Imagine you're the membership coordinator for a small association or some
other member-driven organization. (If you actually ARE a membership
coordinator, just imagine you're yourself!) Now imagine you don't have
an online tool to maintain your membership records. I can pretty much
guarantee you will encounter one of the following scenarios, if
you haven't already:
- You realize you have one or more members who have lapsed in
paying their dues, but you haven't followed up due to spotty records.
- You try to reach one of your members, but realize you don't have their current telephone number or email address.
have at least one embarrassing incident due to someone having an
out-of-date version of your membership list floating around, either in
paper form or as an email attachment.
It does not have to be like this. Even if you're with the smallest
association, you can get access to modern online tools that will help
make your life simpler.
The most obvious thing to do would be to move your data into an online system that is specifically geared at maintaining an online association database. This may sound like an expensive proposition but, as Wes Trochlil pointed out on his Effective Database Management blog,
there are association management systems that are well within the
reach of most organizations. Wild Apricot is one such system but is by
no means the only one. Compare the association management software (AMS) systems that are out there and see what fits best in your organization's size and budget.
If you're not ready to move to a dedicated system, you can
transition toward it by moving what you are doing today online. For
example, perhaps your membership records are in an Excel spreadsheet --
this is pretty common, and can work well enough for a very small
association. But it does rely on having a single file sitting on your
hard drive that no one else can edit. Why not move that file to an
online office suite? Google Docs and the recently launched Microsoft Office Web Apps
both offer free online spreadsheet tools. The big advantage of moving
to one of these is that you can allow multiple people to edit the data
directly, and you can allow others to view but not edit the data. This
means that everyone in your association can see the most current
version of the membership records at any time, and those with
permission can quickly make additions or corrections. This will go a
LONG way to simplifying your life. Originally published by Jay Moonah