Membership set-up

There are two main things to do when configuring CiviMember.  Configure your membership types, and (if necessary) configure your membership sign up and renewal pages which enable visitors to your website to sign up and renew their memberships online.  If your memberships are paid, you'll also need to do some basic configuration of CiviContribute and set up a payment processor. 

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. To define your membership types, click on Administer > CiviMember > Membership Types > Add Membership Types.

The membership name is displayed throughout the system, on both public and backend pages, so it is worth choosing a good one (though you can always always change it later).

A membership organisation is required for each organisation.  This membership   that the membership type will apply to.  For most organisations, this will be your organisation. If you want to model membership of multiple organisations (including branches of organisations) you can set the organisation here for each organisation that you want to model the membership of.

The minimum fee field is the place to enter your desired membership fee.  Zero indicates a free membership.

You can choose a contribution type that the membership fee will be recorded as.  By default you should probably use 'member dues' but it might make sense for you to choose a different type.  This type can be overridden when recording a membership in the backend and for specific public membership sign up pages.

Auto-renew options allow you to set a membership to automatically renew.  These work well when combined with payment processors that support recurring donations.  You can set memberships to offer or require auto-renew.  You then need to implement this option on a membership sign up and renewal page (see below).

There are two options for period type.  Fixed means that the membership for al members starts at a specific point in the year.  Rolling means that the membership will start on the date that the membership is entered into the system.  For fixed period memberships you can also identify a rollover date: the point after which new memberships are entered as belonging to the next dues period.  Note that you can override start and end dates when entering memberships manually via the backend.

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. Select the Relationship Type 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 will not be available to add to membership signup or renewal pages on your website.

Auto renew options

If you want to offer or require auto-renew for this membership, you'll need to select the appropriate option here.  Auto renew memberships can only be offered for memberships that have a period of one year or less. 

At the bottom of the membership types page there is 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.  By default the path is from pending, new, current, grace, expired.  

You can define To define membership status rules, click on Administer > CiviMember > Membership Status Rules.

You define a status by giving a start and end time which is based relative to either the start or end date of the membership.  When updating a membership to decide which status should be applied, CiviCRM looks at each status in turn until it finds one that is valid.  That is to say that it takes todays date and sees whether it is between the start and end date for the membership status for that specific membership.  If it is, it applies that status. 

Each status has an 'is current' checkbox which you can use to specify whether the status is current or not.  You could use this to gradual end to people's memberships of 'overdue' (end date to 1 month past end date) and 'really overdue' (1 month to two months past end date) which are considered current and then and then 'totally overdue' which is considered to not be current.

Membership sign-up and renewal pages

Membership signup and renewal pages allow visitors to your website to become members of your website and to  up to memberships to manage their own memberships.  They are created using the same method as contribution pages (even if you want to create a membership page for a free membership).

CiviCRM uses the same page for new memberships as it does for renewals.  The renewal page is automatically displayed at the same URL as the membership join page when viewed by a logged in website visitor that has a valid current or expired membership.

When you are setting up membership sign up pages, it is worth remembering that current members will only see the renewal page if they are logged in.  If they are not logged in, they will see the become a member page and if they fill that page in, they will get a new membership rather than renew their existing membership.  You should design your user interface to avoid this situation.  A couple of ways you can do this include requiring log in to view membership signup and renewal pages, and writing text to remind people that they should log in to renew. 

The first page allows you to set the title for the membership page and set some basic information like the contribution type etc.  There is also a checkbox here to allow people to sign up on behalf of an organisation.  This is useful if you want to offer organisational memberships. Organisations can't sign up directly because CiviCRM assumes that all interaction on the website is carried out by an individual.  In this case, the membership record will then be attached to the organization's record, not the individual's.  You may want to force all individuals to sign up on behalf of an organization.

The last few fields on this form are less useful for membership sign up and renewal pages. 

Amounts tab

This page allows you to set up the payment processor options.  You'll need to select a payment processor that The next 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, consider whether you want to solicit extra contributions.  If you do, leave the box checked.  If you don't, uncheck it. 

Memberships tab

The next step in the contribution page setup wizard is designed specifically for memberships. You should ensure that Membership Section Enabled is checked.

This page allows you to set text that can be displayed for both new memberships and renewals.   

Additional options that appear at the bottom of this screen.  Membership Types allow you to define which memberships are available on this screen and which are available for upsell as part of renewal.  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 checked the box for "Contributions Amounts section enabled" on Amounts tab to solicit additional contributions, you can decide whether such payments are recorded separately from membership fee payments.

This screen also allows you to choose which memberships are available for auto-renew (you'll need to ensure that the membership type has been set up for auto renew and that you are using a payment processor that supports automatic recurring payments.

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.

Tell-A-Friend tab

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.

Colllecting information as part of membership sign up

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 proceed 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 tab

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 Contributions > Premiums (Thank-you Gifts).

The Premiums tab of the contribution page wizard controls the introductory text, contact information, and other premium-related details.

Contribution widgets is used for displaying fundraising goals, so Widgets are usually not used for membership pages. Personal Campaign Pages are geared toward obtaining help from visitors toward fundraising efforts, so Personal Campaign pages are usually not used for membership pages.

Test drive your membership sign-up/renewal page

Once you finish configuring and setting up the details of your event, you are well advised to test drive the event to make sure all the pieces of the event process are working according to your expectations: Contributions > Manage Contribution Pages > click Links next to your membership sign-up/renewal page > click Test-drive.

You may want to test the following:

  • Do the description of the event, dates, cost of the event, etc., make sense and match your organisation's plans?
  • Are the messages that confirm the registration clear?
  • Did you receive the email message that confirms and thanks you for registering?
  • If it's a paid event, did payment processing work?

Test the event through the eyes of a person who is registering for the event, to make sure the flow of the registration process guides the person effortlessly each step of the way. After initial testing, if you send your invitation email to a person in the organisation that hasn't been directly involved in the the configuration of the event, you can get a fresh point of view that represents what your contacts will feel during the process. 

When using the Test-drive Registration option, you see the same registration pages as a regular user, but the online payment isn't really debited from your card (and you can enter a fake one).

Publishing your membership sign-up/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: Contributions > Manage Contribution Pages. 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: Contributions > Manage Contribution Pages > click Links next to your membership sign-up/renewal page > click 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:
  1. creating a menu item. Navigate to a menu and create a new CiviCRM item.
  2. From the list of menu options, choose Contributions.
  3. In the basic parameters section, select the contribution page you would like exposed from the dropdown menu.
  4. Save the menu item and view the website to confirm the page's functionality.