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Association Software

How to Budget for Upgrading Your Association Management Software

Andrea Amorosi October 20, 2023
Table of Contents
9 min read

For associations in an increasingly digitized world, it’s now more important than ever to invest in digital tools that are agile and responsive to your organization’s unique needs. An outdated association management software can make your day-to-day more difficult through high upgrade expenses, and poor integrations, customization, and data access. If you’re wondering how to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness in your association, it comes down to having the right AMS. 

So how do you know what features to look for and how to budget for an upgrade? In this blog we’ll walk you through how to get started.

  • What is association management software?
  • How much does association management software cost?
  • 7 signs you need to upgrade your AMS
  • 4 benefits of upgrading to cloud-based association management software
  • How to budget for an AMS upgrade
  • Association Management Software for your unique needs

What is association management software?

Association management software (AMS) is a type of membership management software that’s part of an AMS system. This type of software for associations focuses on features that support the needs such as: 

  • Automating repetitive administrative tasks
  • Comprehensive member tracking
  • Insightful data analytics and reporting
  • Minimizing resource and cost spend
  • Boosting member retention and member recruitment
  • And more

Association management software emerged as a dedicated solution in response to the complexities of associations, supporting everything from member databases to email marketing to event management. Beginning as on-site databases, association management software has now evolved to being predominantly cloud-based.

How much does association management software cost?

In a post-COVID-19 world, associations are now making the investment in more agile tools that support their growth and resilience. According to Harvard Business Review, organizations that prioritize balanced “reduction plus offensive investment” in software maximize value and return on their software investment and outperform competitors with more defensive, cost-cutting approaches.

But how much does association management software cost? The price of your AMS depends on several factors:

1. Features or add-ons

The extra add-ons or features you want in your AMS to have will impact your overall cost. Your basic AMS includes:

  • Member database
  • Email Marketing
  • Event management
  • Financial Management
  • Data Analytics and Reporting

2. Size of organization or annual revenue

The size of your association and database plus the number and complexity of your features all affect your AMS price. Your AMS cost also depends on a percentage of your annual revenue you’re willing to invest in your software.

3. Number of users

Depending on the number of people who need to run reports or get administrative access, your cost will fluctuate accordingly. The more seats you need, the more you can expect to spend. 

4. Support costs

You may be fine with basic support or you may require 24/7 support. Premium support or data migration assistance can come with extra costs.

5. Cloud-based or On-site

A cloud-based AMS comes with no hardware, automatic updates, and easy data access. With a cloud-based AMS, you will usually be paying on a monthly basis or through a subscription. Click here to learn more about Memberclicks pricing

In comparison, on-site software is on-premise and has a one-time fee. However, this also means data is less easy to access since it’s restricted to one location and updates are also more difficult and time-consuming.

7 signs you need to upgrade your AMS

Signs you need to upgrade your AMS

1. Poor integrations

If the other technology your association uses on a regular basis doesn’t integrate seamlessly with your AMS, you’re likely facing unnecessary complications that make work more difficult. For example, if your financial applications aren’t connected to your member data, you’re missing out on crucial opportunities to optimize your member experience, gain more revenue, further your mission, and more.

2. Poor reporting and data analytics

Inaccurate data also means your staff may be doing a lot of manual data entry and reporting which will take up time and increase the chance of human error, all of which are unnecessary. Instead, invest in an AMS that integrates well with your existing technology, consolidates data, automates, and delivers insightful reporting and data analytics.

3. The person who implemented your AMS isn’t part of your association 

If the individual responsible for your AMS implementation isn’t a part of your association anymore, that means a lot of time has passed and your AMS is likely very outdated, which means it’s time for an upgrade.

4. It’s been years since the last update

You should always be working with the most up-to-date version of your AMS. If you’ve been delaying an update because it’s too cumbersome or exhausts too many resources, it’s time to look for another AMS. The best solution is a cloud-based AMS that upgrades automatically at no extra cost.

5. Losing members or have a poor member experience

If your members can’t navigate your membership portal, are having a poor overall experience, or are forgetting to renew because of irregular dues reminders, your current AMS needs to go. Look for an AMS that boosts the success of your association and supports your day-to-day. 

6. Staff members are burnt out

The right association management software delivers automation and features that save time and energy for repetitive tasks. If your staff members are unhappy and feel burnt out doing tasks that can be automated, it’s time to reconsider your software investment.

7. Data is inaccurate

When it comes to the improvement of your organizational performance, data is everything! Redundant data that’s inaccurate or incomplete means your association can’t make meaningful decisions or changes. If this is the case, you need to be looking for a better AMS solution.

5 Benefits of Upgrading to Cloud-Based Association Management Software

1. Improved efficiency, effectiveness, and impact

A cloud-based AMS enables more collaboration and increased knowledge access, which means more ideation and innovation among your staff. This increases the efficiency and effectiveness of your organization.

2. Increased scalability

Cloud-based software allows organizations to scale up or down based on their needs without excessive spending. Select software that grows with you and has features that can support organizational changes, different stages of membership, and your association’s digital transformation.

3. Easy, automated updates

Rather than having to undergo the process of updating every couple of years (which is disruptive, expensive, and time-consuming) a cloud-based association management software makes updates easy by automating them at no extra cost.

4. Better data security

Cloud-based association management software is more security compliant with integrated solutions and enhanced security measures like encryption, regular backups, and two-factor authentication to keep your association and member data secure.

5. Maximizing ROI

Rather than spending money on maintaining internal systems, cloud-based software solution’s inherent reliability, scalability, and ease of use maximizes your ROI and minimizes unnecessary spend through automation and other built-in features.

How to Budget for an AMS Upgrade

How to Budget for an Association Management Software

If you’re ready to upgrade your association management software to a cloud-based solution, here’s how to create your budget.

1. Determine goals and requirements

Sit with your team and primary stakeholders and review your quarterly and annual goals. Discuss the major pain points and roadblocks your association is experiencing. This will determine your AMS requirements and what features you need to accomplish your goals.

2. Prioritize features

Categorize your desired features into necessary and nice-to-have. This will give your association a clear idea of what to prioritize and what features to invest in next if you have wiggle room.

3. Look at annual revenue

Based on annual revenue and requirements, determine what percentage of your annual profits your association can spend on your AMS. Remember, a larger initial investment will have long-term benefits by minimizing costs like the number of upgrades or additional feature integrations. The right software investment reduces your general spend and boosts revenue in areas like member renewals, member recruitment, events, e-commerce, and more.

4. Conduct research

Use resources like Capterra to compare software and collect information like price and features included to build a case you can bring to your board. When you’re comparing your options, focus on the value it delivers rather than its cost-effectiveness. Your AMS is responsible for supporting a lot of the integral day-to-day processes that keep your association running and successful. Even if your association is in its earlier stages, it’s worthwhile to invest in solutions that can grow with your association, because it means you won’t have to spend extra money later down the line retraining staff or buying new software.

5. Get board approval

It’s now time to get your board on board with your new AMS. Here’s our suggested presentation structure:

  1. Communicate the flaws in your existing software

Clearly define the biggest pain points facing your association with your current software for membership management and provide context as to why it’s important to upgrade your AMS. 

  1. Define association management software for your board

Your board may be wondering,What is an AMS?”. You’ll want to give a brief overview that will help your board understand your software’s role in facilitating your association’s success.

  1. Explain how a new AMS can solve for your pain points

Highlight the key features your association needs, tying them to each pain point covered. Mention how other associations have used these AMS solutions and seen an improvement in their success. 

  1. Give overview of your software research

Cover important numbers like pricing and discuss features and limitations for each solution. Highlight which option you think is best and why, and get board approval.

  1. Request a demo

After your initial board meeting, get a demo of the AMS solutions, then go back to board and present your findings, communicating which one you think is best. You may also want to conduct a demo with interested board members.

Association Management Software for Your Unique Needs

Association Management Software

Your association is one of a kind and that means investing in association management software tailored to your unique needs.

MemberClicks offers personalized, cloud-based solutions to improve your association’s efficiency and effectiveness. Whether you’re a professional or trade association, Memberclicks’ bespoke association management software is made for you, with associations like yours in mind. 

Memberclicks Professional

For growing professional associations

Memberclicks Professional streamlines tasks and processes and helps you build better relationships that boost your association’s revenue. Get access to customizable features like:

  • Responsive dues collection. Tailored automation suited to your association’s payment cycle.
  • Data reporting with actionable insights. Get information on the optimal areas for improvement.
  • Comprehensive member data management. Better serve your members and get the custom member group data that matters.
  • Customizable email marketing. Deliver memorable member onboarding and engaging experiences with personalized email marketing.

Interested in MemberClicks Professional? Learn more here. 

Memberclicks Trade

For larger trade associations

Memberclicks Trade simplifies tasks with approachable financial management and automation that maximizes your spend and grows your organization and revenue. Features include:

  • Personalized membership management. Automate your membership management and deliver personalized experiences that engage members.
  • Customized e-commerce management. Create custom revenue streams that delight your members and allow you to invest in member experiences they love.
  • Flexible email marketing. Deliver effective email marketing campaigns that boost member retention and engagement through personalization. 
  • Actionable data analytics and reporting. Get data analytics and reporting that gives you a full picture of your association’s impact and where you can improve.

Interested in MemberClicks Trade’s unique features? Learn more here. 

Maximize Your Success with an AMS Tailored to You

Association Management Software

Your investment in your association management software is an investment in your association’s success. With the right solution, your organization gets access to features that maximize your resources and make optimizing your association easy.

Take advantage of cloud-based association management software that provides built-in upgrades, improved connectivity and communication, scalability, and enhanced security. With an all-in-one solution, you’ll be able to leverage long-term value and impact that boosts the effectiveness of your association and makes the financial investment worth it. 

Discover how MemberClicks’ cloud-based association management software can be tailored to your association’s unique needs. Request a demo here. 

Recommended reading:

What Is An AMS? Understanding Association Management Systems

How Much Does Association Management Software Really Cost?

Association Management Software: 20+ Leading Providers

4 Reasons to Move your Association Management System to the Cloud

What is an AMS? A Guide to Association Management Software

The Top 10 Best Practices for Managing Your Association Dues

 A Guide To Learning Management Systems (LMS)

Give Value To Your Members With Association Networking Events

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.