Most membership organisations will begin to feel administrative pressure when they reach about 50 members or so. At this stage, many have found themselves in a position where they’re too big to cope with running everything manually, yet too small to splash out on a ready-made solution.

Fortunately, there’s a choice of free software out there for organisations to try – it’s a great way to get a taster of the benefits membership software has to offer, and provides that all important stopgap until your organisation grows to the point where you can invest in a sophisticated alternative.

The basics
Membership management software, or MMS in its most basic form, typically includes a website builder, a database for contacts, an email system, a payment system and an event platform. These core functions take care of almost all of your administrative tasks, such as processing payments, automating invoices, maintaining contacts, and providing reports. The benefits of this include:

1) It’s a time saver
MMS can take over the processing of the member base – from automating applications to renewals. It can take care of mass mailings such as newsletters and invoices, as well as setting up individual communication schedules. Financial transactions such as fees, payments and donations can be processed automatically, and you can get the most from your member base through reports and analyses. A couple of days a week can be saved simply by switching from a manual system to MMS.

2) It can save on costIts comprehensive nature means that purchasing MMS is ultimately cheaper than using several systems to do the same job. As your organisation grows, the savings in time and cost that more sophisticated membership software can give, outweigh the initial outlay.

3) It provides a better member experienceAn interactive website coupled with an online payment/donation system means that members can manage their own accounts online, putting them in control.

4) Event attendance will improve
Publicising your events and providing a facility for members to register boosts attendance – MMS can provide everything you need from an event calendar to an RSS feed.

5) Data is more accurate
It’s well documented that integrating systems improves efficiency, whatever the business.

For membership organisations, it eliminates the risk of lost, duplicated or corrupted data, providing a seamless experience for your members and staff.