I recently uploaded some 2800 members from a spreadsheet. Some did not have membership start dates. I have CiviCRM with Wordpress, latest versions.

I wanted to mark all members with radio buttons for print and for emails, depending on how they want to receive their magazine. So I downloaded all the members, separated them by contact type and prepared to re-upload with the appropriate print and or email radio buttons.

Fortunately, I ran a test on 15 expired household members. 7 of these had no start date, and since the upload requires a start date I simply pasted in their member since date.

Guess what? When I ran the upload on the 15 test members it erased the end date for the 7. So now these 7 expired members are marked as current. And the system won't let me reenter their expiration dates. I get an error message, Member Status. Please enter a status that does NOT represent a current membership status. But of course I can't enter status because the system generates status.

So now I'm stuck. I want to update the radio buttons, which it looks like I can do only for members who already have both a start date and an end date. Maybe.

2 Answers 2


You first want to distinguish "contact" from "membership", those are two different things (where "thing" is sometimes called an "entity"). A membership is a 'related thing' of a contact, think of it like the membership card, not all the information about the contact themselves.

It sounds like you uploaded contact and membership information at the same time, which CiviCRM lets you do, but you don't need to redo that for your update.

Specifically, the 'print vs email' preference is probably something that applies to the contact, not the membership (it's a preference of the person, not of their membership).

If so, just upload (even the same csv file) as contact import and map the print/email field just like you did when uploading it as contacts.

  • I'm afraid I didn't describe my problem clearly enough. We use CiviCRM membership for subscribers to our magazine. (Word Replacements only partially worked.) Subscribers can receive the magazine in print by mail, as a pdf email, or both. I was trying to add that information to memberships/subscriptions by using Import Subscribers>Update existing Subscriber. It seems that any effort to edit memberships/subscriptions directly produces the error message "Member Status. Please enter a status that does NOT represent a current membership status." Feb 12, 2023 at 12:02
  • No, your description was clear enough. My solution involves storing the information about subscriptions (i.e print/email/both) NOT as a custom field of the membership, but as a custom field of the contact themselves. That will allow you to correctly import the information without the issue of the member status error. You will also want to fix that problem, but you don't need to have it entangled with the separate issue of importing/managing the contact 'preference' type information.
    – Alan Dixon
    Feb 13, 2023 at 15:14

@polly I think the issue may revolve around the use of 1) Lifetime memberships versus 2) Rolling yearly 3) versus Fixed yearly.

The error you report happened when I tried to convert a yearly subscription to a lifetime subscription, and trying to convert it back.

No lifetime membership will accept an end date, period. That is the nature of a lifetime membership, I suppose. In other words, by necessity lifetime membership types have a blank end date. Trying to input otherwise produces the error you saw.

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