How to send membership renewal reminders to your organizational membership?

If your organization is managing membership in CiviCRM you most likely already know how to send a reminder to your members including a personalized link to the membership page prefilled with the individual member's contact information.
This personalized link using the checksum token is especially useful if you don't have a portal where your members can log to in order to renew their membership. 

But who do you send the reminder to when the member is an organization e.g. a moral entity and not likely being able to read the reminder email?

The first thought will be: "I just add an actual person's email in the organization contact email field and that solves the problem". But it doesn't because the personnalized renewal link does not work for organization contact type and clicking on the link brings you to an empty membership form instead of a prefilled form. Members then need to fill out the membership form and this leads to potential duplicates.

Let's look first at how the membership page should be configured for organizational membership

In order to offer membership to moral entities, enable the setting "Allow individuals to contribute and/or signup for membership on behalf of an organization?" in the contribution page.


This allows the person who is  completing the membership sign-up page, i.e Jenna Smith an "Individual" contact (the actual human being about to make a payment), to pay for a membership on behalf of Civic Music Association, an "Organization" contact, by entering that organization's details in the organization Profile "On Behalf Of Organization". As such Jenna would be considered as the primary contact at Civic Music Association: she is the person who signed up for the membership on behalf of her organization and she would most likely be taking care of renewals in the future.

When an membership for an organization is purchased online CiviCRM creates:

  • a membership and payment records with the organization contact i.e. Civic Music Association
  • an individual contact for Jenna Smith
  • a relationship of type "Employee of" between Jenna Smith and Civic Music Association. The relationship is created with a permission allowing Jenna to view (green icon) and edit (blue icon) the contact record of Civic Music Association.



Now let's look at how to send the reminder to the primary contact at the organizational member

To send a reminder for renewing an organizational membership you would need to send it to the primary contact at the organization. The primary contact is the individual contact who has a permissioned relationship with the organization contact which owns the membership. The permissioned relationship allows the individual to edit the organization contact record. In our example the primary contact is Jenna Smith. 

In the View Membership screen, the primary contact at the organization is identified with a red asterix in the relationship record.


When Jenna receives the reminder email with a personalized link to the membership page by clicking on the link Jenna can edit both contact records, her personal contact details as well as the organization's and she can renew the membership for Civic Music Association.

You can of course send the renewal reminder email manually to Jenna. But this is something that can be automated using the scheduled reminders feature. 

By default CiviCRM sends the renewal reminder to both the organization contact which owns the membership and the permissioned individual contact. The reminder is not sent to the other employees of the organization.
Since the link sent to the organization will not work as explained at the beginning of this article, you would need to limit the recipients of the email to contacts of type individual. To do so you would need to create a smart group of all individual contacts in your database and select this group in the settings of the scheduled reminder.


If you like this Tips & Tricks article and would like to know more about how CiviCRM can help your organization further contact your account manager at Cividesk and we'll be happy to help.