Data Hygiene: Keep your Membership Data Up to Date
In "Data Hygiene: How to Keep Data Clean and Healthy!", we spoke in general terms of the basic steps you need to take to keep your data clean and healthy. In this blog post, we focus on keeping memberships up to date.
Membership-based organizations rely on membership revenue for a steady cash flow, so keeping accurate membership records and ensuring a smooth renewal process is vital. The key to maintaining accurate membership data (or any data for that matter), is to limit the amount of data that needs to be manually keyed into the system. When a new membership is created, CiviCRM automatically does the following:
- Generates membership records based on relationships
- Updates membership status based on membership status rules1
- Sends scheduled reminders for membership renewal
In order for these automations to continue to work as expected, you'll need to:
- Confirm that your membership types apply to the correct relationship types
Memberships can be inherited from one contact to another. An example of this would be a professional trade organization that signs up a company as the (primary) member and wants employees of the company receive the benefits of membership. In order to support this feature, a relationship type must be selected to inherit this membership (in this example, the relevant relationship type would be "Employer of"). If you are making changes to your membership structure or if find membership types that were not originally configured to allow for inherited memberships AND there membership records exist for those membership types, you'll want to contact your system administrator to discuss the best plan of action2.
- Continuously maintain relationships
Not only is continuous maintenance important where inherited memberships are concerned, but permissioned relationships dictate who will receive the automated membership renewal reminder email - as such, it is critical that there always be a related individual who has a permissioned relationship with a member company, and it is best practice to have only a single permissioned individual per member company to avoid multiple membership renewals. There are different queries that can be used to periodically review this information.
- Review your membership status rules to fit your membership renewal patterns
If you have enabled the "Update Membership Statuses" scheduled job3, CiviCRM will automatically update membership statuses based on your membership status rules. When your memberships are defined with a period type of "Rolling", the timing of membership renewal has a significant impact on the membership end date. So long as your members renew within the "Grace" period, the membership will be renewed continuously. However, if the membership is renewed after it expires, then the membership end date will be pushed out from the date of renewal. For example, let's assume that your "Grace" memberships status rule is configured for one month after expiration - a one-year membership with an end date of Dec. 31, 2018 will behave as follows:
- If the membership is renewed by Jan. 31, 2019, the renewed membership end date will be updated to Dec. 31, 2019 and the start date will not change
- If the membership is renewed after Jan. 31, 2019, (e.g. on Feb. 15, 2019 when the membership status has changed to "Expired"), the renewed membership will have a start date of Feb. 15, 2019 and an end date of Feb. 14, 2020
If you wish to consider those that pay within 6 months of expiration as continuous members, extend the "Grace" membership status rule to be 6 months after expiration, and adjust your "Expired" membership status rule accordingly - this will avoid the need to manually update the membership start and end dates.
- Configure scheduled reminders to send automated emails based on membership expiration date
Enable the "Send Scheduled Reminders" scheduled job4 to let CiviCRM do the work for you! This is a great tool to make sure each member receives a timely email reminding them that their membership is about to expire. Be sure to include a checksum token (personalized link) that users can click and be directed towards the membership renewal page where any contact information already in the database will auto-populate. This saves your constituents the time and hassle of logging in and repetitively filling out contact information.
1. See the blog post titled "Use with Caution: Membership Status Override" for important tips regarding membership status rules
2. Cividesk clients should open a support ticket indicating the relevant membership and relationship type(s)
3. This job is enabled by default for all Cividesk clients
4. Cividesk enables this job for clients after scheduled reminders have been configured - click HERE for important tips regarding scheduled reminders