Are you confused as to why expensive CRM systems such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics don’t handle membership system functions very well?

members

That’s because CRMs are not Member Management systems – the two things are not the same and subtle differences can make a big difference…

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  If you are a trade association, chamber of commerce, nonprofit, charity, club or community organisation or peak body responsible for supporting professional or volunteer members then it is fair to say that members are your customers and you may think that an off-the-shelf member management system is a CRM.  But, you would be wrong. CRMs are not Member Management systems – the two things are not the same and subtle differences can make a big difference.

So just briefly, the main features of member management and CRM systems:

Member management systems generally provide:

  • Web-based registration process by membership level
  • Renewal and payment system
  • Member contact system
  • Membership directory
  • Social interactions, e-marketing and e-fundraising solutions
  • Member event management
  • Secure /member only web content

CRMs generally provide:

  • Lead and sales management
  • Contact lists
  • Contact history and interaction notes (eg. archive important emails)
  • Payment history

Member management systems are very good at providing a web-based ‘self service’ portal to manage and recruit members.  They are not so good at maintaining an archive of your interactions with members over time.

The reverse is also true for CRMs.  Most CRMs are good at lead management and contact history, but they don’t provide a portal for members to self-serve or Membership renewal and lapses processes.

Is there a solution for a combined CRM and MM? The answer is yes and no.  

To take a quote from SilverBear Membership: “a best practise membership supplier – whatever product or technology it is based on – will look to use what it has developed to meet your needs, and to shape your business processes accordingly(Click for the source)

In short, for many organisations, the best solution will be two solutions: a backend CRM to support administration, finance and archiving and frontend web-based member management solution to provide member services.

Nothing beats due diligence – put together a priority list (a selection criteria) and talk to agencies such as ZOIK who have experience in implementing web-based member management systems and client CRMs.

When you’re ready to get started, download a copy of ZOIK’s briefing template for membership management websites.

The next step is to talk to our team about your needs. We can help you investigate cloud-based CRMs, such as ZOHO CRM and Insightly that work with front-end member management solutions, such as eMember, Ultimate Member or Nationbuilder, to name but a few.

Do you already have a legacy CRM, such as ACT or Salesforce? We can help you find the best front-end membership system to engage your community and send updates to your CRM database of record using an open API or Zapier integration.

Download a copy of ZOIK’s briefing template for membership management websites.