Association Management Software (AMS) in 2024: Everything You Need To Know + Top Tools!

Selecting the right association management software (AMS) can transform your organization’s efficiency and membership engagement.
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Selecting the right association management software (AMS) can transform your organization’s efficiency and membership engagement.

This article cuts through the clutter to give you a straightforward analysis of the top AMS options. Dive into user reviews and crucial insights to make an informed decision without the sales noise. Expect genuine advice on aligning software utility with your association’s specific needs.

What we will explore together:

  • Association Management Software (AMS) is a comprehensive platform designed to manage member databases, event coordination, financial transactions, communication, and website creation, often offering scalability to suit the growing needs of various organizations including trade associations, non-profit groups, and business networks.
  • Key functionalities of AMS enhance organizational efficiency by automating administrative tasks, facilitating data-driven member engagement strategies, streamlining event management, and offering robust financial management tools including processing and reporting capabilities.
  • When selecting an AMS, factors to consider include cost-effectiveness, ease of use, scalability, integration with existing systems, and vendor support services. It’s crucial to define organizational needs, create a structured evaluation approach, and provide training and support post-implementation.

What is Association Management Software (AMS)?

Association Management Software (AMS), also known as member association software, is a multifaceted platform that provides comprehensive tools for managing member databases, coordinating events, handling financial transactions, facilitating communication, and creating websites.

Association Management Software (AMS)

It is tailored to facilitate the efficient chapter management of membership data, events, and administrative tasks, thereby simplifying membership management tasks and optimizing technology utilization to conserve time and deliver value with a membership management solution.

Serving various organizations, including trade associations, non-profit groups, and business networks, an AMS system can adapt and expand with the organization, maintaining its efficiency and managing growing workloads even as the number of members increases.

The focus is not solely on operational efficiency. AMS also offers convenience to members through centralized information access, features like automated dues renewal reminders, and pre-populated form fields for ease of use, enhancing the overall member experience.

CRM vs AMS: The Differences

While CRM systems focus on managing and analyzing interactions and data across the customer lifecycle to foster better business relationships, increase customer loyalty, and drive sales, AMS is specifically designed to cater to membership organizations, emphasizing member relationship management and offering tools for database management, event coordination, financial transactions, and communication.

They achieve this by consolidating customer information into a single database, so business users can more easily access and manage it.

On the other hand, an association management system (AMS) is specialized software tailored to the needs of membership organizations. It focuses on managing the organization’s relationships with its members and providing tools for member database management, event coordination, financial transactions, and communication.

AMS systems are built to handle the unique aspects of membership management such as dues renewals, member engagement, and event management.

While both CRM and AMS have overlapping features, such as the ability to store contact information and communication tools, their specialized functionalities reflect their different purposes. CRM is more sales-oriented, whereas AMS is tailored to the unique needs of organizations that manage memberships.

How much does AMS software cost?

AMS software implementation costs can range from $15,000 for in-house implementation to $150,000 - $250,000 for outsourcing, with ongoing costs of $75 - $150 per user per month.

The 3 Pillars of AMS: Key Functionalities and Their Significance

What makes AMS an all-encompassing solution for association management? It’s the combination of several key functionalities such as:

  • A website builder
  • Member database
  • Communication systems
  • Financial systems
  • Event management tools

By automating various administrative tasks, including processing online payments, handling membership fees, tracking donations, setting up online event registration, and enhancing member communication, AMS helps associations streamline their operations.

Grasping these primary functionalities of AMS is important due to their contribution to organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

Pillar #1: Member Engagement and Database Management

Member Engagement and Database Management

Membership engagement is crucial for any organization. AMS allows you to boost member engagement by:

  • Discussion threads, built-in forums, customized member profiles, and directory
  • Direct messaging and social feeds
  • Utilizing data analytics to assess engagement scores
  • Integrating with social media to glean insights into audience behavior
  • Automating workflows to hone engagement strategies
  • Offering online community features and engagement surveys within AMS platforms to allow members to interact and provide feedback

These features foster a strong community and ensure that association members focus on valued topics.

A centralized AMS database offers the following benefits:

  • Organizes and maintains accurate member records
  • Provides a comprehensive view of member engagement efforts
  • Streamlines administrative tasks
  • Improves data consistency across the board
  • Offers multiple integrations and embeds code from different online tools
  • Enables associations to maintain all member data in one centralized system
  • Makes information management and targeted communication more efficient
  • GDPR certified for data privacy and security of your members

Add to this, AMS platforms aim to enhance the overall member experience by providing intuitive navigation and self-service options for profile management, dues payment, and event registration.

Pillar #2: Event Planning and Registration Tools

Event Planning and Registration Tools

AMS also excels in another crucial area: event management. It simplifies event management and streamlines event registration processes for organizations. Event planning modules in AMS typically include tools such as:

  • Event calendars
  • Scheduling
  • Checklists
  • Event onboarding or registration
  • Ticketing
  • Post-event surveys
  • Attendance report
  • Bulk invites and bulk messaging

This makes it a powerful tool for event organizers, offering a comprehensive suite of features that streamline the planning process and enhance attendee experiences.

With AMS, organizers gain valuable insights into member interests through attendance data, can effortlessly manage professional development credits and certifications, and benefit from a check-in tool that simplifies ticket sales and attendee tracking.

Ultimately, AMS turns the complex task of event management into a manageable and efficient process.

Pillar #3: Financial Oversight with AMS

Financial Oversight with Disco AMS

Financial management is a fundamental component of any organization. AMS makes this easier by automating the process payments of online payments, membership fees, donations, and event registrations, reducing manual work.

This automation reduces redundancy in financial tasks such as account verification and invoicing, streamlining your financial operations.

AMS platforms often come with integrated financial reporting and forecasting tools to assist associations with budgeting and financial oversight. Some of the key features of these tools include:

  • Monthly financial statements
  • End-of-year financial projections
  • Adherence to GAAP accounting standards
  • Support for routine accounting needs

These features make an AMS a robust financial tool for associations. And when it comes to yearly audit processes and tax filings, AMS has got you covered.

Case Studies: Real-World Applications of AMS

To truly appreciate the impact of AMS, let’s take a look at some real-world applications.

Use Case #1: CivStart Government Innovation Community

The CivStart Government Innovation Community, for example, uses Disco AMS to bring together startups, experts, and public sector leaders to address local government challenges, making it an ideal environment for peer learning and innovation in the government technology sector.

Curious how CivStart uses Disco AMS? Check this video recorded by CivStart themselves:

Use Case #2: GWC Tech School Africa

Another compelling case study is the GWC Tech School Africa, which utilizes AMS to provide technological and computer science education to young Africans interested in tech careers, illustrating AMS’s role in supporting educational initiatives.

These case studies demonstrate AMS’s multifaceted impact on different sectors, including government and education, by facilitating community involvement, fostering innovation, and enhancing economic progress.

Essential Features to Consider When Selecting AMS

Selecting the appropriate AMS for your organization is a significant decision demanding thorough reflection on a variety of factors. Fees, ease of use, setup speed, specialized features, integrations, security, and data protection are all factors that ensure the software matches your unique needs.

✔️ Rich in Features. An ideal AMS should encompass a range of features including payment processing, a website builder, event management, email marketing, and analytics to cater to the different complexities and sizes of associations.

✔️ Affordable Pricing. Determining a budget is an integral step in the selection process. An AMS should be affordable not only currently but also in the long term, helping to narrow down choices.

✔️ Good Reviews. It’s also important to research an AMS vendor’s customer service history, looking into support ticket limits, availability of on-call support, and any additional fees that may apply.

✔️ Scalability. Finally, choosing an AMS that is scalable and flexible ensures that the software can meet your organization’s current needs and adapt to future growth.

✔️ User-friendly Interface. Ease of use should be a priority in AMS selection to ensure the platform is accessible for all members of the organization, promoting better adoption and utility.

5 Top-Rated AMS Solutions: User Reviews and Insights

Now that you’re equipped with information on what to consider in an AMS, let’s explore some highly-rated AMS platforms. Compiled user reviews have shed light on the pros and cons of various AMS solutions, providing valuable insights into their real-world performances.

#1. Disco AMS: The Top Choice for Professional Associations

Professional associations seeking a powerful and comprehensive AMS need look no further than Disco. This platform is specifically engineered to support vibrant learning environments, robust community engagement, and efficient operational productivity, all while enabling effective monetization strategies.

For associations that prioritize learning, community building, operational efficiency, and revenue generation, Disco AMS offers an impressive array of features:

  • An intuitive user interface that ensures ease of navigation and use
  • Automated payment processing integrated with Stripe, featuring tiered memberships for financial efficiency
  • Customizable membership and course pages, complete with seamless registration and tailored onboarding experiences
  • A sophisticated event series tool and cloning capabilities, complemented by detailed attendance reporting
  • Bulk messaging and invitation capabilities for efficient communication
  • Intelligent automation to streamline all processes and workflows
  • Comprehensive member management, from customizable user profile fields and member directories to role assignments
  • Engaging community tools including social feeds, forums, and direct messaging
  • Advanced analytics and an engagement scoring system to meticulously track member involvement
  • Exceptional customer support, earning the trust of the world's leading communities and membership associations
  • Affordable and transparent pricing model without transaction fees

Disco AMS transforms the way professional associations operate by providing a seamless and integrated experience that meets the demands of today's dynamic membership environments.

Start managing your associations with Disco's 14-day free trial.

#2. Wild Apricot: Ideal for Small to Mid-Size Associations

Wild Apricot is another top-rated AMS, recommended for small to mid-size associations, aligning with its user demographics and focus. It offers a suite of features including:

  • Member database
  • Website Builder
  • Payment processor
  • Event management tools

These features cater to the needs of community management.

Among Wild Apricot’s features, the mobile app stands out as a favorite for users, allowing for on-the-go management and interaction.

Pricing: Its pricing ranges from $60 per month for 100 people or less to $900 per month for 50,000 total people, showcasing its scalability for various organization sizes.

#3. Hivebrite: A Community-Centric Approach

Hivebrite has successfully supported the growth of an online community from its inception to over 2000 members, highlighting its strength in fostering member engagement.

With a commitment to innovation, Hivebrite regularly updates its platform to enhance the user experience and interface, allowing for a more engaging community environment.

User suggestions for new features, such as native learning management system functions and improved private messaging, showcase the platform’s ongoing evolution in response to community needs.

Pricing: There is also a user demand for more flexible pricing options, with requests for a-la-carte add-ons and bundling structures to access specific functionalities without upgrading to higher-tier plans.

#4. Raklet: Comprehensive Membership Solution

Raklet is highly regarded for its customizability and user-friendliness and is considered cost-effective for smaller organizations, contributing significantly to the growth of their memberships and data management.

However, customer service experiences with Raklet have been mixed; some users find the support direct and helpful with continuous platform improvements, while others have experienced slow responses and unresolved issues.

Users have pointed out several limitations of Raklet, notably its lack of full offline functionality, limited feature availability on smaller packages, and the desire for improved template options for community presentation.

Pricing: With free plan, and paid plan starts at $49/month.

#5. AMO (AssociationsOnline): Versatile Association Software

AMO, short for AssociationsOnline, is a versatile AMS designed to cater to the specific needs of associations, non-profits, and other member-based organizations.

Its comprehensive set of tools assists in streamlining operations, from managing member databases to handling event registrations and financial transactions.

AMO stands out for its commitment to providing a seamless user experience with a clean interface and intuitive navigation. It also emphasizes customization, allowing organizations to tailor the platform to their unique requirements.

Pricing: The prices are structured to accommodate organizations of various sizes, with options that range from basic plans suitable for smaller associations to more advanced packages that offer additional features and capabilities.

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Navigating the world of Association Management Software can seem complex, but with the right knowledge and resources, you can select and implement the perfect AMS for your organization.

From understanding the key functionalities of AMS to analyzing user reviews of top-rated platforms, this guide has provided a comprehensive overview of AMS.

Remember to consider your unique needs and budget when selecting an AMS, and always keep member engagement and organizational efficiency at the forefront. Start transforming your membership with Disco's 14-day free trial. If you'd like to get a custom quote for an enterprise plan, please book a demo with our support.

Published on
February 9, 2024
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