7 Benefits of Association Management Software
Every non-profit group wants to do three things: spread its message, attract new members, and retain membership for growth. The right association management software can make these objectives easier to achieve—without all the hassles of manual recordkeeping and data management. That’s because association management software centralizes your member and organization data in one secure but easily accessible online destination. As you evaluate your options and look for the right software provider for your group, consider these seven benefits that association management software can offer you.
Manage member data
Member directories and contact management features are central to association management software, and you’ll find some form of these essentials in virtually every software package. Regardless of whether the member directory itself is visible either to the public or to the members of an organization, productive association management requires the ability to accrue and analyze member data.
Ideally, a flexible association management software package will give you the ability to customize the form you use to sign up new members, so you can ask specific relevant questions and obtain a well-rounded set of data about each individual. These questions will be as unique and differentiated as your group itself, so this customization flexibility can be essential. You’re also need the ability to define and apply tags or labels that differentiate members based on tiers, activity levels, and other criteria.
When you can centralize all this information in one place—and avoid having to look up bits and pieces of member data in a scattered series of spreadsheets and other local data files—you can achieve the kind of administrative efficiency that enables you to spend your time extending your organization’s reach instead of slogging through routine chores.
Communicate with members and the public
Once members join your group, you need cohesive ways to communicate with them, both about their membership itself and about their involvement in your organization’s overall goals. The easiest way to do this is to use tools and features built directly into your association management software, which is why it’s so important to evaluate these capabilities in any software package you consider for your group. Additionally, look for the ability to customize your communications with your group’s identity, including either the name of your organization or its logo.
E-mail campaigns and text messaging offer two of the most convenient means of member communication. To preserve member privacy, look for a package that enables members to opt in to receive specific forms of communication, so they know that they have control over how you communicate with them.
Process memberships and other costs
When members can join your group and pay for their memberships in one cohesive online step, you can increase your ability to convert prospects and grow your organization. To do this, you need association management software that includes the ability to accept online payments. Of all the features and functionality that association management software can offer you, online payments involve some of the most critically personal information you can process on or through an organization website.
And the difference between “on” and “through” is significant. If you process online payments directly on your website itself, you’re responsible for the data security of personally identifiable financial information, which you must acquire and store securely. If you process online payments through your website, you integrate payment processing into your site but never actually handle the financial data yourself. That’s a huge step forward toward peace of mind, and one that it’s important to verify in any association management software package you consider.
Accrue and review data
The process of acquiring members, interacting with them, and conducting the rest of your routine organization business results in a considerable amount of information about what your members do and how they react to the way you engage with them. The right association management software tracks and stores this information at strategic points in the process of member engagement, so you can run comparisons, examine specifics, and truly analyze your organization’s impact rather than guess at what’s happening.
Share content and documents
Information is the lifeblood of any organization, and that includes everything from the history of your group to its current activities and future plans. Some of this information involves a visual record of what you do as an organization. Because association management software functions through a website that represents your group, it also acts as a content management system that helps you organize and present your message.
In addition to organization news, you’ll also want to share essential documents with your membership and, in some cases, with the general public. These documents can include marketing and promotional materials as well as educational documents and research results. Of course, you’ll want to be able to designate some of these documents as publicly accessible and keep others private for members only. Look for association management software that gives you this type of fine-tuned control over materials that you upload to your website.
Plan and manage events
Whether you conduct in-person or virtual events that engage a local or even a national membership, your organization may depend on these events for everything from group camaraderie to fundraising and outreach. Instead of separating your event management from your website and trying to integrate third-party tools, look for association management software that offers built-in access to event management, ticket sales, planning and control of simple single-day or more-complex multi-day events with multiple activities, and customized information gathering as part of the process of signing up attendees.
When you conduct these event planning activities directly through your website, you not only centralize your activities, but you magnify their impact by tying them directly into the unified venue you use for all your organization’s communication needs.
Simplify site design and management
Given the specialized nature of association management software, the functions it provides and the differences between this type of software and a run-of-the-mill website, you may place a higher priority on these features than on the basics of site design and management. After all, any website design tool or content management system can create a basic website, but not all of those tools are equally suited to the tasks of association management. Nonetheless, you still need the ability to create and manage the design of your site in a way that provides you with and attractive result that’s also highly functional.
Unless you’re a website designer yourself, and even if you are, you may not want to take a deep dive into the complexities of a completely do-it-yourself website design process. Look for an association management software package that offers you an easy-to-use suite of site setup tools with professionally designed page templates that speed up the process of design and enhance the results.
Add efficiency and cohesion to your administrative tasks
The right association management software can make your job as an organization administrator exponentially easier to perform—and much more efficient than if you rely on a complex, fragmented combination of unintegrated tools. Look for a package that not only meets your current requirements but can grow along with you, and that suits your budget as well as your needs.