How replacing manual processes can dramatically improve association membership management

A 2016 survey from Memberwise, an organization that caters to membership associations, found that association leaders now place member engagement as their number one priority – even surpassing new member acquisition. Fostering engagement typically involves a range of tasks and processes which ensure your members get value from your activities and services, and continue to pay their subscriptions.

Typical tasks and processes for member management include:

  • 'Onboarding' new members so they have all the information they require
  • Sending out generic communications
  • Changing member statuses
  • Renewing memberships and updating payments
  • The approval process for new members

In most membership associations, these processes are carried out manually. Often a team of people are charged with completing these tasks on specific dates and within a certain timeframe. While this works in theory, there are several common bottlenecks which can cause these processes to break down. 

Let’s see why manual membership management processes can undermine your association. 

Membership Management for Associations

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The problems of manual membership management

Most association staff carry out their tasks diligently, carefully and efficiently, following long-established processes. Whether it’s posting brochures, responding to emails, adding new members to your mailing list or more, these processes are often honed to perfection.

Nevertheless, when these processes are carried out manually, they can break down. And when they do, members become frustrated – and even choose not to renew their membership. 

  • Work overload
    If association staff become overburdened with paperwork, there's a good chance mistakes can be made - a member's email is not responded to or a subscription is not renewed.

  • Experienced staff leave
    At every association, there's normally one lynchpin administrator who seems to know everything - from member rates to all the quirks of your existing IT system. Unfortunately, when this person leaves, they take a huge body of knowledge with them, meaning processes can collapse.

  • The association grows too fast
    In theory, rapid growth is good. In reality, it can mean your employees become overburdened, unable to complete all their manual tasks within a reasonable time frame.

We explore these problems in more detail in our exclusive new whitepaper, which provides guidance on what you need to know about adapting your membership association to the digital era (download here). 

The opportunity to automate membership management

Automating the processes which underpin how you manage membership of your association introduces significant benefits to your employees, volunteers and, of course, your members.

Many of the tasks your staff carry out are repetitive and involve relatively little creativity, yet are often highly time consuming. What’s more, they prevent staff from carrying out more engaging work that provides added value for your members.

Let’s see how greater automation can improve the membership management experience for everybody:

  • Automatic renewals
    An essential aspect of membership management is renewal of subscriptions. Typically, staff need reminders of when individual members’ subscriptions are up, then get in touch with that member to find out whether they plan to renew.

    In an automated process, the system could do this for you with little to no involvement from your staff. In the weeks before the renewal date, the member would receive an automated email to remind them that their subscription will soon be running out. They could also be directed to an online portal to update their payment information and even upgrade their membership package – or simply set the system to automatic renewal.  

  • Personalized communications
    Most associations send members generic emails every month, relating to news and events – much of which will be of no real interest to that individual. However, without manually searching through each member’s interests – which would take an inordinate amount of time – personalizing communications is currently almost impossible. Most associations say they struggle to personalize content successfully.

    Automating the process makes personalizing communications much easier, however. When new people join your association, they can be presented with an online survey where they select what their interests are. This means that any future communications you send out to them will only include content related to their interests, at the frequency they want to receive it. 

  • Onboarding
    Ensuring new members have all the information they need to get the most out of their membership is very important. However, when the process involves manually posting letters and brochures, adding people to email lists, including them in committee group lists and so on, there is a high chance that the new member will not receive all the information they need.  

    So, what would an automated onboarding process look like?

    A new member would automatically be sent a selection of content that would help them ‘settle in’. This would include information about upcoming events, payments, and FAQs. They could also be directed to an online portal where they could manage their preferences, and use self-service to resolve any issues they were having.

    Of course, a warm ‘human’ welcome remains essential, yet by automating the more repetitive aspects of the onboarding process, you ensure new members have everything they need from the word ‘go’. 

Using a modern portal to ​improve membership management

Our customized membership portals provide your employees with a set of powerful tools for automating membership management. Used across Canada’s leading membership associations,’s tools speed up many of your most repetitive tasks and activities, meaning your members get a better experience while ensuring your employees can focus more time on offering greater value to members. 

Ultimately, by modernizing your association’s membership management capabilities, you boost member engagement and increase long term subscriptions. To learn why leading membership associations are modernizing their management tools, and to learn how you can do this practically, download our exclusive whitepaper today.

Learn about the other Pillars of Association Management:

How modern financial management will grow your membership            Get your members learning with proper education management            How healthy event management will keep your members engaged            How creating online communities will revitalize your membership association
Download Whitepaper

Guide to Choosing an Association Management Solution

Guide to Choosing an Association Management Solution

Are you on the path to choosing an Association Management Solution (AMS)?

This guide explores the technology options available, including 7 key questions your Association needs to address to find the right solution for your organization - one that meets the specific business processes you have for each of the 5 pillars.

Download the Guide

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