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All member-based associations have undoubtedly had to deal with membership-related tasks like membership applications, renewals, directories, events, newsletters, and more. This can become quite time-consuming and difficult to manage, but luckily association management software (AMS) provides a solution for managing these tasks.

For associations who are working with limited resources and budgets, it’s helpful to know that there are tech solutions that can help your organization connect to supporters and grow memberships with limited time and effort. That said, selecting the right AMS is easier said than done. Not only do you want a membership software program that meets your current needs, but you need a program that can meet your needs as your organization grows and evolves.

Selecting the Right AMS

There are a number of options when it comes to membership software, so you want to make sure you choose the one that is right for your organization. Generally there are two goals associated with selecting the right system. First, you want a system that will automate many tasks, allowing your organization to operate more efficiently. Start with making a list of tasks that can be supported with technology software. Here are some things to consider:

  • What tasks are the most challenging or time-consuming? (Membership applications, event registration forms)
  • How can we increase efficiency? (Automated messaging, expiration dates)
  • What information do we need to gather from our members? (Personal and professional data, interests)
  • What information do we need to provide to our members? (Professional resources, career opportunities, regular association updates)

The second goal of a good membership software system is integration with your website, email marketing system, event registration, and other tools vital to your association’s operations. Most often, an AMS that provides an all-in-one solution at an affordable price fits the bill.

Configuration vs. Customization

Once you have developed a plan for your organization and clearly defined your needs, it’s time to decide on what type of system will best meet those needs. The best way to do this is by understanding the difference between configuration and customization. Customized software is created by a software developer so any changes to form fields or database entry requires the help of your developer. Conversely, a configured system allows you to edit form fields or makes changes to your database in a matter of minutes and requires little technical knowledge.

Customized systems do provide the exact features you want, but cannot be edited without going through the developer, which can be cumbersome and expensive. Configured systems give you the freedom to make many of your own updates without technical assistance, but you may be limited by which features are available. In order to decide which one is right for you, consider which tools your association staff need to better serve your organization and how easy access to this information can help them do their job more efficiently.

Selecting the right association management software can be crucial to the success of your nonprofit association. That’s why we at SBI Association Management are so passionate about helping nonprofits find the right technology solutions. SBI staff are experts at helping associations implement a membership management software that is customized to meet their needs in order to further their mission.

Updated 06.23.2020

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