Finance and Fundraising: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Customer Service
Does your AMS vendor respond to your organization's requests in a timely and thorough way?
Ease of Use
Membership Size: 
Industry Type: 
Organization Type: 
Hybrid, Mostly Trade
Primary Job Function: 
Number of Years Using the AMS: 
1-3 years

The Good

I am told the API is very useful. From a finance perspective, I had our IT team build something that allows me to build a query in MemberSuite, save it, and then I have a link that I can use to download updated data on-demand.

I like the flexibility of building custom queries. The functionality is confusing for some, but once you learn it, it is powerful.

The Bad

Nearly every aspect of the financial and fundraising modules is flawed. It is a rare month I am able to close the period without having an issue. Customer support is of very little use. We have support tickets dating back months and years with unresolved issues.

The Ugly

  • We have long since given up on trying to get our inventory to calculate correctly in MemberSuite after years of support tickets going back and forth. We do it all by hand now.
  • We were told before we initially purchased the product that it would support multiple merchant accounts (i.e. one for our association and one for our foundation). We went more than 3 years without being able to process a single transaction in the foundation account. Finally, after that time we are now able to process some transactions, but recurring monthly pledge payments only work for as long as no changes are made to the credit card. If the card is canceled or expires, it cannot be updated, and we move the payment over to be processed directly in the merchant account and entered manually into MemberSuite later.
  • Record keeping in the fundraising module is not comprehensive. If a gift is entered and later needs to be adjusted (e.g. a check bounced or ACH was returned), the easiest way to make that adjustment is to unpost a previous period, unpost the batch, void the gift, repost the batch, repost the period, redownload the batch, and reupload the batch into the financial system.
  • Cancellations and refunds do not work particularly well. There has been an ongoing issue where if a conference registration is canceled and there are add-on sessions attached, the deferred revenue calculation effectively cancels it twice, and you wind up with negative revenue rather than zero.
  • Not specific to finance, but a global issue is with membership flowdown. Our memberships are primarily organization-based, with individuals receiving member benefits by virtue of being associated with an organization. Membership benefits should flow down from the organization to individuals, but there are times when this flowdown can take minutes, hours, weeks, or months. This has implications for finance when someone who should have received member benefits registers for something at the non-member rate, and we later have to make adjustments to grant them the member rate.

Customer support is not particularly helpful with any of these issues. If one of us encounters an issue that is not cut-and-dry, we have taken to tackling it as a team. We have one person watch over the shoulder of the other so that when something goes wrong there is another witness to what actions were taken to lead to the issue. In other cases where there is an issue that we find, we often have to leave it "broken" because if a support ticket is submitted after we have already taken action to rectify the issue, the response is that it is no longer broken and does not require MemberSuite's attention. There are many issues that we cannot appropriately submit for MemberSuite's review because if it directly impacts a member we will not leave it "broken," and thus MemberSuite will not investigate further.

For all of these issues, we have developed complex workarounds that slow down our day-to-day business. There are certainly many other issues I am forgetting because these workarounds have become second nature, when ideally the system we own should be performing many of those tasks for us.