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5 Top Association Websites (+10 Things You Can Learn From Them)

12 min read
March 08, 2024
Alex Huntsberger
An overhead shot of 3 women sitting on a coach and pointing at an association website on the screen of their silver MacBook laptop.

When you’re running a membership-based nonprofit, your association website is going to be accomplishing a million different tasks. 

Not only is your association website the place where potential members can learn more about your organization, sign up for your newsletter, and submit an application, but it’s also the spot where existing members can access their benefits, learn about industry news, register for events, and so much more. 

With so much of your association’s business running through your site, it’s critical that you incorporate the kinds of tried and true website best practices that ensure a good user experience for members, old and new. 

That’s where we come in! In this article, we highlight five top association websites (all built on Neon Websites) and ten best practices that you can take from them!

1. New York State Dispute Resolution Association (NYSDRA)

This is a screenshot of the New York State Dispute Resolution Association's homepage. Across the top of the page is a banner that says, "Not a NYSDRA member yet? Join online today to enjoy the benefits of being a part of a statewide network of ADR professionals!"
This is a screenshot of the New York State Dispute Resolution Association’s homepage. Across the top of the page is a banner that says, "Not a NYSDRA member yet? Join online today to enjoy the benefits of being a part of a statewide network of ADR professionals!"

New York State Dispute Resolution Association (NYSDRA) is a membership organization that promotes alternative dispute resolution solutions such as mediation and arbitration that don’t involve going to trial. 

We encourage you to check out their website yourself—it’s a great one—but here we’ll highlight two elements that they nail particularly well. 

Explain Your Membership Program

A screenshot of NYSDRA's membership page where they explain all the benefits of their membership.
A screenshot of NYSDRA’s membership page where they explain all the benefits of their membership.

Your association’s website is going to be one of the best assets you have for recruiting new members. That’s why you need to make sure that your site fully explains the ins and outs of how membership works. 

NYSDRA’s site has an entire element in its primary navigation (that’s the menu that appears at the top of every page; we’ll be mentioning it a lot) dedicated to its membership program. 

Under that menu item, they have three sub-items: “Become a Member,” “Membership Benefits,” and “Membership Levels.” All three items link to different parts of the same page, where those different aspects of their membership program are explained in full detail. 

It gives prospective members all the information they need, it’s easy to navigate, and it makes signing up a breeze. That’s how you do it!

Encourage Advocacy

A screenshot of the Encourage Advocacy page on NYSDRA's association website.
A screenshot of the Encourage Advocacy page on NYSDRA’s association website.

One of the top services that membership associations can provide for their members is advocating for their shared interests. Oftentimes, that advocacy involves some combination of directly lobbying lawmakers and spreading awareness more generally.

NYSDRA’s website makes signing up new advocates easy by dedicating an entire page to their advocacy efforts. It’s even given its own item in their primary navigation!

That item links to a dedicated page with different tabs for “Bills” and “Votes,” as well as directories where users can look for elected representatives, elections, and media organizations in their area. 

Consider adding a page like this to your association’s website and use it to bolster your advocacy campaigns. Your supporters will appreciate how easily they can make their voices heard.

2. Financial Women’s Association (FWA)

With over 800 members worldwide, the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) supports the professional development of all women in the financial community through a range of programs that include education, scholarships, networking, and mentorship

The FWA website contains too much good stuff for us to cover here, but we especially want to highlight the members-only section of their site and their truly fantastic career center.

Include a Members-Only Section

A screenshot of the membership login portal on the FWA's association website.
A screenshot of the membership login portal on the FWA’s association website.

When someone signs up for your association, they’re going to be receiving exclusive member benefits. And a good benefit to offer is access to a members-only section of your website.

When FWA members land on the organization’s homepage, they can click the big blue button in the upper right-hand corner that lets them log in to their member account.

Networking is one of the valuable resources offered by the FWA to its members, and the members-only section of their website contains (among other things) a directory that members can use to build personal and professional connections with each other.

Creating a members-only section of your website might seem like a difficult task to manage, but Neon Websites has a membership feature that makes applying permissions and updating members-only content a snap!

Host a Career Center

A screenshot of the career center page on the FWA's association website.
A screenshot of the career center page on the FWA’s association website.

This is actually two lessons rolled into one. 

First, hosting an industry-specific career center is a good way to offer value to members while also drawing in prospective members. Second, hosting a really amazing career center will get so much further than hosting a mediocre one.

The FWA’s website hosts a truly amazing career center! It not only includes a sector-specific job board, it’s also got resume writing advice, career analytics, and coaching opportunities. Plus, it’s got an entire blog’s worth of more generalized career advice and analysis.

Some of these benefits, like coaching, are only available to members. Others, like career analytics, are available to everyone. Still others are a hybrid. Members looking to post a job, for instance, receive a discount. 

All in all, it’s a really impressive feature—one that clearly requires work to maintain and looks like it is well worth the effort. We encourage you to check it out for yourself!

3. Kansas Pharmacists Association

A screenshot of the Kansas Pharmacists Association homepage.
A screenshot of the Kansas Pharmacists Association homepage.

The Kansas Pharmacists Association was founded in 1890, making it one of the oldest statewide professional pharmacist organizations in the country. As it has for the past 134 years, The association protects and advances the interests of pharmaceutical practitioners and students in the state of Kansas.

This website has a lot of nifty features, but we want to call out some more basic best practices it embodies: a well-structured primary navigation menu and a vibrant section dedicated to industry news. 

Use Your Primary Navigation Menu to Save Clicks

A screenshot of a page on the Kansas Pharmacists Association website with the "Resources" menu open to display the 10 items listed underneath it.
A screenshot of a page on the Kansas Pharmacists Association website with the "Resources" menu open to display the 10 items listed underneath it.

“Saving clicks” can be a useful mindset to bring when designing your association’s website. How many clicks will it take a visitor to get from your homepage to any other place on your website? The more clicks it takes, the worse experience they’re going to have.

The Kansas Pharmacists Association’s website solves this problem by employing a primary navigation menu (see, we told you that phrase was going to be used a lot) that is chock full of information without being busy.

The menu is divided into basic categories: “About Us,” “Membership,” “Education + Events,” “Advocacy,” and “Resources.” All of those items have full sub-menus that deliver anything a visitor could reasonably want to know.

Even better, it does all this while only sparingly using nesting sub-menus. You know, where you hover over a menu item and a brand-new menu accordions out? Those features are best used sparingly, and this website uses them only when necessary.

Share Industry News

A screenshot of the Industry News page on the Kansas Pharmacists Association's website.
A screenshot of the Industry News page on the Kansas Pharmacists Association’s website.

When it comes to upping your website traffic, becoming a trusted and regular source for industry news is an excellent strategy. 

Not only will this steady stream of new content improve your performance with search engines, but that news can also be repurposed into emails and social media posts that will attract potential members and set them on the path to joining.

The Kansas Pharmacy Association maintains a great news section on their website, but we also wanted to highlight the widget that they use to share those news items on their homepage.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that this is one of the many user-friendly widgets available in Neon Websites. Do you want to take a page out of the Kansas Pharmacy Association’s book and share news on your website homepage? We’ve got you covered! 

4. NAFDMA International Agritourism Association

This is a screenshot of the homepage for the NAFDMA International Agritourism Association site. Right in the center of the page is a video that introduces videos to the organization and their work.
This is a screenshot of the homepage for the NAFDMA International Agritourism Association site. Right in the center of the page is a video that introduces videos to the organization and their work.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a hay ride and some fresh apple cider at your local pumpkin patch, you might just have NAFDMA to thank for your fun fall memories.

The NAFDMA International Agritourism Association is committed to advancing the agritourism industry by connecting local farm operators across the globe to pool their knowledge and experience through events, resources, communications, and peer-to-peer exchanges.

We had our pick of awesome elements to highlight on NAFDMA’s site—the video they include on their homepage is an especially nice touch—but we decided to go with how they highlight their events and their use of dual CTA buttons.

Highlight Your Events

A screenshot of Events calendar listing widget on the NAFDMA homepage.
A screenshot of Events calendar listing widget on the NAFDMA homepage.

For many associations and membership-based nonprofits, events are a critical strategic pillar. Events can be the thing that gets new members to sign up, old members to stick around, and everyone on the same page regarding the organization’s mission-critical goals. 

In other words, events are really important! So it makes sense that you’d want to take a page out of NAFDMA’s playbook and highlight your events on your homepage. 

Using this sleek calendar widget (courtesy of Neon Websites, of course), all NAFDMA’s staffers have to do is add a new event to their schedule, and voila, it appears on their homepage with CTA buttons to learn more and/or register all ready to go.

Use Dual CTA Buttons

One of the basic best practices for nonprofit websites is to add a bright, bold “donate” button in the upper right-hand corner of your primary navigation. 

And while your association website won’t ask people to “donate,” the same essential practice applies: Take your top call to action (CTA)—it’s probably “join”—put it in your brand’s brightest color, and slap it in that upper right-hand corner. 

But here’s where the advice changes. If you’re a member association with a members-only section of your website, you should do what NAFDMA does on their site and include a “member login” button in that same spot. 

Never forget that your website is just as much an asset for retaining members as it is for acquiring new ones. By ensuring that your site’s user experience serves your existing members, you’re taking yet another step towards convincing them to renew their membership.

5. National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL)

A screenshot of the National Association of Women Lawyers homepage.
A screenshot of the National Association of Women Lawyers homepage.

Founded in 1899, the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) empowers and advances women in the legal profession and advocates for the equality of women under the law by providing leadership, sharing essential resources, and cultivating a diverse membership.

To close out this article, we’ll cover key areas where NAWL’s website really delivers: their online store and their social sharing features.

Sell Merch

A screenshot of the National Association of Women Lawyers' online merchandise store.
A screenshot of the National Association of Women Lawyers’ online merchandise store.

Looking for ways to get the word out about your nonprofit? By selling branded merchandise, you can turn your supporters into walking advertisements for your organization. And the easier you make the shopping experience, the more merch you’ll sell.

For a great example of how to run an online store for your nonprofit, look no further than the digital store that NAWL has set up with Bonfire, the free online platform for designing and selling custom products.

This store boasts an impressive array of products bearing NAWL’s logo and brand colors, from short-sleeve and long-sleeve t-shirts to hoodies (both pullover and zip-up), baseball caps, mugs, totes, and more. 

We should clarify that this store is actually hosted on Bonfire’s platform, not NAWL’s actual website. But the store does have prominent placement in their site’s primary navigation header, marking it as an important pillar of NAWL’s digital strategy. 

If you’re interested in starting an online store, you should check these insights into recent nonprofit apparel trends courtesy of Bonfire PR Manager Josh Kelley’s 2022 session at Generosity Xchange.

Include Links to Your Social Channels

This last best practice is pretty simple, which makes it surprisingly easy to overlook: Include easy-to-find links to all your social media channels on all your website pages so that new visitors can easily hit that “follow” button and stay in the loop. 

If you take a look at NAWL’s site, they have gone the extra mile by including social media icons in both the header and the footer of every single page. By clicking on the logo for Facebook, X, Instagram, or LinkedIn, you’ll be taken immediately to their profile on that site.

Even better, these buttons also include links to their podcast and their email address. A visitor who was interested in the group but didn’t even know they had a podcast can easily click through and discover it, no matter where on the site they are. 

When it comes to engaging potential prospects, the best piece of advice we can give is to make it easy for them. NAWL’s site is a perfect example of a site that makes it incredibly easy for a brand-new visitor to capitalize on that initial interest and stay in touch.

On the hunt for a CRM? Considering Wild Apricot? Click on this image to explore our side-by-side comparison to see which platform would be best for your organization.
On the hunt for a CRM? Considering Wild Apricot? Click on this image to explore our side-by-side comparison to see which platform would be best for your organization.

Want Personalized Website Tips? Take This Quiz!

Starting an association website is daunting. We should know—the Neon Websites team has helped organizations across North America launch tons of them. There are so many best practices to follow and common pitfalls to avoid that keeping them all straight is a chore.

That’s where we can help! Even better, we can drill down to the specifics of your association’s website to help you figure out where you can improve. Just take our Website Optimization Quiz to get your personalized recommendations, and then download our Website Optimization Action Plan to guide your refresh. 

The quiz is fast and easy to fill out. So what are you waiting for? Click the button below to get started!

Take the Website Optimization Quiz

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