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?

With membership management software, your nonprofit can, among other things, keep track of member applications and contact information, and send out email campaigns to keep members up to speed on all that is happening.

Smaller organizations sometimes don’t have the money for large and expensive systems, but luckily there are lots of free and open source software tools out there for you to use.

 

I’ve put together a list of the best free membership management software out there for you to compare and contrast. Software options are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Admidio 

admidio

Admidio is a basic open source management software available on SourceForge that focuses on general management, and that can be applied to membership and event management. Although basic on the surface, the features of Admidio range from membership list creation and management to integration with online postings and advertising.

Pros/Cons:

Admidio covers many of the key features of membership management software. It can keep your lists updated, integrates with Excel and can export in .pdf format, and it allows posting online and advertising to your member lists.

However, it does not come packaged with many of the bells and whistles included with other software options, such as Wild Apricot. It does not include payment processing, automatic renewals, or accounting. You may want to consider additional software to supplement these functions.

Features:

  • Event notifications
  • Excel integration
  • Member database
  • Member profiles

2. BigTent

Bigtent

BigTent is an online platform and subsidiary of care.com, 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. 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% + $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 and 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.

Features:

  • Calendars
  • Dues management
  • Member applications
  • Member database
  • Member subgroups
  • Payment processing

3. ClubMaster

ClubMaster

ClubMaster is an open source membership management system written in PHP (a code language similarly built to HTML). It’s not as pretty as some of the other programs in this list (due to the bare bones code build), but the functionality is still there.

Its goal is to make a complete membership solution that is free for all, and contains a long list of useful 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.

Additionally, as the software has not been updated since 2014, I wouldn’t expect much in the realm of support.

Features:

  • Admin and user interface
  • Calendars
  • Dashboard
  • Gravatar integration
  • Member database
  • Membership auto renewal
  • Online shop management
  • Role management
  • Team membership subscription

4. GroupSpaces

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.

Features:

  • Custom newsletters
  • Email archive
  • Email subscriptions
  • Event manager
  • File repository
  • Group mailing list
  • Member database
  • Membership forms
  • RSVPs

5. MembersGear

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. Its PHP software allows you to integrate and configure your own design with their management system.  MembersGear also offers paid plugin features, if you decide to expand your uses of the software.

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.

Features:

  • Dashboard
  • Excel integration
  • Member database
  • Member email notifications
  • Website widgets and plugins

6. MemberPlanet

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 100 campaign emails and 100 surveys. They begin charging $5/month once you surpass those numbers.

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.

Features:

  • Dues management
  • Fundraising
  • Event management
  • Mobile capabilities
  • Newsletters
  • Member text messaging
  • Member database
  • Targeted distribution lists
  • Widgets for your website

7. Tendenci

tendenci

Tendenci is a much more in-depth open source software solution, covering the major features of membership management, such as payments, membership lists, donations, and email integration. The full version of the software is available for download on GitHub.

Pros/Cons:

Tendenci is feature- and option-rich, to be sure. However, as with all open source software, it does require some technical expertise to get it up and running.  That said, if you don’t want to handle implementation yourself, hosting and support are available as packages purchased on the Tendenci website.

Features:

  • Email marketing
  • Event registration
  • Jobs board
  • Member database
  • Member subgroups

8. Wild Apricot

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. The free option is free for one admin and up to 50 members. They charge $40/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.

Features:

  • Automated membership renewals
  • Member database
  • Membership applications
  • Membership database customization
  • Widgets for your website

9. Zenbership (addition)

Zenbership

Who doesn’t love penguins? Already Zenbership has me hooked with their clean website and quality presentation. This presentation doesn’t end with their website as their software also offers a clean, modern, and easy-to-understand user interface. Zenbership not only offers your standard membership management features, but also includes free event management, social media marketing, and email subscription options.

Pros/Cons:

Zenbership has to be one of the cleanest and most expansive open-source membership management programs I have come across. However this quality comes at a price. The software itself is free, however installation isn’t simple and requires web-hosting on your own Linux-based servers. If you are savvy with technology, then Zenbership won’t present any issues, however for those who aren’t as savvy, Zenbership does offer help for a price.

Features:

  • Automated membership renewals
  • Email marketing
  • Event management
  • Excel integration
  • Member database
  • Payment processing