Reports and analysis
There are a number of techniques for reporting on and analysing your memberships. The membership dashboard gives a quick overview of your current membership, with rows for each membership type and columns that current totals, and year and month to date figures.
That's a good start but there are a couple of ways that you can create more detailed and customised analysis using CiviCRM's search features and CiviReport.
If you are interested in the financial aspects of membership, you may also find the reports and analysis chapter in contributions useful.
Out of the box, CiviCRM comes with three membership reports designed to tell you something specific about your membership.
The membership report (detail) shows a line for each member. The membership report (summary) shows members grouped by any criteria you specify. For example, you can look at the amount of members that have joined each year for the last 10 years or show members broken down by country of origin or any other custom data that you collect on them. Clicking on any row in the summary report will take you to the a corresponding detail report for that row. The membership report (lapsed) provides a list of memberships that lapsed or will lapse before the date you specify.
Searching based on membership data
CiviCRM makes an important distinction between contacts and memberships, which is blurred when we talking about 'members'. Consider the following question: 'How many members do we have?' This could be taken to mean 'how many contacts do we have that are members?', or 'how many memberships have we granted to contacts?'. The answer to these questions is often be the same but what happens if one of your contacts has more than one membership? The answer is that you'll have two memberships but only one contact.
There's no right or wrong answer to the question should we look at contacts or memberships. It just depends on what you are interested in. It is important to take this into consideration when carrying out a search.
The Find members search allows you to search based on membership data and return membership data. The Advanced search allows you to search based on some limited membership information (and combine that with other contact information) and return contacts. You can also choose membership from the column to show members rather than contacts.
Searching based on criteria gives you access to simple totals and also the option to export as CSV for further analysis.
If CiviReport and the contact and membership searches aren't giving you want you want, consider commissioning a new report or custom search. Read the CiviReport section and the 'Search and actions' chapter for more information.