The Ultimate Guide to Association Management Software

Membership, events, committees, components, marketing, and communications—they all revolve around the database. In associations, this all-encompassing database is association management software (AMS).

Your AMS selection decision has an enormous impact on your association’s future. An AMS can either empower or hinder your team’s efforts to achieve your organization’s goals and take advantage of new opportunities.

Overview of Association Management Software 

You have many database options, but AMS software is the best and only choice for associations.

Membership management software (MMS) is built for general membership groups—unions, civic groups, church groups, and hobbyist groups. Membership software cannot handle the extensive requirements of association management.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is designed to help corporate sales and marketing teams manage customer relationships, sales, and marketing. Like an MMS, a CRM wasn’t developed to handle complicated membership models and finances, never mind other unique association functionality.

But an AMS? It’s designed specifically for the needs of associations by companies (like ours) who exclusively serve the association community.

An AMS can handle the complex membership structures used by professional societies and trade associations, as well as financials, e-commerce, member engagement tracking, committee and chapter management, event registration and management, data analytics, and reporting.

What Are the Benefits of Choosing the Best Association Management Software?

To choose the best association management software for your organization, learn as much as you can about AMS capabilities.

Increased staff efficiency and productivity

A modern AMS automates workflows and processes, which drastically reduces the need for manual tasks and the risk of human error. An AMS frees up your time so you can focus on more meaningful work, like strategic initiatives, data analysis, and member and prospect engagement.

Improved member engagement

With accessible member data comes insight. Association software empowers you to enhance the member experience. You can live up to members’ digital expectations by personalizing website content and emails based on their behaviors, interests, and preferences. They can visit the member portal or website to update their profile information, register for events, buy products, and renew their membership.

Centralized data management

Integration automates data sharing between systems. It allows you to collect and access all your member data in one centralized place—your AMS.

Staff at every level of your organization can create interactive reports, charts, graphs, and dashboards to:

  •         Visualize and understand data
  •         Uncover powerful insights about members, customers, and prospect behavior
  •         Spot trends and make forecasts
  •         Feel confident about making decisions based on up-to-the-minute analytics

As data becomes more accessible, staff become more data-literate and your culture becomes more data-driven.

Higher technology ROI

Any technology you choose should improve your association’s bottom line. With a modern AMS, you can expect to increase operational efficiency. Staff can do more in less time. Cloud-based association management software also frees up your IT team’s time since they’re no longer managing a server.

With automation and segmentation, you can craft more effective marketing campaigns that increase email opens and clicks, and generate more sales and revenue.

An AMS streamlines accounting processes. Its robust financial management tools help you manage budgets, track expenses, and process payments. Dashboards deliver valuable insight into revenue and expense trends. You can make data-driven decisions that ensure your association’s long-term financial stability.

Future-forward AMS

As new challenges and opportunities arise, and your organization adjusts to changing conditions, your association management software should expand and grow with you. Find an AMS partner who regularly releases and rapidly deploys software upgrades.

Association staff have access to a training portal, webinars, and users group where they can share tips and advice and learn about new or unused functionality.

Choose an AMS partner who isn’t afraid of innovation. They should stay in close contact with you so they can continue to understand your association’s vision, plans, and priorities for the future, and share how they will help you get there.

What to Look For in a New Association Management Software System

Now you know why association management software is the best choice for empowering your staff. What should your association look for in a new AMS?

Big Picture

When gathering requirements and researching AMS options, look beyond AMS features. Consider these big picture factors.


You can never predict what lies ahead for your association—the pandemic made that clear. As your association adapts to new member and market needs, your AMS must be able to adapt too. It must be flexible enough to accommodate any changing conditions that require new member information like configurations, fields, and data sets.

Powerful and intuitive functionality

Staff and members have developed digital expectations based on their user experience on other apps and websites. Your AMS has to meet those expectations.

Every employee and member should find your AMS and member website easy and enjoyable to use. They shouldn’t have to bug IT or anyone else for help.

Seamless integrations

Integration is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a requirement. Your software can’t operate in silos. The AMS must have the ability to easily integrate with other software so you have access to data that gives you a full picture of the member and customer experience.

Some types of software that can integrate with our association management system:

  • Learning Management System
  • Content Management System
  • Online Community Engagement
  • Marketing Automation
  • Virtual Event Planning Software

Data analytics

Besides staff, data is your association’s most valuable asset. You rely on data to understand your target audiences and to deliver a meaningful, valuable experience to them. Insight from data helps you strengthen relationships with members, customers, and prospects.


Automation makes what was once impossible possible, even for a one-person operation. It expands your capabilities with workflows and processes you never had time for to streamline things like email marketing, event management, and content based on membership type

Mobile-first competence

Staff, members, and customers work all over the place: offices, work sites, cafes, and homes. They’re checking emails and chats from everywhere in between. Your AMS and member portal must be designed for the mobile user.

A vendor, not a partner

You deserve nothing less than a trusting relationship with an AMS partner who strives to always do the right thing. They should provide adequate AMS training, onboarding, and support as well as ongoing strategic guidance so you can take full advantage of your AMS’ capabilities.

Seek an AMS partner who brings a deep bench of association experience, even better if they exclusively serve the association community. Many of us worked in associations, but now we’re association professionals who work at an AMS company.

Prepare and Publish a Membership Directory with Impexium’s AMS Software

Popular Features

After looking at big picture factors, make sure you cover the basics by selecting an AMS that can manage these functions.

Membership Management

Complex membership structures with varying membership types, levels, and dues for individuals and organizations, and an online portal for members.

Committee & Chapter Management

Committees, chapters, and SIGs, including positions, terms, documents, and nominations.

Accounting & Finance

Invoicing, cash receipts, and other financial transactions, including membership deferrals, credits, and inventory management.

Events & Exhibit Management

Registration, badge generation, tracks and sessions, speakers, rooms, floor plans, and booth sales.

Reports, Dashboards, & BI

Membership analytics with reporting and data visualization tools, dashboards, and Microsoft Power BI.

Integrated Payment Processing

Full-service Anywhere Payments powered by Billhighway with daily credit card reconciliation, recurring payments, and instant reports.

8 Questions to Ask a Potential Association Management Software (AMS) Partner

Get a better sense of your future relationship with an AMS provider by asking these questions.


How will your AMS help my organization meet its goals and objectives?


How will your company help us plan for and grow in the future?


Will our non-technical staff be able to easily use the system?


How will your technology help staff work smarter, not harder?


How often will we need to upgrade? What are the costs for upgrades?


What will it take for us to integrate with other technology systems?


What kind of training and support do you offer?


In what ways will you be our partner versus being a vendor?


Selecting the best association management software for your association is a complex decision. With so many options, narrow it down by finding one that serves your staff size and fits your budget.

Focus first on your business objectives and then on your requirements to identify which AMS can help you meet them. Choose an AMS partner who will be there for you every step of the way, from sales to implementation, to customer support, and into the future.

Impexium can help. Trade associations, professional societies, and non-profits of all sizes have transformed their businesses and exceeded member expectations with Impexium’s membership management software. Request a personalized or group demo today.

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Trade associations, professional societies, and non-profits of all sizes have transformed their businesses and exceeded member expectations with Impexium’s membership management software. Request a personalized demo today.