There are many reasons you could be ready to invest in an association management software or to upgrade your current software to one that fits your need. Maybe you’ve seen spectacular growth recently and need a platform that can handle your expanding needs. Or maybe you’re tired of dealing with disconnected solutions that require you to juggle multiple systems, duplicate tasks and manually transfer data. 

Looking for top association management software? Check out MemberClicks today!

There are plenty of solutions available that can bring your data and management processes all under one roof. Instead of investing in the first system you come across, it’s important to be strategic in your search to find the right solution for your organization’s unique needs.

Here at MemberClicks, we serve professional associations, trade associations and chambers of commerce to equip them with the tools they need to grow their membership and revenue. We know how important it is to find a solution that exceeds your expectations and aligns with your goals and priorities. 

Read on to find:

Ready to learn more about association management systems and find the right software for your organization? Let’s get started!

Overview of Association Management Software

What Is Membership Management Software?

Membership management software describes platforms that bring all aspects of your membership management together in one integrated system. This means your member database, website, dues renewals, marketing, event management, learning management system, and other management processes are all hosted within one platform.

Membership management software brings all membership management tasks under one roof.

Associations, mission-based organizations, chambers of commerce, and other organizations all use membership management software to engage with their members more effectively and augment their revenue. 

What is Association Management sSoftware?

Association management software (AMS) is a type of membership management software. These solutions are geared toward professional and trade associations with larger budgets and more complex needs.

Association management software is a type of software specifically built for professional and trade associations.

The robust tools contained within this software option provide value to members, improve recruitment and retention, and save organizational leaders time and effort from having to jump between multiple systems. 

What should you consider when choosing membership and association management software?

Considering the wide range of tech solutions available on the market today, your software search might initially feel overwhelming. As you start your exploratory stage, break the process down into smaller steps, starting with:

Who To Involve

When organizations begin investigating new technology, stakeholders emerge, each with their own opinions on the best path forward. You should form a team of key stakeholders to manage the search to make sure you don’t have too many competing voices involved in the process.

Choose staff members who will regularly use the software, as well as those who will use it for more specific features (such as your events manager, for example). Your software is meant to make life easier for these team members, so their opinions should carry significant weight throughout this process. Additionally, loop in key leaders within your organization — usually, these are the stakeholders tasked with approving any big spending decisions. 

Once you’ve got your team in place, it’s time to start your research.

Features To Look For

Have your team create a list of “must-have” and “would-like-to-have” features for your new membership management system. What problems are you running into with your current system that your new system must be able to handle? Where is your team willing to be flexible, and which elements are non-negotiable? 

Regardless of your organization’s ultimate needs, there are a few key association management software features that you should look out for. As you search, look for options that provide these top seven features: 

This chart details the seven top features to look for when researching association management software.
1. Member Data Management

Your members are the heart and soul of your organization, so you need a system that can manage member data and empower members to create and update their profiles. 

Look for a solution that can track basic member characteristics such as names and contact information as well as custom attributes like member locations, interests, and other specific traits based on your needs. You’ll be able to engage with members on a more personal level and reference their specific membership history in your communications with them. 

In addition, search for a solution with a user-friendly interface that allows staff to make backend changes and members to make changes to their profiles, like password resets. 

2. Website & CMS

Nowadays, having a comprehensive association website is not optional. Your website is a vital tool for engaging with current and prospective members, distributing important updates, collecting payments, and more. Plus, your website is one of the most visible aspects of your association, and it has the power to leave visitors with either a positive or negative impression of your organization. 

To help manage each of these website aspects, a content management system (CMS) is a necessary feature to look for as part of your association management software. You’ll be able to make real-time edits to your site to keep your content fresh and avoid having to rely on (and pay for) an external webmaster or IT provider — or worry about integrating with a third-party platform that you’ll also have to manage. 

3. Tiered Dues Management 

Association members enjoy the flexibility of being able to choose their level of engagement with your organization. Make sure your AMS offers flexible, tiered membership options. 

Your system should be able to assign different benefits to different membership levels and track each member’s use of those benefits. Even if this isn’t a main priority for your organization right now, it’s something to keep in mind as your organization continues to grow. If you decide to implement these levels down the line, you’ll already have access to all the tools you need without having to add anything else to your tech stack.

4. Email Marketing

Effective marketing for your association doesn’t just involve your website — email is a crucial engagement tool to keep in touch with your members and promote your upcoming events, learning opportunities, and more. 

Find a software system that will allow you to:

  • Send personalized emails to members, pulling their names and involvement history directly from your membership database. 
  • Segment members based on shared characteristics such as interests or location to send targeted email messages that specifically appeal to them.
  • Send automated messages such as event reminders, dues reminders, and anything else you need to communicate with your entire membership base.

Ensure your membership management system allows you to view email analytics such as open rates, click-through rates, and other metrics that provide a comprehensive view of how well your email campaigns perform. You can make changes to your strategy based on these results.

5. Event Management 

Associations host all kinds of events, from workshops and conferences to auctions, networking events, and more. But as most events have now transitioned to the virtual realm or are embracing hybrid experiences, it’s important to have a centralized event planning system to support any type of event you want to host going forward. 

Look for a system that can handle online event registrations, digital payment processing, form building, promotions and discounts, automated reminder messages, and sponsor visibility. 

6. Financial Management

Organizing your financial data and documentation is an essential part of keeping your organization afloat. Specifically, you’ll want to look for a membership management system that integrates with your existing accounting system and one that is payment card industry (PCI) compliant. PCI compliance means they’ve taken the steps to ensure that members’ credit card information remains secure and protected throughout any card processing transactions. Take this opportunity to loop in the financial experts on your staff to get their input on what tools would make their job easier. 

7. Reporting

Finally, having access to detailed, accurate reports is a critical component of creating a data-driven strategy for your organization. Look for a system that allows you to configure reports and create customized overviews of different aspects of your organization. This will give you more confidence that your recruitment and retention efforts are going in the right direction.

As you conduct your AMS search, keep these features in mind. To get the most out of your software choice and avoid having to invest in additional solutions in the future, look for a system that brings all these processes together under one umbrella.

Questions to Ask Your Association Software Provider

Too often, association professionals get caught up in features only when shopping for an AMS. While features are important, there’s more to it than that. You want to make sure you invest in a comprehensive solution —  with both the software and provider aligning with your organization’s needs.

To ensure you do land on the right software and provider, here’s a list of questions you must ask their sales team or discover on their website during the shopping process:

Features:
  • Does the software offer all of the primary features your organization needs to be successful? Think about your must-haves. Does the system offer the capabilities that matter to you most?
  • Is the software a good fit for your business model? Organizations have unique needs, and what works great for one doesn’t always work for another. 
  • Does the software pay for itself? The system should ultimately add to your bottom line. How does the vendor help you get a return on your investment?
  • Is the system flexible and configurable? Invest in a system that can grow as your organization grows.

Efficiencies:
  • Is the software “all-in-one?” Are additional systems still required? Will you be able to move away from keeping data in multiple places?
  • If the software is all-in-one, how well do the components work together? Automation is key! Components should talk to each other and update automatically so you don’t have to constantly import and export data. This will save time and ensure your data is accurate.
  • Will you be able to save time with the new system? Your software should reduce the time it takes to complete your regular tasks.
  • Can the software be used outside the office? It’s critical to have the flexibility to work with data anywhere in today’s mobile-centric world.
 Company Experience and Reliability:
  • Does the software provider work with other organizations in your industry? Make sure the company understands your business and unique needs.
  • Has the company been in business for more than 5 years? Being around for a few years is a good indication that they are healthy, stable, and satisfying the needs of their clients. Recently formed companies may lack the experience, standard operating procedures, or staff to provide the level of service your organization requires.
  • Does the company have a high customer retention rate? Find out if the company is keeping their clients satisfied. Start by searching online reviews to see the kind of service levels they provide.
  • Will you continue to own all of your data? Ensure that you have complete control over and access to your data.
 Future Developments:
  • Does the vendor offer partnerships or integrations with other companies? Integration is the process of bringing together two different software systems to work together and seamlessly transfer data between programs. Even if you don’t need software integrations today, you may want to utilize them in the future.
  • Does the vendor offer additional product packages with more advanced features? It’s important to consider if you might quickly outgrow the system or if the solution has additional offerings designed to grow with you.
  • Does the software offer frequent updates at no additional cost to you? In a world that’s always evolving, picking a provider that is forward-thinking and evolving is important.
  • Does the company regularly update the product program in response to customer feedback? Without constant feedback and upgrades, even the best software can become stagnant. Make sure your software provider has a clear process for customer feedback and regularly acts on that feedback with frequent software updates.

This comprehensive list will allow you to take a deliberate approach when assessing each of your AMS options. In this process, you’ll likely discover that some choices stand out above the rest when it comes to features, efficiencies, experience, developments, and customer satisfaction. Read on for our top membership management software solutions to help you get started with this process!

What is the best association management software?

MC Professional

Overview of MC Professional

MC Professional is a powerhouse, all-in-one membership management solution for midsized mission-driven, member-based organizations and chambers. MemberClicks combines user-friendly, yet sophisticated tools to boost membership value and increase revenue with a platform of integrated solutions. 

With this high-powered solution, association leaders can leverage the following features:

  • Membership database: This allows leaders to conveniently track and update member information to build meaningful relationships based on the data you collect over the years. 
  • Online payments: This feature automates dues renewals and centralizes accounting and payment processing to boost retention and provide a better member experience. 
  • Event management: Organizers can manage event registrations and schedule speakers and other event activities all in one system. 
  • Communication management: Marketing managers can create targeted email campaigns and assess their success.
  • Website creation and management: Organizations can choose from nine templates to create a customized, professional website, or integrate their existing site with their new database.
  • Community resources: These tools empower members to get more involved with your association through discussion forums, a messaging platform, and more engaging features. 
  • Reporting and analytics: Association leaders can generate reports to gain insights on multiple aspects of their organization. Going forward, leaders can base decisions on the history and data gathered in these reports. 

Organizational leaders can leverage these features to not only make their jobs easier but improve their members’ experience, too. 

Why Choose MC Professional

The suite of MC Professional features and tools are aimed at enabling association leaders to: 

  • Automate processes that were previously manual to save time and effort.
  • Offer an integrated platform for all association activities.
  • Allow team members to work from anywhere using the cloud-based system. 

Using Mc Professional, smaller and mid-sized professional associations and chambers can eliminate outdated, clunky processes and adopt a streamlined system that acts as a digital assistant. 

Staff members at smaller organizations typically wear many hats and don’t have a ton of extra room on their plate to become software experts. With the MemberClicks system, you don’t need extensive technical expertise to be able to leverage the system effectively. 

MC Trade

Overview of MC Trade

MC Trade is a tailor-made solution for mid-sized to larger trade associations and chambers to drive revenue and expand membership. 

This solution features similar elements as the MC Professional platform but includes more robust financial and reporting capabilities to accommodate the needs of larger-sized organizations with more complex needs. Features include:

  • Relationship management: Organizations can store and track member and prospect data to increase engagement and convert prospects into long-term members. 
  • Event management: Staff can create high-quality events with a smooth registration process for attendees. 
  • Financial management: This feature allows association leaders to track and report on financial performance in a system that integrates with any existing accounting software. 
  • Reporting: Leaders can quickly access built-in, custom reports for improved insight. 
  • Communications management: Associations can foster improved communication with mass messaging or by sending specific messages to targeted groups. 
  • Website management: Staff members can fully control your website through your centralized software system and access multiple theme options to create a well-designed, professional site. 

These robust features set MC Trade apart from other association management software options.

Why Choose Mc Trade

If your organization requires a more comprehensive solution for financial analysis and reporting, the MC Trade system can facilitate this process. You can manage, track, and report on your finances in an extensive system that also integrates with your current accounting software. 

Further, built-in and custom reports provide the data overviews needed to be confident with decisions and strategies. You can quantify membership value and build out a report library to reference at any point in time. 

Organizations turn to this solution because it can:

  • Foster complex relationships through promoting and tracking member relationships, helping attract and retain members and boost revenue.
  • Give performance insight through highly configurable financial and data capabilities. 
  • Organize all mission-related activities in an all-in-one solution. 

The features of this system give association leaders the flexibility to adapt their data to changing needs and empower them to get to know their members on a deeper level. This is the perfect solution tailor-made to help organizations boost membership and expand all forms of revenue, from member dues to event ticketing and more. 

Overall, with almost 25 years of experience in the industry, MemberClicks offers the knowledge background and support to help organizations of all sizes thrive and make the most of their membership management software.

Ready to invest in a membership management software solution? Find out how MemberClicks can help.

Additional Popular Association Management Software Solutions

Wild Apricot

  • After a 30-day free trial, pricing starts at $34 a month
  • Free demo available

Wild Apricot is another top provider of association management software. Over 7,000 associations turn to this solution for member management and plenty of other solutions, including:

  • A drag-and-drop website builder to create a well-designed, mobile-friendly website to attract new members and engage current ones. 
  • Fast and secure online payment processing to provide a streamlined experience for administrators and members. 
  • Event management features to plan successful events and facilitate registration. 
  • A mobile app for members and administrators to engage communities on the go.
  • A built-in online store to add an additional revenue stream.

Wild Apricot offers a robust software option at a reasonable price to allow smaller organizations to access the features they need without having to max out their budgets. This solution also offers unique features not found in other software options, such as mobile event check-in and the option to send unlimited emails to members. 

Visit their website for example websites and themes, explore free webinars, and sign up for a 30-day free trial.

Personify360

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

Personify360 is the leading AMS for the largest associations, health and wellness organizations, and charities in the country. 

With a robust constituent management solution, Personify360 customers can:

  • Manage constituents with a 360 member view that adapts to membership structure.
  • Conduct e-business to drive multiple revenue streams. 
  • Leverage online event tools to engage attendees in virtual, in-person, and hybrid events.
  • Enhance member experience with forums, groups, and multimedia elements. 

Personify offers scalable solutions that work with organizations at every level to drive engagement and revenue. By investing in their software, associations also gain access to a client community to share practices and connect with other similar organizations. 

Head to the Personify website to view all their products and virtual tools.

123SignUp

  • $299 setup fee + monthly subscriptions starting at $49/month or a per-transaction fee of $1.50 + 2% per transaction
  • Demo available upon request

123SignUp offers association and event management software for professional, trade, and healthcare associations, plus clubs, societies, educational institutions, and association management companies (AMCs).

123SignUp clients gain access to an easy-to-use platform that facilitates tiered membership management to personalize the member experience. Additionally, the solution has event management software to handle all aspects of event planning. 

Beyond the aforementioned organizations, 123SignUp is a great option for alumni groups, faith-based organizations, military and veteran groups, nonprofits, and special interest clubs.

iMIS

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

iMIS is a nonprofit, association, and membership software solution with a history of assisting clients of all sizes and organization types. iMIS provides complex solutions for well-known organizations such as the Country Music Association, The Guide Dog Foundation, The Canadian Bar Association, and many more. 

Organizations turn to this software option for its cloud-based tools powered by Microsoft Azure, the world’s leading cloud computing platform. iMIS also offers a web development platform to manage e-commerce pages, provide a staff interface, and extend your system with third-party or custom-built apps. 

MemberLeap

  • Pricing starts at $50/month for AMS and $2,000 for website setup
  • Demo available upon request

MemberLeap offers basic member management services to track member interactions, foster member collaboration and engagement, and plan events. 

Associations appreciate this software option for its QuickBooks Interface that can be used to create invoices for members and manage payment transactions. Organizations can also create a mobile app to give members access to a variety of actions, from submitting calendar events and registering for events to sharing photos and messaging fellow members. 

GrowthZone

  • Pricing starts at $149/month 
  • Demo available upon request

GrowthZone offers basic membership software designed with association professionals in mind. They offer streamlined payment processing, custom website design, and onboarding services to get clients quickly up-to-speed with the system. 

Additionally, GrowthZone’s marketing automation module helps improve outreach with automated email campaigns, prospect marketing, and a drag-and-drop email designer. Organizations that turn to this solution run the gamut — real estate associations, agricultural groups, chambers of commerce, and many other organization types use this system. 

memberplanet

  • The basic plan is free, with paid plans starting at $50/month
  • Demo available upon request

memberplanet offers multi-chapter association management. This grants individual chapters access to a full suite of engagement tools and allows association headquarters to manage the entire organization. 

Through this structure,  organizations can share financial information transparently, maintain brand consistency, and manage the larger group with one system. Check out their website for a host of other software tools available such as constituent surveys, group text and email tools, and mobile optimizations. 

Raklet

  • The basic plan is free, and paid options start at $49/month
  • Demo available upon request

Raklet is an all-in-one platform for member management, marketing, and event planning. Nonprofits also use this system for organizing fundraising campaigns and collecting donations. 

Raklet offers a plethora of apps and integrations that organizations can use to more successfully manage their operations, with everything from the messaging platform Slack to social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. They also offer software tools for individuals such as podcasters, yoga studio owners, educators, and more.

SilkStart

  • Pricing starts at $200/month
  • Demo available upon request

SilkStart is a comprehensive, yet simple-to-use nonprofit and association management software option. Organizations turn to this option for its broad range of features, including but not limited to a member interface, job board, donation platform, and multi-chapter services.

Additionally, through their MemConnect service, groups can simplify member engagement through centralized messaging forums that facilitate collaboration. Organizations can even designate trusted members to moderate content, taking the responsibility off of busy staff members.

StarChapter

  • Pricing starts at $44/month, plus a $399 setup cost
  • Demo available upon request

StarChapter helps chapter leaders overcome challenges such as low member participation and declining overall membership with an all-in-one AMS.

Volunteer board members, association professionals, and chapter relations professionals all rely on StarChapter to grow membership. This system facilitates improved communications, better events, and more effective management practices. Additionally, clients value this provider for its extensive onboarding and training processes that gets software users quickly in the know of best practices. 

Tendenci

  • Free for those who host the software themselves (it’s open-source) or $199/month to host with Tendenci
  • Demo available upon request

Tendenci offers open-source association management software, meaning organizations can freely customize the system to suit their needs. Associations and nonprofits use this solution to manage donations, membership information, newsletters and other marketing content, website updates, and more. 

Organizations looking for a 100% customizable framework appreciate this solution for its flexibility and affordability.

NimbleAMS

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

Nimble AMS is a membership management system built on Salesforce, the #1 customer relationship management (CRM) system in the world. Association leaders using Nimble AMS can track lifelong member relationships, automate workflows, and analyze key trends using powerful dashboards.

Additionally, their user community platform, Nimble Communities, helps drive connections among members. An additional suite of free tools assists with creating personalized content, configuring integrations, and examining data.

Aptify

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

Aptify offers membership software for large organizations. Associations, labor unions, and international organizations use this flexible, configurable platform to engage members and streamline processes. 

Aptify is completely cloud-based, meaning users can access the software via any browser. They also offer a free administrator mobile app for association staff members to work directly on their phones, send updates to team members, access all membership data, and more. 

Novi AMS

  • Pricing starts at $490/month with a $2,095 onboarding fee
  • Demo available upon request

Novi AMS is an association management software solution that integrates with QuickBooks. This means that all data logged in the AMS is seamlessly transferred to an online QuickBooks account for easier bookkeeping practices. 

Novi AMS was created by a team of association insiders with the needs of associations at the forefront. Associations of all sizes use this solution to add efficiency to operations and save time through the QuickBooks integration. 

Doubleknot

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

Doubleknot offers integrated digital solutions for cultural organizations and nonprofits.

Organizations such as Boy Scout and Girl Scout Councils, zoos and aquariums, nature centers and botanical gardens, children’s museums, science centers, and other museums use Doubleknot to handle management processes. These processes include admissions and visitor services, POS and mobile sales, customer relationship management, fundraising, and more. Doubleknot also offers implementation and ongoing support services. 

YourMembership

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

YourMembership is a membership software option for small-staff associations. Along with membership management solutions, associations can offer learning and career center solutions to members.

Organizations can also create a custom website to connect with members and create a mobile event app to engage attendees in event content. 

Almabase

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

Almabase is a comprehensive software solution for alumni association management. This solution integrates with top CRM providers such as Blackbaud, Ellucian, and Salesforce to facilitate seamless data transfers and augment existing systems.

Alumni association programs at schools and universities across the country use this system to conduct better fundraising, manage alumni relationships, and plan events. Further, larger organizations can empower individual affinity groups such as chapters, class groups, and other subdivisions to run their own events and fundraising campaigns.

in1touch

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

in1touch is a software platform for associations and regulatory organizations such as licensing, accrediting, or certifying bodies. 

Associations can use the in1touchTD product to manage member data, plan events of all sizes and types, send personalized communications, and facilitate continuing education.  Organizations can also create and send member surveys to manage voting and elections. Meanwhile, regulators use the in1touchRE product to manage licensing, documents, standardized testing, and other necessary functions.

Euclid’s ClearVantage

  • Pricing and demo available upon request

Euclid’s ClearVantage is an AMS product for associations of all types and sizes. It empowers association leaders to manage processes on almost any device, from a desktop computer to a smartphone or tablet. 

Organizations invest in this solution for its user-friendliness, customer service, and ongoing support. Additionally, administrators can integrate their AMS with their website and other third-party services with Euclid’s powerful API.

Final Thoughts

Which association management software is right for you? 

As you can see, there is a long list of AMS providers who may be equipped to meet your organization’s needs and provide everything you’re looking for in a new system. 

Reference your “must-have” and would-like-to-have” feature lists throughout your shopping process to verify that your chosen solution matches your priorities before you invest — and review this checklist to guide you through a detailed assessment for each AMS option. 

Additionally, thoroughly investigate each software solution you come across by taking the time to dive into their website, request a quote, and request a demo from each company. You’ll not only get a sense of what their product looks like in action, but also the responsiveness of their team and their level of commitment to customer service. This will give you a better picture of what your relationship with your software provider will look like going forward. 

Lastly, don’t forget to check out rankings on sites like Capterra as well as Google reviews. These sites allow customers to describe and rate each system in their own words, giving their honest opinions. Make sure you go through the entire range of reviews, from 1 star to 5 stars, to get a full picture of each option.

Then, when it comes to investing in your chosen system, you’ll first need to secure buy-in from your organization’s board.

Bonus: How to get your board on board with an association management system

Let’s say you’ve found an association management system you like, but now the hurdle is getting your board on board with that purchase. They’re not yet convinced you need a new AMS, and even if they do understand that, they’re wary of the providers (and prices) you’re bringing to the table.

How can you convince them otherwise and get them genuinely excited about this upgrade for your association? Here are a few tips:

Here's how to get your board on board with purchasing association management software.

Highlight the flaws in your current system. Whether you’re utilizing a file cabinet, an Excel spreadsheet, or even an AMS that doesn’t quite cut it anymore, take some time to talk about the various pain points your staff members deal with regularly. More importantly, talk about what you could be doing if you weren’t having to deal with those hang-ups. For example, if you weren’t having to spend so much time manually sending out dues renewal reminder emails, you could be spending more time on membership recruitment strategies.

1. Explain what the AMS is (in simple terms).

Your board may or may not be familiar with the AMS you’ve chosen. Or if they do, they may not be aware of all the features commonly included. Without going into too much detail (at least initially), explain some of the primary functions of the AMS, honing in on some of those key features. 

2. Explain how an AMS can solve your current problems.

Now time to connect the dots. Bring up the pain points you mentioned and the features you highlighted and tie them all together. More importantly, talk about how the AMS can free up a lot of your time, giving you extra hours in the day to focus on more important matters like recruiting new members and increasing membership retention rates. To drive your point home, mention other associations that are successfully using your chosen AMS. After all, that could be you.

3. Talk numbers.

This is where your board members’ ears will perk up. Before approaching them, you’ll want to do a little research so you know what price range to expect. The point here is to nail down a price range so you know exactly how to proceed with the shopping process. (The last thing you want to do is waste your time— or theirs— demoing systems that simply aren’t in your budget.)

4. Get approval on the shopping process.

If your board grants approval for you to start the shopping process, you can get started with finalizing your choice in membership management software!

Additional Resources 

As you finalize your choices, you may be looking for even more information to help boost your confidence in your final AMS decision. If that’s the case, check out these additional resources for guidance:

We hope this guide has helped you select the membership management solution that’s perfect for your organization. Feel free to reach out at any time if you’d like more information about MemberClicks!

Ready to get started with the #1 membership software? Sign up for a free MemberClicks demo today.