The Key to Building a Successful Association Membership Master Database

The secret to success for any association, or group of people who have come together for a common purpose is understanding the drives and motivations of the people involved. Seeing them as individuals is critical since they are the foundation on which any association is built, and their continued engagement can make or break the association itself. This principle remains the same whether it is an industry association, a nonprofit or even an exclusive members-only club.

At the heart of success lies member data, and taking good care and maintenance of membership master databases is of utmost importance. However, this is a challenge associations often struggle with, as constraints on time and resources mean administrative staff are juggling with multiple tasks at the same time. Moreover, members interact with associations for different services, so many a time a consolidated view of all member interactions with services is difficult to get hold of. As such, many associations are also unable to maintain an updated list of members, volunteers and supporters, and engage with them consistently.

Membership relationship management has become a key focus area for associations that are feeling the pressure to innovate and keep members engaged. Associations that fall short on this front eventually witness a ripple effect within the association itself – leading to wasted time, resources, poor decisions and high turnover.

Moreover, when more than one association member has access to data it creates further problems with regard to information duplication or unaccountability. This is why many associations are now turning to integrated membership databases for master data management that are powered by data analytics. Such tools provide holistic views of member-wide data and share a single window into different services a member interacts with. Beside making it easier for associations to retain members, and engage better with the latter, these tools also generate recommendations for increased cross-selling and up-selling.

How to build a membership database

In order to build a successful database, understanding members is critical. Fortunately, there are enough technologies and tools that can help association employees do so. With the help of analytics, associations can now identify the exact requirements of their members, by viewing their previous interactions and preferences. Insights gained here can help build a sustainable communication channel, which ultimately helps obtain more information to populate databases with. Identifying association needs and member preferences at the beginning of this journey is crucial, and many associations make the mistake of overlooking this factor, by not providing enough training or expertise to their employees.

With the help of such software and the marketing data they provide, associations can prioritize their exact requirements in the context of users, accessibility, functions, information and much more. This can give them a complete picture about successful and failed engagements in the past. It can also enable them to deploy data collection and governance processes – activities that associations may find challenging to implement by themselves. Once associations understand their members, they can then go about setting measurable and achievable goals to meet their objectives.

What membership software can be used for

The most tangible benefit of effective membership software is to send members timely communication in formats that engage them effectively. For some, this may translate into email campaigns, whereas for others it may imply a direct phone call. While possessing data on member preferences and past engagements is valuable, the inability to properly visualize this data and derive actionable insights from it can be detrimental for associations. After all, data is only valuable if it can aid decision making – and for that, it must be analyzed intelligently.

This is where membership software gains added importance as it aids decision making at every stage of the member lifecycle – awareness, recruitment, engagement, renewal and reinstatement. It enables associations to test and track their member strategies systematically, and puts in place metrics that help administrative staff better understand member psyche. With deeper insights into the activities, demographics and transactions of members, associations can thus tailor their communication and engagement tactics accordingly.


For associations to successfully ingrate members with their core values and convert them into brand ambassadors, they need to build a successful framework that encourages participation and renewal. In the 21st century, it’s no secret that data provides the ideal platform and methodology to achieve that. Insightful metrics can pinpoint past successes and failures, and also influence engagement spikes when the time demands.

Associations can thus flesh out their operational strategies, armed with advanced software, and ensure they do not undertake repetitive or mechanical work. They can also leverage their membership database to determine additional activities such as sales, marketing, helpdesk and more. This can give them the time and resources to chalk out strategic plans that are aimed at better engaging their members, and also build for future success.

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