Join the Club

What makes a club worth the price of admission? member-front-2

There are any number of specific answers to this question, depending on the association. But there’s one excellent means to judge any or all member based organizations’ utility. Because, at the end of the day, all that matters is how effectively the club connects its members to the resources and benefits of membership. If members can truly depend on access to those benefits, the club’s foundation is strong.

For a web-based association, member management software isn’t a piece of the puzzle, it’s the entire puzzle and the table it’s placed upon. Choosing the appropriate Association Management Software is always a major foundational step. Core amenities (as well as membership perks, however minor) all rest upon the doors opened by the selected AMS.

So let’s take a look at the foundational offerings provided by a few of the most well known AMS solutions:


  • Full CRM client as well as employee management (including financial admin)
  • Full site CMS Solution, built for intuitive admin
  • The winner of PCMag’s AMS of the year (2016):,2817,2489257,00.asp
  • The price is right. Heck, compared to comparable offerings its downright CHEAP
  • Excellent for small (under 5k members)

Wild Apricot

  • Excellent budget-concious decision for a small organization willing to put some time into the customization process
  • Solid functionality for SMALL member-based orgs (as a downside, templates looks a bit like outdated CRMs…)
  • Can be a bit more labor intensive to get everything customized, but in terms of options, few doors are closed
  • Excellent video tutorial and overall support for customization assistance
  • Full CRM client as well as employee management (including financial admin)
  • Full site CMS Solution, built for intuitive admin


  • Very targeted to associations (they know the association world better than anyone)
  • Great option for associations who host numerous paid events, or associations who derive most of their profits from events
  • Full CRM client as well as employee management (including financial admin)
  • Full site CMS Solution, built for intuitive admin


  • If your organization used Raisers Edge, you’re already using Blackbaud!
  • #1 in non-profit fundraising, fundraising tools integrate seamlessly into CRM / AMS functionality
  • Front-facing design options / templates are relatively limited
  • Full CRM client as well as employee management (including financial admin)
  • Full site CMS Solution, built for intuitive admin


  • Fantastic for non-profit fundraising, and not always associated with associations, but that’s changing quickly.
  • Excellent organized member-management
  • Ranks very high in user satisfaction AND overall user experience design
  • Full CRM client as well as employee management (including financial admin)
  • Full site CMS Solution, built for intuitive admin

The Power of Design


Design is everywhere. You can find it on our television and computer screens, in newspapers and magazines, on billboards, food packages — you name it.  We live in a visual culture inundated with media and saturated with images we simply cannot escape. It can distract and annoy, but it also has the power to entice and inform. A design can even affect our overall perspective.

So why is design and creativity undervalued by many? If design evokes emotions, affects what we buy and enables us to absorb and process information in new ways. Design is much more than just visual aesthetics, is all about generating insightful solutions that put people and their needs first.

Design should entice and persuade. Design can help your business stand out from the competition, keep your brand memorable, keep your content user-friendly, and help your business make a good first impression. A professional designer has the potential to deliver those kinds of results.

Next time you take a walk, remember design is everywhere. I challenge you to explore your surroundings, I bet you will be surprised of what you find — and that’s the power of design.

CRM Speed Dating

maxresdefaultEvery organization can benefit from a means to organize and track relationships. But like any important relationship, you don’t want to dive in blindly. Whether or not you have a customer relationship management tool in place, it’s smart to keep your options open.

When courting CRM options, there’s a few broad categories you’re sure to encounter, each with their own benefits and potential drawbacks:

The Brand Name – Expensive, high-maintenance, and proud.

  •          Examples: Salesforce is king


The Niche – This variety of CRM solution is built specifically to cater for your industry. A key here is to get to know which CRMs comparable organizations are using. If many or most of your peers use something specific, there’s a good chance they’ve found something that suits your needs. For instance, since the Drupal CMS is quite popular in the the non-profit community, these same non-profits might want a CRM that plays well with Drupal.

  • Drupal CRMs: CiviCRM, CRM Core, RedHen.
  • NonProfit CRMs: NeonCRM, DonorPerfect


The Fixer Upper – Cheap, sometimes free even. There isn’t going to be much automation and the features are going to be relatively low when compared to the brand name. But some of these tools are filled to the brim with potential. As is the case with even Brand Name Solutions, the secret to any CRM solution is that you get out only what you put in.

  • ZoHo is a great example. Customizations can improve an already great product, but it’s great on its own.


The Custom Solution – This is basically the ‘going stag’ solution. Whether you’re working with a brand name, specialized niche solution, or a fixer upper, a general CRM framework works best when’s its tuned to your business model and the individual workflow of the individual(s) who will be using the finished tool.

But if your business model is unique? Well, then you might need a custom CRM built from the ground up. You might even be building your own software as a service (SAAS). Unless you have a talented developer on your team, you’ll likely need to pay a proven development team with experience in your general wheelhouse.

  • A moderately to extremely customized CRM brand
  • Your brand new and wholly owned CRM solution (Make sure you own it!)