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A Guide to Transforming Your Association With an AMS System

Learn more about how to transform your approach to association management with an AMS system.

Software Technology

The day-to-day tasks of modern association leaders include emailing members about upcoming renewal dates, planning exciting events, and coming up with valuable engagement opportunities for members to enjoy.

Juggling so many different tasks isn’t easy—that’s where association management software comes in. This guide will walk you through the following topics to prepare your team to find the right technology for your association:

Ready to invest in an AMS that fosters a strong membership community and provides them with unforgettable programming and events? Let’s get started.

What is association management?

Association management is a unique field. Members pay dues in exchange for being a part of the community, making the “product” different from most other sectors. For those seeking guidance from colleagues in the same professional field, for example, associations provide far-reaching networking opportunities to help further their careers and increase knowledge-sharing.

Associations are usually governed through a board or an elected committee to help oversee the member journey or experience, event planning, registration processes, and member communications. And as your membership increases and your association grows, management can become an arduous process.

However, specialized association management software can help you find solutions that save time and allow your team to focus on big-picture goals, like increasing member engagement and retention.

What is an AMS system?

An AMS system refers to your association’s broader, more holistic approach to association management. Association management software falls under the wider umbrella of AMS systems and refers to software solutions aimed to help automate and digitize many of your recurring tasks.

The term “AMS system” is more comprehensive, encompassing everything your association uses to manage its members and association operations. Your AMS system likely includes some kind of management software or tool, but it may also factor in association management services like consulting, implementation assistance, or ongoing tech support. Generally, the scope of an AMS system is wider and emphasizes the importance of management tools outside of software alone.

Your association management software provider may offer additional tools and services to complete your organization’s AMS system. If not, they may partner with other firms, like consulting agencies, that can give you the guidance you’re looking for. 

How can an AMS system improve staff and member experiences?

Benefits for your staff

Your staff works hard to provide content, educational materials, conferences, events, and ongoing opportunities for your members. The best systems not only streamline these tasks but enhance their value, providing your association with:

  • Efficient and secure data flows. When your staff and team plan your next engagement strategy, an AMS solution will make it easier to transfer and view data from multiple databases. For example, to get a full view of your members, you might need to pull data from your event management tool as well as your membership management tool. Reliable integration capabilities are essential to make this possible. For an even better option, invest in a platform solution.
  • Increased security. Consolidating your association’s information in your AMS database is more secure than having it live in an Excel spreadsheet or physical forms. Additionally, association database management is easy for your staff when information is housed in a cloud-based online software solution.
  • Increased recruitment and retention. With an AMS optimizing your communications and ensuring you offer the best member experience, your association can not only acquire new prospects but also better retain current members. Plus, automatic dues payments and pre-scheduled dues reminders can also prevent members from lapsing.
  • Decisions backed by data. With all the data collected from emails, events, and other online engagements, you can make more informed decisions about your association’s future. For instance, use data to help you figure out which marketing outreach strategy has the highest chance of success by observing past ones. Or, pick the next online webinar topic by looking through feedback from your other learning opportunities.

Benefits for your members

Your AMS system or membership platform isn’t just there to increase efficiency for behind-the-scenes operations—it should also enhance member experiences. 

The more intuitive and engaging your technology is, the more likely it is that your members will continue to contribute to your community. With an upgraded AMS system, your members will have:

  • Consistent and improved experiences. With an AMS, your association can create eye-catching websites with individual pages and forms that are simple yet effective, all completely branded to your association.
  • Access to a wide variety of relevant resources. Your association members are there to connect with others and learn from the experiences your association curates. Make sure members have the resources they need. The right association management software can even create a members-only portal to host exclusive white papers, informational guides, and educational courses.
  • Community building opportunities. In addition to advancing in their career and participating in valuable learning opportunities, individuals join your association to be a part of a community. Your association software can promote this with online discussion boards, engaging event ideas, and much more.

What are some of the top AMS system features to look for?

The features you’ll want in your association management solution will differ depending on your association’s unique needs. If you often host online webinars, for example, an AMS with a learning management system (LMS) integration is a no-brainer, whereas another association might not find this necessary.

While every association has different priorities, no matter what, your AMS should have these essential features:

These are the essential features of an association management system.
  • Membership management. One of your most important tasks is managing members. This goes beyond simply tracking enrollments and renewals. You also need to make the most of valuable member data. Gathering and storing accurate member information can impact almost all aspects of association management, so having a solution catered to this priority is essential.
  • Member portal. Not only can your association management software provide the tools you need to oversee member information, but the best ones should also offer a member portal. This should include a navigable directory where members can learn more about other members in the association, helping them get familiar with one another.
  • Event management. Along with managing members, you must provide them with exciting opportunities and valuable engagement experiences through association events. The right software solution makes it easy for attendees to register and participate in events, whether the event is a large conference or a small presentation. You should be able to register members, offer automatic discounts, and implement tiered registrations.
  • Financial management. Processing event registrations, membership registrations, and dues payments requires a financial management and payment tool. Make sure your system’s payment processor is secure and integrated with your other tools. Also, check that it can facilitate automated recurring payments to make dues payments easier.
  • Communication management. For both member and event management, you’ll need a capable communication tool, specifically one with automation features. Automated communication keeps your members in the loop and saves your team time that you’d normally spend on drafting and sending each message. This way, you can focus on your content rather than when and how you’ll deliver the message.
  • Reporting tools. An AMS is the perfect tool for compiling data, so make sure yours comes with robust reporting features. Your solution should offer both customizable and pre-built reports to help you learn from past data. The best reports present data in a visually intuitive format, making it easy for anyone to understand and take action.

Why choose a Salesforce-native association management solution?

As of 2024, Salesforce serves more than 150,000 organizations, and this figure is expected to double by 2026. Notable members of the Salesforce customer list include Walmart, Macy’s, and L’Oreal.

The reason so many large, successful companies trust Salesforce is that its platform is expansive, flexible, and capable of securely handling large amounts of data. Additionally, Salesforce is a cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) provider, meaning that it offers all of its users regular updates and improvements. This is a significant advantage over legacy software.

If your association already uses the world’s top CRM or is considering making the switch to Salesforce, you’ll need to invest in a Salesforce-native AMS. This means that the solution was built inside of Salesforce using the Lightning Platform, and it will work seamlessly with the Salesforce ecosystem without any integrations.

However, not all Salesforce-native solutions are created equal. For example, some are limited in the data models they will support. A data model refers to the way your data is stored in Salesforce and is made up of Objects, Fields, and Records. When it comes to association management technology, you’ll need to be familiar with the:

  • Person Accounts Model: These accounts store information about individual members in a single record by combining information from the Account and Contacts fields. This model does have significant drawbacks compared to the Accounts and Contacts model such as taking up more storage space, making reporting cumbersome, and offering limited flexibility. This graphic highlights the challenges of using this data model.
These are the top challenges associated with using Salesforce Person Accounts instead of the Accounts and Contact data model.
  • Accounts and Contacts Model: This data model stores information about Accounts (i.e., information about members, prospects, and even competitors) and Contacts (i.e., individuals related to accounts like employees, other members, etc.). Contacts can be linked to Accounts based on their relationships with the accounts. This model is best for giving your association a 360-degree view of member data and access to granular details about them.

Ideally, your association should choose a provider that supports both of these data models to best meet your needs. Switching to Person Accounts can be right for some organizations, but the decision is irreversible and shouldn’t be made lightly. Fonteva’s association management platform can do just that, and our qualified team of experts is here to help you decide which data model to choose.

What are some of the top AMS system providers?

Because there are so many association management tools available, it can be hard to know which one your organization should choose. Here are some recommendations to help you get started!

Best for…Standout FeaturesPricing
FontevaLarge associations that use Salesforce.
Fonteva supports both the Person Accounts and Accounts and Contacts data models for ultimate flexibility.Reach out to Fonteva for a custom quote.

ProtechMid-sized associations that use Microsoft Dynamics 365.
Protech seamlessly connects with the powerful tools in the Microsoft ecosystem, leveraging data analysis tech like Business Intelligence (BI).
Reach out to Protech for a custom quote.

MemberClicksAssociations looking for a simple, easy-to-use interface.
Website builder tools that provide members with smooth online experiences.
Starts at $4,500/year.

MemberLeapAssociations that need a solution with flexible pricing and plans.
A mobile app that allows members to engage with your association on the go.
Starts at $80/month, up to enterprise pricing.

NoviAMSAssociations that rely on QuickBooks, with an emphasis on trade associations.
A simple integration with Intuit’s QuickBooks solution to streamline finances.
Pricing depends on annual revenue.

iMISAssociations focused on improving engagement.
A flexible library of add-ons that associations can turn on and off.
Starts at $7,200/year.

Fonteva: All-in-One AMS System

Screenshot of Fonteva’s website homepage.

Packed with more power, flexibility, and capabilities than a typical AMS system, Fonteva Membership is a dedicated, all-in-one association software platform built on the power of Salesforce. Fonteva supports and nurtures both new and existing member engagement, empowering your members and staff to reach their full potential. 

Fonteva is built for associations looking to streamline processes and make the day-to-day tasks of management more effective. As a true-cloud software solution, Fonteva gives users the benefit of accessing updated data in real time, no matter where they are. With over a decade of experience partnering with associations, Fonteva knows what you need to succeed. Fonteva’s tools are flexible and built to grow with your association. 

And, as a Salesforce-native association management platform, Fonteva has access to every app on the Salesforce AppsExchange, letting you pick and choose which capabilities to add as your association expands.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Fonteva’s association management platform has functionalities to streamline and automate managerial tasks. In particular, Fonteva users can:

  • Connect members to valuable opportunities with direct access to a member directory, event calendar, self-serve event registration, and continuing education classes.
  • Plan and host events (both in-person and virtual), making it easy for members to sign up and engage with others in meaningful ways. 
  • Automate membership dues with its integrated payment processor. Fonteva can also apply discounts for certain members if they’re eligible when registering for an event or purchasing something from your e-commerce store. 
  • Easily create reports using compiled data to unlock key insights about how your association is currently performing and note areas for improvements. Fonteva offers both pre-built templates and customized reports that you can use. 
  • Access any of the apps on the Salesforce AppExchange and integrate with existing Salesforce tools with ease.
  • Fonteva Payments delivers a best-in-class payments platform that provides processing and a secure payments gateway. Built on Stripe, the platform delivers a single source of truth about payments for members, with orders and payment data built-in.
Book a demo with Fonteva to see our powerful AMS system in action.


Screenshot of Protech’s website homepage.

Backed by the world-class Microsoft Dynamics 365 system, Protech’s association management platform has an incredible capacity for customization. With Protech, your association can skip the growing pains of setting up a new software system and start personalizing its suite of tools to your specific needs.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Protech’s association management platform boasts a variety of features, such as:

  • Seamless connectivity with Microsoft AppSource tools, as well as Microsoft Office and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business applications.
  • Streamlined member and donor management features, including customizable constituent profiles, mobile outreach, and personalized communications.
  • Intuitive event management tools, from simplified registration procedures to management for exhibitor booths and transactions.


MemberClicks is an AMS that serves associations, chambers, and universities. With MemberClicks, you can simplify the way your association engages with members while providing them with a platform of integrated tools to take their experiences to the next level. 

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

MemberClicks offers capabilities such as: 

  • Integrated LMS to provide members with exciting opportunities.
  • Dues management tool to make payment and reporting easy.
  • Association website building tools to stay connected with members online.


MemberLeap offers affordable, easy-to-use software that helps any association streamline its basic member-based administrative duties. Because of its flexible build, associations of various sizes can leverage MemberLeap’s platform.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Check out these top features from MemberLeap:

  • Member database so that you can manage members, cross-reference data points, and search for key metrics.
  • A mobile app that allows members to access various MemberLeap tools.
  • Email tools that can support drip campaigns, send out newsletters, and more.

Novi AMS

Novi AMS is an AMS solution that is designed by and for association professionals. Specifically, they tend to cater to trade associations, aiming to help their members develop professionally and make valuable connections with each other. Additionally, Novi makes it easy for your association to keep track of important accounting information through its integration with QuickBooks.

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

Here are some of the top features of Novi:

  • Integration with QuickBooks, making it easy to track invoices, online payments, and other financial data.
  • Web-building tools that help trade association professionals create an engaging website without the necessary coding experience. 
  • Flexible member types, allowing associations to organize members by whether they’re company-based, individual, or hybrid.


iMIS is a system created by ASI, Advanced Solutions International. It aims to help associations streamline member engagement and encourage growth within their membership base. 

Why This Association Management Solution Stands Out

With iMIS, you have access to features like:

  • A library of features and add-on apps that you can enable/disable for a customized experience.
  • A visual dashboard that helps you turn hard data and metrics into actionable insights.
  • A modern, cloud-based solution, allowing staff members access even from their mobile phones.

Additional Resources

From recruitment to retention, your association management system is the most efficient tool in your association’s toolbox. Engaging your members in a strong member community starts with the best software available! When it comes time to start comparing various association management software solutions, prioritize the features discussed above.

For more information about association and membership management software, check out these additional resources:

Contact out team at Fonteva to learn more about our robust AMS system.
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