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Everything You Need to Know About AMS Platforms + 4 Options

Check out everything your association needs to know about AMS platforms in this comprehensive guide.


Running an association can be an incredibly rewarding experience. But without the right capabilities in your association management software, it can be very difficult for your team to make data-driven decisions.

If you tend to add different software solutions to your toolkit on an as-needed basis to keep up with your association’s growing needs, you already know that this approach can become unsustainable. Instead, upgrading to a robust, centralized AMS platform can be a smart move for established associations with a large membership

If you think an association platform might be the right tech decision for your team and want to learn more, then you have come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll answer some of the top questions about AMS platforms, including:

Upgrading your technology can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. When you choose a holistic, scalable AMS that grows with your association, you can avoid future upgrades and reap the benefits of a comprehensive solution.

Let’s get started by defining what an AMS platform is.

To learn more about future-ready AMS platforms, connect with Fonteva to get a demo.

What is an AMS platform?

An association management software (AMS) platform is a centralized solution designed to handle member registration, events, marketing, and more. An AMS platform should be flexible and customizable. Most have capabilities allowing users to build upon their codebases and connect to other systems.

With an association management platform, all of the tools your association needs can be available without complex integration processes. A comprehensive platform should contain the tools you need to operate on a day-to-day basis and serve as the foundation for your tech toolkit. 

Through integrations and add-ons, you can also expand your platform to include specialized features such as:

  • Member registration capabilities
  • Cloud-based member database
  • Website builder
  • Email marketing options
  • Online store
  • Online event registration
  • Online payment and donation processing

These add-ons allow you to easily adapt your solution to fit your association’s specific needs and goals.

What is the difference between an AMS platform and a CRM?

The terms “AMS” and “CRM” can be used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between the two tools.

A CRM, which stands for customer relationship management system, is a database that tracks and manages all of your organization’s interactions with its members. An association management system, or AMS, is software designed specifically for association management tasks. Here are the key differences:

These are the main differences between a CRM and AMS (detailed in the text below).
  • CRM
    • Used across many industries by a variety of organizations
    • Focuses on tracking data
    • Aims to deepen relationships with members
  • AMS
    • Used only by associations
    • Offers specialized association management features (e.g., automating membership renewal reminders)
    • Aims to streamline association management tasks

While these solutions are different, they work together to make managing and engaging members, tracking data and insights, and driving revenue easier for associations. Ideally, your association should choose a CRM-based AMS.

What are the benefits of using an AMS platform?

If your association decides to upgrade to an AMS platform, you’ll ensure that all your tools speak the same language and share data more freely. This saves your staff’s time and energy while making your members’ lives easier. 

Benefits for your association’s staff

Three key benefits that AMS platforms have for your association staff (detailed in the text).

If you want your association’s staff to spend more time engaging members and planning events, switch to a platform solution. An AMS platform will provide perks like:

  • Simple data migration. The best benefit of a platform solution is that all your data will be truly centralized in a database. This way you can easily access and refer to data across your different tools, whether it is for generating a financial report, creating new marketing content, or performing member research.
  • Data-driven decision making. Your association deserves to make future decisions based on accurate, real-time, and reliable data. When you invest in a platform, all of your data is stored in one place. Since your data is within the same platform, you know you are pulling information from the right source. 
  • A 360-degree view of member engagement. When your association relies on an AMS platform, you have access to a 360-degree view of your members. The best platforms give you a comprehensive view of your members and highlight member engagement metrics like event attendance, engagement during meetings, and interactions with other members through your member directory. Using insights pulled from your platform, you can refine your engagement strategies for different segments of your member base.

Benefits for your members

Three key benefits that AMS platforms have for your association members (detailed in the text).

Moving to an AMS platform solution doesn’t just make your life and your staff’s lives easier. A platform solution improves your member experience with:

  • Smoother, streamlined interactions. With an AMS platform, your members can register for courses and access association details in an effortless process. Because your operations and tools will be more closely connected, the functionality of your association management system will be improved.
  • Easier access to association resources. Since all of your resources are in one place and every feature is based on your single platform, your members will be able to access the information that they’re looking for. Make their lives easier by having readily available pages with event listings and a member directory. 
  • Less duplicate field-filling. Because all your data is centralized on your platform, there is less risk of duplicated field-filling or inaccurate information. Sometimes members have to fill out forms for events and donations with personal information multiple times. A platform solution can compile these personal details and create member profiles by pulling data from different sources.

Which AMS system features should you look for?

Membership Management

Association management software should include robust membership management tools that work with the data stored in your CRM. This is why it’s essential to choose an AMS platform that is fully native to your specific CRM system (like Salesforce). This way:

  • Your data is consolidated.
  • Both your CRM and association software run on the same code.
  • Member profiles have a single, accurate information source.

From there, membership management features help your association provide a plethora of member experiences through online communities, searchable member directories, self-service capabilities, and more. You’ll also gain a 360-degree view of your members, leverage the power of a unified database, and be able to scale the platform alongside membership growth.

Event Management

Events allow association members to come together, whether it’s through an educational course to get a certification or with a conference to provide networking opportunities. When you manage events, your association software should support essential functions from registration to post-event data analytics. However, without CRM integrations, it’s hard to get a complete picture of how well your event did and how your members engaged with your event. 

On the other hand, AMS platforms are configured to provide built-in connections across all of your essential tools and features. With an association platform, your event management tool and member management tool are both based in the same place. This allows you to easily look at trends over a large timeframe, drawing data from different sources without having to leave the core platform.

Payment and Accounting

Whether it is from membership dues or conference donations, associations rely on revenue raised from their members and attendees to create more engaging, valuable programming. Your association software toolkit probably includes some sort of payment processor and accounting tools, but the financial data that your software collects isn’t being fully utilized if it’s not positioned within a broader scope.

However, imagine the informed decisions your association can make when you have all your financial data, event data, and membership data centralized in one location.

An AMS platform will have a full profile on each of your members, providing you with a wealth of member data. Additionally, you’ll be aware of insights that help you identify and pursue your goals, like improving member renewal rates.

What are some top AMS platforms?

Fonteva: Top Choice for Associations Using Salesforce

Screenshot of Fonteva’s website for its AMS platform which can help you take your association to the next level.

Fonteva is a comprehensive AMS platform built on Salesforce, one of the most popular, flexible, and effective CRM systems available today. This means that from the start, Fonteva’s association and membership management tools are seamlessly built into your underlying database. Other solutions boast about their CRM integration options, but Fonteva was made for Salesforce.

Screenshot of Fonteva’s AMS platform membership dashboard user interface.

With Fonteva, you can configure the platform solution to your association from the very beginning and simplify your activities. Investing in Fonteva will:

  • Save you time. Because your platform has been configured from the start, you don’t have to tweak any tools or customize the solution to fit your association.
  • Eliminate data silos, point solutions, and costly integrations. Eliminate data silos, point solutions, and costly integrations. All of your data is housed in one unified database to increase engagement, insights, and efficiency throughout the member journey.
  • Easily manage additional revenue streams. Diversify your revenue and manage data with Fonteva’s eCommerce tools and integration with Stripe.
  • Give you access to a community of coders and developers. As Salesforce experts, Fonteva’s team will be able to help your association with any questions you have.

Don’t miss out on Fonteva’s association management platform. To start increasing member engagement, contact our team today!

Protech: Best for Associations Using Microsoft

Protech is built for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and is best for organizations that already use the Microsoft ecosystem. This solution streamlines experiences and tasks for your members, leadership, and staff. It includes everything you need to manage your members, hold meetings and events, organize fundraisers, develop educational materials, and much more.

To learn more and get a custom quote, reach out to the Protech team.

WildApricot: Option for Small to Mid-Sized Associations

WildApricot offers membership management tools to associations and nonprofits with membership programs. This tool is best for small to medium-sized organizations and offers a budget-friendly suite of tools. WildApricot provides a membership database, event planning tools, mobile app, and more. 

Pricing ranges from $60 to $900 per month.

MemberClicks: Option for Smaller Groups 

MemberClicks is best for small organizations that need an all-in-one solution. This platform has what your association needs to manage its operations, but it is simple and straightforward to use. Memberclicks offers solutions for both professional and trade associations, each including features that streamline member management, recruitment, and retention. 

Pricing begins at $4,500 annually.

Additional Resources

The right AMS platform can transform your association. Technology streamlines and automates repetitive tasks, reveals key member insights, and helps you engage and recruit more members. If you’re looking for a comprehensive AMS platform based in Salesforce, reach out to Fonteva today

Looking for more information on association management platforms and how to make members’ lives easier? Check out the following resources for additional guidance:

Reach out to Fonteva to learn more about our all-in-one AMS platform that can truly do it all.
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