MembershipWorks

Top 10 Best Association Management Software for 2023

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Association management software (AMS) solves many long term and day-to-day challenges of association managers. Whether billing members, organizing conferences, viewing trends, or connecting members to each other, association software is up to the task. Association websites process the bulk of membership and event transactions, so choosing the best association management system couldn’t be more important.

The goal of this Top 10 Guide is to help you gather information to make an informed decision about which AMS is the right fit for your organization.

In this Guide:

association management software - AMS

What is the best association management software?

Who uses association management software?

Trade associations, professional associations, service organizations, neighborhood associations, and other nonprofits use AMS. A good fit for one type of association may not be ideal for another. For example, some association management systems are designed to work with an existing website while others will require you to use their content management system (CMS). Some organizations may need to deliver continuing education units through a learning management system. Others may need features to manage a homeowners association (HOA).

Top 10 Best Association Management Software Comparison Chart
MembershipWorks ClubExpress iMIS WildApricot GrowthZone YourMembership Memberclicks SilkStart StarChapter MemberLeap
Price per month starts at $0; paid plans start at $35/mo. Starts at $24/mo. $200 per admin user $0; paid plans start at $48/mo. starts at $249/mo. starts at $292/mo. starts at $250/mo. starts at $200/mo. starts at $83/month starts at ​​$50/month
Setup Fee $0 Starts at $150, + fee for  website design in their CMS ($600 – $2400+) varies $0 $1500 for supported onboarding; $3500 for website build varies $3,000 varies $779 and up Minimum of $1,800
Additional per-transaction charges (beyond payment gateway fees) $0 $0 $0 Must use their affiliated payment gateway which has higher fees for nonprofits than other choices ** Higher monthly fees unless you use their payment gateway. $0 Must use StarChapter Pay which has a monthly fee and higher transaction fees than other choices $0
Member Only Content Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Directory Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Event Calendar / Registration Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Classifieds Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No Yes Yes
Job Board Yes Yes Yes Yes, but with revenue sharing Yes Yes Yes, but with revenue sharing Yes Yes Yes
Announcement Board or Forum Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Donations Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shopping Cart Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes via Ecwid Yes Yes
CMS compatibility WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, Duda, WithoutCode, Drupal, Joomla, Spacecraft, HTML5 sites Requires their custom CMS iMIS EMS, WordPress, Drupal Custom CMS. Uses iframes to embed widgets on other platforms WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Concrete5, LiveEdit, LiveCMS Requires their custom CMS Not applicable. They build your website. Custom CMS, WordPress, Squarespace Requires their custom CMS Requires their custom CMS or use a member portal
Key Integrations MailChimp, Quickbooks Online and Desktop, Xero Sakai LMS, Quickbooks HigherLogic, Top Class LMS, Zapier, iMIS Bridge, Zoom, SSO and many more Quickbooks Desktop, Make (connects WA to other apps) MailChimp, Quickbooks, LMS, Zoom, Go To Webinar Quickbooks online, LMS Higher Logic, Hubspot, Salesforce, Learning Management System MailChimp, Ecwid API, MentorEase Quickbooks
Payment Gateways Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal Payflow Pro, iATS, iMIS Pay Central Affinipay (Paypal and Authorize.net at an additional cost) Stripe, Authorize.net, GrowthZone Pay Affinipay, BluePay Authorize.net, Bambora, CardPointe, PayPal Stripe, Paypal, Wordline and Authorize.net StarChapter Pay Large list of gateways including Authorize.net, Stripe, Square
Support Phone, email, live screen share Email, phone, paid training ($120/hr) Email Forum, chat, email Phone, chat, email Phone, email Email, phone, forum Email Email, phone Email, phone, paid training
# of Admin Seats on paid plans Unlimited Unlimited Pay per seat ($200/mo) Unlimited 3 admin seats at lowest price Unlimited 2; additional admins are $15/mo. each Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited


** Wild Apricot adds 20% to its monthly/annual fees if you don’t use their affiliated payment gateway. Nonprofits can often find lower transaction fees with other payment gateways like Stripe, but the 20% fee increase comes into play if you go that route.

What is association management software?

Association management software provides a membership database along with a connected set of tools that help association staff streamline operations, deliver member value, and engage members. Its capabilities often include dues collection, event management, ecommerce, forms, a member portal, member only content, and reporting. As the main focus of an AMS is members, it’s also known as association membership management software. 

How do you choose an AMS?

While there are many nuances that go into the selection process of an association membership management system, these are the key considerations:

  1. Price – Consider the total cost of ownership, which may include: setup fees, base price, integration fees, fees for additional features, the cost of any necessary integrations, support and training costs, added transaction fees, and payment gateway charges. Also inquire as to whether outside consultants will be needed to support your setup or use of the platform.
  2. Features – A homeowners association will have completely different needs than a trade association. Make a list of “must have” features and/or problems you are looking to solve with a new AMS. Keep an open mind as to how each AMS addresses your challenges; insisting on replicating your current processes may not be the most profitable or efficient.
  3. Support – Note if there are extra fees for support and inquire as to how staff training will be handled. See what support methods are available. Ask if there are extra “per seat” charges if you have more than a couple of staff members who may need to contact support with administrative questions. Ask how quickly support requests are resolved. If you are a volunteer-run association, factor in the AMS’s cost of training new volunteers each board cycle. Some association membership systems will charge for this service while others will not.

The Top 10 Association Management Software

Membershipworks logo1. MembershipWorks

Associations using MembershipWorks enjoy a full-featured, all-in-one AMS at a fair price. While some association platforms have built in email marketing systems that are slow to add new features and are difficult to use, MembershipWorks provides integration with MailChimp, a best-in-class email provider. Associations transitioning to MembershipWorks appreciate the opportunity to keep their existing website due to integrations with popular content management systems. Nonprofits with regular staff or board turnover appreciate unlimited phone, email and screen share training support.

Cost: Pricing starts at free; first paid level is $35/mo.

Setup fee: $0

Per-Seat charges: $0; admin seats are unlimited on all paid plans

Additional transaction fees: $0

Top additional features: Event registration, online calendars, member directory, restricted content, donations, job bank, shopping carts, classified ads, announcement boards, forms.

Key integrations: Quickbooks Desktop, Quickbooks Online, Xero, MailChimp, Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal Checkout, PayPal Pro

Support: Free and unlimited, phone, email, and live screen share training.

See how MembershipWorks compares to other systems

ClubExpress logo

2.Club Express

ClubExpress targets a wide variety of organizations — clubs, HOAs, professional groups, trade associations and more. The platform is good at serving associations with multiple tiers; it offers the ability to create separate websites for each chapter if needed. While ClubExpress is focused on providing a lot of features, there is often an additional cost for integrations. When comparing prices with other systems, it’s important to see if there is an additional charge for any of your association’s “must have” features.

Cost: Starts at $24/month

Per-Seat charges: unknown

Additional Transaction-Related Charges: $0

Setup Fee: Starts at $150, plus additional fee for creating your website in their content management system ($600 to $2400 and up)

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Volunteer signups and tracking, events calendar and registration, ecommerce, continuing education unit (CEU) tracking, e-learning, multi-chapter features, mobile app, HOA features

Key Integrations: POS system integration, LMS

Support: Email, phone; screenshare training incurs a fee ($120/hr)

See a ClubExpress comparison

iMIS logo

3.iMIS

iMIS is the granddaddy of AMS solutions. It offers an extensive range of features with a very high level of customization and integration possibilities. It is ideal for large organizations with multiple chapters such as unions, faith organizations, clubs and charities. iMIS customers will often engage consultants to help them with the system for purposes of reporting and configuration as the capabilities and options can feel overwhelming for those without dedicated IT staff or developers.

Cost: $8,500 for iMIS Professional (for smaller organizations and teams)

Per-Seat charges: $200/month per user

Additional Transaction-Related Charges: $0

Setup Fee: varies; you may need a consultant to help you with setup/ongoing use of the product

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Committee management, certification tracking, events calendar and registration, ecommerce, member communities, multi-chapter features

Key Integrations: HigherLogic, Top Class LMS, Zapier, iMIS Bridge, Zoom, SSO and many more

Support: Email, chat, user forum. Note that many iMIS users employ consultants to assist them with the software for setup and ongoing needs.

Wild Apricot logo

4.WildApricot

WildApricot has a long track record and has a large installation base. It offers multi-chapter features and Organizations will need to shift away from their existing website and instead use WildApricot’s website builder and provided themes if they want to access all of the system’s features. WildApricot offers limited function mobile apps for both members and admins. While some competitors may not offer an app, their platforms may be mobile-responsive and work well from both an admin and member perspective on small devices like phones and tablets.

Cost: Pricing starts at free; first paid level is $48/mo.

Setup Fee: $0

Additional Transaction-Related Charges: Wild Apricot adds 20% to its monthly/annual fees if you don’t use their affiliated payment gateway. Nonprofits can often find lower transaction fees with other payment gateways like Stripe, but the 20% fee increase comes into play if you go that route.

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Website builder, multi-chapter capability, event calendar and registration, directory, member only content, forum, online store, mobile app, HOA features, API

Key Integrations: Make, Affinipay, Website Widgets

Support: Chat, email, forums

See a WildApricot comparison

GrowthZone logo

5.GrowthZone (ChamberMaster)

GrowthZone (also known as ChamberMaster) is an all-in-one association management system focused on tracking and communicating with members. Given that they were formerly known as ChamberMaster, they have a special focus on features for chambers of commerce. In addition to chambers, they tout serving real estate associations, bar associations, as well as construction and trade associations. They offer integrations with Learning Management Systems, which is useful for professional associations that offer continuing education.

Cost: Starts at ​​$249/month

Per-Seat charges: 3 admins are included at the lowest level plan.

Additional Transaction-Related Charges: Higher monthly fees unless you use their payment gateway, GrowthZone Pay.

Setup Fee: $3,500 one-time design fee for your membership website

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Mobile staff app, events, forms, donations, job postings, directory, CE tracking

Key Integrations: Zoom, Elevate LMS, Blue Sky ELearn

Support: Email, phone

See a GrowthZone/ChamberMaster comparison

YourMembership logo

6.YourMembership

YourMembership integrates many aspects of association management into one tool. For organizations that want someone to design their site for them, they offer this service.

Cost: starts at $292/month

Setup Fee: varies

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Online community, job board, event calendar and registration, directory, member only content, online store, mobile event app

Key Integrations: Career center, Learning Management System (LMS)

Support: Email, phone

See a YourMembership comparison

MemberClicks logo

7.MemberClicks

MemberClicks is designed for associations as well as association management companies. Organizations can pay them to build their website. Available add on services include an online community, job board and LMS.

Cost: Starts at ​​$238/month

Setup Fee: $1,500 or $3,000

Per-Seat charges: $15/month beyond the first two designated admins (ASAs) for their MC Professional product

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Online community, event calendar and registration, directory, member only content, online store, email marketing

Key Integrations: Higher Logic, Hubspot, Salesforce, Learning Management System

Support: Email, phone, online forum

See a MemberClicks comparison

SilkStart logo

8.SilkStart

SilkStart provides a website as part of its service. They will either create a portal to integrate with your existing site or create a association website for you. At a higher price point, they offer multi-chapter features. Their integration with Localize allows the website they build for your association to be automatically translated into multiple languages.

Cost: Starts at ​​$200/month for up to 500 members

Setup Fee: varies depending on website needs

Per-Seat charges: $0

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Multi-chapter features (higher price point), job board, member communities, bilingual/translations, email marketing, events, member forum

Key Integrations: MailChimp, Ecwid, WordPress, Squarespace

Support: Email, phone

Star Chapter

9.StarChapter

StarChapter is an all-in-one association management platform that comes with a new membership website. StarChapter offers multi-chapter features including chapter websites. You’ll need to use StarChapter Pay, their proprietary payment gateway, to process credit card transactions.

Cost: Starts at ​​$83/month

Setup Fee: $779 and up

Per-Seat charges: $0

Additional Transaction-Related Charges: You’ll need to use StarChapter Pay, which has higher rates than nonprofits can get through Stripe. Pricing begins at $9.99/mo for a 3% + $.30 per transaction rate and rises up to $29.95 per month for a 2.7% + $.30 per transaction rate.

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Ecommerce, events, email marketing, multi-chapter features

Key Integrations: API, MentorEase

Support: Phone, email

MemberLeap logo

10.MemberLeap

MemberLeap offers either a custom website or a member portal that you can connect to your existing website. They have a very large list of payment gateway integrations. You can use their custom website builder or have a member portal created. They are suited for homeowners’ associations with features (available at some plan levels) such as resource reservations an email listserve.

Cost: Starts at ​​$50/month

Setup Fee: Minimum of $1,800

Per-Seat charges: $0

Key Features Beyond Membership Management: Broadcast texts, message boards, email listserve, multi-chapter, event app, classifieds, announcements, HOA features

Key Integrations: Large list of supported payment gateways including Stripe, Authorize.net, Square, PayPal Pro, iPay, Quickbooks ($875 one time fee plus $35/mo)

Support: Email, phone, training sessions (limited number included)

FAQ

An association management system is a system that brings together functions and features that save countless hours through integrations and by automating tasks like sending renewal reminders, accepting online payments, and creating reports from member data.
While both systems collect data and provide automation, association management software (AMS) focuses on the functions that are needed to operate an association and manage its members. Features like collecting dues, offering online event registration, and connecting members are all common among association platforms. A customer relationship management system (CRM) tracks customer activity for purposes of sales, marketing, and/or service. An AMS will often contain CRM features such as a member timeline.

Note that pricing and features may change from the information we have gathered here. Providers regularly evolve their product offerings and price points.

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