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Creating Membership Levels

Table of Contents:

 

Entering your membership levels in MembershipWorks is one of the earliest and most important steps in setting up your new membership system. If you have features that are only available to certain membership levels — such as viewing a member directory — you’ll need to establish your membership levels before you can limit access. During the setup process it may be useful to have a current membership brochure or application on hand to reference for names, descriptions, benefits and prices. If you are a new organization, we have tips on naming your membership levels.

    Set Currency First

    Before getting started, you should set your default currency as you will not be able to change the currency your membership level is set to once it has been created. To set your currency follow these steps:

    Set currency

    1. Go to Organization Settings
    2. Click on the tab Integration
    3. Scroll down to the section Payments
    4. From here you can select your currency
    5. Click Save & Continue when finished

     

    Choosing Membership Types

    Some organizations just have one membership level while others have a variety. Learn how to choose the right type or go forward with creating your levels.

    Create a Free Membership Level

    Your organization may offer free membership as a way for those interested in your organization to sample some of your membership offerings. Some organizations may create free membership levels as a way to offer honorary or complimentary membership.

    1. Go to Labels & Membership
    2. Click + Add Membership Level 
    3. Give your membership level a name and description
    4. If you want to allow members to sign up for this membership online click to enable the option “Allow signup for this membership from website”. Otherwise, leave this unchecked if your free membership is intended for complimentary or honorary membership in which only the admin should be able to place the member on this level.
    5. In the setting “Is this level paid or free?” select “This is a free membership level”
    6. In the setting “Allow members to upgrade/downgrade to” you can click on the level(s) members on this level should be able to upgrade to.
    7. Click Save Settings & Next which will take you the Actions tab
    8. From the Actions tab you can set up actions such as the email template new members receive when signing up for this membership. Under the section “When Members Sign Up Online” you will find the email template under “Send user the following welcome email”.
    9. Under the Actions tab you may also find it useful to create a welcome page on your website and provide the URL to this page in the setting “Redirect user to following URL after completing form”. New members will be sent to this page after signing up. Please note that this is optional. If you leave this setting blank members will receive a confirmation message after completing the sign up form.
    Create a Paid Membership with Rolling Renewal Dates

    You can create paid membership levels that are treated as “rolling” memberships. Rolling membership means that members who sign up are issued a renewal date that reflects the date they signed up. For example, a member signing up for annual membership on June 01 2020 would have a renewal date of June 01 2021. This is opposed to fixed anniversary membership in which all members share the same renewal date.

    To create a membership level that is paid and operates on a rolling basis, follow these steps:

    Create Your Membership Level

    1. Go to Labels & Membership
    2. Click + Add Membership Level
    3. Give your membership level a name and description
    4. If members on this level should be granted a listing in your directory check to enable the setting “Allow these members to be listed in directory”
    5. Click to enable the option “Allow signup for this membership from website”
    6. In the setting “Is this level paid or free?” select “This is a paid membership level”
    7. If you have multiple membership levels and want to allow members on this level to upgrade/downgrade to other levels click on the applicable levels next to the setting “Allow members to upgrade/downgrade to”
    8. Click Save Settings & Next

    Billing Management (rolling membership)

    1. In the Billing Management tab you will set some billing rules for your membership. In the first setting “Do you have a fixed membership year?” select “No – optimize revenue and allow monthly/quarterly/annual billing”
    2. The next section “Renewals” allows you to set your renewal period which is the period just before and after the members renewal date. The default renewal period is 12%.
    3. In the section “Upgrades/Downgrades” you can determine if members who upgrade/downgrade to this level should be automatically prorated (typically the preferred method) or if they should be charged a price difference.
    4. In the section “Past Due Charges” you can determine how dues should be calculated for members who are past due. The options are:
      • Include past due period – members should pay for the entire period they are past due.
      • Include past due period up to a maximum amount – members should pay for the period in which they are past due but only up to a certain amount. For example, you might opt to only charge up to 1 months worth of past dues.
      • Forgive past due period, restart membership – dues should not include any past due amounts. Membership will be restarted when/if the member is past due beyond the renewal period (see #10)
    5. Once you have finished adjusting your Billing Management settings click “Save Settings & Next” to move on to the next tab.
    Create a Paid Membership with a Fixed Renewal Date

    If your organization needs to operate on a fixed anniversary date in which all members renew on the same date (e.g. everyone renews Jan. 1 each year), follow these instructions.

    Billing Management

    1. In the setting “Do you have a fixed membership year?” select “Yes – fixed membership year (annual billing only)
    2. In the setting “Which day does your membership year start?” select the date your members are expected to renew each year.
    3. Under “New Members” you will need to determine how MembershipWorks should calculate dues for members who sign up part way through the year. The options here are:
      • Pro-rate partial year dues automatically. This is typically the preferred setting as the members dues are automatically pro-rated to account for the time remaining in your membership year.
      • Specify a discount schedule. You can opt to create a discount schedule in which you would designate the date and discount amount. For example, if your membership year begins on Jan 1st you might want to offer a 50% discount for those who sign up on/after July 1st.
    4. Under the New Members section take note of statement:“Note that when a member signs up after _, dues for the next membership year will be added to the payment. Pro-rating and schedule discounts only apply to dues for the current membership year, membership for the next year is due in full.”When a member signs up near the end of your membership year, dues for the next year are automatically added to the payment. If you opt to prorate new members (option a), this means members will pay a small prorated amount to cover the remainder of the current membership year and will also pay the upcoming year’s dues.For organizations who opt to specify a discount schedule instead (option b), typically they want members who join late in the membership year to have their dues applied to the following year. For example, if your membership year begins on Jan 1 you may want members who are signing up on Dec 1 or later to have their dues applied to the following year. In this case you should create a discount schedule that offers a 100% discount beginning on Dec 1st.
    5. The next section “Renewals” allows you to set a renewal period. Note – the system default is 12%. This is a percentage of the billing period. So, for example, if membership is billed annually, then a 12% billing period would be about 44 days. Learn more.
    6. The next section “Upgrades/Downgrades” allows you to determine how to calculate dues for a member who is upgrading or downgrading their membership. For upgrades you can either choose to have the cost of the upgrade prorated automatically (usually the preferred method) or charge the price difference between the old membership billing amount and the new billing amount. We recommend that you allow the system to prorate as it provides the most equitable calculator for your members under all circumstances. However, should you decide to charge the price difference and your organization operates on a fixed membership year please note that you can specify a discount schedule to provide partial year discounts. Otherwise, if you do not specify any discounts then members may be charged the full price difference even if there is just a small amount of time left in the current membership year. The discount schedule works the same way as described in the New Members section (#4).
    7. The last section of billing management is Past Due Charges. In this section you can determine how dues should be calculated for members who are past due. The options are:
      • Include past due period – members should pay for the entire period they are past due.
      • Include past due period up to a maximum amount – members should pay for the period in which they are past due but only up to a certain amount. For example, you might opt to only charge up to 1 months worth of past dues.
      • Forgive past due period, restart membership – dues should not include any past due amounts. Membership will be restarted when/if the member is past due beyond the renewal period (see #5).
    I Need Help Choosing Between Rolling and Fixed

    Fixed anniversary versus rolling renewal date

    We highly recommend the rolling membership model. Some of the main advantages of setting it up this way include:

    • Members who sign up will always pay the full membership costs as opposed to members who sign up part way through the year on fixed anniversary membership.
    • Potential members are more likely to join right away rather than wait for the next proration break.
    • Your ARPU (Average Revenue Per User/Member) will likely be higher than organizations that used a fixed membership anniversary.
    • You can offer multiple billing options that are in different intervals. For example, you could offer both yearly and monthly billing options.
    • Billing calculations are less complicated with rolling membership.

    Organizations who have previously used a fixed renewal date due can transition to this model. Before membership software, using fixed dates was easier as membership reminders could be sent manually once a year. But our platform can automatically send reminders at the right time for those with varied renewal dates.

    Set Up Billing Options

    Your billing options will allow members to pay for their memberships online. You’ll also need to set up your payment gateway and conduct a test transaction for these payments to be successful. More details on payment option settings can be found in Help > Membership > Member Billing > Billing Options.

    Set Up an Automatic Recurring Payment Option

    automatic renewal

    Credit Card – Automatic Recurring. In this case the member’s credit card information is stored with your payment processor, and the card is charged automatically each billing period.

    1. Go to Labels & Membership and open the membership level
    2. Click on the Billing Options tab
    3. Click + Add New Billing Option
    4. Set the Payment Method to “Credit Card – Automatic Recurring”
    5. Set the Description, Price, Interval
    6. Click Save
    7. Repeat the above steps for any other membership levels you have
    Set Up a One Time Credit Card Payment Option

    Credit Card – Online. In this case the member’s credit card will be charged for the current payment, but the information is not stored. The member would have to sign in each billing period to make a payment. We do not recommend using this billing type if the billing period is short – for example if it is monthly – as it create a big burden for the member to sign in each month to make a payment.

    1. Go to Labels & Membership and open the membership level
    2. Click on the Billing Options tab
    3. Click + Add New Billing Option
    4. Set the Description, Payment Amount and Interval
    5. Set the Payment Method to “Credit Card – online”
    6. Click Save
    7. Repeat the above steps for any other membership levels you have

    one time credit card payment

    Set Up a Check or Offline Payment Option

    Offline. With Offline billing, you can offer your members the ability to mail in a check, make payments in person, etc. You will need to provide a short paragraph of payment instructions so the member has the instructions on how to make a payment. For these members, the administrator will need to enter payments and update the renewal date manually in the member’s account after receiving the payment. Note that these members are considered past due until the payment is received.

    1. Go to Labels & Membership and open the membership level
    2. Click on the Billing Options tab
    3. Click + Add New Billing Option
    4. Set the Payment Method to “Offline”
    5. Set the Description, Price, Interval and Payment instructions
    6. Click Save
    7. Repeat the above steps for any other membership levels you have

    offline payment

    Set Up Renewal Notices

    Renewal notices have to be set up for each membership level. Once you have created the membership level, you can setup renewal notices to be automatically sent to the members with that membership level before and after their membership expires.

    Create Upcoming and Past Due Notices

    Notices will start going out once they are set up, so you should hold off on setting these up until you are ready for members to log into your website to renew.

    Go to Labels & Membership > each Membership Level > Renewal Notices. Then click on + Add Renewal/Past Due Notification.

    Renewal Notice

    Once complete, click OK and Save Notices & Next.

    Renewal Notice Settings

    • Notification type
      You can select to send either an “Upcoming renewal notice” (before the membership expires), or a “Past due notice” (after the membership expires).
    • Send … day(s) before/after
      Specify here which day to send the notice to the member. Note that the notice will only be sent on that actual day (-0/+1 day). Notices will not be sent out retroactively, if the member’s membership expiration date has already past the day, the notice will not be sent.
    • Applicable billing option
      Here you can select whether the renewal notice is specific to a billing option, or if it would be sent to “All members” regardless of the billing option selected for the member. The benefit of having the renewal notices specific to a billing option is that you can provide payment instructions specific to that billing option for your members. Note that if you do specify a billing option (rather than choosing “All members”), consider if you also want to set up additional notices for other billing options as well. Billing options without renewal notices set will not send members reminders to renew. 
    • Email title and content
      The title and content of the email you want sent to the members.

    Maximize Your Renewals

    It is important to create your own renewal notices to maximize your renewal rates and revenue. See our article with a sample renewal notice. Here are some tips:

    1. Remind your members what your organization does, what you have already accomplished, and how their membership contributes to the cause. Remind them of the benefits of membership, instead of focusing on penalties. If you have exciting plans or events for the future, this is a great opportunity to talk about that.
    2. Provide directions on how and where to renew. Include the URL of the page on your website where members can login to renew (ie. your Member Manage page). If you allow payments by mail, provide the address where they should mail the checks to. Make it as easy and straightforward as possible for your members to renew.

    Notices are Not Retroactive

    Renewal notices do not go out retroactively. If you have members that are past due more than the number of days you’ve set your notices to, you can follow the below directions to send them a group email.

    1. Go to MembershipWorks > Dashboard > Membership
    2. In the top left set the dates to the ones you need
    3. Click “Past Due” in the orange box at the bottom
    4. Click “Email”

    Set Up a New Member Approval Process

    You can use membership level Actions as part of your workflow to approve new members, or to separate your members into different chapters. Membership level Actions are set up under each membership level in Labels & Membership > Membership Levels > Actions.

      Creating a Process For Approving New Members

      You can use membership level actions to manage your member approval process by having new members added to a separate Folder from members who have already been approved.

      To do this you should first create a Folder to place your pending members:

      • Log in as the primary administrator on the account
      • Go to Folders
      • Click on “Create New Folder”
      • Type a title such as “Pending”
      • Click Create

      Then go to the Actions tab in each membership level in Labels & Membership. In the “On signup add to” section select the pending members Folder instead of the “Members” Folder and save your changes. Note that the selected Folder(s) will be highlighted in blue.

      approval process

      Once this is set up members who join will automatically be placed in the pending members Folder. Once they have completed your approval process you can approve them by moving the account to the Members and/or appropriate approved member Folder(s).

      For billing the simplest option is to allow us to process the payment when the member joins, and refund the payment only if the member is not approved. This is ideal if your rejection rates are low.

      The second option is to use Automatic Recurring Billing and setup a trial period to allow for the approval process. With Automatic Recurring Billing, new members will be required to enter a credit card, but with the trial period, their card will not be charged until the trial period ends. If the member is not approved, you can simply cancel the membership billing to prevent the user from being charged. If approved, move the member into the appropriate Folder without changing their membership billing, they will automatically be billed at the end of the trial period. You can also adjust the renewal date if you need the charge to occur sooner (note that it can still take 1 business day for most payment gateways).

      The third option is to allow members to sign up without a credit card using a separate free membership level. Once approved, change the member’s Membership level to the appropriate level, and ask the member to sign in on your website to make a payment. This is not recommended as it requires additional effort from the member and final conversion rates will be lower.

      Allowing Members to Cancel

      Some members may ask about canceling their accounts. You can allow members to cancel their memberships themselves.

      Set Up Online Cancellations
      1. Create a folder called “Cancelled” to hold accounts that have been cancelled.
      2. Create a free membership level called “Cancel”:
        1. Make sure “Allow signup for this membership from website” and “Allow these members to be listed in directory” are disabled.
        2. Under “Is this level paid or free?” select the option “This is a free membership level”.
        3. Click Save Settings to save the settings.
        4. In the Actions tab, under both “When member signs up online add to” and “When member renews online add to,” enable the “Cancelled (folder)”
        5. Under “When member renews online remove from,” enable all the folders where active members are kept (eg. the “Members” folder)
        6. Click Save Actions & Close to save your settings.
      3. Click on the other membership levels and enable “Cancel” as an allowed downgrade from the membership levels.

      Once set up, a member will be able to sign in on your website and downgrade to the “Cancel” level on the account manage page. When downgrading to the “Cancel” level, any existing automatic recurring billing will be cancelled, the member account will be placed in the “Cancelled” folder and removed from the active member folders. Note that:

      • No refunds are automatically issued. To refund a payment, an admin will need to go to the account, click on the payment in the Timeline and select “Refund”.
      • In order to retain the financial records/transactions associated with the account for reporting/accounting purposes, the account is not automatically deleted. You can review and delete those accounts accordingly once you no longer require those financial records/transactions.

      Create a Cancel Page

      Create a cancellation page on your website and place the following shortcode or HTML snippet on the page:

      • If you are using WordPress use the following shortcode:
        [mw open=”downgrade/cancel”/]

      • If you are on Squarespace, Weebly or other HTML sites, obtain the HTML5 snippet for the “Membership Sign-Up Form” from the Help section. Then locate and replace the text “join” in the snippet with “downgrade/cancel”.

      Understanding the Renewal Period

      The renewal period is set in the Billing Management tab of each membership level. By default, it is set to 12% which is our recommendation, but you can change it if needed.

      Set a Custom Renewal Period

      Most customers choose to use our default settings in Billing Management (a tab available for each paid membership level in Labels & Membership). If you are certain that you’d like to have different settings, read on to learn how this works.

      The Renewals section in Billing Management allows you to set your renewal period which is the period just before and after the members renewal date. The default renewal period is 12%. This is calculated based on the membership period. If membership is annual then it will be a percentage of 1 year. If membership is monthly then it would be a percentage of 1 month. During the renewal period:

      • Dues for the renewal are charged immediately if the member selects credit card billing and will not be scheduled for the future if the member selects an auto recurring credit card option.
      • If the member upgrades/downgrades during this period there is no additional upgrade/downgrade fee. The member would just pay the new rate of membership for the next period.
      • If you have a fixed membership year, for a new member signing up during this period the dues for the next membership year is automatically added to the payment. **Note – you will notice that when adjusting the renewal period the date shown in red in the statement “Note that when a member signs up after _, dues for the next membership year…” will be adjusted.

      renewal period