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Association Software

Fundamentals of Association Management: Tips and Best Practices

Andrea Amorosi April 24, 2024
Table of Contents
7 min read

Have you ever wondered why some associations seem to effortlessly excel and expand their member base annually? Have you ever seen or been a part of an association that seems to struggle and exhibit little focus?

The answer is management. While the answer may appear simple, managing an association is both comprehensive and complex. There are plenty of moving parts and challenges.

In this article, we are going to place a focus on association management, defining what it is and what separates excellent organizations from mediocre ones. We’ll examine association management best practices and provide tips and tricks to take your association to the next level. If you want to know the secrets of how to manage an association that you and your members can be proud of, here is a peek behind the curtain.

What is Association Management?

Association management is the combination of both human skills and leadership, with effective and efficient systems based on core values.

While the human element is critical in association management, so are the framework and systems that are in place.

Ket Traits of Managing an Association

When you look at successful organizations, you will frequently find qualities they have in common.

A Clear Focus and Vision

Well-managed associations almost always start with a clarity of their vision and purpose. This can be done in several ways, including creating a membership value proposition, a mission statement, core beliefs, and a purpose statement. These all contribute to a laser focus on what is important to the success of an association. Successful organizations maintain their course in heading towards their goals, mission, and purpose.

Strong Leadership

This is a critical human element of building a strong association management group. It involves not only a strong manager but also a board who supports that manager and who shares the same goals for the association. Steady and strong management that takes care of the present with an eye to the future is key in moving an association forward.

Transparency and Communications

One of the most undervalued aspects of association management is the importance of consistent communication to keep members engaged and involved. Transparency and communication builds trust. Even when management decisions may be debated, transparency and communication can minimize any friction. When an organization is based in integrity and is transparent in its actions, its management excels, bringing the association along with it.

Desired Benefits and Events

The most professionally managed associations often have the most desired and valuable benefits. These frequently include professional development and educational opportunities. Well-managed associations also take the lead in offering association and industry events, ranging from webinars to social and networking events to trade shows and expos. These are a sign of an active, involved association with its finger on the pulse of its members.


Associations who are well-managed often use the strength to advocate for their members’ interests. Professional organizations can often benefit when an association advocates for their interests in legislation and other areas that impact their future.

Accountability and Financial Strength

It is worth noting that the traits above can often lead to financial strength. Not only will excellent associations build membership, limit membership churn, and increase renewal levels, but they will also be accurate and accountable in their finances.


The best associations can be counted on to provide value. This value is not only delivered in the benefits an association provides but in how it interacts with its members. Members in a value-driven organization often carry prestige and opportunities for professional development. The best endorsement of a well-managed association is that members recognize the value membership provides and are proud to be members.

Tips and Tricks for Managing an Association

If you are in search of actionable tips and tricks to elevate the quality of management in your association, here are a few.

Add Clarity

Better define your mission, goals, and big purpose. Know who your target market is and the qualities of your ideal member.

Improve Member Engagement

Improving your member engagement can be done through increased communication and opportunities for more interactions. Text and emails are common ways to initiate member engagement.

Check-in on Your Mission

Some associations fall short of their mission due to negligence. They may undergo the process of creating a mission, stating goals, and developing their main purpose without checking in on them. Keep your eye on the prize, which is an unwavering pursuit of your mission and purpose.

Ask Your Members

How is your association management performing? Some seem to be afraid to ask. It is as if not knowing what the members feel is better than taking action. Your current members can be a terrific source of information. Reach out to them. At the very least, conduct a member satisfaction survey. One of the components of managing an association is staying connected with your members.

Review and Upgrade Member Benefits

If your members don’t seem to be taking advantage of your member benefits, why not? A survey can improve engagement and could lead to a better understanding of what your members really desire.

Conduct Business Professionalism

Terrific management makes sure details are taken care of. Membership agreements are kept up-to-date. Website content and social media posts are timely. Graphics, logos, and fonts are consistent and attractive. This is particularly important for professional organizations whose members understand the importance of image and compliance.

Add Educational Opportunities and Events

One of the reasons members join an organization is to stay connected and for professional development opportunities. These can be combined with events like webinars, seminars, and other events to strengthen your association.

Simplify Dues and Fees Collections

Streamlining your payment process can help in closing new members and maintaining your current members through renewal. Offer multiple vehicles for payment and automate the process. This can lead to improved financial strength, one of the characteristics of well-managed associations.

Focus on Reducing Response Time

Lengthy response times from an association reflect poorly on management. Emails, texts, forms, and phone calls deserve a response within the next business day. Even if your response can’t be complete, at least recognize their inquiry and provide a timeline for a more complete response. This can be easily automated.

Be Prepared to React to National or World News

Well-managed associations are usually connected with current events that may impact their members. Look for how a national or worldwide news story may affect your membership. You may even be able to uncover more local, obscure stories that your members may find interesting or amusing.

Increase the Amount and Value of Content You Provide

Generating valuable content can be labor-intensive, but can pay dividends. It can often be used as a lead magnet; member content is at the base of social media posts. Make the effort to create it and maximize its use.

Emulate Successful Associations

You don’t always have to start from scratch. Use successful, well-managed associations as your template. What do they seem to be offering or doing that you are not? What areas do they excel in, and can you follow suit?

Read Reviews and Testimonials

You can learn quite a bit about other associations and even your own through online message boards, reviews, and testimonials. While individuals may have uniquely good or bad experiences with an association, trends are often easy to pick up on.

Employ Technology

The best managed organizations are rarely using spreadsheets to manage members anymore. Member management and association management software is available to help improve the management of any size organization. These systems can take the weight off of staff, volunteers, and management, unleashing them for more important projects.

What Can Technology do For You?

Once you recognize the full value that technology and automation can bring to your association, it is easier to understand how they can increase the efficiency of management.

  • Member Data Management

Stay on top of members, dues payments, limit mistakes, and prevents lost members.

  • Member Emails and Engagement

Keep members involved. Keep them engaged through surveys, contests, news, and more. Create a more hassle-free newsletter.

  • Event Management

Organize everything, from fundraisers to networking events and trade shows. Track from sign up through a satisfaction survey following your event.

  • Membership Renewals

Automatically notify members when fees are due and remind them along the way.

  • Sales Funnel Management

Take prospects and turn them into leads and sales through automated marketing.

  • New Member Sign-Ups

Make it easy for your new members to join and pay. Provide a fresh, clean start.

  • New Member Onboarding

Welcome your new members and set expectations. Create your desired member experience from day one.

  • Content Creation

Create valuable content to attract and maintain membership.

  • Website Updates

Keep your web presence fresh and pertinent without bogging down your team.

  • Social Media Management

Keep members and prospective members in tune with your organization. Promote your value proposition, events, and latest news timely and easily.

If you are ready to help take the shackles off of your association management team, free them up to perform at the next level with association and member management software.


Raise the level of the management of your association. Begin by clearly identifying your purpose and member benefits. Define your target audience and ideal member. Mimic the rates of successful organizations. Choose strong leadership and the technology to advance your organization.

How can this be accomplished when there is already so much to do and manage? Let MemberClicks show you the way. Providing software and automation solutions for associations and organizations of all types and sizes. Request a demo today!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.