This chapter takes you through the necessary configuration steps for CiviMember. As with other modules, CiviMember takes advantage of CiviCRM's integration with the Drupal and Joomla! CRMs, allowing your members to manage their own memberships through your web site. So the second half of this chapter takes you through setup of online renewal pages.
Configuring membership types
The first configuration step is to configure the membership types and status rules. These are handled in: Administer > CiviMember > Membership Types.
Membership types are the various membership categories that your organization offers. You can configure an unlimited number of membership types and set various options for each of them. Options include how they are used, the membership term period, and the dues amount.
Begin by defining the name of the membership type and a brief description. The name will be used throughout the system, so choose it carefully.
CiviCRM requires the membership type to be associated with an organization record.This gives CiviCRM the flexibility to handle multiple membership types with multiple organizations (or sub-organizations) within a single interface. For example, if your national organization consists of six regional chapters, each of which maintains membership records separate from the national membership, you can create membership types for each chapter membership and associate them directly with the chapter organization.
Continue with the membership type configuration by entering the minimum membership fee (zero if the membership is free), and select the contribution type. In most cases you will select Membership Fee from the dropdown menu. You can create and modify Contribution types through the Administer CiviCRM tools. When a user or administrator enters a membership record that includes payment of dues or a fee, CiviCRM will log a corresponding contribution record and assign the selected contribution type.
Each membership type must have a duration value and period type. The duration value is the length of time for which the membership is valid (e.g., an annual membership has a duration of 1 year). The period type determines when that duration is measured from. A rolling membership is measured from the date it is entered in the system, whereas a fixed membership begins on a defined date. For fixed period memberships you must also identify the rollover date: the point after which new memberships are entered as belonging to the next dues period.
Membership can be inherited from one contact to another, which is useful in situations such as one finds in professional trade organisations, where they sign up another organisation as the member, but employees of the organisation receive the benefits of membership. Use the relationships dropdown menu to specify which related records should receive membership through the parent record.
You can use the visibility option to make sure certain membership types are handled by an administrator manually (e.g., honorary and lifetime memberships). When you restrict their visibility, they do not appear on membership signup or renewal pages on your website.
At the bottom of the membership types page lies a block of information for managing renewal reminders. CiviCRM can be configured to send out a reminder email to members as the expiration date for their membership nears. This is particularly helpful for rolling membership types, where contacts may join at any time during the year. To configure the renewal reminder you must first have set up a renewal email template through Administer > CiviMail > Message Templates.
Membership status rules
Membership status rules control the journey that contacts take through the membership process. Each step is marked with a different membership status.
The path taken by a member, along the lines of the default membership status rules, is as follows:
- Pending. Someone who has asked for membership but has not paid, or is awaiting approval.
- New. Payment has arrived, or the membership has been approved.
- Current. New members move to this status after a certain period of time.
- Grace. When the end of the membership period is reached, someone who has not renewed membership enters this status for a period of time.
- Expired. When the grace period expires, the member moves to this status and no longer receives membership discounts or mailings.
All membership status rules can be configured in Administer > CiviMember > Membership Status Rules.
Status types are measured from the start or end date of the membership record. The "current membership" checkbox determines whether a certain status is considered "current" when viewing the CiviMember summary statistics for memberships.
When configuring the membership status rules, be sure to take note of the order in which they are listed. CiviCRM will process the rules beginning with the first and assign a status as soon as one matches.
Setting up cron to automatically update membership statuses
CiviCRM checks the status rules for a membership record and updates it accordingly when you create or edit the record. In order to take full advantage of the membership status rules, and to automatically send membership renewal emails, you must configure your server to regularly update the status of your members. This is done using the Unix cron utility. For more details, visit the online wiki documentation: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/Membership+Types.
Membership signup and renewal pages allow website visitors and existing contacts to manage their own memberships. Membership signup and renewal pages can be connected with a financial contribution, which means you can use CiviCRM to process membership dues, fees, and special contributions.
CiviCRM thinks of membership sign up pages as a type of Contribution page (even if there is no associated contribution). So to create a sign up page, you need to create a Contribution page:
- Select Manage Contribution Pages from the navigation menu's Contribution link.
- To create a new page, click the Add Contribution Page button.
- Follow the screens displayed by the setup wizard that starts up. The following discussion focuses on options in the contribution page setup wizard which are most likely to be used for a typical membership signup/renewal page.
1. Title and Settings
This page appears as shown in the following screenshot. The option must relevant to memberships is the "Allow individuals to contribute and / or signup for membership on behalf of an organization" checkbox.
People (not organizations) visit websites, so CiviCRM assumes by default that any interaction is done through an individual's contact record. This becomes a problem if your membership categories are organization-based. To address this, CiviCRM allows you to select this option and permit an individual to act on behalf of the organization she represents. The membership record will then be attached to the organization's record, not the individual's. After checking this box, you can add descriptive text and select whether signing up on behalf of an organization is optional or required.
2. Contribution Amounts
The second step of the wizard allows you to configure details related to the financial transactions performed through the Contribution page. If you have configured a credit card transaction payment processor in CiviCRM, you will be able to set up real-time transactions here.
If you are building a contribution page for membership signup and renewal only, uncheck the "Contribution Amounts section enabled" checkbox. This hides the section which allows you to solicit extra financial contributions over and above the membership fee.
In addition to executing real-time transactions, you can allow constituents to make make offline payments through the "Pay later" option. The "Pay later" feature leaves the responsibility on the member to pay by check or cash at a later date.
The next step in the contribution page setup wizard is specifically related to memberships. Check the Membership Section Enabled checkbox to show two sets of title and introductory message fields, one for new memberships (signups) and the other for membership renewals.
CiviCRM will display the title and introductory message for new memberships if the website visitor is not logged in. If the user is logged in and has an existing membership record, CiviCRM will display the title and introductory message for renewals. Joining the organization creates a new membership record, while renewing membership updates the member's existing record and extends the membership end date.
Administrators should be aware of potential confusion and duplicate records if an existing member uses a membership join page without having first logged in. CiviCRM will make an attempt to match the user with an existing contact record, but any variations in the name or email address could cause a new contact record with corresponding membership record to be created.
You may want to provide guidance in the introductory text on your membership join page to encourage members to log in before completing the form. By logging in first, existing members can ensure that the transaction properly interacts with their contact and membership records.
Some addition options appear at the bottom of this page:
- You can select which membership types are available in this signup/renewal page.
- If you are using this online contribution page for both membership signup and general fundraising, you can make membership signup optional for constituents who just want to donate without becoming a member.
- If you enabled the option in step 2 to solicit additional contributions, you can decide whether such payments are recorded separately from membership fee payments.
- You can decide whether to display membership fees on the signup/renewal page.
4. Thank-you and Receipting
After the site visitor completes the membership signup or renewal form, he will be redirected to a thank-you page and can have an email receipt generated and sent to him. This fourth step in the wizard allows you to configure those options.
Organizational growth and development is increasingly built through viral social networking mechanisms. CiviCRM allows you to add a tell-a-friend feature to the thank-you page. The page lets your members share details about your organization with their friends by emailing them a link and information.
6. Include Profiles
Profiles are central to CiviCRM's interfaces with website visitors. A profile is a collection of data fields that CiviCRM displays to obtain information from visitors or display data to them. If you are not familiar with the creation and function of profile sets you should read more about it in the Profiles chapter of the Configuration section in this book.
Profiles are critical to the functioning of membership signup and renewal pages. By default, contribution pages will include only an email field (which the member is required to fill in), in addition to the membership and contribution amount fields. Organizations almost always want to collect additional contact information as part of the membership signup process. Profiles provide these extra fields. On this step of the contribution page wizard, you may select one ore more existing profiles for inclusion on the form.
if you haven't yet defined a profile with the fields whose information you want to collect, simply procede to the next step of the wizard. Save your work on the Contribution page, define the Profile you want, and come back to the Contribution page to assign the profile.
Premiums are thank you gifts and incentives offered to organization contributors. They are most commonly associated with tiered donation levels, though they could be created for use with memberships. Before including premiums on a contribution page, you must configure them through Administer > Contributions > Premiums (Thank-you Gifts). Step 7 (Premiums) of the contribution page wizard controls the introductory text, contact information, and other premium-related details.
8-9. Campaign Widgets and Personal Campaign Pages
Contribution Widget (Step 8) is used for displaying fundraising goals, while Personal Campaign Pages (Step 9) is geared toward obtaining help from visitors toward fundraising efforts. These steps are usually not used for membership pages.
Publishing your membership signup/renewal page
After completing the contribution page wizard, return to the listing of Contribution pages, where you will find the page you've just created. You can now view the page, test the functionality, or return to the configuration options and make adjustments.
At this point you've completed the Contribution page but have not made it visible or available to website visitors. Depending on the environment in which CiviCRM is operating, this will be accomplished in different ways.
- Drupal: From the Configure Contribution Page screen, select Live Page to view the finished page. You can then copy the URL and include it in a content page or assign it to a menu item.
- Joomla!: The most direct way to expose your membership signup/renewal page to the front of your website is by creating a menu item. Navigate to a menu and create a new CiviCRM item. From the list of menu options, choose Contributions. In the basic parameters section, select the contribution page you would like exposed from the dropdown menu. Save the menu item and view the website to confirm the page's functionality.