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Where the #$%! are my member records?!? Ideas on making member record management easier with online software

Lori Halley 29 June 2010 0 comments

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.
  • You'll have at least one embarrassing incident due to someone having an out-of-date version of your membership list floating around, either in paper form or as an email attachment.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.

Yes, YOU can move your member database online!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

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 11:46 AM
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