Managing Members?
January 20, 2017 10:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm working with a nonprofit organization on their website and am looking for a clean, easy way to manage members. All the options I've tried so far are awful. I just want a membership listing on a Squarespace page that members can edit but I can't find any easy way to do this.

I've made the organization's website on Squarespace but need to add a member listing, member signups, member profiles, dues payments, etc. Squarespace doesn't offer this tool so I'd ideally like to embed a tool or link to a website that would offer this functionality. Second choice would be a whole new website that is geared towards this need.

I can only find one site that can integrate into Squarespace - Membership Works - but it's messy to setup and even after a couple hours playing with it I've decided it's over my head. Also, it seems to be completely unknown online which makes me hesitant to trust it.

There a bunch of association management website tools - I've tried a bunch and they all seem like they stopped development in about 2001. The themes are awful and their website design tools ares clunky and counterintuitive. I spent 3 hours trying to set up just two pages on Wild Apricot, which seems to be the most popular, and they're still a mess. I could have made a whole Squarespace site in that time.

I've also looked at ClubExpress, Memberplanet, AMO, and a few other similar sites. They're difficult to set up and some have themes from the 90s.

Are there any clean, easy ways to do this?
posted by rglass to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if it works with SquareSpace specifically but I've been dabbling with Firebase in an Angular2 project for authentication.
posted by getawaysticks at 11:02 AM on January 20, 2017

The Raiser's Edge can do exactly this with their membership management module. It's not the cheapest thing in the world but they offer excellent training and tech support. Raiser's Edge is really the gold standard in nonprofit databases, aside from Salesforce, which may also be able to do this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:08 AM on January 20, 2017

Also - if you're having a ton of trouble setting this up yourself, it may be worth hiring a consultant to do the initial setup. They might also be able to recommend the best software tool to use.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:10 AM on January 20, 2017

I've heard good things about amember. You could install it on a subdomain. But in general, 90s themes and configuration details are a good reason to bring in a consultant. A lot of consultants can just copy & paste your own site's theme styles and quickly get the membership software looking like it fits right in.
posted by circular at 11:17 AM on January 20, 2017

Take a look at Volunteer Scheduler Pro! I worked there briefly so I understand the program fairly well. There's Scheduler component and a Volunteer web terminal that may work for you.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2017

What you're looking for is called a CRM (customer relationship manager), and they're often bundled with a CMS (content management system).

There are tons of them, with many oriented specifically for non-profits, and even niches within non-profits (like NationBuilder for political non-profits). I used to work at a big non-profit and part of my job was running the CRM.

So, the good news is that there are a lot more options out there than what you're finding. The bad news is that there are a LOT of options, and configuring them is often kind of a headache.

As for Squarespace integration, the only platforms that I've seen that explicitly note their compatibility are the two biggest: Salesforce and Blackbaud (Raiser's Edge). Squarespace itself is a CMS, and since many other CRMs are also bundled with CMS's, they aren't necessarily compatible. There are open support tickets on Squarespace about CRM integration, and there are open support tickets on Salsa and Drupal about Squarespace. None seem to give very good info.

Ultimately, if this kind of membership management is important to you, it's worth integrating from the ground up into your web presence, and that likely means using another CMS besides Squarespace. If you're thinking about Salesforce or anything from Blackbaud, make sure that you (or the organization) spend some time thinking about what kind of relationship needs you're going to have, with the background understanding that all a CRM is, is a database. So, what kind of fields will you need, what kind of relationships do you need, what kind of features do you need? Like, do you want this to integrate with communication stuff like newsletters? Will your members be uploading anything (e.g. photos) to their membership profile pages? What kind of filters or views would be helpful? Thinking about this first is really important because once you've got your database configured one way, it can be a huge pain in the ass to reconfigure it. And because there's a ton of features for basically any system, knowing what you don't need will help make sure that the staff of the non-profit actually use the system well — I've seen places spend a lot on a CRM, then just go back to using Excel spreadsheets to track things because the learning curve was too high.

Since I've mentioned the biggest players (Blackbaud and Salesforce), it's worth mentioning some other solutions, especially at the smaller end:

Wordpress can do CRM and CMS stuff, and there are purpose-built plugins to handle this sort of membership management. Wordpress is just a database; putting another database on top of it is easy (-ish, I mean, beyond my limited php skillz, but not that hard for a professional developer).

Drupal is all open source and can do basically anything if you put your mind to it, but doing the actual installation can be pretty technical because you have SO MANY OPTIONS (similar to Linux). The biggest advantage of a system like that is that you're not tied into legacy costs very much — it's easy to update, and there are more modules for it all the time. The downside is that outside of the content generation, mucking around in it takes some fairly developed chops, so your installation costs will be higher but your maintenance will be lower, though you'll still likely want to contract for outside support. The main module for this sort of stuff would be CiviCRM.

Joomla is similar to Drupal, but honestly, I don't have very much experience with it, so I'm just mentioning it because you can investigate it on your own.

You can also roll your own with a bit of backend javascripting and a self-hosted database. Squarespace ostensibly allows that, and you can handle the dues through recurring payments. The biggest reason I would be wary of doing this would be security concerns about retaining information, but depending how comfortable you are with dealing with that stuff, this can be an option, though it doesn't give you much that you can easily export.
posted by klangklangston at 4:18 PM on January 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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