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Why It’s the Perfect Time to Move Past Your Club Membership Excel Template

Author: Tatiana Morand
August 5, 2020
🕑 6 min read

“What happened to the membership Excel sheet?” Lara asked, trying to keep the panic out of her voice.

As the membership chair of a service club, Lara did her best to keep track of member data. She’d inherited the club membership Excel template, which she’d finally gotten organized and up to date (sort of), and now someone had… done things to it.

“Oh!” said Tina, the club secretary. “I think the volunteer committee added some fields.”

“I see,” Lara said. “And the… color-coding?”

“That was for dues, I think the finance committee did that to help track who needs to pay,” Tina explained.

“Great,” Lara sighed. “Would you please remind everyone that all spreadsheet changes should go through me?”

After she recovered from her initial annoyance, Lara had to admit that the Excel issues weren’t really anyone’s fault. It was the only thing they had for membership management, and different chairs and committees all needed access to the data.

The problem wasn’t the rogue color-coders. It was Excel. A spreadsheet could only do so much.

As she thought about it, Lara found that the club membership Excel template ate up a lot of her time. Half of the leadership team didn’t use it, calling Lara for the data instead. The only way to keep the data under control was to try and route changes through her — consequently, she was constantly updating things. There was no way to track current or lapsed members, and address changes alone accounted for a lot of her time. It would be nice, Lara thought, if she could spend some of that time on membership recruitment and engagement.

The fact was, the club had grown beyond the capabilities of a spreadsheet. They needed a membership database.

If you’re using a club membership Excel template, you probably have a story or two like Lara’s.

Maybe you’ve outgrown it, need more functionality than a spreadsheet provides, or are worried about data security.

Maybe you’re just tired of emailing files back and forth to team members, with your data getting messier with every share.

A membership database can solve all those problems, save you time, and help you function more smoothly and easily during the COVID-19 era and beyond.

At first, Lara hesitated to make any changes. COVID-19 had drastically altered the club’s activities, and it seemed like a weird time to try something new. But as she thought about it, she realized that an online database was uniquely suited to this particular time.

5 Good Reasons to Quit Your Club Membership Excel Template Now

1. Everyone is at Home

With most activities canceled, many people aren’t as busy as they usually are. If you’re looking for volunteers to help with data migration and entry, your membership is more likely to have time to help.

Lara hadn’t anticipated how available people would be for her project. The last time she’d put out a call for volunteers, pre-COVID, she’d gotten a handful of responses. This time, the response was overwhelming. She quickly assembled a database team, and within a few weeks, they’d standardized the Excel data and had it ready for import. During a normal time, Lara knew it would have taken a lot longer.

2. Virtual Events Need More than a Spreadsheet

Are you thinking about running a virtual event or fundraiser?

Many organizations are during this time, and a spreadsheet is not the tool for the job. In order to successfully run event registration, ticketing, attendance, promotion, payments, and follow-up, you need an all-in-one tool, like WildApricot, or at least software that plays nicely with others (WildApricot does that, too, if you already have tools you like).

Lara’s club kept talking about running a virtual fundraiser, but without a membership database that could integrate with other software, the task seemed daunting.

With club management software, they’d be able to keep track of contacts, sell tickets, and promote the event within their membership. The last time the club had done an in-person fundraiser, they’d ended up with six different spreadsheets, and everyone agreed they did not want to repeat that headache.

3. Engaged Members Stick Around

Membership retention is always a challenge, but staying in contact and making things easy are more important than ever. Member engagement is what keeps people around, and a database makes it much easier.

An online membership database allows you to personalize and target your member communications. While it may be possible to create email list segments within your club membership Excel template, the more lists and fields you create, the more cluttered and hard to use it becomes. In an online database, you can simply add tags and categories to create segments. No more sending every email to every person! Instead, members receive the information that’s most relevant to them.

Features like members-only pages on your website or member discussion forums can help your members stay connected and build relationships. As more of daily life goes online, these tools help keep member participation strong.

At a time when everyone is already struggling, you don’t want your club to be associated with inefficiency or needless hassle. Online membership forms and payments smoothes out your processes and saves members’ time. Even a simple membership database can help with these issues.

Read More: How to Create a Club Membership Form in WildApricot + 3 Examples

4. You Need Online Payments

Without an online database, it’s hard to take payments online. In the absence of in-person meetings, online payments are even more necessary, but chances are that your members want them anyway.

Online payments improve things for members and clubs alike. Members can quickly and easily make payments, with no worries about remembering to write and mail in a check. Clubs can get payments right away, without waiting for income to arrive or chasing down payments. Online payments are easier to track, too, making keeping up with dues much simpler. Excel can’t offer payment processing, but membership software can integrate with your website easily.

Read More: Understanding Online Payment Services + Top 10 Payment Providers

5. Future-Proof Your Organization

No one knows exactly what the future holds, but we do know that having reliable access to organized data will be necessary.

A cloud-based, online database is accessible from anywhere, making it easy for organizations to weather stay-at-home orders and changes in personnel and procedures. It’s safe to say that leadership teams who find themselves increasingly online will find online databases more and more essential.

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WildApricot is Here for You

Lara moved her database online, and almost immediately, the club began to run more efficiently. As membership chair, she finally felt like she had a real handle on her data. Since it was easy to purge duplicate entries and sort out lapsed members, she was able to plan accurately for a membership drive, resulting in several renewed memberships.

Other club leaders were quick to adapt to the new system — the club membership Excel template had been so confusing that no one was attached to using it. Leaders could pull data themselves, leaving Lara with more time for her real club responsibilities.

WildApricot helps clubs and organizations like Lara’s manage their membership data smoothly and easily:

  • Our all-in-one member management software saves time and effort with a website builder, event registration, email builder, and payment processing.
  • Information is securely stored in the cloud, so it’s always accessible to your team. You can assign different admin roles with different levels of access.
  • Our responsive and dedicated support team is ready to answer your questions and help you get started.

If you’re currently wrestling with an Excel template, take a break and see the difference with a free trial of WildApricot. Get 30 days free and experience life free from Excel hell!

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