Your People -- Managing Contact Information for Members, Supporters, Attendees and Donors

Lori Halley 02 September 2010 0 comments

At Wild Apricot, we are blessed to have a number of terrific partners who provide services for our customers.  While we've designed Wild Apricot to be easy-to-use, there are still folks who need additional help with things like account setup, graphic design, and custom scripting.  Lamees Abourahma of Webbright Services is one such partner, and she recently did a great post on her blog about our association member and contact database functions.

Lamees' post really got me to thinking about the benefits of using an integrated database to manage contact information for all the people touched by your organization.   If you're like many small association volunteers, you're using a combination of lists stored in Excel or Access, mailing lists in Outlook or some other email program, and maybe even some paper based records.  What if you want to see how many members vs. non-members came to your last event?  Or how many people who donated money to your charitable efforts last year later became members?  These things are probably difficult to determine, if not impossible!

Also, using typical desktop programs create other issues. When you need to share the database with board members, part-time staff and volunteers you end up emailing lists around. Copies quickly multiply, and some will invariably have outdated or duplicate records.  Your staff and volunteers end up spending hours to clean it up and maintain consistency.

I blogged in the past about the general benefits for small associations in using web-based software.  Here are some specific benefits of using an integrated web-based database:

  • You can share the workload by providing direct, secure database access to your board and volunteers without having to email all those spreadsheets around
  • You'll save time maintaining records as members can also login and update their own contact information, register for events, renew and pay membership dues -- and it all gets tied back to their single master record
  • You can send very targeted marketing messages  -- for example, find non-members who have attended multiple events, and email them to point out that they could save money by becoming a member and getting discounted event rates

These are just a few ideas.  If your association is already using an integrated database, I'd love to hear other benefits you have found.  If you are not, what benefits, or for that matter challenges, would you see in moving to a single integrated database?

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

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 02 September 2010 at 1:11 PM

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