Running an association is a lot of work. You’ll find yourself pulled in different directions as you try to provide value to your members, keep stakeholders happy, and keep the lights on while you do it. Whether you’re running a huge national association or trade group, or a smaller regional association, you’ve probably got a lot of the same concerns.
Having a great association management software can make your life a heck of a lot easier. With it, you can manage your membership and keep them informed, build connection and community, collect dues, and add value.
There’s no question that association membership software can be an asset. But it IS hard to know which one is right for you. In this article, we’ll walk you through what to look for and some of the best options.
In this article
What is association management software?
Association management software is a digital solution that simplifies the day-to-day functions of your association. Different associations need different things, but most need member management features, ways to communicate with members and stakeholders, and payment collection.
What to look for in association management software?
As we hinted at above, the actual needs might vary between associations. But that said, here are some of the common things you can expect from association management software:
- Member management: tools to organize and track memberships (dues, registration status, personal information, etc.)
- Fee collections: Point of sale options for collecting money, dues, memberships, etc.
- Event management: Most associations have some sort of events (live or virtual), so software that helps plan, publicize, and organize an event is great. If you’re looking for virtual events, you can also look for features like live streaming or easy integration to a virtual event platform.
- Communications: Every association needs to communicate with members. Look for features like discussion boards, chat & messaging, community forums, and email integration.
- Branding: If your association management software will be member-facing, you might be looking for a solution that lets you serve up your own brand for your members, adding your colors, logo, customized themes or UX, etc.
- Apps: Some association management tools will also help you create a white-label app for your members. This means that they see your brand in the App Store or Google Play Store.
Above all, any association management software should make your life easier. Too many associations are copying and pasting huge lists of member emails into BCC or cobbling together 4 different platforms for a virtual event. This is annoying and also affects your members’ experience.
What if you could find one tool to do everything you need? That’s the idea behind good association management software.
6 Association management software options
1. Mighty Networks
Community & member management software
Mighty is a cultural software platform that gives you a powerful set of tools to manage your association. Mighty centers on a community engine that brings together a discussion forum, chat and messaging, and a ton of content options from written to video. Associations can use it to engage their membership base on a daily basis, but Mighty Networks also thrive through user-generated content. Your members can connect with you and with other members and stakeholders to build community.
Mighty also gives you a set of member management tools that are second to none. These include customizable member profiles and the back-end management of current status and moderation. You can message all members at once or individually, and create tiered plans and membership fees for different kinds of members. You collect dues and fees on the platform too–no need for more software.
Mighty’s flexible Spaces let you build in the type of experience you want for your members. You can choose from features like live streaming, integrated virtual events with one-click Zoom scheduling and RSVPs, and even an LMS if you want to host courses. In fact, Mighty has more robust virtual event features than any other option on this list–letting you create events your members will love on your terms.
You can customize your association space with your own brand, choose from light or dark modes, and collect dues in 135 different currencies. And Mighty comes with a beautiful native (Mighty Networks) app for every device.
- Member profiles
- Community platform
- Discussion forum
- Point of Sale
- Integrated virtual events
- Live streaming
- Customization options
- Native app
2. Mighty Pro
Live streaming, courses, and memberships on your own branded apps
Mighty Pro is the white-label version of Mighty Networks. Basically, it takes our powerful cultural software platform and all the things we mentioned above and adds a totally custom, white-label app under your brand in the App Store or Google Play Store.
We’ll work with you to create the app–you bring the ideas and your brand and we’ll do the building. And–even after you launch–we keep working with you to help you get the most out of it. Mighty Pro is a fantastic choice for associations who want their members to have a branded app with discussion forums, events, live streaming, messaging, and member profiles all built in.
Book a call with us and we’ll show you what you could build!
- EVERYTHING above +
- Branded apps for iOS and Android
- Mighty Design Studio
- Pro strategy & support
Hivebrite is an alumni management platform that can also work well for association management. It gives you a decent community engine with customer relationship management software built into it. This makes member management simple, tracking status and payments, as well as past touchpoints.
Hivebrite also has a great native email system that lets you reach the members in your CRM – for example, you could create a campaign to collect donations. Like Mighty, Hivebrite also has the ability to create different types of groups to subdivide your members and detailed analytics. Hivebrite can also be integrated with software like Salesforce–giving your CRM more power.
Unlike Mighty, Hivebrite doesn’t do video content well. It’s missing live streaming (both for web and apps) and doesn’t create video posts natively–you have to link offsite or use third-party solutions. Hivebrite also offers a fairly limited customization feel and the UX is a bit outdated.
Because of its strength around member management and weaknesses with the community engine features, Hivebrite is probably best for established associations looking for primarily member list functions.
- Member management tools & directory
- Community platform (text-based)
- Email integration
iMIS is an association management software tool that gives you a powerful CRM and member management tool. Its strongest use case is for member data management; you can build databases and manage contacts and emails, allow members to join online, and manage their own profiles. It also comes with chapter divisions for larger associations.
Like Wild Apricot (below), iMIS has an integrated website builder with a drag-and-drop creator, plus the option to let chapters manage their own websites. And for running live events, it gives you tools to plan, create agendas, offer registration, and create standalone event pages.
With built-in fundraising tools and an LMS, iMIS packs a punch for a lot of basic association management needs. It’s a great option if you’re looking for something to track member data with. On the other hand, if you’re looking to build an association community with different types of content, it wouldn’t be your best bet. It’s missing a lot of content features and doesn’t have a native community platform. It’s also limited for virtual events.
- CRM & Data management
- Member management
- Chapter pages
- Live events management
Member management for an existing website
If you’re just looking to add a member management tool to your existing association website, MemberPress might be an option. Memberpress is a WordPress plugin that gives you the ability to gate “members only” content and add things like digital downloads. It integrates with platforms like Stripe for membership payments of fees and dues and gives members a dashboard where they can see their relevant content.
MemberPress comes with some community-building tools and recently added an LMS for online courses–which will be useful for some associations. With features like subscription management and emails + notifications, it’s a good option for those looking for a WordPress plugin to manage their association.
MemberPress does come with some of the clunkiness of a WordPress plugin, and the design features are somewhat limited. It’s not the best option on this list, but if you’re determined to have a WordPress solution–it can work.
Do note that every option on this list has a web app that can be easily integrated with a WordPress site as a subdomain (e.g. members . your association . com)
6. Wild Apricot
Last but not least, Wild Apricot is a tool built for member management for associations and other non-profits. Wild Apricot comes with solid member management tools, like the member database and profiles. And the member database connects to built-in email software so that you can reach your list–including email analytics and customized targeting to reach specific groups.
Wild Apricot’s best tool for an association is probably the website builder. If your association needs a website, Wild Apricot mixed the member engine with a drag-and-drop builder to help you create your association’s digital home.
The other cool thing about Wild Apricot is that it has features for regional organizations to manage their own chapters, you can create regional versions of the website and they can track their own members. Finally, you can use Wild Apricot to manage a live event, including badge printing and registration. And it does have a mobile app that works too.
The biggest limitation of Wild Apricot is the community-building features. It has minimal forum and content options, and is missing a course feature (which may or may not matter, depending on your association’s goals). It also wouldn’t work well for virtual events.
- Member database & management
- Website builder
- Collect payments
- Live event management
- Mobile app
Ready to start?
If you’re ready to start working with an association management software, why not come give Mighty a try? It’s got the most robust feature set of anything on this list, and is a top-rated community management software according to the software review site G2.
You can try it free for 14 days, no credit card required. Or, if you’re looking for a branded app for your association, schedule a call with us!