Why Association Platforms are the Future of Management Software

By Dirk Behrends, Vice President, Association Solutions, Fonteva & Protech

The tumultuous events of 2020 exposed just how antiquated the technology supporting many organizations is. Now, many are looking for ways to clear out IT cobwebs — and ensure they never come back.

In fact, 71 percent of organizations surveyed in a 2021 study said they were modernizing at least one of their aging enterprise applications, with customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) among the top areas of concern.

Much like a CRM or ERP, an association’s management software is the backbone of its operations and crucial to its overall success. But unlike in-house systems painfully stitched together over decades, today’s association platform technology provides instant and centralized access to critical business functions, including accounting, event planning, marketing, member and sponsor management, ecommerce, and analytics.

Most importantly, these modern solutions come backed by the research, design, and security investments of global leaders like Microsoft and Salesforce, meaning they will grow and evolve with associations over time.

By ending the technology replacement cycle, association platforms ease the technological pain points leaders know all too well—from high maintenance costs and problems to data silos and security issues.

Benefits of Salesforce-Based Platforms

Software that leverages the power of leading true-cloud, enterprise-ready platforms provides multiple benefits, including simplified technology stacks, reduced costs, and the accessibility, flexibility, and security necessary for a resilient future.

For example, association platforms built on Salesforce, the world’s top CRM, tap directly into the $2 billion the company invests in infrastructure development and security each year. In addition, Salesforce offers real-time data on the security and performance of its core system, issues alerts for phishing and malware attempts, and provides an in-depth compliance program.

On the innovation side, Salesforce provides users access to collaboration tools like Salesforce Chatter and more than 3,000 business applications through the Salesforce AppExchange.

Salesforce-based solutions also shine when it comes to simplifying information sharing and digital workflows to provide exceptional user experiences. This includes delivering personalized service across numerous touchpoints and digital channels, boosting productivity through automation, and uniting important data sets that help companies create a 360° view of their customers.

With the right partner, the same technology can be applied to members. For instance, companies like Fonteva combine the power of Salesforce with association-specific membership software, allowing users to connect with members on any device, seamlessly manage communications, and drive insights from built-in dashboards and analytics.

This unique, true-cloud framework also keeps associations up to date with the latest Salesforce innovations so they always have access to cutting-edge membership software.

Platforms Based on Microsoft Dynamics 365

Azure and Microsoft Dynamics 365 also provide a strong foundation for association software. Like Salesforce, Microsoft invests heavily in research and development.

“For the 2021 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2021, Microsoft’s expenditures in this category were about $20.7 billion,” according to AssociationPlatforms.com. “Since net sales for the fiscal year were just over $168 billion, this means that almost one dollar out of every eight that Microsoft brought in was put back into research and development.”

Microsoft plans to invest $20 billion in cybersecurity, quadrupling cybersecurity investments over a five-year period, according to a 2021 report. The company’s extensive efforts in this area come backed by transparent communication in terms of policies, practices, and technologies that bolster compliance, security, and data privacy.

When coupled with association-specific software, Microsoft’s platform technology and expertise help leaders optimize operations across the association. For example, Protech’s association software platform helps associations make the most of Microsoft Dynamics 365, the Azure cloud, and Microsoft AppSource, an online store containing thousands of business applications and services.

More than 120 million commercial customers use Office 365. It follows that associations that use platforms based on Microsoft also help smooth the learning curve for staff and members who are already familiar with the tech corporation’s tools. And, because the company regularly releases updates, such systems always stay current.

Find the Right Platform for Your Association

Whether you choose an association platform based on Salesforce or Microsoft depends on what problems you need to solve, the scope of your mission, and stakeholder requirements, among other considerations.

That’s where online resources can help. AssociationPlatforms.com, for example, offers a technological readiness quiz, a chart comparing popular association management solutions, and insightful articles on choosing a platform fitting for your digital transformation journey.

Ultimately, your goal is to implement a system that will help your association thrive both now and into the future.


In early 2021, Togetherwork acquired Fonteva, a platform solution built on the robust capabilities of Salesforce. Toward the end of 2021, Togetherwork acquired Protech, an association platform solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. Through AssociationPlatforms.com, Fonteva and Protech educate the industry on technology that empowers associations to deliver a modern member experience.