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Association CRM: Choosing One That’s Right For You + Our Top 13 Picks

Author: Korrin Bishop
January 27, 2023
🕑 8 min read

Membership organizations big and small have a lot to track—member payments, stewardship touch points, event registrations and more. If you’re in charge of managing these processes, the right association CRM can quickly become your new best friend.

CRM for membership organizations helps people like Janine. She started an association for environmental professionals two years ago with a couple colleagues. Through word-of-mouth, the group quickly grew to include people from across the state.

Janine wanted to grow the association’s impact even further and offer new benefits to members. However, it’s hard to expand—let alone keep up with daily tasks—when you only have three volunteer staff. To save time, Janine started looking into association management software.

The only problem is, the world of association software can be a confusing one. That’s why we’re here to help! Read on to find out everything you need to know about choosing the right CRM for your association. 

The Difference Between an AMS and a CRM

AMS stands for Association Management Software. It’s an all-in-one tool to help manage your association’s administrative activities. Common features include:

  • Contact database (so you can finally stop using that Excel spreadsheet!)
  • Email system
  • Website builder
  • System to manage payments and event registration

Because these activities are integrated within one software, an AMS can save association managers time by eliminating tedious and repetitive administrative tasks.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is used by organizations across all sectors, including: 

  • Charities
  • Clubs
  • Associations
  • Nonprofits
  • Business-to-consumer sales teams 
  • Business-to-business companies

Anyone who’s focusing on constituents—whether customers, clients, donors, or members—will benefit from using a CRM.

The main feature a CRM offers is the ability to analyze and report on your constituents’ engagement. While a traditional AMS will simply keep track of your members’ data, a CRM will help you analyze their relationship with you, such as their:

  • Participation
  • Correspondence
  • Likelihood to sign up, renew, or upgrade

Therefore, a CRM is also great for tracking prospective members and strategically marketing to them based on their engagement level with your association.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

The Pros and Cons of Using a CRM for Your Association

Pros of a CRM for Associations

  • Ability to track member behavior and analyze relationships is a must-have to intentionally grow your association. You can use a CRM’s data to drive your marketing.
  • Traditional CRMs focus on customer relationships, so don’t offer features like a website builder or email system. This positions them as a less costly upfront purchase.
  • CRMs are widely used across several industries. This means more documentation on best practices and greater investment in enhancing the user experience.

Of course, these pros will depend on several factors!

For example, a CRM could cost less than an AMS, but that depends on how much customization you need! Many are created by big companies that constantly innovate to have the latest software option available. This can lead to some competitive pricing.

Cons of a CRM for Associations

  • Most popular CRMs don’t offer the same features that an AMS would to help manage association-specific administrative tasks.
  • If you use a traditional CRM, you may ultimately need to also invest in an AMS. This is likely only an option for larger, well-established associations.

The bottomline is that the largest benefit of traditional CRMs is also where they fall short when it comes to their use by associations—they’re not customized for associations’ additional needs! If your association is like Janine’s, you probably barely have the budget to pay for one software, let alone two different ones.

What Should Association Managers Use?

So, what should smaller associations like Janine’s do?

Luckily, the worlds of AMS and CRM systems have been blending over the past few years. AMS providers are recognizing that customer relationship management is an important aspect of running an association. They have been trying to implement CRM features into their programs.

Similarly, and perhaps with a little more success, CRM companies have noticed that associations make up more and more of their client base. They’ve been working to provide association-specific features alongside their main CRM functionality.

In the next section, we’ll go over some of our top choices for CRMs that work perfectly well for associations and eliminate the need to invest in a separate AMS.

Hopefully, one of these will be the right solution for Janine’s association—and yours! The right membership CRM system can help you strategically grow while staying on top of your day-to-day activities.

Top 13 Association CRMs Your Organization Can Choose From

Here are 13 popular association CRMs that might have the features your organization needs.

1. WildApricot

Pricing: Plans start at $60/month

Trial: Free 60-day trial available

Thousands of associations use WildApricot to manage their members every day. Features include a drag and drop website builder, a built-in emailing system, a mobile app, a member directory, a member-only area, and automated member payments and renewals.

WildApricot has an open API, which allows you to customize the software to your specific needs, plus integration with WordPress and Quickbooks. It also includes an online store, so your organization can easily sell merchandise and other items to supplement membership fees.

Given its ease of use, ability to customize, and multiple features, WildApricot packs a lot of bang for its buck. This makes it an especially great choice for smaller membership organizations.

Start a free 60-day trial of WildApricot now.

2. MemberClicks

Pricing: Available upon request

Demo: Available upon request

While WildApricot is perfect for many small organizations, MemberClicks builds integrated membership management software solutions specifically for small-to-midsize professional associations, trade associations, and chambers of commerce.

Key features:

  • Intuitive trade association CRM
  • Learning management software
  • Event management
  • Job board software

Guess what? It was also Capterra’s Top Performer 2022 for AMS!

3. Personify360

Pricing: Available upon request

Demo: Available upon request

Personify360 is a powerful, modular, and configurable membership management platform that empowers enterprise-sized, mission-driven associations. 

The platform is particularly useful for managing finances and e-business. It also offers useful CRM membership management.

Key features:

  • Marketing and communications tools
  • Inventory management
  • Certification programs
  • Analytics capabilities
  • Event registrations
  • Dues collection tools

4. Brilliant Directories

Pricing: Plans start at $145/month

Demo: Available upon request

Brilliant Directories is a good option for larger associations looking for a website-focused solution and professional branding. The software lets you select a directory theme to easily launch a new member website. Users are able to sync the software with over 5,000 different apps for more streamlined administration.

Key features:

  • Website design assistance
  • Email marketing
  • Content publishing
  • Automated payments

5. ClubExpress

Pricing: Based on number of members, beginning at $0.42 per member up to 200

Demo: Available upon request

Trial: Free trial available with registration

ClubExpress is built as an affordable option for smaller clubs and associations. It is a good option for local clubs run solely by volunteers.

Key features:

  • Simple website builder
  • Member data management
  • Payment processing

6. Easy HOA

Pricing: Available upon request

Demo: Available upon request

Trial: N/A

As its name implies, Easy HOA is an association CRM with specific features for homeowner associations. It is best used for managing HOAs, condos, or office buildings.

Key features:

  • Violation and request tracking
  • Centralized communications
  • Online payments
  • Automated payment reminders
  • Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard compliant

7. Fundly CRM

Pricing: Starts at $100/month

Demo: Available upon request

NonProfitEasy by Fundly is primarily geared toward nonprofits focused on fundraising, but its specialty in tracking interactions and building relationships is what makes it a great choice for associations.

Key features:

  • Member management
  • Event management
  • Marketing tools
  • Reporting
  • Grant manager

8. memberplanet

Pricing: Basic plan is free; users only pay for a platform and payment processing fee based on use. Standard plans start at $50/month plus fees. Enterprise prices are available upon request.

Demo: Video demo available on website

Trial: Free trial available with registration

The memberplanet software option is best for multi-chapter association management. Organizations can use it to let individual chapters have their own access to engagement tools, while the association’s headquarters manages overall operations. It’s a good option for larger organizations looking for brand consistency and financial transparency.

Key features:

  • Survey tools
  • Email communications
  • Mobile optimization

9. MemberLeap

Pricing: Based on number of members and chosen features, beginning at $50/month for up to 200 members. Also requires initial setup costs.

Demo: Available upon request

With a multitude of payment plans, MemberLeap can be used by associations large or small, though features vary greatly between levels.

Key features:

  • Member database
  • Website content manager
  • Slideshow manager
  • Links page editor
  • Basic web hosting
  • Broadcast email messages and newsletters

10. Mission Suite

Pricing: One-time setup fee starting at $200, then a monthly fee starting at $30/month

Demo: Available upon request

Mission Suite is a CRM built around the idea of unified marketing, an approach to marketing that brings all revenue-generating activities into one system. Though it’s created with for-profit organizations in mind, its focus on customer relationships makes it a great choice for associations.

Key features:

  • Marketing tools
  • Website builder
  • Form builder
  • Blogging tools
  • SMS marketing

11. Salsa CRM

Pricing: Available upon request

Demo: Available upon request

Salsa CRM is an all-in-one tool for nonprofits with a focus on member management, digital marketing, and online fundraising. It boasts a comprehensive performance dashboard to help users visualize progress at a glance.

Key features:

  • Online advocacy tools
  • Online petitions
  • Targeted actions
  • Social media integration

12. StarChapter

Pricing: Starts at $44/month with a $399 setup fee for less than 50 members

Demo: Available upon request

StarChapter is an all-in-one AMS focused on increasing member participation and, ultimately, member retention. The software solution serves local chapters of professional and trade associations in the United States and Canada.

Key features:

  • Event registration
  • Email marketing
  • Website layout
  • eCommerce tools
  • Membership management tools

13. Uplifter

Pricing: Free option is available with limited features; plans start at $29/month

Demo: Available upon request

Trial: Can get started with the free option

Uplifter is an association CRM with a focus on clubs and schools. It is geared toward organizations looking to help improve skills for students.

Key features:

  • Targeted member emailing
  • Automated payment processing
  • Mobile attendance tracking
  • Online registration
  • Website builder
  • Member skill tracking and report cards 

Choose an Association CRM to Grow Your Membership Organization

CRM for membership organizations is a crucial tool for busy association leaders. You can use an association CRM to increase member retention, promote greater member engagement, track member dues, and so much more!

While the process of selecting a new association CRM can feel overwhelming, it helps to start with a quick review of some of the top options. Look for how their features fit in with your goals.

Signing up for a free 60-day trial of WildApricot is a great place to start!

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