If you’ve been shopping around for a community, you’ve probably noticed the cost varies widely.
Some companies charge based upon member count, or active users, or even your revenue!
If you want most of your members using the community, capacity pricing based upon total members probably has a lower long term price and a higher up front price as you gain traction.
If you aren’t interested in most of your members using the community, then paying by active users is probably best. The cost per user is higher, but you only pay for what you use.
If you have a lot of revenue and a small number of members, you should avoid being charged based upon revenue.
If you want to entice non-members and students to become members, you might want a community that doesn’t charge for non-member access.
What about Features?
Many community platforms have similar core features. I often see associations looking for specific features that may or may not get much use, or justify the Return On Investment.
The reason I hear most often for a community is member retention. Will project management tools create large scale member retention? Generally your members benefit from the community by professional networking, knowledge sharing, and the association better understanding their needs.
Core features like direct email reply, web and mobile app options, and excellent AMS integration are things most associations benefit from.
If you’ve had much experience trying to get your team to use Slack, BaseCamp, Teams, Jira, or many other premium or freemium tools, you have some idea of how difficult the adoption of a technology is. The more complex the problem you’re trying to solve, the more complex the technology to solve it becomes. Your general membership probably doesn’t need to manage their internal projects on your community platform. There are a lot of better and lower cost tools for doing things like project management.
I know what you’re thinking, “What about my Committees?” Committees have your most engaged members and some of the loudest voices. Some productivity tools benefit committees, but keep in mind that your goal is member retention. Committees are a different animal, though related. Your situation may vary and truly require complex modules in your community, but that is the exception rather than the rule from my experience talking to associations who have gone down that road and later removed those modules.
Novel Uses for a Community
There are a lot of ways to creatively apply core community features. Your members can pay a subscription fee for belonging to a Classifieds group, or students belonging to a Mentor group for free, or a non-competitive group that shares sensitive information such as rates or referrals.
You don’t need a specialized Classifieds module for members to buy and sell things in more of a Craigslist flow; or a Mentor Match module which requires a huge amount of staff time to administer and formalize rules when a more general discussion group can share knowledge with everyone simultaneously using the wisdom of crowds to offer many perspectives. For project management a discussion group can post links to 3rd party solutions that are better at specific tasks such as actively collaborating on documents using Google.
Formulate your strategy around real quantifiable goals to measure success before pouring a small fortune into bells and whistles.
Sengii exists in the market to deliver the best overall value at the best overall price point. We only charge for features that have an ongoing cost to operate, so most of our features are free after setup. Our constant improvement policy means our customers ideas are implemented free of charge as long as it benefits the overall platform for all customers.