Why your Association Should Use Salesforce Person Accounts

Jeff Golembiewski

October 13, 2022

    If your association is moving to association management software (AMS) built on the Salesforce platform, consider the following: It’s crucial to select a data model for your Salesforce-based AMS that truly supports the way associations work.  

    Associations deal with both people and organizations. Professional associations generally have individual members, yet some are “associate” members, which typically are businesses such as vendors or suppliers. 

    Trade association memberships are primarily made up of organizations, yet most of their interactions are with individuals. So, associations need technology that uses a data model that facilitates business with both individuals and organizations.

    The different reporting needs of associations
    Consider this familiar scenario: You need to report on your association’s current year memberships, and your association manages both organization and individual memberships. This reporting challenge requires a data model that easily accounts for both relationships.

    What is the Salesforce Person Accounts data model?
    By default, Salesforce accounts are business accounts used to store information about organizations or other entities. Knowing that not all organizations adhere to this Contacts/Accounts data model, Salesforce introduced “Person Accounts” as a data model option, which is an ideal choice for associations. Person Accounts best supports associations because they can present data at an individual and organizational level.   

    What are the benefits of Person Accounts for associations?
    Let’s look at a real-world example of the benefits of Person Accounts for associations. Consider these three members and their activities with an association:

    Member 1:
    Organization ABC
    Member 2:
    Jane (employee of Organization ABC)
    Member 3:
    John (employee of Organization ABC)
    Pays member dues Serves on a committee Attends an annual conference
    Makes PAC donation Makes PAC donation Attends a webinar
    Sponsors annual conference Attends a webinar
    Submits an annual meeting speaking session


    In this scenario, when using Person Accounts and running a report of who made a PAC donation, both Organization ABC and Member Jane will appear in the report – which is the way you expect reporting to work. However, this report would be challenging with the Contacts/Accounts data model. 

    Now, consider a scenario in which Member Jane leaves Organization ABC and joins Organization XYZ. Using the Person Accounts data model, Member Jane’s engagement with the association while working with Organization ABC will still live with the account, so the association has a complete view of Member Jane’s history of engagement. Again, this would be extremely challenging using the Contacts/Accounts data model.

    With Person Accounts, your association will have a connected member experience across all teams and channels, so all your member data is accessible in one location. Person Accounts presents a simplified user experience for your association staff. Rather than employees having to search in multiple locations for organizational and individual information, all data is located in one record. 

    Why Nimble AMS uses Person Accounts
    From the beginning, Nimble AMS was built on the Salesforce platform and embraced the Person Accounts data model. With Person Accounts, the Nimble AMS team can easily adapt the solution to meet nearly every membership structure.  

    Nimble AMS uses Person Accounts because it’s designed to work for associations. It can also scale to meet the needs of complex member-based organizations, as many of the world’s largest associations and nonprofits use Person Accounts to leverage their data. With the powerful combination of Nimble AMS and Salesforce Person Accounts, your association will be able to leverage your data to support a connected member experience.

    Learn more about the value of Person Accounts for your association

    See how Nimble AMS leverages the power of the Salesforce platform to create modern experiences for association staff and members: download our guide, Nimble AMS and the Salesforce CRM Platform It’s Built On.

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