Membership Database Selection Guide

SECTION 1 – Identifying Your Needs (continued)

Step 3: Identify Your Needs

While you may find the process of capturing all of your requirements a little daunting, don't be intimidated. You simply need to create a detailed list of what you want the software to help you with. Here are some of the things to consider in creating your list of database requirements:


Who will use this database? e.g. one staffer; numerous administrators; board members; volunteers?  
User's needs:  
  • remote access versus in-office access
  • view vs. edit access
  • their technical proficiency
  • their organizational/technical skills


What type of records do you need to store:
  • members
  • volunteers (by project /involvement?)
  • contacts (e.g., sponsors, speakers, networked organizations, etc.)
  • donors/supporters
  • prospects
How many total records will you need to store?  
What information do you need to capture?   
  • basic data for all records (name, email, address, tel #, etc.)
  • data specific for certain types of records
  • membership: renewal date / status / member ID
  • account balance
  • any committees/groups
  • event history, donation history
  • volunteering history
  • relationships (e.g. spouse, multiple records under same corp. membership)
  • communication preferences (e.g. send newsletters/not)
  • professional certification
  • continuing education credits


What functions do you need:
  • report generation (what kinds of reports?)
  • support for linked/hierarchical records
  • integrated contact database
  • quick search/advanced search
  • automation of renewals
  • mail merge functions for members/contacts (e.g., for email and postal, name badges)
  • export for use in any other tools/systems
  • internal workflows (communications, actions, notes)
  • member profile web pages/online member self-service

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