Association management system (AMS)
An association management system (AMS) is a computerized system which provides a non-profit organization basic database features to run its operations, such as member services, dues, event management, communications, product databases and fundraising.
Typically, an AMS will be linked to an association’s public-facing website so that members and customers may interact with the association. These interactions may include purchasing memberships, products, events, and more. Interactions could also include non-financial transactions such as updating contact information and sharing documents through participation on committees or task forces.
Just like many other modern software packages, AMS started off as desktop software, progressed to client-server model and now a web-based (aka software as a service model is being rapidly adopted. In web-based systems AMS become tightly integrated / interlinked with CMS (website content management system).
Many small associations and clubs use a homegrown custom-developed AMS based on existing database programs and external software for specific needs, such event registration, online payment and newsletters.
Some 100 AMS systems are commercially available. Many of these will focus on specific target markets. For instance, very large complex associations, small and medium size associations with little resources, and association management companies that manages multiple associations using a single system.
Complexity of the membership structures that the software needs to manage is an important factor in selecting this type of software. If the membership base is a persons-only scenario with no company relationships then a simple spreadsheet or data table can often be used. If complex company and person relationships exist, and billing is optionally to a person and or to a company on a consolidated basis then relational database models need to be employed.
An AMS may also categorize and track member interests and manage service offerings to members based on the particular profile of the member.