AMS vs CRM: What is The Best Fit for Your Association?

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AMS vs CRM: What is The Best Fit for Your Association?

Content Strategist
11 minutes read
September 09, 2022

When it comes to finding the right software that meets all the business needs, AMS vs CRM is a major question that confuses all associations.

With both offering important, yet overlapping features, deciding which one to use is often difficult.

In order to help you choose between the two, we will put essential resources on your radar, like:

Quick Reads

Let’s get started.

What is a Customer Relationship Management Software(CRM)?


Simply put, CRM is software that facilitates customer relationship management. It is an integrated, data-driven tool that:

  • Gives you a bird’s-eye view of all your customer interactions.
  • Integrates your internal processes and communication that directly deals with the customers.
  • Manages relationships with your prospects and identifies opportunities to nurture them.

Hence, it stores all details of your customers, including your prospects (people who might be interested in your organization), current customers, and past customers. This information is collected as:

  • Contact lists: Information regarding your customers.
  • Interactions happened in the form of website leads, emails, or phone calls.
  • Engagement history: whether they filled out any form, purchased from you in the past, or attended your events.
  • Lead score: The probability of a prospect becoming your customer.

You can use this information to contact your potential customers and create marketing strategies for member acquisition. Additionally, it allows you to market to the current members creatively, allowing you to generate new revenue streams.

Thus, it makes CRM vital for sales because it identifies prospects and upsells opportunities.

The Core Functions of a CRM

crm functions Source: Software Advice

A CRM is primarily used to maximize long-term sales by enhancing stronger customer relationships. It evaluates all the data available to assess and manage all your touchpoints with your customers, both members, and non-members.

Thus, a feature-rich CRM provides the following functions to help you manage your customer relationships:

Lead Management

lead scoring

Lead management is the most important function of a CRM.

A CRM makes sure that you dont lose any leads. Thus, it captures lead details from all the integrated channels including website lead magnets, social media, and emails.

The CRM system also serves to qualify and score leads correctly so that you can monitor their progress during the sales cycle and take the appropriate marketing measures to nurture them.

Additionally, it helps you identify the most promising leads by giving them a score based on their conversion odds, saving your time and marketing efforts on unqualified leads.

Contact Management

The second most important function of a CRM is to store customers’ details including their names, email addresses, contact numbers, and social media profiles in the database which is easily searchable.

It also creates an integrated profile for each customer so you can save and track your interactions (including marketing emails and call recordings) with them.

Many well-loaded CRMs have smart lists of contacts, which allow you to access your data at any time without having to manually filter a view, or select specific leads or contacts.

Analytics and Reporting

CRM has an analytical dashboard that tracks customer engagement metrics such as ROI, leads, conversion, and retention rates.

These reports provide a high-level picture (with drill-down options) of how your association is doing in all areas, not just marketing. They are also shareable to help make data-driven decisions through effective collaboration.


A CRM can be linked with other marketing tools to create and automate marketing campaigns. It syncs contacts with campaigns, thus facilitating seamless automation.

These can be further focused and segmented depending on the collective needs of marketing, customer support, and sales department, thus standardizing workflows and processes.

What is an Association Management Software (AMS)?


AMS is professional software that is designed to manage the association workflows by automating several administrative tasks like:

  • Processing memberships
  • Collecting payments
  • Organizing events
  • Managing committees
  • Fundraising

Thus, an AMS frees you from all the administrative duties, so you can concentrate solely on engaging your members.

Another important function of an AMS is to store your members’ data including:

  • Their contact information
  • Subscription history
  • Attended events
  • Members lapse

Just like the CRM, an AMS utilizes the data to provide its members with the best experience possible.

The Core Functions of an AMS

The core function of an AMS is to manage your day-to-day association tasks including memberships, emails, events, and website.

You can also plug them into other systems to extend their capabilities.

Although an AMS's functionalities depend on its features, some of the common ones include:

Management of an Association Website

membership site

When integrated with your association’s website, an AMS can help you build a professional-looking website by automating the creation of several pages, including:

Since the AMS acts as a supplementary website builder, it helps you create consistent branding across all your website pages. Read this case study to know how. Automation of Online Payments You can automate your membership fee and funds collected through the AMS. All payment details are stored securely using an encrypted process in the software. Additionally, it offers a consolidated interface for processing recurring payments.

AMS can also send reminders to members when their subscription fees are due and flag lapsed subscriptions so that the sales team can act promptly.

Improved Member Communications

The AMS plays an important role in improving communication with members. It sends automated emails, newsletters, event invitations, and community updates, all through the integrated system.

Creating Member-Exclusive Content

Many robust AMS provide access to resources like white papers, educational courses, and jobs. These are made available exclusively to members and are implemented through an integrated LMS and job boards.

Is AMS a CRM? How are AMS and CRM Different?

ams vs crm

CRM systems and AMS systems store data, but they differ primarily in their target audience, capabilities, and core focus.

Target Audience

CRM has a larger audience base i.e. it can be used by all businesses (B2B and B2C) to improve their relationship with customers. On the other hand, An AMS is built exclusively for associations.

Primary Focus

CRM focuses on creating better customer relationships and creating opportunities for organizations to grow, while AMS focuses primarily on managing the day-to-day membership workflows.



AMS systems typically collect data and provide basic reporting capabilities based on their workflow requirements like event registrations, attendees check-ins, email open rates, surveys, and numbers of lapsed members.

CRM, on the other hand, uses member data to analyze leads and score them accordingly.

Website Management

As website management is a major part of association workflows, AMS platforms also provide back-end support to them.

This goes hand-in-hand with the events and campaigns creation feature, which helps them develop a consistent voice across all platforms.

In contrast, CRM does not support website creation.

It is important to note, however, that the capabilities of both systems, depending on their providers, vary in terms of search, business intelligence, and analytics.

Questions Associations Should Consider Before Implementing AMS or CRM

buy crm vs ams

Here are a few questions you may find useful if you're considering buying an AMS or CRM for your association/membership organization:

  • Does the system have the modules to support the functions in your association?
  • Is it cloud-based?
  • Is the software within your budget?
  • Does it possess flexibility and scalability?
  • Is it compatible with other essential tools you use?
  • Does it have the reporting metrics you are looking for?
  • How does the post-go-live support look after its adoption?

Member Data Platform: How CRM and AMS Work Together to Optimize Operations?

Just like other digitalization technologies, an AMS and CRM can also be combined to make a revolutionary Member Data Platform (MDF). As a result, associations can provide their members with first-class experiences by combining the benefits of both options without their downsides.

An AMS that Provides Lead Scoring

When combined, AMS data can identify successful prospects for associations by identifying patterns. For example, people buying your training materials after an event or recommending your associations.

These insights will help you locate leads with greater precision and focus your marketing efforts where they are needed.

Insights from CRM Data to Improve Product Offerings

product offering

Data gathered from the AMS can help you identify members’ activities like:

  • How many events did they attend?
  • Their feedback through the survey
  • Their community engagements

A CRM when integrated with the members’ data on the AMS can provide further insights like:

  • Is the website useful to them? Can they find what they are searching for? (Through customer journey on the websites)
  • Is there a need for a new event, service, or feature? (Through search bar, chatbots, and downloading history)

By considering this information, you can improve how you interact with your members. At the same time, you can implement changes to your offerings through the AMS.

Automating Member Emails and Newsletters

Automation is a critical function of a CRM. By combining this with AMS content generation ability, your members can receive automated, yet targeted emails.

One such application is the onboarding process when your members need a welcome package with some training materials. Thus instead of sending all the information at once, you can break it down into targeted emails and automate sending them at regular intervals.

Glue Up's Approach: CRM-Based AMS for Associations

crm based ams

Glue Up is an all-in-one solution for associations looking for a feature-rich AMS with a fully integrated CRM. It is a cloud-based platform that consists of different modules, all connected through a centralized CRM. Each module has a specific function to fulfill three core purposes:

  • Streamlining your membership processes
  • Build your community
  • Automate your workflows

As a result, you can build and manage your memberships (an AMS feature) while improving your relationship with customers (a CRM attribute) using the following features:


  • Keep all your contact information and activity tracking up-to-date and centralized.
  • Integrate your company data and access it anywhere from the direct browser login or Glue Up Manager App.
  • Search and save contacts into smart lists.
  • Analyze your community engagement and make smart decisions based on the insights into your member’s activities from events, email marketing, and finances.
  • Track and manage opportunities through each stage of the sales process through sales opportunity workflow.


  • Custom online application forms as well as various membership types make it easy for prospective members to join.
  • Member information is automatically synchronized across the platform from the moment they sign-up for your membership on the website.
  • You can find outstanding payments and send automatic reminders through push notifications and reminder emails.
  • Understand and optimize through overall engagement score.

Event Management

  • Build conversion-optimized event pages that match your branding.
  • Set up VIP and other tickets and offer coupons.
  • Choose supported payment options, and customize the registration form to collect all the information you need in the Glue Up CRM.
  • Manage registrations, collect payments, and facilitate smooth check-ins onsite to carry out successful events.
  • Create temporary accounts for part-time staff at registration desks and assign tasks‌.
  • View event analytics to track registrations, number of attendees, and total revenue.

Email Campaigns

  • Create newsletters, branded event invitations, and campaigns in a few clicks through drag and drop or HTML editor.
  • Create and send member surveys and get responses directly on the platform.
  • Use tailored subscription lists for personalized communications.
  • Embed custom email sign-up forms anywhere on your website to gain more subscribers.

Invoicing & Payments

  • Collect payments and generate invoices quickly and easily.
  • Get an up-to-the-minute overview of your entire financial data for events, memberships, and other services directly in the dashboard.
  • Secure payments via credit cards, bank transfers, or online digital payment operators.
  • Reach customers across the globe by accepting payments in more than 50 currencies.


  • The platform has private social media to foster relationships among your members.
  • The custom hub enables sharing ideas, discussing relevant topics, and a place to socialize.
  • Allows 1-on-1 chats and digital business card exchanges.
  • Also available in the app form (My Glue) for quick access.

Successful Examples of Associations Using Glue Up’s CRM-Based Association Management Software

ITE Met Section Goes Paperless With Glue Up

ite met

The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Metropolitan Section of New York and New Jersey was searching for a solution that would make their job easier and provide them with more data to improve future events.

Instead of going for CRM or AMS alone, ITE implemented Glue Up’s all-in-one solution which enabled them to:

  • Make commendable improvements to their check-in process and data quality.
  • Store their registration information in one place within the cloud-accessed CRM.
  • Make the check-in process run smoothly and remove any possibility of duplicate data.
  • Compile pre and post-meeting reports seamlessly within the platform where they can track them and create easy follow-ups for event attendees.
  • Use drag-and-drop dashboards to create dynamic, customized, and interactive data sets to facilitate ITE Met Section's data analysis.

DNP of Colors Streamlines Communication, Event, and Membership Management for DNPs of Color with Glue Up

dnp of colors

The DNPs of Color (DOC) is a nonprofit nursing organization dedicated to increasing diversity in doctoral studies, clinical practice, and leadership.

By using Glue Up, the organization was able to create a consistent method of communication. Consequently, DNP was able to:

  • Successfully manage a fast-growing community.
  • Populate and schedule its campaigns in advance to optimize its operations.
  • Streamline its event registration process using the CRM and finance modules.
  • Created opportunities for its members through an online networking environment.

With a core mission of enabling and enriching relationships among communities through digitalization, Glue Up is much more than software.

Looking forward to consolidating your tech with our all-in-one solution? Contact our team to get a free demo today!

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