We want members to sign up and either auto-renew (it's free) or be lifetime members so there is no expiration date. Which is the best approach?

  • Is your membership free either way? If it is, I'm not sure what the purpose would be of auto-renewing them. (I also don't think you can auto-renew without some kind of financial transaction.) A lifetime membership might therefore be your best option. Dec 18, 2015 at 18:07
  • I think we just want lifetime no expiration until they tell us to remove them. Data export import of the expiration field does not work. How do we update everyone?
    – JDM
    Dec 19, 2015 at 4:20
  • how do you mean 'update'? what are they currently? one way may be to export all the Internal IDs for people concerned and then make a Membership Import and create the memberships that way (and i think your 'answer' should have been an edit to your OP, then I could have given this as an Answer ;-)
    – petednz - fuzion
    Dec 19, 2015 at 19:48
  • By update I mean we want ALL people in our database to be on our lifetime membership type which is the only active type currently accepting new members. Those new people do not have an expiration date field value but the others do... Do we need to manually delete each persons expiration date field? Must be a better way...
    – JDM
    Dec 20, 2015 at 4:47
  • not sure if i understand your workflow enough - but i wonder why you need a membership status for all contacts in the DB - how does it help you?
    – petednz - fuzion
    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:30

1 Answer 1


What distinguishes a member from a non-member? Is it basically being on your mailing list? If so, you might consider not using CiviMember at all.

The paradigm of membership in CiviCRM is a dues-paying membership with a term. While there are features to handle variations on that (free memberships and lifetime memberships, for example), there isn't much reason to go through the trouble of setting them up if they're both free and lifetime.

Instead, consider setting up a group. You can have a profile add people to the group, you can search for everyone in the group, and you can mail to the group. There's even the history of when someone was added to the group, if that matters to you.

The word "member" trips users up a lot, and it's common to see people think that CiviMember is the way to handle their free forever memberships in CiviCRM. You can just turn it off by going to Administer > System Settings > Enable CiviCRM Components.

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