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Everything You Need To Know About Nonprofit Membership Software

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks April 17, 2023
Table of Contents
7 min read

Nonprofit membership software is the superhero of nonprofit operations and membership management. It streamlines how you connect with your members, makes your staff’s lives a million times simpler, and optimizes your membership strategy for growth.

Indeed, the right nonprofit membership management software can transform and revitalize an organization. But, for it to do that, you need to choose the right one for your needs, properly manage it, and optimize how you use the software as your organization grows.

What is nonprofit membership software?

Nonprofit membership software is a tool that streamlines membership information making it easy for nonprofits to do… everything. That includes things like:

  • Storing information about their members in a membership database
  • Member communications like sending members emails and automating renewal reminders
  • Payment processing for membership dues
  • Helping with event planning
  • Creating a more engaging member-friendly website
  • Automating membership benefits by tiers and membership levels
  • Member directories for easy networking and inter-member relationship building
  • Donor management
  • Much more.

Essentially, a membership system makes it easy for nonprofits to optimize their membership interactions, improve staff efficiency, improve membership retentions, retain their membership base, and improve revenue streams.

It does this by storing information in one centralized location, creating helpful automation tools, integrating with other core nonprofit management tools, and providing analytics that help nonprofits plan better.

Benefits of membership management software for nonprofits

While some nonprofits use an Excel document or some other non-purpose-built Customer Relationship Management program to track members, dedicated membership management tools offer significantly more value.

Short-term benefits

  • Savings in staff time
  • Seamless communications
  • A single source of truth for member details
  • Better attendance at events
  • More engaged members
  • Seamless payments
  • Increased membership satisfaction with self-serve options

Long-term benefits

  • Increased revenue
  • More membership growth
  • Additional membership upgrades
  • Easy to create memberships
  • Improved experiences for your members themselves
  • Optimized membership strategies
  • Improved membership retention and recruitment
  • Improved historical data

How do you choose the right nonprofit membership software?

Ready to choose a nonprofit membership software? Here are six steps to ensure you pick the application that’s the best fit for your organization.

1. Understand the nonprofit-specific features you need.

If someone told you a bathing suit was one-size fits all, would you believe them? Nonprofit membership software isn’t much different in that regard. You need to understand what’s out there – as well as which features you need for your organization. For example, some organizations need robust payment management options because they frequently sell things like merchandise or event tickets to their members. In contrast, other organizations might prioritize membership software that integrates with an online forum.

2. Determine your nonprofit’s software needs.

Once you have an idea of your feature options, it’s time to make a list of all the features that are non-negotiable and all the features that are nice-to-haves. Knowing what you’re looking for will help you narrow down your options. But knowing what’s necessary versus what’s optional will ensure you don’t rule out a software option that might be a great fit for your organization.

3. Do some research and compare features.

Now that you have your list of features, you can start evaluating your software options. As you research them, compare the features they offer to the list you drew up. You might even want to create a grid and add little checkmarks for each feature they have that you want. That way, it will be easy to see which solution has exactly what you need.

4. Request demos of your top choices.

It’s demo time! Reach out to the top three or four companies and ask them to give you an inside look at their product. Make sure to bring a list of questions and invite along the staffers who will be using the software every day. They’re the best judges of what will work best for your organization.

5. Ask about the provider’s setup and long-term support.

Before you commit to a software solution, make sure you understand its Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and how much support the company will provide over time. TCO refers to the lifetime costs involved in setting up, training staff, and maintaining the software for its entire lifecycle. You want a nonprofit membership management software that’s easy to set up and train staff on since it will save you considerably in the long run. You also want to ensure that the company will continue to provide ongoing support if something happens.

6. Work with your team to choose a membership platform.

Once you have all that information, it’s time to choose. Work with your board, nonprofit leadership, and frontline staff to decide on a nonprofit management software that balances everyone’s needs – and that will help your organization level up!

Nonprofit member management software: 6 leading providers

We break down the features and benefits of the top nonprofit membership software providers to give you a head start on your research.

1. MemberClicks: Best Membership Software for Large Nonprofits and Associations

MemberClicks is the ideal membership software for nonprofits looking to streamline daily tasks an boost nondues revenue.

They offer two customized solutions: MC Professional and MC Trade. MemberClicks connects more than 6 million members 3000+ organizations. And there’s a reason it’s so loved. The popular software helps nonprofits stay in touch with their members, automate manual tasks, improve membership retention, optimize revenue, and more. 

  • Build a membership website as a destination for your members
  • Easily organize and sell tickets for in-person or virtual events
  • Streamline member communication with automated email, campaigns, and automatic renewal reminders
  • Create a dynamic online community by adding polls, forums, jobs boards, and more to your website
  • Process financial transactions

2. Wild Apricot: Best Nonprofit Membership Software for Growing Organizations

Clubs, non-profits, and other organizations that are in a growth phase have specific needs. That’s why a purpose-built platform makes sense. Wild Apricot is the nonprofit membership software of choice for 50,313 organizations.

  • Grow member engagement with member-only web pages, forums and blogs
  • List your members in an online directory
  • Embed things like event listing, forms, and more into your existing website
  • Create custom membership application pages and workflows

3. Salsa: Best Membership Software for Advocacy Nonprofits

Salsa bridges the divide between nonprofit membership management software and nonprofit fundraising software. While its often best to have customized software solutions for both, Salsa is a great option for advocacy nonprofits that are looking to cultivate members and donors at the same time.

  • Get the word out and galvanize your supporters with advocacy tools
  • Push for change – and fundraise for it with digital marketing automation
  • Streamline event planning with online event registration

Salsa doesn’t list their pricing online. Organizations have to reach out to discuss their needs with Salsa in order to get a custom quote.

4. Doubleknot: Best Membership Software for Cultural Organizations

Focused on cultural organizations like zoos or museums, Doubleknot is a membership management software that’s highly customized to this niche. Your organization will be able to track sales and members all in one place. 

  • Streamline your admissions and visitor services operations
  • Use their POS and mobile sales to generate revenue from anywhere
  • Keep everyone in one place with great customer relationship management software
  • Deftly handle and optimize your fundraising

Doubleknot doesn’t list their pricing information online. Your organization will need to request a demo or talk to a salesperson about your needs.

5. Zen Planner: Best Membership Software for Fitness Clubs and Nonprofits

Zen Planner is focused on fitness. If you run a nonprofit fitness club, a community center, or a wellness membership organization, Zen Planner might be right for you. Their software offers organizations purpose-built features for things like billing and business management, making it easier for fitness organizations to operate and grow.

  • Full-service billing as fitness billing can be different than other nonprofits
  • Support with website development
  • Innovative marketing tools focused on fitness nonprofits
  • Business management software

Prices range between $121 and $257 depending on a nonprofit’s membership size.

6. Boardable: Best Management Software for Boards and Committees

Boardable isn’t a membership management software, per se. Instead, it’s focused on optimizing the time and engagement of board and committee members. It helps nonprofits of all kinds transform their board meetings and board engagement in order to get more value out of board meetings and board members.

  • Helpful collaboration tools to pull together agendas and meeting materials
  • Automated board meeting reminders
  • Support with creating agendas and board minutes
  • Manage and share recordings and minutes with the public

Boardable doesn’t list their pricing on their website. To get a quote, organizations will have to contact Boardable.

Membership software for nonprofits

There you have it! Membership software for nonprofits doesn’t just help you grow your organization faster – it also makes your staff lives’ easier, your members happier, and your bank account balance higher. Dedicated software with nonprofit-specific features allow you to pay for features you need, not for features created for an entirely different use case.

Membership management software is optimized to support nonprofit’s growth and to reduce manual work often done by nonprofit staffers. Curious how it could transform your organization? Book a MemberClicks demo today to see how our features will revolutionize how you interact with your members.

For more on membership software, check out:

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.