Before the internet, a directory was a big book with a list of names, companies, and products that were updated yearly or quarterly. 

Today directories are very different and far more useful, allowing organizations to network and build connections, legitimize their business, and grow their visibility. Unsurprisingly, many membership management platforms today include them as part of their platform.

Read on to learn more about the rise of online directory software, how it can benefit you, and the nine best online directory software providers you can use.

The rise of online directory software

Thanks to technology, directories look very different today. Where a physical directory was only as up-to-date as the day it was published, an online directory is:

  • Easy to update
  • Searchable
  • Saveable
  • Environmentally friendly

For membership-based organizations like chambers of commerce and associations, the versatility of an online directory and the many other benefits (discussed next) make directories an invaluable tool. 

That’s why many membership management software platforms have online digital directory systems built in.

infographic showing 8 benefits of an online directory software

Benefits of having an online directory

One of the main benefits of having an online directory is how versatile it is. No matter the structure of your organization, this tool has something to offer. Let’s explore the difference between how a chamber versus an association can use a directory.

A chamber of commerce can use a business directory to:

  • Host advertising space for businesses 
  • Help communities get to know local businesses
  • Grow visibility for up-and-coming local businesses

A chamber’s directory is like one big meet-and-greet! Anyone who’s curious about a business can get information on it quickly and accessibly.

An associations membership directory helps with:

  • Networking and building connections
  • Job hunting
  • Improving credibility for members

This credibility part is important! By publicizing their membership to your organization, both businesses and individuals can look more legitimate.

(If you want to see how deeply your members are actually engaging with your organization, you might also benefit from a Customer Relationship Management system!)

Using online directory software

As you can probably tell, a directory contains a lot of information. But online directory software can simplify things. This software ideally connects to your member list and lets you automatically update the directory as needed. No more waiting for quarterly or yearly reprintings.

Most software also has user-friendly tools that let your members explore who else is involved in your organization. While hosting regular networking events can be costly and time-consuming, a directory gives members an instant way to connect.

The 9 best online directory software options

In order to choose your ideal online directory software, consider the needs of your organization. Here are 10 of the best options of software for building an online directory.

1. MemberClicks: top online directory software for associations and chambers

Memberclicks by Personify logo

The MemberClicks all-in-one solution helps your association or chamber engage your members and increase revenue. Use powerful features to save time, grow your membership, increase revenue, improve communication, build your community, and understand your members.

Both MC Professional and MC Trade let you set up business or individual member directories. There are also connection membership management and AMS tools, which help lighten your workload.

2. WildApricot: top online directory software for nonprofit memberships

WildApricot by Personify logo

WildApricot, trusted by more than 32,000 organizations, is an affordable cloud-based software for small associations, nonprofits, and state and local chapter organizations. Manage membership, website, events, and more all in one place.

3. Brilliant Directories

Brilliant Directories logo

Brilliant Directories offers an affordable, all-in-one member management solution to streamline all aspects of your membership website or association. You can sync your data with more than 5,000 third-party apps online. 

4. Raklet

Racklet memberhshp directory software logo

Raklet is an all-in-one membership software that allows you to engage with your community and grow and monetize your audience through memberships, newsletters and other digital tools. Raklet also integrates with more than 4,000 apps online. 

5. 360Directories

360Directories is an online visual directory software for media groups, civic organizations, and communities. The software provides administrative and marketing tools for business owners and a community portal for entrepreneurs, media companies and civic groups.

6. ListingProWP

listingproWP logo

ListingProWP is an end-to-end directory website builder & listing solution for WordPress with no extra paid plugins required. 

The plugin’s top features include: search and filter, form builder, multi-criteria ratings, inbox, ad management, appointment booking, events, coupons, and admin dashboards.

7. MarketGrabber

MarketGrabber is an online directory management system that helps users create business directories, generate SEO-friendly URLs, manage featured ads and more.

8. IdealDirectories

IdealDirectories is a directory management solution that helps users launch business directories and coupon websites to promote local businesses.

9. phpListings

phpListings.com is a complete business directory website solution. It includes all the tools to run a profitable directory:

  • An intuitive and user-friendly search facility
  • Administrator and member panels
  • A monetization facility that supports automated invoicing

The directory software is suitable for business listings, events, places, classifieds, job postings, property listings, blogs, and offers.

Choosing the perfect online directory software for your Association, chamber, or nonprofit

You don’t need to feel overwhelmed when choosing a member directory software. After all, you know the needs of your organization. Simply go with the software that best matches those needs. Ideally, you’ll also want one that’s designed for your industry and can scale with you.

WildApricot and MemberClicks are two top choices: WildApricot for nonprofits and MemberClicks for associations and chambers.