What is Association Management Software?

Association Management Software is a comprehensive platform used by professional associations to manage the activities required by their functions, including:

  • Managing a professional website as a home base for their association
  • Registering member data and history
  • Hosting resources, such as white papers, educational courses, or industry standards in a member-only access website
  • Creating and managing conferences, networking events and education programs
  • Communicating with industry professionals using business directories, forums, email, and newsletters
  • Processing payments from member dues, education programs, and event fees
  • Creating consistent websites for all association chapters across the parent organization

Membership Management vs Association Management

Membership Management is a broad term, focusing on attracting people through common interests to participate in value-driven activities such as biking in groups, yoga, or fundraising initiatives. Association Management, while similar, is more focused on attracting people by providing professional services, such as consulting, education, accreditation, networking, and resources.

Key Features of Good Association Management Software

A Website which Acts as an Information Centre

An association’s website should act as the main source of news, education, communication (through a blog or forum), and industry resources for any association. A good association management platform will allow member-only pages that can be accessed once a member logs in using their unique credentials. This allows the association to distribute information in the easiest way possible, without having to worry if documents travelled safely through email or other means.

Database Management

A robust membership database is essential to any association, this is the key advantage of Association Management Software. A membership database, such as the one provided by Wild Apricot will allow an administrator to:
  • Create an easily searchable database
  • Filter members by membership level
  • Fully automate membership applications
  • Collect and automate event registrations
  • Keep up to date records on all members
  • Take credit card payments right on the web
  • Automate renewals
  • Create unique member profiles that they can update themselves
  • Allow members access to secure member-only web content

Event and Conference Creation & Tracking

Networking is a big part of the value that comes when joining an association. In any given year, an association will hold dozens of events and conferences. Good Association Management Software will allow easy creation of event pages where members can easily register and pay for the event. Wild Apricot’s software not only allows online payments, but will also track which members attended which events, and send automatic email communications once someone registers for an event.

Email & Newsletter Communication

All Association Management Software should provide a simple way to communicate with all the members within its database. This is done mainly through email. With Wild Apricot, an administrator can instantly pull records for every person who has interacted with their organization, because this information is stored in an easily searchable database. Wild Apricot also provides ready-to-use email and newsletter templates for any type of association. One final thing is the ability to track which members open and read emails, and the ability to create email filters to email different types of members.

Online Payment Processing

There are many advantages of connecting your online payment processing system with your membership database. An administrator will be able to instantly see which members have paid, or have dues outstanding. It also allows for greater accuracy in collection of funds and saves time from manually processing money. Using Wild Apricot’s software, any administrator can track their members’ payments using the payment provider of their choosing (such as PayPal). Wild Apricot will also send automatically generated invoices to members and create a variety of financial reports ready for accounting.

New Member Recruitment

The easiest way to register new members as part of an association is through an online registration page. This is one page which lists out the benefits and cost of becoming a member along with an online form that can be used to register. With Wild Apricot’s software, once a new member fill out the form, they will be taken to a payment page where they can pay online by credit card or through PayPal (or another payment system). This saves a huge amount of time as it eliminates the need to distribute and collect paperwork, and handle cash. Another major benefit to this is the reduction of human error as new member details will be immediately added to an online database.

Value for Members

Associations exist to bring value to the members they serve. This value can come in many forms, including:
  • Events and Conferences
  • Accreditation and Certification
  • Group Discounts
  • Group Insurance Rates
  • Education
  • Keeping Members up to date on Industry Standards
  • Networking
  • Mentoring
The advantage that Association Management Software can bring to this is that it allows the ability to host all these activities, communicate them to members, and track which members receive which value. For instance, using Wild Apricot’s software, an association can build a website and create an event page which members can register and pay for online. In the back-end, Wild Apricot’s database will collect those members’ information and send them automated email communications about the event. It will also show any association administrator which members attended which events and which emails they opened.

A Time Saver

The purpose of Association Management Software is to reduce the time needed for management to take care of administrative tasks by automating as much of them as possible online. A comprehensive Association Management Software, such as Wild Apricot will take care of the administrative tasks when it comes to:
  • Event Management
  • Website Design and Updates
  • Database Management
  • Email/Newsletter Communications
  • Payment Processing
  • Membership Registration

Types of Associations using Association Management Software

Virtually any type of association can take advantage of Association Management Software, which can save a huge amount of time on all types of administrative tasks including event management, payment processing, database management, and website creation. Here are some types of common associations that use Association Management Software:
  • Alumni Associations
  • Homeowner Associations
  • Law Associations
  • Library Associations
  • Political Associations
  • Psychologist Associations
  • Public Health Associations
  • Writing Associations
  • And many more

Examples of Associations using Association Management Software

Wild Apricot is the leading Association Management Software impacting over 16,636 organizations across the world. Every day Wild Apricot helps thousands of professional associations successfully achieve their goals.

Here are some examples of Wild Apricot’s customers:

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.

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.

ICA: International Chiropractors Association
The ICA is the oldest national chiropractic organization in the world. They offer member value in the forms of advocating chiropractic practices on behalf of the industry, education, clinical research, group insurance, lobbying, and product discounts.

For more information, check out these helpful articles on Association Management