This chapter covers the major areas you should think about before configuring CiviMember. It should be useful for system administrators setting up CiviMember.
Before you begin using CiviCRM's membership tools with your contacts, spend some time thinking about your organisation's membership structure. Work out the membership types you'll offer and how you'll model them in CiviCRM.
Key questions include:
- Membership lengths.
- Start and end times, and if your membership terms are rolling or fixed-date. In other words, does membership always start at the same date, such as January 1, or can a person start an annual membership that runs exactly one year till the day rolls around when they signed up?
- Whether a membership is based on the individual, family, or organisation. For instance, a social service agency may sign up an entire family as a member, while a policy-making organisation may sign up other organisations as members.
It's tempting to over-engineer your membership structure and create more membership categories than you actually need. Try and keep things as simple as possible.
Map your membership structure to the way CiviMember handles membership. If you are having trouble modelling your membership structure in CiviCRM, ask in the forums about the problems you are having. There might be other ways to model your data, or simple changes you can make to CiviCRM's behavior to better fit your needs.
Also ask why your membership structure is the way it is. Perhaps the workflow was set up based on a previous technological or organisational limitation that doesn't apply now that you are using CiviCRM.
The renewal process is as important as the initial sign-up. You'll need to plan time to get renewal reminder templates working and tested.
Do you want to provide a special members area of your website, or offer them extra online content as a result of their membership? If so, you should explore CMS integration modules such as Drupal's CiviMember roles integration module.