10+ Best Association Management Software & Everything You Need to Know
You need good data management, no matter the niche, to run a successful business. This is where association management software can help.
Things can get complicated, but there are plenty of online tools that can help you out immensely. You just need to make sure you’re choosing the right one.
In this article, you’ll find out everything you need about association management software, how to choose one, some of the most popular ones, and how you can use GroupApp to handle your business.
Let’s get into it!
Firstly, we need to cover the definitions of association management so you know what you’re getting into and how it can help you.
A membership management software is where all your membership data comes together. Everything is put under one roof, creating an integrated system.
Membership management software can contain data from primary member data to event management, finances, detailed analytics, and all connected processes.
Membership management software is used to organize a business, drive member engagement and improve the revenue stream. Instead of using different tools, you can have it all in just one spot.
An association management software, which we’ll cover in more detail in this article, is a type of membership management software. Membership sites are becoming more and more popular, with the projected rise of the global subscription market size of up to $1.5 trillion in 2025.
Association management software, or AMS for short, is used by associations and big businesses that need a sophisticated management system for their member data and membership management. Instead of using multiple tools to keep everything organized, trade associations and professional associations can use one management software with integrated functions.
With this management software, you’re supposed to organize association members, handle administrative duties and drive member engagement. It should help you build a place where members can gather, communicate, and access your online products.
The AMS system is supposed to be an all-in-one management software for your organizational needs. Some key features of association management systems are a website builder, members database, customer relationship management, communication, finance, and event managing, but other helpful things could exist.
Association management software is often used to create a hub where associations can gather members, drive member engagement, launch successful courses and other online products, and even manage events. It’s often used by trade associations, professional associations, nonprofit organizations, cultural organizations, and other member-based organizations.
A membership management software makes it easier for leaders to handle organization and administrative tasks and simpler for members to participate. According to research, over 70% of businesses believe that memberships and subscription models are the keys to future business growth.
Running a small association can seem simple at first – sure, there’s a lot of work, but it’s done with smaller numbers. You can handle membership organization with just a couple of tools, and a single person can finish all the tasks quickly without the help of a membership management solution.
However, as you grow membership numbers, the work will grow exponentially. It gets complicated to handle everything at once, and association management software comes in handy.
An association management software will optimize and automate most tasks you would have to spend hours on. You won’t have to handle things like online payments and sending emails manually, and you’ll have more time to focus on the more essential things. The quality of the content your association is sharing and plans are more important than spending time sorting through financial data.
To put it simply, association software will give you more time to work on important things.
Now that you know what association management software is, it’s time to choose the best one for your needs.
Before we get into more detail, you should know there are different types of association management software based on what they focus on. For example, some are built to handle event management best, while some are better for hosting member data, accounting, and payment processing.
Sure, some all-in-one membership management systems exist, but you should determine what you need and find one that matches your requirements.
Now let’s see what you should look for when choosing an association software.
There are some features that an association management software needs to have, and then there are other software tools just there to make your work easier.
It’s all about optimizing and outsourcing, but membership management software is supposed to handle several different areas. It’s also about your association. What do you need from association software? If there’s something that you’re focused on more than other things, you should get membership management software focused on that.
Let’s say that website management is the most critical area for you. Is the potential association software well-developed in this area? Or do you need one well-versed in financial management?
Here are all the tools of a good membership management solution you should watch out for.
Having a fully functioning website for your association is a must. You need to have a place where all your association members and potential members can see what you’re up to and what your association represents. It’s the one central place for your group, and it’s one of the things that will impact a potential member’s choice to join or not.
It needs to be all-inclusive, responsive, has all the required info, with website management, and can do things like online payment processing. Your association management software platform needs to have one handy feature – a content management system (CMS). The content management system alters and updates your website without spending too much time or money on outsourcing.
A comprehensive content management system is essential for you as an organizer and for customer satisfaction. The design should be simple and easy to use. It would be helpful if the association software could have a drag-and-drop website builder.
Also, don’t forget that this management software should integrate easily with multiple systems and any third-party tools you use.
Some people undermine email for communications management, but the truth is that it’s a crucial marketing tool. With email, you can engage members, send them newsletters, and inform them about new content, updates, and event registration. Your association management software should have a functional and simple email marketing system. Good content and email marketing are the main marketing channels for 50% of businesses.
This membership management software should let you send personal emails to different members, send automated messages, have built-in marketing automation, or send an email to a group of members that share a particular characteristic. For example, you might want to tell people that finished a specific course that you’re coming out with a sequel to that course.
However, that’s not all. A sound email marketing system should also come with analytics, with information about how many people opened the email, how many clicked on links, and other data crucial for performance. When you know the data, you’ll know what’s working and what’s not.
When running an organization with many members, it’s crucial to have membership management software that will host a member database with all of their data and contact information. This feature of association management software should be easy to navigate, have all the needed information, and update automatically whenever new members join.
Managing members isn’t just about names and contact – you need more info for your member database. Ensure you’re getting membership management software with more information, like location and specific interests, that have something to do with your business model.
Association leaders can get to know their audience better and offer them precisely what they’re looking for.
Additionally, the member database should let members manually change their profiles’ information.
Professional and trade associations tend to host a lot of events in general, but today most of them are done online, especially for those with worldwide reach. They host seminars, workshops, and other similar event types and need the right tools to manage events.
This is why your association management system needs tools that make planning and hosting the entire event lifecycle more accessible. An event management feature of your membership software solution should handle promotion, automated reminders, online event registrations, payment processing, and other similar things. The association software solution should also easily integrate with the financing and database tools.
If you’re hosting an online event, a big plus for the membership management system is the possibility of hosting live events, whether on the platform or through seamless integration.
Good membership management should also come with sound financial management. Top association management software gives insight into your income streams, overall revenue, projected revenue, donations, etc.
Many associations already use some third-party tools to handle their finances and accounting, and it’s usually something that already works for them and doesn’t need to be changed for the new membership software. If this is the case for you, you need to look for an association management system that allows simple integration with your already-existing accounting system.
Additionally, the membership management must comply with the payment card industry (PCI) to secure all members’ card information.
Every business needs accurate data and reports to see what’s working and what’s not. A sound association management system should give you insight into basic information like membership database and revenue and more detailed information like click-through rates in your emails.
Getting association software with one integrated system that handles this is a must.
Not every member will want to have the same amount of contact with your association, and not all of them are interested in the same things. You should have a software solution with different member tiers to group people of varying interest levels. Having just one member tier seems ideal for membership management, but it’s more complicated than it looks and likely won’t happen.
Your new membership management software should let you create different member tiers that you can handle differently. For example, one could access certain content while others don’t. Also, you should be able to track their progress based on their tier.
Additionally, a significant advantage for any membership software is to have a space where members can freely communicate with each other and association leaders through discussions and chats. This is important for contact management and helps build a solid online community for your association. For example, GroupApp is a platform for building online communities, and you’ll see how it can be used as a membership management software in the latter part of the article.
Besides choosing the right platform, you must also take other steps to ensure you’re doing the best for your business. One is picking the right staff to work with the association management software.
Their first step would be to test out the membership software and its management processes to see whether it works for your organization or not. For this step, you need to choose association professionals who will use the software daily and those with expertise in certain areas. For example, someone who usually does finances for you should handle that specific feature of the membership software.
They already know how organizing an entire association works, so they’ll know whether the software optimizes that process as much as possible. Even their opinion on optimizing their job before trying the software would help your association leaders approve the choice of an association management software.
You can do this by following a couple of steps. First, explain what your current system lacks. It’s probably draining your time and resources. Next, introduce them to the concept of AMS and explain how it can solve your current issues. Then all you have to do is talk some numbers and calculations and show them proof that it will work in your favor.
Besides looking for useful features and choosing good staff, there are other things you should watch out for when picking an association management software. You should start this process by defining what membership tools and other features you’re looking for.
Are there any specific things your company handles? Is it more focused on providing stuff like online courses or member communication? Then you should get a membership software focusing on the content management system where you can easily modify what you need.
Of course, the membership software should have all the basic features, handle your association’s growth, and be safe and secure. The design should be responsive and easy to use, and the whole system should save you time and money.
Whether you choose an all-in-one solution or a system that can be integrated with a third-party tool and other communication tools depends on whether you want to keep the tools you used before.
Lastly, check how long the association management companies have been in business and what other customers say. People from the same sector as you might have already used it.
Before settling for a specific association management software, it’s also important to consider your budget. You need an association management software built for optimizing, but that can’t come at a loss of profit.
But how much does a typical AMS cost? Truthfully, they can vary a lot. They also have varying price models. However, most of them can be purchased as a monthly or annual subscription.
Before choosing, inquire with the company whether there are any additional fees, transaction fees, and similar things you’ll need to pay as time passes. Some AMS platforms charge set-up fees or even a small percentage fee.
For most association management software available now, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to a couple of hundred dollars per month.
There are a lot of possible choices in the world of association management software. You can get your pick from. But, we made a list of some of the most popular ones to help you out.
They generally have all of the basic features an association management software should have, plus maybe a little extra. Here’s a brief explanation for eleven of them.
HiverBite is a community management platform, making it somewhat similar to GroupApp. It’s usually used for businesses and incubators and as a place for members to communicate and network worldwide, which is essential. GroupApp is also focused on online community building.
Some basic features HiverBite carries include a membership database, an event page, and online membership options with secure payments. It has a dashboard, groups, media center, job boards, and a messaging option. It’s simple for members to set up and use it.
On HiverBite, websites can be customized with your colors and logos, and you can have multiple admins and user rights. Creating public pages, member areas, and more are also possible. Additionally, HiverBite has a couple of possible integrations and can even be connected to social media.
You can also choose how you want members to access your site. They could do it through a signup form, paid sign-ups, single sign-on, or socials.
Another advantage of HiverBite is its mobile app for Android and iOS.
ThreeSixty, which used to be known as Personify360, is a membership management platform with some of the more robust feature options. It’s best suited for medium to large businesses and organizations and can handle that pressure. If your association is smaller, or you don’t have any experience with similar platforms, you might find it harder to use.
It has all the essential features a good association management software should have. You can get insight into all members’ data, get in touch with them, organize events, and manage finances, and most everyday tasks are made to be simply handled.
ThreeSixty comes with membership management, online events management, forums groups, and multimedia features you can use to improve your content.
However, some of the features are complicated and can only be used by professionals in specific fields. Also, since there are a lot of features, they might be hard to locate.
One of the best ThreeSixty features, just like with GroupApp, is its significant number of integrations so that you can use it with many different tools.
MemberClicks is a cloud-based software solution. Unlike ThreeSixty, MemberClicks is built for smaller organizations and associations with fewer members. It’s simple to use and set up.
Most of the MemberClicks platform comes with basic features on any association management software. It’s mainly used as a standalone membership site, but you can make it into an AMS through integrations.
This way, you can handle membership management, events, and different types of communication, including emails and online communities. It also has messaging and photo galleries where members can be tagged. Planning events is made more accessible with custom forms for registration and payment.
The biggest downside of MemberClicks is its limitations. It’s made for smaller businesses and organizations, but some features are limited even for this. For example, the drag-and-build website builder and file types are limited. Also, the reports and analytics don’t come with nearly enough information as they should.
Like GroupApp, MemberClicks also lets you sort members into different groups, and you can further modify their content and access other parts of the site. You can pay it monthly or annually, but it’s not cheap. Also, there’s no free version available to test it out.
Wild Apricot is a cloud-based membership management system, one of the more popular association management software options. They have a significant user base, with over 7,000 associations. On Wild Apricot, you can set up an association of up to 15,000 members. Wild Apricot’s well-done primary features include a drag-and-drop website builder, secure payments, and various event management features. Public websites and private pages can have different themes and widgets. The membership management system is automatically updated, and the whale system is well-automated.
One of the other things you won’t find everywhere is their mobile app. It’s essential to have a responsive platform you can reach from your phone, whether you’re an administrator or a member. GroupApp also has a mobile app you can use on the go.
Another handy feature Wild Apricot has is an online store where you can sell digital products. The price depends on the number of members, and you can test Wild Apricot out with a 30-day free trial.
Tendenci is one of the more flexible options on this list. It’s an open-source association management software, meaning companies can host and customize the software as much as they want. It’s used mainly by associations and nonprofit organizations.
The biggest problem with Tnendenci is that it’s not as easy to use. You’ll need some knowledge beforehand, and maybe even hire an expert if you want to host it and not use the Tendencia s.
Other than that, it has valuable features. It can simply manage data and membership levels and has defined communication systems. Event management is easy with organizing, pricing, ticketing, and essential information. It’s fully customizable.
It also has a donation module useful for non-profit organizations for fundraising campaigns. The best thing about Tendenci is that it’s free if you want to host it yourself. That is, you won’t have to pay them anything, but remember that hosting a website will cost you money and time.
YourMembership is another example of a membership software option made for a smaller crowd. Smaller associations and organizations usually use it to track members.
Most of its features are things you’ve seen before, and nothing makes it stand out from the rest. It comes with the usual membership management features, like the option to create multiple membership tiers with different duration and analytics and reports. These are also some of the essential tools you can find on GroupApp.
YourMembership can also handle event management, handling registration, and attendance. Additionally, it comes with the online store function and accounting tools to control revenue and invoices.
Overall, YourMembership is OK, but it only has some of the most basic features available. There are better options for membership sites that will let you create and build a community and freely communicate with them, like GroupApp.
Bitrix24 is different because it’s a platform for handling clients. Businesses and organizations can use it to host information about current and potential clients and contact them.
By gathering all the data about client interaction, possible leads, and target audiences all in one place, you can optimize the workload. This data can help you determine to who to send personalized emails, which you can do with the help of Bitrix24. Additionally, you can send customized invoices to clients.
Regarding event management, this software is only suitable for scheduling meetings and assigning tasks, but it doesn’t have the typical event management features you would see in other AMS. It’s mainly used as a sales funnel and a place for collecting data and analyzing. GroupApp will let you handle clients and communicate and sell them products.
Bitrix24 is only a good option if you want something specific to handle your clients and sales. Otherwise, it’s better to go for more membership-oriented management software.
MemberLeap is another cloud association management platform made for member-based groups. It’s often used by associations, nonprofits, churches, and similar institutions for event planning and fundraising, but it has other basic features.
Hosting your association one MmeberLeap also includes website content management and communication with other members. As an administrator, you’ll have insight into member data, different tiers, and groups.
It also comes with event management options where you can handle online registration and attendance for members and non-members and manage presenters. MemberLeap is easy to integrate with websites so that you can use it for any content updates, displays, and communications through chat and email.
Overall, MemberLeap is a good choice, but only if you’re just focused on members and events, as it doesn’t come with any other special features useful for associations. So it’s not as effective as other platforms you can use to manage members, such as GroupApp.
GrowthZone is another membership management software on this list that can handle a more significant number of users. It’s used mainly by more prominent companies for marketing automation.
With GrowthZone, you can handle members’ data and their membership, and it can be used for marketing, event organizing, donations, fundraisers, and more. Every time new members join, their data is automatically updated, so you won’t have to worry about manual tasks.
GrowthZone also handles billing, and you can even create batch invoices. One of the better features this software has is analytics. They’ll show you which members are the most engaged in the content you’re providing, so you can use that to target them in some future campaigns. This is a convenient marketing feature.
Additionally, GrowthZone can simply be integrated with third-party tools. Hoch always comes in hand. GroupApp is another platform with many possible integrations, which is essential when you want o to have options or handle your organization in different ways.
MemberPlanet is simple to use and nonprofit management software created for smaller organizations. Philanthropic foundations and cultural organizations mostly use it.
It’s made for smaller organizations and has some of the most basic features. Although, we would argue that just because something is made for fewer people doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have some unique features.
MemberPlanet comes with association and membership management, where you can handle members’ data and outreach. The biggest cons of MemberPlanet is that it won’t let you manage members in bulk, which is something that can be extremely useful. GroupApp will let you efficiently manage even a considerable number of members.
Primarily focused on event planning and fundraising, this software is the place for peer-to-peer fundraising and donations. It also lets you handle communication through email marketing and text messages. The website is responsive so that you can get to it from your mobile phone.
Last but not least, StarChapter is an all-in-one solution for association management software. It’s supposed to help administrators with a low number of members and their participation.
With some of the most basic features available, like member management, event management, website design, email marketing, and finances, StarChapter is made to fit most people’s ideas for an AMS.
It’s not as easy to use and set up, both for administrators and members. You might need some getting used to in the best-case scenario. Also, even though it comes with features for analytics and report, it’s hard to navigate and doesn’t have as much information as it should. Detailed analytics is important because when we see past performances, we can determine the future ones, and it’s a feature GroupApp has defined well.
We already mentioned how GroupApp is similar to a typical association management software throughout the article, but does it mean you can use it for your organization? Yes, and we’ll tell you exactly how.
GroupApp is a membership-based platform focusing on online courses and building communities, and it has many features a typical AMS would have. It’s effortless to use, but all features are still well-defined without lacking some crucial elements.
Also, GroupApp comes with a lot of possible integrations with third-party tools through Zapier, and the website is fully responsive, with apps for Android and iOS.
Let’s start with some of the basic features every AMS should have and compare how GroupApp can be used to handle the same things and optimize your workload in a member-based organization.
Firstly, the AMS system is usually used for handling members and their memberships, and GroupApp is built for this.
It’s a membership-based platform where you can create different tiers with different prices and access content. All the data is automatically updated, and the billings and payments are safely handled through the platform.
Members can quickly sign in and even use a one-click sign-in when clicking an email link, and the platform is easy for them and administrators. All members’ data is at hand, and you can see each of their profiles separately.
The most significant advantage GroupApp has, and one of the most important things when it comes to handling and organization, are tools that help you build a community. On GroupApp, members from different tiers can communicate through groups and discussion forums. You can separate them based on the membership program and channels and create a communal space for all of them. Additionally, they can create group chats or send direct messages, even to an administrator.
If you want to create a member-based organization focusing on online learning, GroupApp is the right place for you. Communities can help with online education because they create a supportive environment for a transformative learning experience. This way, members will be motivated to engage with the content more.
GroupApp is focused on hosting online courses and similar content. If you want to create a community for your members where they can gain education and get access to a library with your content, GroupApp is the place for you.
Besides the courses, GroupApp also lets you upload community resources to a library with materials like PDFs, videos, worksheets, and audio files.
And if you want to host courses, you have many options. You can use it for everything from creating host outlines to hosting a regular or a cohort-based course. On GroupApp, you can easily modify your courses and content with ordinary timing and dripped lessons. It even comes with additional learning resources, like quizzes and assignments.
You can customize the colors and design of your community space, and members can easily navigate it.
Some other valuable features GroupApp has are the pens you can use for event managing. As mentioned, events are crucial for member participation and a great way to market your other products.
GroupApp lets you create events and send out invitations and reminders, to which members can RSVP. You can host live courses, workshops, seminars, and similar happening. Thanks to its many integrations, you can host this event directly on the platform, with live streaming and video chat. This will create even more of a community-like feeling for your members.
One of the essential tools any online business should use is email marketing. Most AMS platforms have built-in email marketing, and GroupApp is no exception.
On GroupApp, you can schedule emails and posts to reach your audience more effectively. In addition to that, we mentioned how GroupApp has a lot of possible integrations. If you are already using a tool like MailChimp, and don’t feel like moving software, you can always integrate it with GroupApp and optimize this section of your work.
You can set different membership levels with varying prices on GroupApp. All payments are secure, so you don’t have to worry about your and your members’ safety.
All of the billings and invoices are automated, minimizing your workload. You can easily access information about your revenue and members’ data and payments.
As mentioned before, an excellent online business needs access to good analytics to figure out what’s working or not. GroupApp delivers on this, with detailed analytics about the overall engagement and revenue and information about members and their progress.
Once your organization starts to grow, you’ll notice it can get pretty hard to keep track of everything. This is where an AMS can help immensely, but you need to choose the right one. We hope that this short guide will help you out.
Also, we hope that it got you interested in GroupApp. GroupApp is a membership-based platform that you can use as an AMS. It lets you handle members, events, payments, content, analytics, and all o the things a good AMS should have. Sign up for GroupApp today to try it out and start selling courses!