What is CiviMember

CiviMember is the CiviCRM component that provides functionality to support and automate the management of memberships. CiviMember allows you to:

  • define membership types and pricing schemes that meet your needs
  • create self-service options for online membership sign-up and renewal, utilising CiviContribute
  • manage memberships manually through the administrative interface
  • create and schedule automated messages to welcome new members, remind about upcoming renewal, etc.
  • track and report on your contacts through the membership cycle
  • grant additional website privileges for members.

The chapters in this section take you through everything you need to know in order to get the most from CiviMember.

If you are new to CiviMember and planning to use it for your membership management it is a good idea to review this entire section whilst you are considering your organisation's membership scheme and working out how best to model it within CiviCRM. CiviMember provides a high degree of flexibility, enabling you to configure it to meet most requirements.

Adopting a system like CiviCRM will normally require some changes in working practices, so it is important to work closely with the people within your organisation who will have day-to-day responsibility for managing memberships using CiviCRM as you develop your plans.

Memberships can run from a day to a lifetime, they be free or paid, and have simple or complex pricing structures. They can be set up to auto-renew where a compatible payment processor is enabled.

Memberships for any given contact are visible on the contact's summary screen and on the membership dashboard. They can be searched for through the Membership Search or Advanced Search, and CiviMember provides four membership reports, each of which can be customised to better meet your specific needs.

Conceptually, members are simply contacts in your CiviCRM database with one or more memberships. The contact may be an individual, a household, an organisation, or some other contact sub-type, but it is always a contact to which a membership is applied.

Scenario: Driving membership forward

The Atlantic Region Public Transit Association (ARPTA) has a complex requirement with four membership categories:

  • Regular Members: Public transit systems. There are three tiered levels within this category, based on the size of the system. Membership is organization-based, and all employees of the member organization receive access to member benefits, such as discounted rates at Association events.
  • Affiliate Members: Businesses providing goods and services to the transit industry. Membership fees are the same for all Affiliate Members. Membership is organization-based, and up to 10 employees of the member organization receive access to member benefits, such as discounted rates at Association events.
  • Associate Members: Students, government representatives, public interest groups, research institutions, and other interested parties. Membership fees are the same for all Associate Members. Membership is individual-based.
  • Honorary Members: Retired transit system executives and others who have made a notable contribution to the industry and Association. Membership is individual-based and free for life.

When the ARPTA membership administrator, Sue, initially configured CiviMember she created a separate membership type for each of the four member categories described above. This was easily managed by CiviMember. Initially, they carried on with manually processing membership renewals and new sign-ups while the system bedded in.

Last year ARPTA's board agreed that they needed to boost membership income by improving their membership recruitment and renewal rates, whilst keeping tight control, and if possible reducing, the amount of time spent on membership administration.

To help achieve this they used CiviContribute and CiviMember to set up online sign-up and renewal pages for Regular and Affiliate Members. They were then able to run targeted membership recruitment campaigns linking to the online sign-up pages so that potential members could quickly join online. At the same time, existing members were encouraged to renew online, by logging in to the member section on the ARPTA website.

These steps streamlined ARPTA's sign-up process, eliminated a lot of admin work and gave Sue a clear view of new sign-ups, recent renewals and expired members that need to be chased. Through CiviContribute, she can produce a monthly spreadsheet for her accounts department with all membership fees received, which they import into their accounting software. With the time she saves on paperwork she is able to engage more with members and is much more involved in the annual conference, which ARPTA manages using CiviEvent.

ARPTA's board were also pleased with the results of the move to online sign-up and renewal, which, in conjunction with their marketing campaign, led to a 30% jump in new members over a year. Their analysis also showed a 40% improvement in membership retention (in part because Sue was able to devote more time to contacting lapsed and expired members, and in part because members reported that they found it easy and convenient to renew online, and were prompted to do so by the reminder emails that Sue had set up using the Schedule Reminders feature. Their market research also showed that members appreciated the fact that they were being contacted more regularly by Sue, and felt more engaged with ARPTA as a result.