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What Is an AMS and Why Do You Need One?

Author: Tatiana Morand
April 29, 2020
🕑 6 min read

Wondering what an AMS is?

If you’re a small association, you’ve probably heard the term kicking around, but you may not have known what it stands for or how it can benefit you.

Well, AMS stands for association management software.

And if you want to spend more time engaging your members and less time handling administrative tasks in the office, it may be for you.

An AMS is an all-in-one tool used by professional associations to manage all their membership functions online and save a huge amount of time doing so. For example, you can:

  • Instantly process online payments, fees, and donations.
  • Setup new member and event registration pages online.
  • Improve member communication through automated invoices, emails, newsletters, and reminders.
  • Create member-only access to resources such as white papers and educational courses.
  • Build a professional-looking website complete with member directories, event calendars, a blog, and more.
  • Create a consistent look and feel for all association chapters.
  • Manage a full contact database that’s easy to search, filter, and update.
  • Access financial reports, analytics, and membership summaries in seconds.
  • And more.

Association Management Software can also eliminate the need for multiple software programs (Excel, Mailchimp, Eventbrite, etc.), because it’s an all-in-one platform.

Below is an image we frequently use to explain how WildApricot (our Association Management Software) can do this.

wildapricot all in one

If you’re wondering whether your organization can benefit from this type of software, here’s a list of common types of associations that use it:

  • Alumni Associations
  • Homeowner Associations
  • Law Associations
  • Library Associations
  • Political Associations
  • Psychologist Associations
  • Public Health Associations
  • Writing Associations
  • Any other type of professional association

Plus, you can try WildApricot, the #1 AMS, for free.

WA trial banner

Try the #1 Association Management Software Free

Here is a free, 60-day trial of WildApricot, the #1 Association Management Software (as rated by Capterra, an independent review website). In just an afternoon, you can have your association’s website complete with new member registration, a member directory, event calendar, and more. That’s because WildApricot is an easy-to-learn system and even if you do get stuck, we offer free support to get setup as quickly as possible.

Association Management Software

Diane Herrick“WildApricot has been a lifesaver for our association. It saves us at least 15-30 hours of work every time we have an event. It’s simple to send email blasts, track payments, and keep in touch with former members who may have drifted away.”

-Diane Herrick, Conference Chair, KAPS (KY Association for Psychology in the Schools)

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

MemberClicks offers intuitive association management systems, learning management software, event management solutions, and job board software, built to save time, save money, grow membership and increase revenue.

Click here to learn more about MemberClicks can help your organization by connecting you to connected solutions.

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

What Is Association Management Software vs Membership Management Software?

You may also have heard of something called Membership Management Software, or MMS.

If so, there isn’t much difference between Membership Management Software and Association Management Software.

Membership Management Software is simply a broader term for software that can be used by associations, nonprofits (charities, foundations, societies, etc.), and clubs (biking clubs, yoga groups, sailing clubs, etc.) alike.

For example, a good Membership Management Software will have all the features any association may need (ex. chapter integration), but will also include all the features any club or nonprofit may need (ex. donation meters).

In the case of WildApricot (that’s us!), our Membership Management Software is used by over 25,000 organizations around the world, and over 7,000 of them are associations.

From a management point of view, the main difference between Membership Management (nonprofits and clubs) vs Association Management is that Membership Management focusing on attracting people through common interests to participate in value-driven activities such as biking in groups, yoga, or fundraising initiatives, while Association Management, is more focused on attracting people by providing professional services, such as consulting, education, accreditation, networking, and resources.

If you’d like to learn more about what Association Management Software can do for your organization, we’ve created an overview of the eight main features all AMS systems have.

The 8 Main Features of Good Association Management Software

1. New Member Registration

Any AMS will allow you to create fully customizable online registration forms for membership and events.

2. Cloud-Based Member Database

All your member data (emails, event registration, payment data, etc.) is stored in a secure, centralized, cloud-based database within the AMS. You’ll be able to easily filter, sort, and group members. You can also set different administrative privileges.

3. Easy Website Builder

Easily create a modern website using your AMS’ professionally designed and mobile-friendly templates. You don’t need any tech experience to add, remove, or edit pages. Simply drag and drop different elements and begin making edits. Your AMS will allow you to create popular pages such as events, members only pages, and a blog.

Read More: 4 Crucial Tips for Improving Your Association’s Website

4. Email Marketing

An AMS gives you the ability to schedule and automate emails including reminders, invoices, and event promotions. You can easily group and filter contacts, and choose from a number of professionally designed newsletter and email templates.

5. Online Store

If your organization sells products or merchandise, your AMS will allow you to sell them online too.

6. Online Event Registration

Having online registration and payments not only saves you a lot of time, but makes it more convenient for your members to register on the go. Once you set things up, you can send out automated reminders, add a calendar to your website, and set member versus non-member pricing and discounts.

7. Online Payments

Your AMS will give you the ability to automate member dues, renewals, invoices and reminders by setting up online payments through your site.

With WildApricot’s AMS, if your organization is based in the US or Canada you can use our preferred payment system, WildApricot Payments, or choose between options including PayPal and Stripe. To see a list of payment systems available for your location, see this page.

8. Online Donations

If your organization accepts donations, you can encourage more donations online by adding a donate now button and a donation meter to your website.

There are many advanced features various Membership Site Platforms offer, so if you’re looking for something not in the above list, I recommend contacting the provider directly.


AMS Websites: Three Examples of Associations using WildApricot’s Association Management Software

atd ams website

ATD: Association for Talent Development

The ATD is the world’s largest talent development association. They offer member value in the forms of research, webcasts, events, educational programs, books, and networking.

ATD Madison Area Chapter’s Membership Website (built using WildApricot)

 us green building texas ams website

USGBC: United States Green Building Council

The USGBC is comprised of thousands of chapters composed of lawmakers, environmentalists, corporations, teachers, and students who advocate sustainability in the building industry. They offer member value in the forms of certification (LEED), accreditation, education, and advocacy.

USGBC Texas Chapter’s Membership Website (built using WildApricot)

 saces ams website

SACES: Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision

SACES cultivates an inclusive community of counselor educators and supervisors who develop leaders and counselors committed to professional advocacy and dedicated to client equity and well-being.

SACES’ Membership Website (built using WildApricot)


For more information about AMS and association management, check out these helpful articles: 

I hope that helped answer all your questions about what an AMS is and how it can help your organization! If you’re wondering anything else, please let us know in the comments.

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