Table of Contents

Where to start

The membership feature is available to customers on the Team plan or above. The feature must be enabled in Settings > Defaults > Basics. To import memberships, a control panel user's permission set must include the ability to import people and manage memberships. 

Membership information can be imported from People > Import > Memberships.

On a technical level, a membership is a separate object from a profile or a donation within NationBuilder. Membership imports are assumed to have more accurate information than what exists within a nation - so when membership data is imported, it will always over-write existing membership information within a profile. Where possible, membership will be added to existing profiles. New people will be created if a unique identifier cannot match an existing person in your database. 

We recommend creating membership types in Settings > People > Membership > New type before importing memberships. Doing this ensures that you can define a grace period for each type of membership.  

If this is your first time importing, please read how to prepare for your first import.


The primary focus of a membership import is to import membership data. Each line of data represents information on one membership type for one person or organization. In order to connect this data to the appropriate profile, you must also map a unique identifier for the member. The unique identifiers available in a membership import are listed within the profile fields section of this HOWTO.

Membership imports are assumed to be more accurate than data that already exists in your nation. This means that a membership import will always overwrite existing membership information. If the membership already exists on a profile, it will be updated by an import. This is true whether or not you check the box to overwrite existing data while preparing a membership import. That box only refers to profile fields. 

📌Note: Custom Fields cannot be updated or imported during the Membership Import. If you need to update or import custom fields you will need to also run a one-time people import.

Membership types:

If you import a membership name that does not already exist in your nation, a new membership type will be created. We strongly recommend creating the membership type in the Settings section of the control panel prior to importing membership data. Membership types created via import include a grace period of one day and there is no way to retroactively apply a different grace period.  

Status and expiration date:

The expiration date for an expired, canceled, or grace period membership must be today or in the past. An error will occur if the date is in the future.

Active memberships cannot be imported with an expiration date in the past. 

If your import includes historical and current membership information, you need to pay attention to the order of the information. For example:

Line 2: Member email:, Membership name: Silver, Status: active, Expires on: 1-1-2030

Line 3: Member email:, Membership name: Silver, Status: expired, Expires on: 1-1-2015

If this data was imported in this order, John's Silver membership would be updated twice: first to an active state, then to an expired state. To avoid this error, we recommend sorting by expiration date, with the oldest expiration date as the first row of data. By sorting your data before importing it, you will ensure that active memberships are not overwritten by historical data.

Importing paid memberships

Importing paid memberships is complicated because it always requires importing the membership information separately from the payment information. These imports are connected using the membership ID assigned by NationBuilder.

There are three components to a paid membership:

  1. the supporter
  2. the membership record
  3. a donation

Technically, each of these components exists as a separate object within your nation’s database and is connected using unique identifiers. A donation is connected to a membership by the membership ID. This numerical value is assigned by NationBuilder when a membership is added to a profile and will not exist in your historical data. Remember: you cannot arbitrarily assign a number as the membership ID for a membership type. It must be created automatically within your nation.

When importing paid memberships, the membership information must be imported first. Then, the payment is imported separately. These two imports are connected using the membership ID.

Import the membership information, then export the memberships to see the membership IDs (option one).

For small imports, you can connect the two objects in your control panel (option two). 

Option one: import, export, import

Import the membership information. Then, you can export your membership information to see the membership ID. A single profile can have many membership types. A membership ID matches a particular profile to a particular type of membership. You will need to connect this export to your transaction records and attach the membership ID to the transaction records. In Excel, this can be done using VLOOKUP

A single export does not exist for all memberships in a nation. Instead, a separate CSV can be downloaded for each membership type.

Then, import the donations.

Option two: import, import, edit donations in control panel

If you are importing a small number of paid memberships, you can import the membership information and import corresponding donations without the membership ID. Then, within your control panel, you will need to edit each donation record to associate it with the appropriate membership ID.

It is possible to view a list of all donations imported from a single file in the Finances section. Since you will need a membership ID that is unique to each member, it is better to go to the People section and in single-person view find the membership ID. Then, you'll go to the finances section with that supporter's profile and edit the donation transaction. 

Profile fields available in a membership import

A member can be a person or organization. Both people and organizations exist as profiles in the People section of your nation. Within the code, they are referred to as a "signup." The categories of fields in this section all exist within a profile. You will need to import a unique identifier listed within the Signup category to connect membership details to a member.

Fields that can be imported are categorized. You can search for field names when mapping your fields, but not for the category names. Some fields exist within multiple categories, so take care to map the correct field to your data. This is particularly true to the ID field - which is a unique identifier created by NationBuilder and is a numerical value referring to either the membership type, the recruiter, or the member.

Please review how address imports affect existing addresses prior to your first import.


This category refers to a person's home address. If you are importing an organization's membership data, do not use this field. An organization's address must be mapped to the work address. 

Mailing address

Media market



The recruiter is the person who recruited the person to join your organization. Since this category appears in alphabetical order before the Signup category, be careful when mapping fields. The member's name and email should be mapped within the Signup category.

Registered address


When importing memberships, the person or organization who is a member or your nation is the signup. Be careful when mapping first name, last name, and email of the member that you map those fields within the Signup category rather than the Recruiter category.

Within the code, a person or organization in your nation is referred to as a "signup." People in your database do not have to sign up on your website to be considered a signup. It is simply a way to distinguish a person from a webpage or another aspect of your nation. Most other field categories are actually sub-groupings of signup fields. 

Work address

This is the main address for an organization. An organization cannot have a home address. A person can have both a home address and a work address.

Related HOWTOs

Create memberships
How to charge for memberships
Prepare for your first import
Importing addresses
How to import

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