The Real Difference Between Membership Management Software and Association Management Software
Learn how to decipher which management solutions are best for you
You know you need software for your organization, but you’re not sure which kind. Research leads you to options for Membership Management Software and Association Management Software (AMS), but you can’t make out the difference between the two. You are not alone. Software that is used to track membership tends to fall into one of those two categories and, to make things more confusing, there’s no clear distinctions for either. However, based on the size of your company and the features you’re looking for, one of the two will clearly suit you better.
Association Management Software (AMS)
An AMS has similar features to membership management software, like event and website management, but can also offer additional features such as targeted marketing campaigns, certification management, publication management, and awards management. These features are more involved and make the software more expensive than membership management software. Because AMS is more robust, depending on the package you choose, it can cost up to a few thousand dollars per month.
AMS can also serve groups in very specific ways. For example, a housing builder’s trade association can utilize an AMS to provide services to members that includes accreditation, conferences, and group insurance rates. These needs would require a more tailored system than membership management systems.
Membership Management Software
Membership management software is typically used by social or shared-interest groups as well as small organizations that don’t need enterprise features that an AMS offers. Rather, member management software is good for those who simply need a central space to organize, manage members, and improve communications. From a cost perspective, membership management software is much more cost effective. Cost is primarily driven by the amount of members and member profiles, rather than specific features. For AMS, cost drivers can also include gross annual budget, number of events, and whether they offer certain subscriptions or products.
The organizations that would be better suited for member management software are those that use membership as a fundraising strategy to help achieve larger goals rather than for serving members. For example, booster clubs raise money through membership drives but you don’t have to be a member to participate. This type of organization might need a membership management system to track member dues and renewal dates, as well as be fully equipped with fundraising capabilities, but don’t necessarily need sophisticated functionality to track member benefits or awards.
Which system do I need?
Before making a decision between the two types of software, you’ll want to carefully define your membership processes and ensure you’re getting the best system (and features) for your budget. Ask yourself questions including:
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