MemberWise survey reveals Umbraco is most popular CMS


Odense, Denmark, 25th October 2022, a statistically significant survey conducted by MemberWise has revealed that Umbraco was cited as the primary content management system (CMS) for developing websites and digital services for medium to large organisations in the UK Membership and Association Sector.

The MemberWise Network is the largest free professional network representing Membership and Association Professionals in the UK. The network represents 8,000 professionals working for over 2,500 membership organisations and associations.

Professional bodies make up the majority (45%) of MemberWise membership, followed by trade associations (14%), business associations (13%) and donation-based charities (10%), with the remainder comprising unions (4%) sports (4%) and consumer bodies (4%), private members’ clubs (2%), subscription companies (2%) and regulatory bodies (1%).

The MemberWise Digital Excellence (2022) survey sought to discover the digital strategies and solutions that best support the membership sector, considering the switch to online engagement driven by the pandemic.

Richard Gott, MemberWise chair and founder said, “The Digital Excellence report is designed to help inform the Membership and Association Sector on the digitally focused strategies that will provide their members with interactive, engaging and value-driven online experiences. This year, 719 managers and directors participated, making this the largest (and most statistically significant) digital-focused research project ever conducted in the sector.”

The survey found that membership organisations’ top seven priorities were user experience, member engagement, acquisition, retention, value, satisfaction, and participation.

“In 2022 many membership organisations have invested in digital infrastructure in response to one of the most challenging periods in living memory. Most organisations have remained resilient, relevant, and responsive by shifting channels online,” said Gott. “Medium to large membership organisations are in a stronger position (based on available budget/resource) to invest in the membership-focused technology stacks and this is evidenced via the recent shift to online channels, increase in online learning/CPD provision, increased publication of journals/magazines online and online/website help centres,” continued Gott.

Key findings of the survey revealed that:

  • The top three technology tools employed by membership organisations are: Association Management Systems (74%), CMS (62%) and email marketing (58%)
  • Umbraco is the number one CMS used by medium to large membership organisations
  • The first 18 months of the COVID pandemic accelerated digital transformations by 5 years
  • There is now a much stronger emphasis on improving members’ user experience and value
  • Members of membership organisations now expect their associations’ websites to enable self-service and to deliver a value-driven experience with online participation, videos, and images.
  • 40% of member organisations reported that website content is structured via audience, rather than the organisations’ internal departments, up from 30% in 2016.
  • 65% have integrated AMS and CMS
  • Membership organisations that have not integrated AMS and CMS cited cost, time, and AMS incompatibility as the main barriers to integration.
  • 62% use CMS to personalise and automate members’ online experience
  • 37% of membership organisations use CMS to measure engagement levels

Commenting on the findings, Mike Pedersen, Umbraco UK Partner Manager said, “Umbraco’s open-source CMS, which forms the core of our composable digital experience platform, allows digital agencies to more easily integrate third party solutions and select exactly the right mix of technologies to suit their clients’ requirements, adapt to change, and ensure the best user experience for their members. This survey shows that we are continuing to empower our digital agency partners to create tailored digital services for member organisations that help them to engage with, retain and attract new members.”

Digital agency, Cantarus, is a long-standing market leader in the membership sector with nearly sixty clients in the space including The Law Society of England and Wales, Royal College of Physicians, Nominet, British Computer Society and Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Cantarus has been an Official MemberWise Network Partner for six years and an Umbraco gold partner since 2019. Lee Adams, Cantarus CEO, comments, “We’ve been heavily invested in the membership sector since 2016 and it’s now our most important individual sector. MemberWise conducts a unique role within the Membership and Associations Sector by bringing together senior professionals, providing support and assembling a strong collective voice. The network allows us to demonstrate our knowledge and expertise by sharing success stories, thought leadership and guidance on best practice. We have partnered with the network to publish a number of best practice guides under the Ultimate Guide series and we’ve run many webinars and seminars to share knowledge on how to build websites to better retain and engage members. It’s a fantastically useful channel for us to reach the sector and showcase our capabilities.”

Commenting on the Digital Excellence (2022) survey finding that Umbraco was the number one choice of CMS for mid-to-large membership organisations in the UK, Adams said, “Umbraco appeals to a wide range of organisations looking to engage with their respective audiences/stakeholders. It’s an open-source product and there’s a fundamental element of trust that comes with that. Umbraco solutions avoid vendor lock-in and allow for low-cost implementations whilst also being a very powerful platform.

In the UK there are 24 Royal Colleges covering all of the medical disciplines. We work with the Royal College of Physicians and, because membership organisations talk to each other, if something’s good and people are having success with it, there is a natural inclination for other Royal Colleges to see what the largest organisations are doing. Umbraco appeals to agencies as well as clients. It’s easy for us to build great solutions on the platform. It’s reliable, it’s secure, it’s not putting our reputation at risk. Umbraco is also pursuing the composable digital experience platform (DXP) model which we see ever-growing demand for, particularly among bigger organisations.”

“Cantarus also uses Umbraco Cloud. Developers and clients like and trust it. It has a rich ecosystem of add-ons from the developer community to enhance its capabilities. Umbraco encourages that and the development of a vibrant ecosystem to the benefit of everybody. We can source an add-on to solve a particular problem and be confident that it is of a high quality, well supported, and won’t disappear in six months’ time. When you’re responsible for the security, performance and stability of a site, it’s really important to have confidence in the quality of the add-ons,” asserts Adams.

Novicell is a large international digital consultancy and Umbraco gold partner since 2011 that has been working with its open-source CMS for more than fifteen years, creating websites and digital solutions for membership organisations such as the British Medical Association (BMA), Denmark’s Nature Conservation Association (NCA), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), The British Library, The Red Cross and the Blue Cross.

Anders Holt, CEO, Novicell comments, “Novicell is very well known for working with membership organisations and we were introduced to MemberWise by our client, the British Medical Association. During the COVID pandemic, the BMA had to swiftly respond to deliver vital information to its large, diverse membership. Using Umbraco, we were able to quickly develop a progressive web app, allowing people to access information on their mobile phone. The great thing about MemberWise is that membership organisations share information on the agencies and technologies that have helped them to successfully navigate such digital challenges, so that they know that they are working with tried and tested technologies and trusted partners.”

Novicell is a proponent of developing microservices, connected by APIs, which allow organisations to be more agile in their approach: quickly adding or retiring technologies in response to changing customer requirements. The consultancy also takes a ‘headless’ approach, where content can be quickly changed in the backend and accessed via multiple channels (‘heads’), to provide a consistent user experience on web, chat and mobile.

“As the survey shows, membership organisations are being challenged to create content that is relevant and engaging, to help retain existing members and attract new ones. As an example, the BMA has had to adapt its written content for the new generation joining the medical profession. This means providing more videos and social media links to cater to that younger audience. We’re helping membership organisations to be ready for this shift,” says Holt. “We’ve been using microservices, API-based, cloud-native and headless technologies for almost a decade and recently joined the MACH Alliance to help more organisations to benefit from this flexible and modern approach.”