The 10 Best Membership Management Software of 2019
December 28th, 2018
Managing your members isn’t like managing your Leads or customers. These are people who trust in your organization to provide them your value in the most personable way possible. Regardless of your size, a member feels like they belong to your organization, rather than just patronizing it. And face it, you’ve gone digital or you’re about to go digital, so you’ll need membership management software.
Update: This article has been updated to include the subsidiary tools of some of these providers including acquisitions, and joint ventures like WebLink.
Who needs Membership Management Software? I have a CRM!
CRMs do the job. No doubt. But in reality, what you need is something a little more tangible for your members. Not customer relationship, but member relationship, I’d like to coin it MRM, Member Relationship Management.
A run of the mill CRM’s person-ability comes from its ability to leverage contact info and provide merge tags to customize variables in emails or other communique. The reality is that this is helpful for pushing sales and keeping a sales team in line. Membership management software can do this of course too, but once a member joins, the job becomes a question of how do you engage and delight these members so they not only continue their membership but would outwardly invite others to join your organization?
Well, there’s a plethora of membership management software out there that tackle this, and we’re going to show you exactly what their individual values are and how they stack up for your specific membership management needs.
Looking for Event Management Software? Check out our list of the top 10 tools on the topic!
EventBank started off as an event management software that transformed immensely since it’s inception as a platform. With customer feedback and pain points, the platform’s versatility eventually caught the attention of companies and organizations who host events to increase engagement at scale. With this in mind, feature additions and improvements have added membership management to its retinue of use cases.
Fully customized to an organization’s needs, the platform is entirely made up of parts of a whole. the CRM aspect is there, but as we said before, the real needs happen after members convert. EventBank makes sure you have the web presence for your events ready and leverages contact info to personalize email campaigns, ticketing, and finances all from the platform, which also has mobile versions available for in-person check-ins, melding in-person relationships with the digital back end.
Pros: All-in-one solution for both membership management and engagement needs.
Cons: Lack of CRM integrations for clients who currently use a third party. (integrations will come in 2019)
WildApricot is the most direct approach to the solution of membership management for small organizations and there’s not much flair to go along with it. It is also one of the more original solutions that first cropped up a few years ago as the need for membership management software became more and more apparent. So it’s definitely a go-to source for your most basic, small scale membership management needs, but not much else like the sacrifice of scalability for organizations that intend to grow.
Pros: Cheap and gets the job done.
Cons: Not very scalable for growing organizations or those that have multiple locations or chapters.
Want to find a comparison of EventBank and Wild Apricot by the numbers? Check out our analysis of both of these platforms side-by-side.
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Sumac is a feature-rich event and membership management software suite much like EventBank, but without the all-in-one aspect. It considers its own native features as add-ons and requires customers to pay for each addon they want. So don’t approach this product if you don’t have a clear plan in mind, or else you may end up paying or add-ons you don’t need. Thankfully event free-level users can talk to a sales rep who might be able to help you out.
The entire ecosystem Sumac has created is based on it’s “Basic CRM” which is the core of the whole package. The addons simply feed the CRM or feed themselves from the CRM, to help with event management, ticketing, reminders, etc. A solid idea for users who intend on very specific membership management needs and don’t expect to scale much. Which packages have their own benefits, none lock off features? Packages merely express the level of support you’ll receive as a customer. No matter the package you choose, your addon costs may vary.
Pros: Bespoke feature-pricing model that can fit niche membership management needs.
Cons: Not a scalable model for organizations with varying needs over time.
Join It is a landing-page based membership management software tool that leverages the digital savviness of your members to use the platform on the front end to engage with the organization. There’s a CRM, of course, to capture and record your communication and a Stripe-integrated ticketing scheme.
The pricing model seems scalable at first but only at the highest level. At the free and cheapest level, the platform only benefits organizations with less than 1000 contacts. That’s not exactly the best approach in this situation as you’d have plentiful “Contacts”, but converting members. Meaning that for promotional reasons, you’d likely run into issues when it comes to campaigns. Likely you’ll have to turn to a third party EDM tool to keep your Join It platform account below the 1000 contact limits. Not a huge issue if you’re large enough to go for the more premium package.
Pros: One of the few membership management tools that have web-hosted member engagement.
Cons: Not exactly versatile at lower pricing levels.
MemberClicks takes the EventBank route in offering an all-in-one membership management software suite of tools and integrations. However this time the pricing model is similar to Join It’s except it’s tackled the issue of contacts polluting the actual membership list. It does so by showing you exactly what your limits are for each level in the package list. Among that, it boasts a great member-to-member communication hub for members to discuss topics with themselves, thereby driving engagement without much set-up required.
A smaller subsidiary of MemberClicks is WebLink, which is a similar solution to MemberClick’s platform. Acquired by MemberClicks in 2017, WebLink has been taken into the MemberClicks’s fold in hopes of expanding its product offerings to chambers and associations which has been the primary focus of WebLink since its launch.
Pros: Great in-platform community section that allows members to talk to each other. Automatic engagement without lifting a finger.
Cons: The pricing packages seem to be relevant to large associations and organizations for professionals, and lack any sort of leeway for small organizations to scale up. However, with the acquisition of WebLink smaller organizations may benefit from this offering, even if they’re not a Chamber, as both WebLink and MemberClicks have been combining and sharing features since the acquisition.
There’s not much to say here about MemberNova except that it’s another all-in-one membership management software platform just like MemberClicks and EventBank. The most notable difference is that it leverages member’s social media and integrates to their accounts for a seamless sign-up process and the ability to quickly generate long lists of directories for associations.
The only real downside is that MemberNova lacks any sort of registration process from their mobile app. Where most membership management software tools are including in-person mobile registry, MemberNova only really provides backend platform management for clients.
Pros: Great for backend association management needs
Cons: Poor offline-to-online registry and web event hosting tools.
MemberLeap is once again another all-in-one membership management software suite but this time with a bit more of hard-line approach to pricing. It’s got all the main features as the others without much notable difference other than that they boast their own learning center and certifications so clients have an at-the-ready resource to benefit their usage of the platform.
Despite this learning center, set-up costs are a major factor in their pricing scheme, where certain features are out of reach like payment processing for more expensive packages. This leaves one to wonder what the point of a learning center is if it only benefits a fraction of customers.
Pros: Self-help leaves users more educated
Cons: Self-help and learning center seems only beneficial for users at more premium packages. As well seems that set up is not intrinsic as it’s apparently a large part of the selling process.
Neon CRM is a hard-core CRM platform that focuses on front-end engagement for a more niche part of memberships, volunteers. NeonCRM has email automation and event management tools that stack up, but most importantly is the CRM’s ability to help associations and organizations with sizable volunteer headcounts. Volunteers are not paying members, and they’re not leads. They’re an important part of non-profits, and so that’s where NeonCRM sets out to help, with non-profits and NGOs.
While there lacks any reminder automation for renewals and membership dues for obvious reasons, it approaches volunteers with tasks, surveys and content delivery that would ideally help harmonize sizable volunteer oriented organizations. With this in mind, the pricing scheme is quite affordable for organizations who aren’t seeking to make a profit, while those who do, will face additional fees based on data and contacts, a fairly typical schema. The real cost for NGO’s come from NeonCRM’s on-boarding and consulting one-time fees that aim to help get users up to speed on the back end of the platform, as most nonprofits have high turnover rates.
Pros: Not scalable for member-engagement.
Cons: Extremely scalable for NGO’s and non-profits who seek to manage volunteers rather than leads.
Admidio is an open-source and old-school style of membership management software that can trace its roots back to pure contact management since it’s inception. It’s added on features over the years and has made great strides in its development since then.
Looks can be deceiving, so while the platform is not in the cloud, and must be a downloaded program for servers. So the networked version web app of Admidio can only truly be accessed by webmasters once its integrated into your website’s server, and not just the integrated into the site as third-party content management. With this in mind, the barrier to adoption can be quite daunting. The program, however, is free of charge, so it depends on which benefits can outweigh the migration work ahead of you.
Plugins are what really bring Admidio to life, and it’s suggested that you analyze what plugins you require before migrating Admidio into your servers. Plugins help add forms, logins, calendars, statistics, forums, and more to be added to the program and your site. There’s even some date-triggered automation involved. Due to the open-source nature of Admidio, updates are frequent, but can often times be unstable, unverified, or even sometimes poorly translated into English if the developer is not a native speaker.
Pros: Free, constantly updated, open-source (so it’s basically modifiable), and has an active community of plugin developers.
Cons: On-campus and must be installed into your web-servers before it can be operational. Plugins can be unverified or deprecated frequently.
MemberPlanet is an all-in-one type of membership management software in the vein of EventBank and Wild Apricot, but it excels are its ability to jumpstart new organizations who are willing to put the money up first. Memberplanet offers branding and design services on top of its platform to create organizations from thin air, digitally speaking.
However, if you’re already an established organization, then this may need to require some window shopping on your end. Unlike it’s more direct competition from a pricing model standpoint, Wild Apricot does not offer any support for users with the exception of enterprise level clients. This means Member planet users can enjoy full customer support and onboarding from Day 1, even free and trial users, similar to EventBank. The largest drawback to this is that its free package is a little too restricting for anyone’s taste, with only 100 email credits per month and lack of smart list accessibility.
Pros: Starts free, including standard support and onboarding.
Cons: Lack of integrations, through API access is available so this may require a conversation with Memberplanet. Highly constricting free packages.
That’s a wrap
All in all these tools mentioned here are all coming from the same core tool, a CRM. It’s how each tool adds onto this core that a true valuable software suite starts to bloom. For the specifics of membership management software and normal CRMs like Salesforce, Pipedrive, Hubspot, etc, the reality is that they’re the same. Albeit with some features that run askew. It’s how your needs evolve over time and how well you know your pain points that should determine one tool over another.
The needs of organizations are pretty different as you start to go from market to market. While one region may prefer mobile registration over another, in the end, the options are at your disposal and it’s best to look at your members and see how far the rabbit hole they’ve gone in terms of engagement with your organization.
Are they not engaged enough? Run more events. How are you going to manage running more events? Probably need to look into MRMs that support event management. High membership turnover? Maybe it’s time for a tool that knows about your member’s actions and demographics.
This list is far from perfect and will likely get dated quite quickly, but that’s the nature of good product launches in this industry. The more these tools offer, the better you can compare and contrast. We’ll do our best here at EventBank to keep this up to date for your window-shopping needs.
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