Frequently Asked Questions
What is a membership platform and how can it help my organization?
Simply put, a membership platform is software that helps organizations enroll and keep track of their members. At its most basic level, membership software processes online transactions for member dues, renewals and donations. Membership site platforms also include features to help organizations:
- Streamline processes:
- Send automated payment reminders, confirmations and receipts.
- Offer auto recurring billing options.
- Build online forms to collect member information or process payments.
- Enable admin oversight of membership application acceptance.
- Integrate with Quickbooks or Xero accounting software.
- Increase sales:
- Promote events with an online calendar.
- Offer both member and non-member ticket pricing.
- Sell goods online with a shopping cart.
- Offer add on membership options to sell advertising, sponsorships or other services.
- Sell job listings.
- Provide member value:
- Showcase members with an online member directory.
- Host a job board for members.
- Require member login to access members only content.
- Set up a community calendar where members can post their events.
- Get started quickly:
- Use the default settings to get going right away or customize the system to make it your own.
- Enjoy easy copy and paste integration into WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace, Without Code, Wix, Duda and other websites.
- Import your member records to avoid manual data entry.
- Stay on top of member activity:
- Simplify member reporting with a daily email on membership activity.
- Get notified when event registrations and form submissions occur.
- Review the membership dashboard for an overview of who has renewed, upgraded or downgraded, gone past due or is approaching renewal.
- Easily export form submissions, event registrations and member data.
- Keep member data secure:
- Set up appropriate levels of administrative access for various staff members and volunteers.
- Store member data separately from your website so that even if your site is compromised, your member data is secure.
With an all-in-one membership platform, clubs, associations, nonprofits, and groups can have a professional online presence to provide member value while enjoying administrative efficiency.
How do I create a membership database?
You can create a membership database without learning how to code or hiring a developer. For most organizations, signing up for an existing member database platform is the right path. An out-of-the-box solution like MembershipWorks saves you the time and hassle of setting up functions, features and reports. It also helps you comply with privacy laws that can vary between countries and states.
Some newer and smaller organizations manage members with a spreadsheet as an interim step, but it is less efficient than using a database. If you're still managing membership with a spreadsheet, learn why just about any choice of membership management software options is superior.
How much does a membership website cost?
Building a membership website can have both initial fees as well as ongoing costs. Pricing can also vary depending upon the size of your membership and features of your membership plugin.
- Website hosting – This cost will vary depending upon what content management system (CMS) your group chooses, but typically a small nonprofit pays $10-$30 per month for hosting. Popular CMS options include WordPress (the most popular CMS), Squarespace, Weebly, Without Code, Wix and Duda.
- Domain name registration – Domain name registration fees are charged on an ongoing basis and generally run $9-$15 annually.
- SSL certificate – Some website hosting services will include a security certificate as part of their hosting fees. If you pay separately for the certificate, the cost will run anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars per year depending upon features and what the certificate covers. If purchasing a certificate separately, it's a good idea to order the certificate from your hosting company to lessen or eliminate the difficulty of installation.
- Membership software or membership plugin – With MembershipWorks, a startup nonprofit with few members could pay nothing for their membership management plugin until they reach 50 members. Pricing begins at $29/month for plans that offer more features and allow up to 300 members.
- Payment gateway fees – Gateway providers — companies like Stripe, Authorize.net and PayPal Pro — allow you to take credit card payments on your website. Expect to pay around 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction to your payment gateway. Qualified nonprofits can often take advantage of lower rates with some gateways. Some gateway providers charge ongoing monthly fees of $30-$40 or more. See our gateway comparison article to learn more.
- Additional per transaction fees – Some membership management software has a business model of charging per-transaction fees on top of payment gateway charges. Be careful when researching options if you are seeking to avoid these fees. MembershipWorks does not charge any fees in addition to what the payment processor charges.
- Training and support fees – Not all membership software charges fees for ongoing support. Some providers will charge fees according to the number of administrators who can access support services. MembershipWorks does not charge fees for training or support; any administrator can reach out for help.
One Time Fees:
- Setup fees – Some membership management software will charge a setup fee; others such as MembershipWorks do not.
- Website design fees – Membership websites no longer require code knowledge to build, but some groups opt to seek professional help. If you hire a web developer or designer to create a membership site for you, the costs can vary widely. The price you will pay will be in the thousands of dollars. Costs can also vary depending upon what work your organization takes on versus the tasks assigned to the developer. If you are looking to do the work yourself, have a conversation with your membership software support team to learn what tasks are involved and what training and support is available.
- Content development and visual assets – If you are not writing the content yourself, you will likely want to hire a writer. Costs tend to start at $75 per page and go up depending upon the skill level and experience of the writer. You often get what you pay for, so it's not a good idea to go for the cheapest writer. Similarly, if you don't already have photos or videos for your site, you may want to hire a photographer to shoot headshots, a video about your mission and other content. Your web site designer can recommend stock photos for you instead of hiring a photographer, but those will have a cost as well.