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What is an AMS? A primer from the folks at Association TRENDS

By Jason Stone

"I Don’t Know What an AMS is and at this Point, I’m too Afraid to Ask"... Association Trends fields the question: "What is an AMS?"

The following article was written by Association TRENDS in advance of AMSfest (Washington D.C., Nov. 2018) and is republished here with permissions as well as editorial comments on how Engage AMS stacks up against their definition (Hint: It nails it.).

"I dont know what an AMS isAs an association professional, you probably hear about AMSs all the time. And as an association service provider, Association TRENDS loves an acronym as much as the next guy, but let’s go ahead and break it down.

An AMS, or Association Management System (ed.: or Association Management Software), is a cloud-based technology solution for associations and nonprofits that allows them to manage all aspects of their organization in one place. As a member-based organization you probably need to manage membership, process payments, handle event registration, host a website, host resources, education, and member-only access on that website, and possibly even manage a member engagement community.

If you’re handling each of these tasks on a different platform, in a different place, and in a different way, stop right there. You need an AMS! (ed note: If you are stopping right here to go buy an AMS, we recommend Engage AMS).

Membership Database

Managing a membership database is an incredibly imperative and sometimes daunting undertaking. An organization’s data is robust and must be kept organized and clean. And not unlike an apple, one bad import can ruin the whole bunch. An AMS not only assists with making data management simple and easy to do, but it also integrates with other facets of your organization, like your website, email marketing, event registration, etc.

The database is the backbone of every AMS. Engage AMS's own database (MS SQL, if you're technically inclined) is fully integrated to the entire platform (as opposed to a Salesforce or Microsoft CRM implementation) and is designed and priced to meet the needs of small- to mid-sized associations. The database is the backbone of every AMS. Engage AMS's own database (MS SQL, if you're technically inclined) is fully integrated to the entire platform (as opposed to an implementation of Salesforce or Microsoft CRM)._ _Registration, communication and payments? Check. All in Engage AMS. Plus, you can add sessions to events (both free and fee-based)... and materials sales... and donations... and you can register other people on their behalf... and offer coupons and discounts based on member level access...

Event Management

Events and conferences are a big value for your members and your organization probably hosts a lot of them. Through an AMS you can manage registration, communication, payment and all in real time leaving you free to focus on the big picture; the event.

Registration, communication and payments? Check. All in Engage AMS. Plus, you can add sessions to events (both free and fee-based)... and materials sales... and donations... and you can register other people on their behalf... and offer coupons and discounts based on member level access...

Payment Processing

An AMS makes the payment process for an organization seamless, instant, and removes the room for error. Payment doesn’t just mean from membership dues. An online payment process covers you for events, products, or education services. AMSs can set up automatic invoicing, manage transactions, Payment see what members have or haven’t paid in real time.

Engage AMS leverages the payment processor, Stripe. It's a great product that's the best we've found for developing software around. They integrate with Quickbooks and their transaction fee price point is very reasonable.

Email Communications

Your organization is constantly communicating with its members via email, right? An Association Management System makes the way you communicate simple and easy. Because an AMS already houses your member database, you can not only send your emails quickly, but you can segment groups, personalize your messaging, and analyze opens and clicks.

Engage AMS includes both email and text communications around your membership and event processes. For marketing purposes, the platform can easily integrate with your preferred email or marketing automation platform (e.g. MailChimp, Constant Contact, Infomz, etc.)

Website Management

Every organization needs a website. Every organization also needs a website that integrates with all other aspects of your organization. Most AMS’s will host your website and integrate online registration, payment, and content management. Don’t forget, all of this is connecting back to your membership database (HOW COOL IS THAT?).

Not every AMS comes with a website. Engage AMS does. In fact, it includes a robust, easy-to-use and open-source content management system (and hosting!). You can choose from a templated site design or create a fully custom theme to best suit your associations branding needs and wants.

In the end, an AMS will save you and your organization time and money, all while providing immense value to your members. Your organization exists for a reason and it’s not to spend time dealing with data entry, backed up invoicing, and playing the middleman. You have a mission and an AMS gives you the means to accomplish it.

Association TRENDS knows how important this is and that’s why we are hosting AMS Fest in Washington D.C. on November 1-2, 2018. This conference exists for association executives to discuss these systems with one another, AMS vendors, and AMS consultants. You’ll listen to sessions, join in discussions, preview twenty AMS demos, and meet with five industry partners and eleven consultants who can help you determine which AMS is best for you and your organization. You’re not alone in this!