What Is Association Management? (+7 Best Tools for Managing Members)

Tricia Dempsey
Tricia Dempsey  |  January 21, 2019

Being a member of a club, society, or other association is a unifying experience with many benefits offered to its loyal members. 

 It is an excellent way to communicate and collaborate with people that possess similar professional interests and goals.

What is a professional association?

A professional association is an organization that attempts to further a particular profession or trade by maintaining a set of industry standards and encouraging members to interact with one another and the general public about the profession.

Depending on the association, members may be offered certain perks, such as special networking events, career advancement opportunities, learning experiences and a chance to connect with like-minded individuals. A professional association is generally exclusive to those who are currently employed in the industry, aspiring to join it, or previously worked in it. (Nursing associations, for example, offer membership to current nurses, aspiring nurses, and retired nurses.) Many, if not all, associations accept membership fees, in order to maintain and grow their outreach. Members, in turn, reap the benefits of those dues through the provision of the perks mentioned above. Simply put, it’s a win-win experience for everyone involved.

Associations can range in size from small, niche associations with a handful of members to well-known super associations with thousands. You may be familiar with the National Education Association (NEA), one of the largest professional associations in the United States. The NEA represents all types of educators and has over 3 million members.

conference-membership-managementImage Source: NEA

How does any organization manage that many members? In the case of the NEA, it takes a village. Associations that large must have a big team to take on their many responsibilities. But what about smaller associations? The answer remains the same: proper association management resources.


What is association management?

Association management is an essential component of any organization with multiple members. Gigantic associations, such as the NEA, hold a board of executives and maintain a high budget to manage their needs. But even for small organizations, it’s necessary to have a streamlined management plan to handle memberships, finances and other parts that hold the association together.

Association management oversees administrative aspects by the governing committee.

In general, association management requires day-to-day oversight of member dues, fund management, event management and other organizational responsibilities. Needless to say, it is a laborious process.

Not all associations can afford to have a large team of people making sure they run smoothly. Often, there are only a few people — frequently volunteers — that help keep the association running.

To help streamline the management process, association committee members and managers typically leverage association management software. These tools help automate administrative and management tasks. It is a great organizational solution and an integral asset to associations with many members.

Any organization with an established group of members can benefit from a proper association management plan. These help organize member data, manage membership dues and streamline event registration. The best part is the ability to combine these tasks on a single platform instead of using multiple management solutions. In contrast, jumping between different spreadsheets and miscellaneous, unorganized records is a cumbersome chore. Additionally, association management platforms are tailored, meaning they exist to satisfy the custom needs of an association.


Benefits of association management

The key benefits to managing an association depend on the type of organization, the number of members and the tools already used. The most universal benefits include:

Member management

The most significant part of all associations is its members. Because of this, member management is an important task which, if not maintained, can potentially pose a huge administrative setback. It is an intimidating job, especially for large associations, but an essential one. Similar to a CRM software solution, member information can be logged, accessed and adjusted. Details such as contact information, transaction history and membership renewals needs to be captured and stored efficiently. Without a comprehensive membership log, it is be extremely difficult to complete tasks like collecting dues and communicating with members. Association management solutions streamline this process.

Dues and subscription management

Staying organized is cost-effective and essential when handling administrative tasks for an association. General and financial management are core aspects of association management. An association’s prime source of income is through the membership dues. An example of this would be the homeowners association. Billing and collections go hand in hand with member management.

Event management

One of the main perks of being part of a professional association is networking events. There, members share career news and chat about the profession in general. For simple events like webinars, or for large events like conferences, an association management solution helps immensely. Solutions help with complex but vital event tasks including ticketing, RSVP, payment, and other event marketing duties.


Association management software features

There are many helpful features that association management platforms:

Self-service portal

Members and managers alike can use the self-service portal to update personal information, pay dues and sign up for association events.

Financial reporting and tracking

Since membership dues are such a major part of every association, keeping finances in check is an essential association management software feature. It’s a feature that simplifies the process for everyone involved. Managers can see if certain members are behind on payments, send invoices, and maintain basic transaction accounting responsibilities. Reporting allows managers and committee members to gain insight into membership trends.

Automation

While member logging is an important task, it shouldn’t be a time-consuming one. Association-wide emails to members, member information updates and association announcements can be easily automated.

Fund management

Committee members and managers require the responsible allocation of funds from members and donors. Association management solutions allow for the monitoring of funds and marketing changes when funding is low. Fund management also allows managers to send receipts, thank-you cards to donors and reminders of upcoming payments to existing members.


Proper membership management leads to undeniable growth

Any organization benefits from streamlining menial tasks, and associations are no different. The central focus of any association is to further the advancement of a profession or trade. When an association is able to put its heart and soul into professional advancement, it flourishes and catches the public eye. Associations become free to do so when they leverage the right solutions that prevent administrative tasks from becoming a burden. Once you implement an association management software, don’t forget to leave a review!

Need to start a financial game plan for your association? Check out this guide on the best free accounting software solutions.

Tricia Dempsey
Author

Tricia Dempsey

Tricia is a Research Associate who joined G2 Crowd in October 2018. Tricia was raised in the Chicago area and loves reading and writing in cozy coffee shops. In her spare time, you can find her gaming or listening to her favorite heavy metal bands.