You’ll need to set dates when you use renewal reminders for the first time. These will advance in step, by the amount you choose (typically month-by-month), unless you change them manually. So it is helpful to think about these carefully at the start.
Typically, you’ll send all members a reminder shortly ahead of their expiry date. This will differ depending on whether they pay:
- Manually (e.g. by card, usually using the renewal form). A manual reminder will ask them to pay and direct them to a renewal form. Or,
- Automatically (for example, by direct debit or standing order). An automatic reminder will tell them payment will happen (the Direct Debit Guarantee requires you to remind them in advance) and that their membership is being renewed. If you send membership cards, this is the time to do it for automated renewals.
For overdue manual renewals, you’ll probably want to send a reminder after an appropriate period, and possibly a third and even a fourth, maybe by post, sometime later.
How many manual renewal reminders?
Before setting dates or sending any reminders, decide how many reminders you want to send, and how often you’re going to do it. Set this in organisation settings → organisation details if you don’t want the default two reminders on a monthly cycle. Set the number to one if you don’t want to follow up (just cancel) if they don’t respond, or three or four if you want to send additional reminders.
When you first visit renewals renewal reminders, the dates for the first automatic and first manual reminders will be set for expiries due in the following period that you set in organisation details. By default, we use a month, but you can adjust this, if you plan to process all renewals weekly, for example. Any subsequent reminder dates are blank initially.
You might choose to send first reminders a month (or whatever) earlier than that. That would mean setting the date range for the very first set to cover two months, after which they will advance a month at a time. We don’t recommend this: our experience is that a reminder sent too soon is put aside and forgotten. Do, however, allow enough time for people to react, especially those with expiry dates early in the month. So, mid-month is ideal to send renewal reminders.
Second and any subsequent reminders are for those who do not respond. That means the dates for these should each be earlier than the previous reminders. You might set the second reminder for two months overdue and a further one for four months overdue.
You could also run a system with reminders well in advance of, and then again shortly before expiry, with a third and possibly fourth reminder if they don’t respond. Personally, as a recipient, I think I would find this a bit annoying. Perhaps it is more reasonable in a commercial environment.
For example, let’s say you want three reminders. You choose to prepare them around the 12th of each month, and today is June 12th. The default is to send first reminders for those expiring any time in July.
You would then want to allow them the whole of July to respond, so that around August 12th you send a second reminder to those whose expiry dates are still in July. So, going back to June, we’d be issuing second reminders for expiries in May.
Let’s say we want to allow a little more time for a third reminder. We set that for March.
When we produce the reminders, the dates are all advanced automatically by a month, so once set they will continue. So, come July 12th we’ll be issuing first reminders for expiries in August, second reminders for expiries in June and third reminders for expiries in April, and so on.
So, once dates (and templates) are set, you can produce all the reminders each month with a single button click.
Make sure you process pending renewals before preparing renewal reminders. Otherwise, you will most likely send reminders to people who have already renewed. It is still possible this may happen, especially for postal reminders, so consider wording to allow for that.
The end of the line
If a member does not respond to any of the reminders you have sent, you’ll want to cancel their membership.
For manual renewals, do this in renewals → overdue manual renewals. The dates for this operate in exactly the same way as reminders. You’ll need to set them the first time, after which they’ll advance in step with the reminders.
If you’re running a two-reminder system, you’d typically want to allow them another month to reply to the final reminder.
So, for a two-reminder system, set up on June 12th again, with your second reminders going out for May expiry dates, you could reasonably expect them to reply by the next monthly cycle. So you’d set the cancellations to April, or even March or February if you want to allow a more generous grace period.
In a three- or four-reminder cycle, you might choose to cancel their membership at the same time as you send the final reminder, and re-instate them if they do respond. In that case, set the dates the same as those for the final reminder (April in our example above). Or you might allow a further month or two’s grace, in which case go back a further month or two (March or February).
For automated renewals, do this in accounting tasks → overdue automated payments. It is in accounting because the only reliable way to tell whether an automated payment has not arrived is that it is missing from your bank statements. We can spot that if you reconcile membership payments with the memberships they apply to. For many payments, this happens automatically if you set up a feed from the payment provider.
For automated payments, you send only one reminder. The expectation is that the payment will arrive automatically and it is much less common for them not to. When that does happen, it may be:
- by intent:
- e.g. they have cancelled the mandate: sometimes people will also tell you, but
- surprisingly often, they don’t; or
- by mistake (more often, in our experience):
- e.g. they change bank accounts and the banks fail to transfer mandates properly, or
- the customer doesn’t recognise the payee and cancels the mandate. Among the many problems banks have in accurately reporting payments they receive, some have a particular problem with GoCardless where they don’t report the actual payee (which GoCardless does send to them) and the customer sees only GoCardless, which the customer forgets was the broker they filled in the form for. Nationwide is a particular offender in this respect.
Therefore, while you could just cancel memberships where payments fail to arrive within a reasonable period, it is sensible to send a query first with a grace period, as for manual renewals. accounting tasks → overdue automated payments has provision for this. Set up a template for the message using the link offered.
Cameo is set up to use a monthly cycle for renewal reminders and cancellations. It is possible to operate a shorter or longer cycle.
A longer cycle can be problematic, though. Some organisations use a system where all renewals become due on the same date (say January 1). While you can do this, you certainly wouldn’t want to wait until the next year to send a second reminder, so the dates of the different reminders would overlap. That means you would need to do the different reminders separately, turning off the others: otherwise, someone overdue would get a first and second reminder. If this applies to you, let us know and we’ll see if it can be improved. However, you’d only be doing this once a year, so it is not a large burden.
You’ll also want to make templates, using the links provided. Cameo makes a proforma template for you, which you should re-word to your preference (click the link to the newly-made template to edit it).
Email reminders for manual renewals should include a prominent, personalised link to the page embedding your renewal form.
For all reminders, you can choose to make email, letter or email+letter templates. Unless you are operating an email-only membership, choose email+letter for the initial reminder, so people without email addresses get a postal reminder automatically. Our experience is that letters are more effective than emails for final overdue reminders.
Email+letter creates two templates, one for the email and one for the equivalent letter, so you’ll need to set wording separately for each.