your members will have a positive impression from Day 1!

Member e-Newsletters

Some members may proactively seek the most current information and news about an organization while others rely on the content being delivered to them. The ability to create news articles and deliver e-newsletters is very important for many groups. Industry news, new association programs, event recap, award announcements, etc. There is no end to the content you can push to your members and other constituents.

Job Board/ Career Center

The network created by associations and chambers is a major driver of membership loyalty. A major factor in that is the ability to connect open positions with qualified applicants. Whether using a full-blown career center software or providing a simple list of open positions, this ability is vital for many associations and chambers of commerce.

These are just some of the main features that should be part of any association management software. While not all are vital for every group, many of these will be for your organization. It is up to you to prioritize what you need your AMS to provide. 

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