Charge for memberships

Paid membership is a powerful way to create community ownership of an organization.

Updated over a week ago

📌 Note: Memberships are available as add-ons. For more information on adding new features please see the add-ons page in your nation.

Table of Contents

Where to start: charge for membership on a donation page

Each donation page can process one type of paid membership. Whether or not you can set an expiration date for the membership is based on the types of donations being processed. The general rule is that each month a supporter is paying the organization, their membership must be active.

1. A donation page accepting one-time donations that doesn't accept installment payments can have any expiration date (or no expiration date) for the membership.  

2. A donation page accepting one-time donations and installment payments: the membership cannot expire before the installment payments end. For example, if installment payments are accepted for up to 12 months, than the membership must expire in 12 months or last longer than 12 months. Please note that membership expiration on installment donations is not working as expected. 

3. A donation page accepting monthly donations cannot set an expiration date on memberships. Since monthly donations are made automatically each month, the membership associated with this recurring donation must not expire. 

One-time donation memberships

You must have enabled both the donations and memberships in Settings > Defaults > Basics for people to become members by donating to your nation. Create or edit a donation page

Go to Donation settings > Advanced.

Under One-time donations, decide what type of membership a donor will receive in the Membership dropdown menu. Membership types are defined in the People section of your control panel. If you want the membership to expire, select a time frame from the dropdown menu. You can choose from 1-31 days, weeks, months, or years. 

For an annual membership, you can set the expiration as either twelve months or one year.

Click the Save settings button.

Donation pages accepting monthly installments

If your donation page allows payments as installments, the membership expiration must be greater than or equal to the maximum number of installments. This means that if a person is paying off a donation for twelve months, their membership cannot expire in five months. On the other hand, if the maximum number of monthly installments is five, membership can expire in twelve months. 

This ensures that a person remains an active member for the entire time they could potentially be paying for the membership. 

Correct settings when accepting payment as installments:

Remember to click the Save settings button after defining the membership type and when it expires.

Monthly donation memberships 

First, create or edit a donation page. Go to Donation settings > Advanced.

Under Recurring donations, decide what type of membership a donor will receive in the Membership type dropdown menu. Membership types are defined in the Settings area of your control panel. Membership will only expire if monthly payments stop. 

 Click the Save settings button.

A monthly donation page allows donors to agree to give you a set amount of money every month for an unlimited amount of time. Therefore, a membership expiration cannot be set and you will not see the "Expire membership in" options on these donation pages.

Create a page offering multiple paid memberships

It's possible to create a page that displays multiple paid membership options, with a tiled layout that shows a title, description, pricing, and a link to each of your membership types. You will need to be comfortable editing a page template to follow the below instructions to create this type of page, as it is not available as a default page type.

📌 Note: Each type of membership needs to be processed from a unique donation page. So, you will need to create those donation pages before creating this page. These instructions offer a way to display membership options on a single page. 

First, download the Membership Page Kit, upload the included _membership_excerpt.html partial template to the Files area of your custom theme, and publish the theme.

Next, we'll build the page template to showcase the different membership types. Create a new page with the "Basic" page type, and click on the Template tab. Just below the {{ page.basic.content }} liquid tag, insert the following code block:

1<ul class="membership-list">


3     {% subpage "membership_default_page_1" with "membership_excerpt" %}


5     {% subpage "membership_default_page_2" with "membership_excerpt" %}


7     {% subpage "membership_default_page_3" with "membership_excerpt" %}



Your template should now look like this:

Where "membership_default_page_1", "membership_default_page_2", and "membership_default_page_3" refer to the page slugs of the default pages associated with your membership types. A membership's default page is defined in People > Memberships. For a paid membership, the donation page processing that membership should be listed as its default page.

For example, if you only have one membership type, with its default page located at, your snippet should look like this:

1<ul class="membership-list">


3{% subpage "membership_default_page" with "membership_excerpt" %}



Save and publish the page template to complete the installation. Your webpage will look like this:

Donations processed from control panel (includes gifting membership)

You can record a donation in the People section within a profile or by adding a new transaction in the Finances section. When you add a donation, you also have the ability to charge a credit card. 

1. From a person's profile, go to Finances > $X donated > New donation.

2. Enter the donation.

If you are charging a credit card using a payment processor that accepts recurring donations, you will have the option to begin a monthly donation or an installment plan. If choosing one of these options, the restrictions on membership expiration will apply. 

3. Under contact details, select the membership type and expiration (if desired).

4. If the membership is a gift, check "Gift this membership" and select the recipient from the "Membership for" dropdown menu. The recipient of a gift membership must already exist in your people database.

5. Click the yellow button, which will say either Save donation or Pay donation via [payment processor].

Problem processing payment

If there is a problem processing an initial credit card payment, the potential member will receive an autoresponse email encouraging her to update her credit card information. Once the payment is processed, membership will begin. This applies to a one-time donation, the first installment payment, and the first monthly donation. 

If there is a problem processing installment payments or monthly donations after the first payment, membership will stop, and the member will receive the membership payment failed autoresponse email encouraging her to reactivate her membership. 

If payments are processed through NationBuilder Payments, the payment method will be retried for up to 4 days following the initial failure. During this window, the member can update the payment method on file for their dues payments through your nation's supporter portal prior to their membership getting canceled. If your portal is enabled, a link directing members to log into it will be included in the "Failed payment" email by default.

The above autoresponse can be edited from Settings > Memberships > [Membership name] > Autoresponses > Failed payment.

📌 Note: When your payment processor is unable to complete an installment payment or recurring donation, the member will only receive a failed payment autoresponse. They will not receive the expiring or expired autoresponse emails.

Allowing a grace period for the membership will allow your members to continue accessing members-only content on your website while taking time to update their credit card information.

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