Membership Database Selection Guide

Reviewing Database Costs

Key Cost Components:

It is not always easy to compare pricing between different vendors. But here is a list of the most common cost components that apply to web-based membership management software:
  • Initial setup cost
  • (Main) ongoing charge — monthly or annual (might depend on specific modules)
  • Per-member surcharge
  • Per-transaction charges (% or $)
  • Technical support fees
  • Update charges

Of course, this list will not cover all situations — you need to ask the vendor explicitly if they have any other potential surcharges, such as:

  • Bandwidth charges
  • Storage space charges
  • Per-event-registration charges
  • Per-email-sent charges

Potential Additional Costs:
Keep in mind that in addition to the software, there are other costs involved in your project. These costs may not be critical from a software selection perspective, since they are likely to be similar among different vendors. These costs will also depend on who will be doing each particular task — your staff or volunteers, or an external service provider:

  • Initial setup of the system — all the system settings
  • Contact/member database transfer
  • Functionality customization and tweaks. (Be careful here! Of course you want the system to be tailored to your needs, but the costs can easily spiral out of control. Also, think about whether these customizations will be compatible with future versions of the software.)

Comparing AMS Provider Pricing:
If you are comparing costs for online AMS’s or Association/Membership Management Software, you can use the spreadsheet calculator we created as part of our Software Selection Guide. This will help you estimate and compare the total cost for a number of systems.

You’ll find the link to our Price Comparison Spreadsheet at

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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

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