Follow the trail
The System Suppliers list and details are on a separate page.
See Accounting Software - The Selection Process for some basic advice when considering a new computer application.
You may want to check out providers of membership services, fundraising (services) on the net, or possibly consultants. (Membership management and fundraising are often linked, as they are about maintaining contacts and recording interactions between you and them whether it is participating in a letter writing campaign or making a donation.)
Member to member communication and involvement devices (e.g. community portals) are relatively new areas of development. As the technology improves and gets more widespread, expect more of this, largely built around the web. Email newsletters and internet forum/group facilities are also relevant. See Tech Tips.
Don't forget that Data Protection legislation applies to membership systems - see our Information Management page.
A briefings style page, in the Specialist Software grouping.
Be aware that often the suppliers are also the authors of the software, and are reliant on a remarkably small number of employees or consultants to come up with the goods. They may have good intent, but you need to be sure they can deliver on your requirements. Will they be around for a few years yet? Ask to see the software doing what is essential to you, with some serious data loaded; get a reference and follow it up; don't rely on promises but get it in writing with timescales and compensation for any failures which are down to them. Will they update key facilities quickly when regulations change (e.g. charity tax reclaims)?
Do they have a User Group - how independent is it, and can you speak to somebody from it? Is the company really only familiar/interested in a particular type of membership organisation eg trade associations? Some may only have a peripheral interest in the membership side - they may have only one (or even no) client using it for the software for this purpose. Don't be impressed by how many systems have been installed, but try to discover how many are actually in use, and fully implemented. Above all, be clear from the start what you are looking for - what is crucial and what is wishlist, and don't overlook the former due to fantastic but marginally useful extra facilities.
There is a multiplicity of offerings out there, and it is not always easy to tell why some cost a lot more than others to implement. Overall cost of implementation and ongoing support is very important to assess in advance - there can be a load of 'extras' which end up being essential to get the results you want. There is also always something that ends up being impossible to do, or requires major changes to the way you work. Consider whether you would be better using your limited time elsewhere, and buying in membership management. Things are getting better slowly, as software houses get to grips with how organisations operate in practice.
Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) developed for commercial business is improving and getting cheaper. If your requirements are straightforward, these may be worth a look.
Address/data capture and entry
QAS Systems QuickAddress is designed to meet the name and addressing software requirements of all companies, regardless of size, industry type or product offering. It ensures that such information is accurate, consistent and properly maintained over time by using the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File (PAF), and enhances records with additional data relating to premises, an individual or a postcode, adding further value. Welsh version now available. Phone 020 7498 7777, email: email@example.com
AFD Software, Old Post Office Lane, West Quay, Ramsey, IM8 1RF, phone 01624 811711
Member to member
See Web-Mem on System Suppliers page.
Try the nfpTechnology exhibition (link problem May 2013) in the autumn in London.