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3 Membership Software Tips for Associations

By October 7, 2019

To create community online, it helps to have great membership software

By: Sigmund VanDamme, Membership Evangelist – Nimble AMS, Community Brands

We’ve all come to expect highly personalized experiences like those of Amazon and Netflix. As for-profit companies provide increasingly personalized experiences, your members will expect the same in more areas of their lives — including their experience with your organization.

To keep members engaged, consider how to meet or exceed their expectations. Otherwise, there’s a good chance their membership will lapse as they get excited about another cause, community, or take their business elsewhere.

Active community members

Membership software that supports a great experience can help. Here are three things that your nonprofit association can do to be more engaging:

1. Personalize the member experience.

Members now expect organizations to collect information and use it to personalize their experience. However, according to the 2018 Salesforce Nonprofit Trends Report, only 44 percent of nonprofit leaders consider themselves successful at sending prospects and constituents through engagement journeys that tailor interactions to their unique behaviors and preferences.

Here are three ways to collect and use data to deliver a better, more personalized member experience:

  • Leverage your membership software and marketing automation tools to collect useful data.
  • Use analytics to draw on the huge volumes of data you collect over time to pinpoint optimal pricing, products, content and engagement.
  • Use your membership software’s marketing automation tools to send targeted messages at the right time.

2. Keep your members’ data safe, and let them know what you do to protect their data.

As your association grows and collects personal information about your members, you can’t afford not to protect your member data. To protect your member data and reduce risk, we recommend considering membership software with the following qualities:

  • Transparency – Your membership software should provide you with insight, information, and documentation into its system performance and security to promote your trust and confidence in its service.
  • Best practices for data security – To prevent unauthorized access, your AMS should support data security best practices, including two-factor authentication, login IP ranges, adjustable session timeout thresholds, custom domains, and the latest authentication and encryption protocol Transport Layer Security (TLS) for browser encryption.
  • Comprehensive user permissions – Your system should allow only your organization to access its data, and allow your administrator to restrict access so that your employees can view and edit only the data they should be able to access in the system, depending on their role with your organization.
  • Data recovery – To safeguard your data, your membership software should protect your data from simple data storage errors, catastrophic failures, and everything in between. Also, your system should not hold your data hostage: you should be able to export your organization’s data when you need it.
  • Compliance – The most secure technology providers maintain compliance certifications and attestations to validate their security. It helps to start with good governance.

3. Be prepared for tech innovations: Does your membership software have artificial intelligence (AI) built in?

You can take personalization a step further by using a CRM platform that helps give you the foundation to use AI. Associations are recognizing that AI is something they need to figure out in order to remain relevant, retain or grow membership, and increase revenue. In fact, the 2018 Nonprofit Trends Report shows that while only five percent of nonprofits have AI capabilities, that figure is forecasted to jump by 361 percent over the next two years.

Getting started with AI may seem daunting, but AI is well within reach for associations. Using membership software built on the Salesforce platform and that leverages Salesforce Einstein AI technology, associations can become smarter, more predictive, and more in tune with what members need, want, and expect. For example, Nimble AMS uses Einstein to make member predictions such as “likelihood to renew membership” or “likelihood to attend an event.”

Salesforce Einstein

For example, you can use AI technology in your CRM to do things like:

  • Create a familiar (and effective) Amazon-like shopping experience that recommends new purchases based on past behaviors and “what other members like you purchased” to increase non-dues revenues. One example is Einstein in Commerce Cloud from Salesforce.
  • Help members find answers through personalized content, predicting the answers that members are looking for, and providing that information proactively. One example here is Einstein in Community Cloud.
  • Automate aspects of member service, such as answering/assisting with common questions or renewing a membership via a chatbot to provide immediate response 24/7 and free up staff time.
  • Use predictive analytics to determine which event location will bring in the highest number of registrations.
  • Use data about past behaviors to predict if a member is unlikely to renew, and then intervene before losing the membership. One way to do this is with Einstein Prediction Builder.

As consumer expectations continue to rise, it’s important to do all you can to deliver a great (and personalized) member experience. To learn more, here’s a handy e-book on relationships for nonprofit CRM, that will help you go from data management to meaningful connections.


PartnerNimble AMS is an official AppExchange Partner. Find their app on the AppExchange.

About the Author
Sigmund VanDammeSigmund VanDamme, Membership Software Evangelist, for Nimble AMS by Community Brands with the focus of thought leadership through public speaking and writing. Sig has been working with professional and trade associations for over 25 years and is inspired by being part of the association community. Sig was the founder of NimbleUser which was acquired by Community Brands in 2017 and frequently speaks on the culture of innovation, association technology trends, and the human aspects of technology interactions. He has presented at CESSE, ASAE Tech, AMS Fest and a variety of user conferences.