While writing lists for the best association management software options offered online, I noticed questions regarding the differences between association and membership management software. The truth is, these terms describe the exact same type of software and can be used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t.
In order to clear up the confusion, association management software is used to store, manage, organize, and communicate with members and other partnerships/associations of an organization. This software can be paid or free and open source depending on the needs of your nonprofit organization.
Do You Need Association Management Software?
Unless you run a nonprofit that only has ten members with no prospects of growth, then yes, you will need association management software at some point.
As your organization grows, you will need to store names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, donation specifications and amounts, as well as any other pertinent information regarding all of your organizational contacts. Association management software can even be used for generating mail lists, organizing events, tracking the interests of members and donors, and sending out mass emails to your lists.
What to Expect from Association Management Software
When choosing your association management software, you need to assess which features are more important for your nonprofit. Many paid vendors set their prices based on how many members you plan on storing, how many admins will have access to the software, and how many emails will be sent out per month.
There are also core features you should be on the lookout for when choosing your software, such as:
- Dues management
- Fundraising management
- Member directory
- Member portal
- Email marketing
- Financial management
- Online payment processing
- Reports and spreadsheet merging
These core functions will allow you to keep track of your members/donors as well as obtain new ones and track their spending/donations. On top of these features, these are other extra bells and whistles you may come across in your search for software:
- Website management
- Survey management
- Jobs board
- Social media integration
- Event management
- Mobile apps
These features are offered by both paid and free vendors, so it is up to you to find out which options have the best reviews, the best support, and the best features for the cost. When it comes to software, you get what you pay for more often than not.
Association Management Software to Consider
MembersGear is a free and open source membership software that is capable of basic member tracking, managing subscriptions and fees, managing email lists and templates, set content drips based on times and dates, as well as other basic features.
[NOTE: This software is open source, which offers limited support by means of FAQs. Open source is better suited for a tech savvy office.]
I placed NeonCRM at number one on my Top 5 Association Management Software Options piece based on its wide variety of features, high ratings on Capterra, and it’s reasonable pricing for the product that they provide. NeonCRM is an all-around quality association management software that checks every feature box we have on Capterra. NeonCRM is also perfect for organizations of any side due to its unlimited system users for every price tier.
MemberLeap offers a full list of key features needed for any association management software, but what really makes it shine out of the numerous other systems is its fantastic support system. Capterra reviews for MemberLeap praise the support system, which is perfect for new software users with little tech experience.
Try Before You Buy
Most of these software vendors offer free trials for their software so that you can work through the bugs, kinks, and hold ups before you commit to a monthly or yearly software investment.
If you decide to opt for free and/or open-source software, make sure that you understand that it is quite like going on an adventure all by yourself. You will only have yourself to rely upon. This is just fine for offices with tech-savvy employees that have little need for vendor support, but is problematic for offices with limited software knowledge.
Has this article helped you choose the right association management software for you? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for Association Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Association Management software solutions.