Capterra Nonprofit Technology Blog

The latest tech advice for how to manage your nonprofit organization

The Top 7 Free and Open Source Membership Management Software Products

Share This Article

No one can argue—getting things for free is awesome!

Whether it’s a brand new car or just a Chipotle burrito, free stuff makes you happy. So what if you could get something you need and would actually invest money in for free? Maybe something like…membership management software? top 7 free membership mgmt software

I’ve put together a list of the best free membership management software solutions out there for you to compare and contrast.

Get a FREE Copy of the Top 20 Membership Management Software

1. Wild Apricot

Wild Apricot is web-based software for small associations and non-profits to help manage membership, website, events and other activities. It runs through a web browser without needing to install anything on your local computer. Their focus is small organizations and they have a mix of free and paid options. Their free option is free up to 50 members. They charge $25/month when you get to 250 members.

Pros/cons

Wild Apricot offers custom domains and integrates with QuickBooks as well. It has good support (and has some great resources and user reviews), even with the free option, and is very customizable. However, if your organization grows rapidly you will quickly outgrow the free version and have to pay monthly fees.

2. Silkstart

Silkstart is software for helping associations better grow their membership and promote their causes. They have a platform that helps organizations accept payments online for dues, events, and a host of other things. They are SaaS and are free up to 250 dues-paying members. They charge $250/month when you get up to 1,000 members.

Pros/cons

In addition to all the basic membership management features, Silkstart has dashboards that help associations see how their organization operates over time, they have early-bird ticket creation, and a strong focus on events, and they have a great blog for tips and advice. Their strong focus on events and also the ability to see the success of your organization long term is great for your business. However, they were just started in 2010, so consider the pros (often greater innovation and usability) and cons (less of a track record) that come with new businesses.

3. GroupSpaces

GroupSpaces provides technology to manage membership, activities, and promotion online through a free group website. Their main customers are mostly student groups, social groups, and small organizations. They are free up to 50 members, and they begin charging $7.99/month when you get to 200 members.

Pros/cons

GroupSpaces provides ticketing, the ability to create a custom domain or integrate with your current website, as well as manage events. However, they have a very simple back end and they do not integrate with QuickBooks or any other accounting package. It is also worth noting that we attempted to reach them several times with no success. This may be an indication of low customer service levels.

4. MemberPlanet

MemberPlanet is web-based software that provides everything for you to manage your group in one place. It’s used by a wide variety of groups, and is completely free up to 200 members. They begin charging $4.99/month when you get over 200 members.

Pros/cons

MemberPlanet has donation campaigns, integrates with QuickPay, has online surveys, and has different types of support available among quite a few other options. However, at over 200 members there is a monthly fee, and MemberPlanet was just launched last year, making it another new company like Silkstart.

5. BigTent

BigTent is an online platform that allows users to manage multiple groups all in one place. They provide a secure network where members can interact with one another and stay informed and involved in their groups’ activities. Similar to GroupSpaces, the majority of their customers are like-minded groups, social clubs, small organizations, and the like. BigTent is free for any number of members, but does charge a per transaction fee of 4.9% and $0.49 if you need to take payments through it.

Pros/cons

BigTent offers payment processing and unlimited free photo and file sharing as well as more general functionality to manage your membership. BigTent is great for small groups/organizations with a small budget and not many people or the time to manage complicated software—they have a customer support page to help you through it yourself. It’s very basic and simple to use and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. However, they don’t give you a custom domain, and they also charge transaction fees.

6. ClubMaster

ClubMaster is an open source membership management system written in PHP. Its goal is to make a complete membership solution that is free for all, and contains all enterprise features. It’s licensed under a Beerware license (a very relaxed license), so you can do everything that you want with the software.

Pros/cons

ClubMaster, in addition to the inherent customizability of being open source, includes shop/order management and integrates with QuickPay. That said, it also means they have very limited support (there is a mailing list for support questions) so you may run into problems with installing and running the software unless you or someone else in your organization is tech savvy.

7. MembersGear

MembersGear is a free open source membership software that provides you with all the tools to easily administer a membership or subscription web business. It’s PHP software that allows you to integrate and configure your own design with their management system.

Pros/cons

MembersGear supports member affiliate programs, unlimited groups, and product selling. It’s free and downloadable, and is ideal for managing a subscription-based membership website. However, similar to ClubMaster, support, although free, is limited given that it’s open-source, and unless you’re tech savvy you may encounter some problems.

Are there any more free membership management solutions that I didn’t include? Share them in the comments below!

Looking for Membership Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Membership Management software solutions.

Share This Article

About the Author

Leah Readings

Leah Readings

Follow on

Leah Readings is a Software Analyst for Capterra, a company that connects buyers and sellers of business software. She specializes in church management software along with several other software directories. When she’s not helping software buyers, she is, among other things, reading, writing, and spending time with her family and friends.

Comments

Leah,

I have one more for your list. Open Source Tendenci. Tendenci is not new, but we’re newly FOSS/GPL as of 2011.

(Disclaimer: I am one of the programmers behind Tendenci – The Open Source Membership Management Software. I haven’t posted here before so if a programmer who contributes to a GPL project shouldn’t post feel free to delete my comment.)

Tendenci is The Open Source Membership Management Software platform. Why? Because we love nonprofits and seeing people change the world! Tendenci includes full Membership Management functionality as well as a huge set of utilities specific to non-profits, NGOs and associations in particular. Being GPL / FOSS you are free to download, extend, build out, host with the provider of your choice in the country of your choice. For free. No catches or gotchas.

And while I originally wrote the core of Tendenci in 2001, it was built out by a team of programmers to meet the needs of currently 400+ clients. Then to become truly GPL, we took the leap and it has been rewritten from the ground up starting in 2009 to use Python/Django/Postgres on Linux. It takes a global village.

Full source code is available at github.com/tendenci/tendenci and there is a demo at demo.tendenci.com.

What makes it different is Tendenci is written in Python, not-PHP. And we still benefit from the knowledge of serving and learning from the community for over 12 years. (It just took us a while to go open source as we had to do a rewrite. Sorry for the delay!)

Lastly, built on the Django framework, Tendenci is multilingual with translations crowdsourced through transifex. And we are working on the donor management software portion so people will finally have a REAL open-source alternative to the proprietary “vendor lockin” and the Blackbaud juggernaut. Join us on github!

Our business model? For people looking for hosted, similar to Drupal and WordPress, we do offer a hosted version with a 30 day trial. But that is optional, unlike the proprietary vendors in the NPO space. And in some countries, we don’t even advise you to host anyplace you can’t control your server. So take control and enjoy the freedom. #tendenci #peace

Leah Readings

Hi Ed,

Thank you for adding that! We will definitely keep Tendenci on our radar now for future membership management articles.

I am looking for software to manage an online ten week course. Sign up and pay then deliver the link and prevent others for using it. I’m not sure what you call it. Also I would like to have members subscribe for a small fee each year. Do you have that kind of software?

Hello Domenic,

What you describe is called a Learning Management System (LMS). There is a category for these on the Capterra site: http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/

hi

i m part of a small social group based in india and can we use these softwares in india too?

Hi Leah,

in our little sports club (about 100 members) we have been using the open source solution “Admidio” for quite a while. And we are really happy with it after all these years trying to keep an Excel file with all the member data up to date…

Admidio can be found on SourceForge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/admidio/. It can be used in Danish, Dutch, English, French, German or Italian.

Perhaps this might be interesting for your radar too. :-)

Best regards,
Ulrik

Leah or anyone else – do you know if any of these or which of these allow you to embed a membership directory into an existing website? I use weebly for our site. If it would give me the HTML code for a membership directory, I could put that in our site.

Hi,

I am looking for a membershipsystem for a row club including a reservation system for the rowboats (1 thru 5 users per boat).

Thanks Gerben

You may want to keep the list (principally quite useful) up to date.

SilkStart is no longer free for up to 250 users, they now charge $75/month for more than 50. An amount I personally consider ludicrous for small organisations or clubs. We have about 60 members and I would be crucified if I tried to pay nearly $1000 per year simply to manage out little club. In fact most of the ones listed seem to now charge significantly more than you state with lower membership thresholds for free usage.

It’s not your doing and not your fault, but it does leave a bit of a nasty “bait&switch” taste in ones mouth.

Leah Readings

Michael,

Thanks for pointing that out! I’ll go through the post and make sure that we get all of the systems that are listed updated with the correct pricing information.

Thanks!

I am looking for a membership management software which can have currency decimals up to 3 places. Can anyone point to any?

I have been trying to contact MembersGear support and keep getting this message: “Sorry your support e-mail didn’t sent. Please try again later. ”
They offer online demos of their products, but the logins they give don’t work: admin/admin for the admin area and demo/demo for the customer area don’t work.
Are they still in business? Thanks…

I am a business consultant looking for software (with hosting capability) for my website that can create individual client accounts and profiles so that I can post and update progress of their assignments.

Can you recommend a good group management solution for a small sporting club with under 200 members but with several small clubs under the main club. We need to be able to send group emails to all members or selected smaller groups as well as been able to create and sell tickets to events. We currently use groupspaces and are finding it cumbersome.

Hi Leah,

I will be opening up a physical therapy facility in the near future, and plan on offering fitness memberships to discharged patients. Can you recommend a free membership software package that will allow me to track patient’s accounts? I basically need to simply know when their membership expires. Other functions such as POS, inventory, etc are unnecessary.

Any recommendations would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

Dan

Hi Dan,

Wild Apricot is one of the most straightforward ones on the list. It might be able to do what you need without unnecessary addons.

Nigel,

BigTent might be a good fit if you have multiple locations like that, however if you’d prefer a more one-on-one consultation, contact us here and we can get you set up with a phone call to figure out some options based on your needs (totally free):

http://www.capterra.com/connect

Hi Leah,
Our non-profit support and social club has been using BigTent for a few years now. It has several limitations that we’d like to overcome in another management system. Specifically, we’d like for the admin to be able to add members if the members are unable to do this themselves. We’d like to be able to update members’ information. Members would like to sort for a subset of members such as people who live near them or families with similar aged children. We like a direct link to our Facebook page. Some members dont want to be on Facebook but want to follow our conversations. We’d like posting of discussions and events to be more user friendly. We use evite and paypal for invitations and ticket/fee payments and would prefer one source and no or lower processing fees.

Most importantly, we want our members to only need to go to one location to access all the club information. Historically we have had our public website (hosted by Bluehost and created in Weebly), membership database (BigTent), most active conversation strings (Facebook) and event management (Evite, BigTent, Facebook, PayPal). Too many places to follow.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Terri

Great article and with very helpful tips. I decided to sign up to MembersGear.com based on your recommendation and so far loving the software, thank you!

You forgot CiviCRM, easily the most mature, robust, and featured open-source AND free product available. http://www.civicrm.org

None of these are free, only freemium-alike. You should change your scammy title.

Hi Terri, you may want to consider something like Wild Apricot with their custom domains to solve your centralization questions.

Rok, at least two of the above are totally free given that they are open source software, and the others all have both free and paid options. It’s entirely possible to use any of the solutions mentioned in this article and not spend a dime.

Hi Terri, I will recommend you take a look at Findjoo.com. http://www.findjoo.com/membership-management/learn-more

They offer a free trial and they can help you centralize your access with all the features that they offer. Their portal for members is fully customizable and can be integrated directly into your site.

Has anyone ever used sales force for member management? If so how did that work for you?

Great thread, lots of helpful info. I am looking for membership software that is also a listing portal. Members who join can browse and respond to listings for free but members who wish to post their listings must pay to do so. Can anyone recommend appropriate software that could do this? Much thanks!

Hi Jack J,

What types of listings are you looking for? Personals listings? You may want to get a dedicated social network or dating site software if that’s the case, as they often have built in payment walls for viewing listings.

Thanks for all the article and responding to comments. I’m looking for a system that can help me track planned giving current and prospective donors. The church database doesn’t have this capability, and I’m just working with a small subset of the membership anyway. I’ve never used software like this and want to find something easy to use that can help me keep up with client relationships. Any ideas? Thank you so much.

Hi Julia,

It may not be free, but have you considered dedicated Donation Management software?

We have a list of the here: http://www.capterra.com/donation-management-software/

We’ve also got a post comparing donation modules for church software: http://blog.capterra.com/church-donation-modules-comparison-7-software-options/

Hope these help!

I am looking for a free (or very inexpensive) membership application for maintaining the membership database with various membership types, sending annual dues notices and processing dues payments. Any other functionality would be a bonus but not necessary. Our current membership is approximately 400 members. Any suggestions?

Do you realize that none of these are now free???? Do you have an updated article with actual free ones??

Misha,

Thanks for the comment, we will be updating this post with new solutions and comparisons shortly!

Comment on this article:


Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.