I have been an Ancestry member for years. Few things on ancestry are free. If you are a paid member of a collaborative site, you can access certain databases. Ancestry has several levels of access, depending on your paid account level. Pay more for all access. Associated web sites may also be free, yet require you to create an account on that specific site for collaborative access through Ancestry. Few of the collaborative sites have a fee. You can access them on your own directly. You are paying ancestry for these dites to be available all in one place, at any time. Some sites ask for donations, as they may be a local county of its own ancestors. This is a general description of ancestry.
I have over 12,000 of my ancestors accumulated to date. Eventually I would like to move my US, Scottish, Irish and French ancestors to this site. As I believe this site has a far better unity to the preservation of our work.
I hope this helps you with your work.