Ahh, the daily, thrilling life of association management, where the to-do lists are endless. Picture this: association staff running through a maze of setting up new members, juggling renewing dues, orchestrating events and somehow managing to keep members engaged in this whirlwind adventure.
But fear not! Association Management Software (AMS) can swoop in during this age of superhero technology to save the day. Imagine a tool so powerful it can take the workload off the staff’s shoulders, giving everyone more time to focus on more important things.
We’re about to dive deep into this exciting software. We will explain the basics of AMS and unlock the secrets of how the software can transform your association management experience, make your members happier, keep your payments flowing and grow your membership base. Top of Form
What is Association Management Software (AMS)?
AMS, short for Association Management Software, is a system associations and other membership-centric organizations use as an “all-in-one” platform. An AMS is typically cloud-based and facilitates the management of members, including recruitment, retention, referrals and other functions within one system. The software is designed to oversee association operations, such as maintaining membership data, collecting dues, organizing events, soliciting donations and overseeing committees and chapters.
AMS gives associations a central hub for tasks like email communication, membership reporting, revenue tracking, membership engagement and more to streamline efficiency.
Some of the tasks that AMS software can provide include:
- Collecting, storing and maintaining member data
- Handling payments, including international
- Communicating with members, such as emails, reminders and social media posts
- Running the daily activities of an association, including automated billing for membership dues, enrollment for classes, managing members’ purchases of materials, etc.
- Tracking and reporting member statistics, such as attendance and renewals
- Managing events, including registration, billing and automated communication
- Providing a center for education and a job board
- Building and maintaining a central calendar
- Mobile app
- Integration with association software such as website and accounting
- Creating and reporting surveys
What are the benefits of using an AMS?
Say goodbye to the chaos of scattered information and a myriad of different software tools. An AMS serves as the unified hub that simplifies your association’s operations and handling of essential tasks based on a membership database.
An AMS keeps tabs on everything related to your members, such as their financial contributions, involvement levels and even committee commitments, all in one centralized platform.
For members, an AMS allows for one login to foster improved communication among members. On the association’s end, the centralized AMS helps manage communication across different channels, which fosters community building.
An AMS also integrates email marketing and social media management, so your association doesn’t have to juggle between databases and external email marketing platforms or wrestle with the complexities of tracking new members or changes to your membership roster.
The biggest benefit of an AMS system is its ability to increase efficiency. It solves the often-tedious tasks managed on different platforms, from the website to email marketing, accounting and billing. It’s the all-in-one solution designed to simplify your association’s management, allowing you to focus on what truly matters—your organization’s success.
Is your association ready for an AMS?
It would be hard-pressed to say no to an AMS system, given its many benefits in reducing workload, streamlining processes and maintaining correct membership data. However, everything comes at a cost, so it’s important to outline your association’s needs before exploring if an AMS solution is the right fit, especially since there are many options on the market.
An AMS solution may not fit everyone’s needs. An AMS should simplify the time-sapping tasks the staff is already doing manually. An AMS should also help your membership base grow. If you have a small membership base, and your existing website, social media and member database work for you, an AMS may be overkill. However, if you’re trying to build to over 200 members and retain a community feel with outdated systems, an AMS may be right for your association. In this case, an AMS would be beneficial because you would cut significant staff time and provide opportunities for your members to get to know and engage with each other.
Evaluating AMS solutions
If you decide an AMS is right for your member organization but don’t have a clear goal in mind and take stock of your needs, you may be stuck with an expensive solution. Realizing the AMS you chose didn’t solve your headaches after you signed on will be very difficult to remedy later down the line.
AMS platforms can cater to a generic organization or the very specific. For example, there are AMS platforms that cater specifically to golf clubs. Begin with an inventory of your association’s biggest headaches and must-haves, or the wish list that would reduce workload, streamline tasks, speed up processes and move your association forward.
After you have your list of needs, try to narrow down your top three needs, as the various software options on the market can range from affordable to very expensive once you add on all the bells and whistles.
Once you have your must-haves, begin asking questions that will help you evaluate the many software options available. Use the list below and brainstorm your own questions to fit your association’s greatest needs.
- Does the AMS have a comprehensive membership database that helps collect and centralize member information on one platform? This question shouldn’t even be on your list, as every AMS should have this basic functionality. Nevertheless, it is good to reiterate the main purpose of an AMS.
- Will the AMS solution work with your association’s existing website?
- Is event planning and execution possible with the AMS?
- How does the AMS system take payments for membership dues, events, etc.? Is this automatic? How can you guarantee payments are secured?
- How much training and support does the AMS solution offer? Is customer service responsive? Do we need to pay extra for support outside the initial setup or after regular work hours?
- Will the AMS integrate with the association’s accounting systems?
- What community-building tools exist within the system, such as online forums and job boards?
- Does the AMS system have email and social marketing capabilities? How does this work? Can you email someone outside the membership database?
- Is a mobile app or text feature offered?
- What kind of reports and analytics are available?
While there are many options for AMS solutions, the right one for your organization depends on your unique needs and budget. Some of the more popular AMS solutions include Aptify, Cobalt, GrowthZone, iMis, MemberClicks, SilkStart and WildApricot. Choosing a software solution is a stand-alone project, so be sure to allocate time and staff that can evaluate each option and are available for integration and implementation.
Final thoughts on AMS
Association Management Software (AMS) may be the stand-alone solution for your association. When to-do lists seem endless, an AMS could be the superhero of technology sweeping in to save the day, simplifying operations, fostering communication and transforming your association’s destiny.
Benefits abound as the AMS integrates member databases, email marketing, social media management, event management and more. It keeps members’ details in one centralized platform, simplifying communication and fostering community building. Efficiency also improves as the AMS can automate the billing processes.
As you consider whether your association is ready to embrace the power of an AMS, remember that with great technology comes great responsibility. Outline your association’s needs, take stock of the headaches and create a wish list that aligns with your association’s goals. With various AMS platforms available and none free, ask the right questions to find the perfect fit for your unique requirements.
As you embark on this stand-alone project of choosing the right AMS, allocate the time and resources needed for evaluation, integration and implementation. If you realize the power of an AMS but feel overwhelmed with evaluating solutions and the right questions to ask, Uptimize can help. Please set up a time for a free consultation to learn how we can free up more time for you and your association and grow your membership.