How to Budget for a New Membership Management Software

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2020 | Tags: Associations, chamber of commerce, JCC, Membership Management Software, nonprofit

The final (and likely selling) point of your board presentation revolves around the estimated cost of the prospective membership management software. Now it’s time to move beyond estimations and get down to brass tax. The following 4 steps will put you and your organization on the path to a manageable budget and organizational growth.

Establish Goals & Explore Possibilities

Be sure to put first things first. It is important to begin the process by sitting down with staff members to set goals and discuss functionality possibilities. The primary goals for the implementation of any new membership management software should be to increase staff efficiency/effectiveness and member engagement, but what that means is often specific to each organization. Ask your team what features would help the organization reach its goals most. Nothing should be off the table for now.

Prioritize Desired Features into “Must-Haves” and “Nice-to-Haves”

At this point, each department should determine which features are necessary for organizational goal achievement. These features are your needs – your “must-haves.” Those desired features that do not meet the must-have criteria are your “nice-to-haves”—features that would be helpful but not of paramount importance.

That doesn’t mean you should toss them to the wayside, though; instead, you should rank them in order of most to least beneficial to the organization so that if and when you have room enough in your budget to inject additional features you already know where to start.

Talk Dollars and Cents

If you spoke with your prospective membership management software provider before presenting to the board, you likely already have some sense of the general costs associated with the product/service. However, if you haven’t, now would be a good time to do so. Speaking with multiple service providers to gauge prices across the industry would also benefit your budget-setting process. Be sure to inquire about the initial fees and the ongoing monthly/annual costs.

After gathering the necessary information, set a monthly/annual budget that makes the most sense for your organization and allows you to secure, at the very least, all of your “must-haves.” Once you set your budget, stick to it.

Don’t Skimp

If you’ve identified the membership management software that will meet your organization’s needs, don’t be afraid to spend a little more money upfront, within reason, of course. Ultimately, if the product can accomplish all that your research shows it can, you have to weigh the benefits of a more efficient, less wasteful organization and a more engaged membership against the monetary cost.

Would it be worth paying a bit more for an outstanding service that pushes your team toward your goals? It might just be. Sometimes a product/service is priced higher because it delivers greater value than its competitors. This is not always the case, of course, but don’t dismiss out of hand paying more for the right product. Just make sure it’s the right one.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve set a budget you can live with, it’s time to receive and vet those service provider proposals. The next post in this series will discuss crafting an effective Requests for Proposal so that your organization can make a sound, budget-conscious purchasing decision.


Read the previous posts in this series:

4 Signs Your Membership Management Software Needs an Upgrade

6 Questions to Ask When Searching for the Best Membership Management Software

5 Simple Ways to Persuade Your Board to Purchase a New Membership Management Software

Are you cobbling together software?

If you’re struggling to keep up with technology, piecing together different software can create chaotic data and confusing work platforms for your team. Technology is ever evolving, it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes.

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