At some point most associations consider replacing spreadsheets with a membership software system.  Common reasons for this include growth in member numbers, increasing complexities due to tiered memberships or difficulties managing membership benefits. If your organisation is at this stage, here are some pointers to help you choose the right system for your needs.

Whatever software you choose, you’ll need help setting it up.  Look for a partner experienced in the needs of associations and membership solutions. They will guide you through preparations, install the software and configure it so the processes support the way your organisation works.  Your partner should also have the resources to provide training and ongoing support.

Consider your internal resources. Who from within your association will be responsible for managing the project?  Clear paths of responsibility make for a more successful deployment.

Be clear about your objectives. If membership management simply involves sending out a batch of invoices annually, a spreadsheet may be all you need. However, if your objective is to provide better service, grow membership numbers or increase revenue look for a system that reflects your membership orientation.  You’ll need a system with CRM (customer relationship management) functionality at its core and which also offers financial and event management capabilities and strong management reporting.

The system should be flexible enough to add fields as needed and enable the issue of targeted marketing offers and other communications.  Integrated financial and event management should support centralised billing, capturing the spectrum of member interactions, from purchases and event registrations to all other financial transactions.

When associations build membership into the heart of their systems, they achieve a complete picture of member preferences and interests.  They can respond more effectively to member desires, resulting in a stronger, more loyal membership and a more profitable association.

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