Creating dynamic documents with Wild Apricot API and Formstack Documents

Wild Apricot is the #1 Capterra-rated member management system and has over 20,000 customers. With their website builder, eCommerce capabilities and comprehensive functionality specific to the needs of not-for-profits and clubs, Wild Apricot offers a popular, affordable and cloud-based solution. Organizations use Wild Apricot for their website, email and mobile app, and to manage their contact database, event organization and online promotion, registration and payments.

Since 2008, Wild Apricot members have been asking for the ability to provide membership cards, certificates and other authenticated, unalterable documentation to members. NewPath Consulting now has a solution to this issue with the use of the Wild Apricot API and  Formstack Documments (previously called WebMerge) – a dynamic document creation system.

NewPath Consulting is an SMB support company that combines business strategy and advice with cloud-based technology packages through flat-rate monthly support plans. NewPath partners with the companies behind the technologies they recommend. In this case, they identified the opportunity to utilize one partner to assist another and employed Formstack Documents to better serve the Wild Apricot community.   

Formstack Documents is an online platform that allows the creation of dynamic documents. Formstack Documents users can easily route data from external systems or tabular data files, populate a document using “mail merge”-type functionality and display it on a screen or send it by email. Formstack Documents works with a variety of  document types including fillable PDFs and customized Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files. Formstack Documents even contains a built-in document editor that allows you to create native documents. Formstack Documents enables Wild Apricot members to dynamically create secure, personalized documents with just a click – and without any human intervention.

NewPath Consulting used Formstack Documents to create dynamic documents for a Wild Apricot customer, the International Association of Reiki Professionals. The IARP not only wanted members to be able to request a membership certificate, but to also be able to produce certificates for their students to confirm that they had completed various training programs. For the latter “student diploma service” IARP charged a fee – and created a new revenue stream for their organization!

The automatic provision of these documents would not only reduce the time and cost to the organization’s administrators (manually produced membership documents cost as much as $5 per certificate), but also offered them a recurring revenue stream with the addition of the student certificate option.

NewPath Consulting explains how they built their solution:

  • We took a sample certificate file and membership card and created a fillable PDF that contained “placeholders” for each of the membership fields such as Name, Member Expiry Date, Member Since Date, and Membership ID.
  • We integrated a special members-only “Generate my certificate” page in Wild Apricot that allows a logged in member to click a link which invokes the custom program that generates the certificate.
  • The “bridge” written in PHP is invoked to request the membership data dynamically and evaluates whether a member is active or not. If they are active the bridge calls the Formstack Documents API to create the certificate, routing the necessary data to Formstack Documents.
  • The final result is that an unalterable, print-ready certificate and membership card are displayed, personalized for each member.

Here are a few screen shots of how the process works from Wild Apricot:

  1. Generating the certificate link from a Wild Apricot page happens through a small Javascript that retrieves the Wild Apricot unique numeric user ID and constructs a call to the PHP bridge.
    image from
  2. The “bridge” written in PHP (index-webmerge.php) calls the Wild Apricot API to retrieve the necessary pieces of data to merge into the certificate.

    Pasted image 0 (1)

  3. A certificate is delivered via email to the Recipient field, which is retrieved from the Wild Apricot membership record. The source certificate file is a fillable PDF file. You can also use any Microsoft Office document or create a file right within Formstack Documents. This certificate can be secured for alteration as well as password protected in Formstack Documents.

    Pasted image 0 (2)


    Since launching this new solution in spring 2017, IARP has generated over 500 certificates and student diplomas – saving the organization thousands of dollars in printing costs and most importantly, time. Each certificate costs less than 50 cents to generate.

    This solution can be replicated by other Wild Apricot customers as well as other organizations. Personalized documents can serve many other purposes such as:

    • An organization may wish to create one-time use event tickets, customized training materials, certificates and membership cards, quotes or letters.
    • Automated document generation can make it easy to take advantage of various membership benefits and perks such as insurance application forms prefilled with all of your membership data – including a signature!

    The outcome is a simple process that allows members to self-service their documentation needs and removes the responsibility from administrators, saving time as well as money in printing and postage costs. It also makes your organization stand out in providing a superior level of customer service.

    To learn more, please visit our Wild Apricot and Formstack support pages.

About the author

Alex is a pioneer in using the cloud to meet the needs of small and medium sized business (SMBs) and membership-based organizations. He has a BSc in computer science from the University of Michigan and has worked as a product manager at two Internet startups. Alex is a father of 2 and plays the trumpet for fun. He is the founder and the president of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Toronto.