Software Selection Guide

What are Membership Management and
Web-based Software?


What is membership management software?

As recently as a few years ago, an organization who wanted to do even mildly sophisticated things online needed to hire web designers and programmers to create a custom member database, to design their website, or to customize existing software to their needs. The process was expensive and laborious. Often these projects would require elaborate and expensive IT infrastructure. And, all too often, the end result was just a temporary fix - a site unable to accommodate the growing organization or, even worse, failing to meet its goals in the first place. But there's good news! A number of web-based software packages now exist that dramatically decrease the effort and expense of automating your membership management and of having real interaction with members, donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders through your website. These packages allow non-techies to do the lion's share of website updates and other administrative tasks. But which one is best for YOUR organization? We hope this guide will help lead you to the right answer!

What is "web-based" software?

Many people still think of "software" as something that comes in a shrink-wrapped box of CD-ROMs and is installed on a computer. While there is still a lot of that kind of software on the market, the growth of the World Wide Web has led to an explosion in what is called "Software as a Service" or SaaS. You're probably familiar with web-based programs such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter or Yahoo Mail - these are great examples of SaaS. For organizations looking for a member management tool, web-based software can prove to be the ideal solution for a number of reasons. Here are just a few of the advantages:

 
"Boxed"
software
Web-based
software (SaaS)
IT Infrastructure needed Expensive servers, IT staff  No extra hardware or staff 
Software upgrades Need to be installed manually,
usually cost extra
Happen automatically,
are usually free 
Remote access for
board members,
staff and volunteers
N/A  Secure access from anywhere with a web browser
Cost Initial outlay plus all kinds of other charges: tech support, maintenance, upgrades Low monthly fee

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Wild Apricot Software Selection Guide by Wild Apricot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.wildapricot.com.

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