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Membership management software simplifies management for member-based organizations such as clubs, museums, and gyms. It helps small businesses automate processes, such as subscription renewals and recurring payments, and send mass messages or emails to member lists.
Here are the types of organizations that use membership management software:
Nonprofits: These use membership management software to maintain their member database and fundraising.
Clubs and associations: These use the solution to maintain a centralized member database, manage payments, ensure member participation, and communicate with members about events.
Schools and educational institutions: These use the tool to foster communication between parents, teachers, and alumni. They keep detailed data about alumni and current members.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Membership management software is designed to help organizations save, host, edit, and maintain member data such as contact details, interactions, payments or dues, and subscription types. The advanced versions of this software offer capabilities such as scheduling events and fundraising.
Club management and association management are often interchangeably referred to as the other, but that’s not the case. Before you decide to purchase any membership management software, know the basic difference between these two types of software:
Club management platform: Offers membership management, subscription management, member forums, payment processing, etc., for health and recreational clubs. This software is suitable for small and midsized businesses (SMBs).
Association management platform: Offers membership management, event and conference creation and tracking, payment management, fundraising management, communication, and more for professional associations involved in education and networking. This software is more suitable for large enterprises and often comes bundled in a suite.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Is your product good for my business size and for the kind of business I do?
Membership management software is primarily offered for deployment on the cloud. However, certain vendors offer an on-premise version, but at a higher price range. Here are a few things you should know about each type of deployment:
Cloud-based deployment: Cloud-based membership software come with a per-user-per-month subscription model. The pricing of software increases as you add more advanced features.
For that reason, cloud-based solutions are scalable and suitable for organizations with a growing membership. Users can also manage memberships on-the-go using mobile apps.
On-premises deployment: On-premises software suits businesses that want a higher level of security and have a dedicated IT support. This option comes with pre-built infrastructure, including communication servers and hosting environment. This means that feature upgrades can be tedious as the technical process to support the infrastructure is more complex.
On-premises membership management software is offered on a per-user license basis.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Are there any additional installation or training costs for a monthly subscription or license?
Now, let’s delve into the core features of a membership management solution:
Membership management: Lets you create and save member records in a centralized space. You can search for member information to edit and share any time. Multiple users can access the data and get access to the updates in real time.
Member profile in Zen Planner
Subscription and dues management: Manage multiple subscription types, such as monthly, quarterly, and yearly, for individuals and groups. Set up auto-renewal for subscriptions and recurring payments. You can identify overdue payments and send reminders for payments.
Identify overdue renewals in Wild Apricot (Source)
Payment processing: Lets you accept payments through credit cards, direct debit, or wire transfer and send automated receipts. You can set auto-charge for renewals and avoid the headache of sending individual reminders.
Make online payments from the Zen Planner app
Communication and messaging: Lets you create member lists and send them customized messages and emails about events, subscriptions, and discounts. You can choose from the pre-built email and newsletter templates. You can also automate email confirmations and track the opens and clicks on your emails.
Communicate via email and SMS via Member Planet
Transaction report in Member Clicks
Online member portal: Give login permissions to your members and limit content access for members only. Members can update their information at any time and renew or cancel their membership using the self-service portal.
Members can edit their information in Member Leap
Branded website: Helps you create a personalized and branded website that can integrate with your existing one as well. Access pre-built themes and customize the website using a drag-and-drop website builder. You can also customize subscription and renewal forms.
Interior website page in StarChapter
Event planning and management: Build an event calendar and market events, such as social meetings, fundraising events, and conferences, on social media. You can send automatic invitations to members and register them for the events.
Raise funds in NeonCRM
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What are the core features you offer, along with the basic and advanced plans of your membership management software?
Your membership management solution should integrate with the business applications that you use. Here are some of the integrations that you must seek out:
Customer relationship management (CRM) integration: Your membership management software should integrate with your current CRM. This would centralize all your data so that you can easily send marketing emails to your member lists.
Accounting integration: Your membership management solution should integrate with your current accounting tool or have an inbuilt one. This will help you manage fundraising data, financial goals, and membership dues.
Payment gateway integration: The membership management software should integrate with different payment gateway options such as Stripe and PayPal. This helps you accept payments and transactions using credit or debit cards.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How often do you send updates about new integrations and how can one access them?
In addition to knowing in detail about the basic and common features, it’s good to know about the advanced offerings as well. Given below are some advanced membership management software features:
Online waivers: Get members to sign waivers at the time of new registration or events and reduce the manual effort of documentation. Store these waivers in a database that’s accessible any time.
Member message boards and forms: Allow members to hold multiple discussions on online message boards. They can start discussions and stay connected with the community. Build customer web-based forms to let members submit requests, provide feedback, etc.
Fundraising: Track member donations and email members about important events and reminders for donations. You can manage recurring donations and automate the donation process to make it faster by having prompts for donation, accepting donation with one click, and more.
Attendance tracking: Track your members’ attendance and ensure their engagement and participation. You can connect biometric systems with your membership database to keep a record of your members’ attendance.
Mobile app: Access and manage membership information from the mobile app anywhere, any time.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: How often do you upgrade your features? Does your mobile application have regular updates?