What do you need from your membership systems?

For membership organizations, a management system is a vital tool for tracking memberships, managing newsletter subscriptions, issuing special offers, coordinating events and offering discounts on services, products and more. But what sort of system will be right for you?

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Varied systems on offer

You’ll find that these systems are sometimes called association management systems or membership systems. There is a range of these, offering varied features and options for customization, depending on your preferred price range.

Some organizations will need to deliver fundraising as part of their membership, and these bodies may need systems that can track renewal and ‘due’ dates for payments, discounts, and special offers. The system required for this is likely to be more sophisticated.

You can also find systems that will act as a Facilities online booking system which enables your members and guests to book into classes, appointments or any other prebooking items that you have as a business. This can free up staff time to carry out other important daily tasks. www.ofec.co.uk/web-and-software-development-services/facilities-online-booking-system.aspx is one such company that can provide you with these kinds of systems.

Considering budget

Membership management systems tend to be more cost-effective, and Association Management Software systems are typically more costly. Both will become more expensive if you need additional features added in. The trick is knowing what it is you want from your system and whether you require things such as systems integration.

Bear in mind that systems can be simple and low cost or complex, expensive to maintain, and time-consuming to learn. This is why it is really important to define the features that you truly need before being swept away by a sales pitch! Make a list of the things that really matter to your organization.

Good things to consider are:

What Are Your Objectives?

Think about the offer that your members get and the processes they need to follow to access them. What are the costing system and pricing strategy?

Events – and whether these are key to your organization. Do you want members to be able to book online? What features do you need to offer, and are your events simple or multi-layered and varied in format, location and booking process?

Communications – how do you want to communicate with your members and how do you want them to communicate with each other?

A custom build database might be a good option if you have an unlimited budget. However, for the vast majority of non-profit membership organizations, an off the shelf tool is likely to be the best course of action.