The Ultimate Guide to Brainstorming Membership Website Ideas

Website & Technology October 28, 2022

Sonia Urlando

By Sonia Urlando

Building a membership website is an exciting step for your organization! It gives people a place to celebrate and grow your mission, and establishes your legitimacy in the nonprofit world. The last thing you want is to draw a blank when you sit down to get started.


This is where you can dive into brainstorming membership website ideas! Whether you’re trying to expand your community or boost your revenue (or both!), all you need are some guiding tips and a splash of creativity.


Here are some of the best membership website ideas to get you rolling.


But first…

What are Membership Sites?

Membership sites are an exclusive online home for your organization’s members. These websites are typically gated, meaning they require a user login and password.


When members pay their dues, they get the keys to the kingdom! A solid membership website contains special content such as:

  • Blogs and videos

  • Online courses

  • Relevant resources


Many organizations use a tiered membership model. Depending on the amount your members pay, they have access to different types of resources. If people get hungry for more perks, they can always bump up a tier.


Membership sites are also a community space. The best membership websites have perks such as chat forums and a public member database, which allows members to network and connect with one another.


After all, your members all have at least one thing in common: investment in your organization’s success! A membership site is just the place to keep them interested and engaged—all while bringing in recurring revenue.

How do I Start a Successful Membership Website?

Before we start digging into the best membership website ideas, you have to know how to build a membership site in the first place!


Here are 6 quick tips to get started:

 

  1. Shape your membership model. Decide how many tiers you’d like and what kind of perks each should come with. Consider if offering a free tier is right for your organization’s needs.

  2. Plan, plan, plan! Choose the people who will lead the project from the start. From there, timelines and budgets are the need-to-know information.

  3. Choose your membership website software. Also known as your website builder, this software will automate tasks like registration, processing dues, sending emails and more. Now that’s a serious time-saver!

  4. Fill out your key pages. Every membership website needs an about page, a registration form and a place to pay. But you’ll also need to prepare your special content and organize your community spaces.

  5. Upload your contact database. Before you welcome your members into the new system, make sure that system is up to date. Having the right names and removing duplicates will save you time in the future. 

  6. Advertise far and wide. Anyone who encounters your website has the potential to become a member. Give them the opportunity to discover all you have to offer!

Are Membership Sites Profitable?

Building a membership website can take some time and effort, which might leave you wondering if membership sites are actually that profitable. The answer is a resounding yes!


When you incorporate the best membership site ideas into your planning, you can bring in money through:

  • Recurring membership dues

  • Selling digital products (ebooks, templates, tools, etc!)

  • Special events or premium content

  • Sponsorships


If you include a free tier, those members could still offer you occasional donations! When you set up dedicated campaigns that are close to their hearts, having a positive experience with your membership program could be what encourages them to donate or fundraise.


The most profitable membership website ideas are the ones that make people feel valued. Learn who your members are and what they want, and weave that into your benefits. Above all, stay accountable to your mission—member relationships are built through trust and confidence.

What Should I Use to Build My Site?

Now that you’re feeling ex-site-d (get it?) you might be ready to dive straight into building!


Here are some of the best membership website builders we recommend:

WildApricot

WildApricot is the ideal membership management software for small to midsize nonprofits. Best of all, it comes with a superstar website builder that comes free with your subscription!


Building a membership website with WildApricot gives you:

  • Anywhere from one to unlimited admin accounts

  • Multiple membership levels

  • Membership management and directories

  • Easy online payment processing

  • Event registration support

  • Email newsletters

  • A responsive mobile app

WildApricot’s website builder is literally made for membership websites, so you can trust that all your needs will be covered.


Already have a website? WildApricot can easily integrate with your existing website and help modify it to fit your membership needs.


Sign up for your 30-day free trial today and see why WildApricot has won the #1 Membership Management Software Award 6 years in a row!

Webflow

Webflow is a builder that integrates with a content management system (CMS). Its major perk is that it offers many options for stunning designs and TONS of customizable plugins!


Just keep in mind that it isn’t specifically made for membership websites. This means it won’t have an integrated member database and you might need to do some digging for the right plugins. If there’s a member of your team who loves playing around with web design (but still wants to avoid coding), Webflow could be a great option.


Here are five simple steps for creating a webflow membership site.

WordPress

Looking for the best of both worlds? WordPress might be the way to go.


WordPress easily integrates with WildApricot, which gives you all the creativity of designing a gorgeous site along with the security of membership management tools!


Here’s how you can get started setting up your WordPress hosting for membership sites.

5 Membership Site Ideas to Get New Members and Make $$$

Setting up a membership site is the perfect way to invite in new members and bring in recurring revenue. A product sale is nice and a one-time donation is helpful, but nonprofits depend on steady funding in order to set up their budget.


But how do you bring in new members to raise those funds?


It’s all about having the best membership program possible! This starts with having the kind of benefits that are valuable to your members.


These could include:


  • Job training and resume-building supports

  • Networking opportunities (forums, events, member directory, etc.)

  • Relevant content (podcasts, blogs, videos, etc)


Remember: your membership website is where that program will be hosted, so it’s essential to really make it shine!


Here are 5 profitable membership site ideas guaranteed to pique peoples’ interest:

A professional and attractive application form

Your membership application form is how you take prospective members on the first date. Their experience of this form is a reflection of what things will look like once they join your organization.


The best application form should:


  • Be easy to understand

  • Not take too long to fill out

  • Have all the necessary information

  • Include your organization’s branding (color, fonts, logo)


Run your form by people outside of your organization and see how they feel about it. If they have any feedback on how it could be made simpler or nicer to look at, implement it ASAP!

A clear breakdown of your benefits

Once you’ve chosen an awesome selection of benefits, you have to be sure that people can actually find them! Dedicate a page to your benefits, and break down the details so members can see all you have to offer.


Above all: make sure the page is easy to find. Link, link, link!


If you have a free option for membership, be sure to advertise its value. The goal is to get in new members, and trust that if your program is strong enough, they’ll eventually upgrade from a free to paid tier.


Speaking of tiers…

Valuable tiers

People love having options, especially where their money is involved. This is why suggested gift amounts on your donate page can be so valuable. When it comes to setting up a membership program, it pays to give people the option to choose how they want to be involved.


Create a set of tiers that come with increasingly valuable perks. Don’t overwhelm prospective members with too many options, but do what you can to hit some prices across the board. If peoples’ means change and they’re happy with their member experience, they just might upgrade.


When you’re figuring out your options for the best membership website ideas, be sure your website has the capacity to host things like virtual events or coaching sessions. If your tiers offer access to discounted one-time events, you can bring in extra revenue!

Emphasize exclusivity

Your membership website should look like a big fancy gate to a palace. A beautiful design and clear list of attractive benefits should entice people to the entrance.


While you want people to feel like they can connect with your nonprofit at any level, membership should feel exclusive and worth paying for. Use your membership website to post about private events on public channels. The right event could be what brings people in!

Super secure payments

No matter how much people like your membership program, they’ll run the moment payment doesn’t look secure. Internet safety and data protection is at the front of peoples’ minds, and the last thing you want is a security breach.


Work with a trustworthy payment processor that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. WildApricot Payments, powered by Affinipay, is one of the best Paypal alternatives there is.

It was built specifically for nonprofit organization and:


  • Is fully PCI Compliant

  • Has unlimited free support from our in-house team

  • Comes with one-click checkouts with no redirects

  • Transfers payments directly to your bank account within 48 hours


Plus, WildApricot Payments is priced at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, with zero set up or monthly fees.


Sign up for our 30-day free trial to see what else our membership website capabilities have to offer!

5 Membership Site Design Ideas

Before prospective members dive into your content, the first thing they’ll see is your membership site design. Your website membership ideas should always be supported by strong visuals!


5 things to keep in mind include:

Branding

People should be able to tie your website to your organization at a glance! This lets them trust that the website is secure, and makes your organization look extra professional.


You can support your website’s branding by:

  • Strategically placing your logo

  • Using a consistent color palette

  • Choosing the same fonts (and not too many!)

  • Following through on design with your registration form

Imagery

Everybody knows that a picture’s worth a thousand words. Use images that are attractive, professional and relevant to your mission.


Try using pictures of:

  • Your organization’s beneficiaries

  • Your team members hard at work

  • An event you recently held

Look for pictures that elicit an emotional response. Whenever you can, work with images that bring up positive emotions. People are more likely to respond to these types of photos! 

Clear CTAs

Once people read your content and are inspired by your visuals, the big question comes: now what? This is where the call to action (CTA) comes in.


Make sure to use:

  • Big shiny (branded!) buttons in easy-to-find places

  • Links straight to your registration form

  • Urgent language


The easier you make it to become a member, the more members you’ll bring in.

One Purpose Per Page

While an all-in-one might work for a paper flyer, a strong membership website benefits from being broken up into sections. This keeps your website skimmable, and prevents information overload.


Break up your website into pages including (but not limited to!):

  • About Us

  • Contact

  • Registration

  • FAQ

  • Blog & Resources

Just remember to stick everything in a menu for easy navigation.

Awesome UX

The Interactive Design Foundation defines user experience (UX) as “the process design teams use to create products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users.” Basically—does your website give users what they want?


If your website is ugly, clunky or missing key information, people are less likely to become members. Their experience of the website is a preview to their experience with your organization, so be sure to make a positive first impression!

7 Membership Website Ideas from these Awesome Examples

Looking to get inspired by the best membership site ideas? Here are 7 awesome examples of how you can use your site to bring in more members!

Ohio School Counselor Association

image of the Ohio School Counselor Association's membership page

The Ohio School Counselor Association offers a clean website that’s easily accessed by a tab in the menu. The membership types are broken down by their target audience, with the price and subscription period all in one place.


However, there aren’t any benefits visible on this page or the website! There’s a great visual here, but emphasizing the value of membership would likely draw in a wider group of members.  

The Canadian Association for Supported Employment

image of the The Canadian Association for Supported Employment’s membership page

The Canadian Association for Supported Employment’s website highlights their membership program in multiple places. The memberships are listed in branded bubbles with prices highlighted and links to their individual benefits. It’s about as thorough as it gets!


The only suggestion we’d have is to include a list where the different benefits are side-by-side. This would help emphasize the rising value of each one!

Newark Chamber of Commerce

image of the Newark Chamber of Commerce's membership page

The Newark Chamber of Commerce breaks down the membership application steps in a clear guide. There is also an extensive list of member benefits in the Member Services drop-down menu, all broken down by the types of benefits. 


Navigating can feel a little scattered going tab to tab, but all of the information is present and clearly labeled.

BoardSource

image of BoardSource's membership page

BoardSource has their mission statement front and center alongside strong visuals, including images and a video. It offers a self-assessment right at the top so people can identify what needs membership can meet. There are multiple “join here” buttons without anything getting overly cluttered.


An FAQ would be the only thing we’d suggest adding on to an otherwise fantastic website! This is a great place to gather your website membership ideas.

Ontario Nonprofit Network

image of the Ontario Nonprofit Network's membership page

The Ontario Nonprofit Network’s membership section is incredibly well laid-out! There are membership and support options, clear fee breakdowns, reasons to join and an FAQ all on the same page. Plus, it’s very pretty and well-branded.


The buttons to join at different levels have the prices listed, but might benefit from a clearer call to action such as “Sign up here.”

newchoir

image of newchoir's membership page

Newchoir’s dues and rehearsals information is all laid out and includes support options for non-members! This is a great way to drive additional revenue from those who care about the choir’s mission but might not be interested in participating.


The only con is that the benefits are not listed on the same page, which means there’s a little extra searching for prospective members to do.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA)

image of SFWA's membership page


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association’s website has all the information members need on one page. The table of contents guides readers to the details of each tier and qualifications to join. The FAQ section and links to join (and upgrade!) are also all in one place.


The only issue is that the membership form is slightly hidden on the main page. Clicking from “for writers” to “join us” to “membership requirements” reduces visibility.

Get Confident and Creative with your Membership Site

We hope these website membership ideas got the gears turning! Remember to take the ones that are right for your organization, and don’t be afraid to make the tweaks that highlight what you have to offer.


If you’re looking for a membership site platform that comes with an easy-to-use website builder, check out WildApricot. Make those new ideas a reality with a beautiful site that supports all of your membership management needs!


Sign up for your 30-day free trial and see what we’re all about.




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Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

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