Member management software

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Member management software

Postby KeyserSoze » Sep 2, 2015 12:31 pm

Our grotto is looking for a better way to manage membership data and process membership applications. I am hoping to get some information about how other grottos manage their membership to see if that might work better for us.

Currently we have the membership applications coming through an online form that go to a spreadsheet. From there the data is managed through several other spreadsheets and everything is processed manually, including confirmation emails and such. This system is too hard for busy volunteer cavers to keep up with.

What we need is a software system that will send membership application data from the website into a spreadsheet. From there it will automatically send confirmation emails to the submitter and to the grotto. We need to be able to easily manage, notate, and update the information for each member so we can track things like dues payments on a personal level.

Does anybody have a suggestion for something that would work well for us?
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Re: Member management software

Postby Phil Winkler » Sep 3, 2015 1:23 pm

The NSS has been using a product called member/PeopleTrak for over 20 years. Although DOS based it works extremely well and has served us well. It evolved into this: http://www.meetingtrak.com/membership-software.html

Using multiple spreadsheets to manage large amounts of data on a recurring basis is an exercise in futility. Mistakes will happen. The easy method is to change your business rules and place everyone on an annual basis renewing on the same date (month) each year. New members are charged on a prorated basis, but everyone ends up renewing in, say, January. That makes managing the data by spreadsheet much, much easier.

Believe me when i say I am speaking from experience, too. :)
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Re: Member management software

Postby LukeM » Sep 3, 2015 7:46 pm

I would recommend looking into Google Docs/Forms to accomplish what you're looking for. In it's basic form you can create shared spreadsheets and other documents, and also create public forms that will feed data into your spreadsheets. If you browse the developer add-ons that are available there are extensions for Google Docs that will allow you to do all sorts of things. For instance, formMule can notify people by email when new data has been submitted by form. The best part is that the software is free, cloud-based (thus easy to share), and user friendly.
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Re: Member management software

Postby Phil Winkler » Sep 3, 2015 8:19 pm

Luke, well, you get what you pay for. Not to disparage your suggestion, but G-Docs isn't even close to a relational db needed to manage a business or organization membership. Keyser has spelled out his requirements quite well so I think he is on his way to finding a solution.
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Re: Member management software

Postby Norm Berg » Sep 3, 2015 8:23 pm

The Central Connecticut Grotto uses a Microsoft Access database to track our membership including dues and donations. It can tie into other data sources. We also use it to print meeting sign-in sheets and make payment confirmations to send to members, plus other features. It is fully customizable by anyone with some Access development skills. For the last two years it is stored on Google Docs, where it is shared among a few officers (email for technical details if curious as to how we do this). Our dues year starts at the time of payment, rounded to the month to ensure a full year. I can send it to any grotto that would like to try it; please email info@ctcavers.org and put "Membership Database" in the subject line.
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Re: Member management software

Postby LukeM » Sep 3, 2015 8:49 pm

Phil Winkler wrote:Luke, well, you get what you pay for. Not to disparage your suggestion, but G-Docs isn't even close to a relational db needed to manage a business or organization membership. Keyser has spelled out his requirements quite well so I think he is on his way to finding a solution.


Phil, I know exactly what he said which is:

What we need is a software system that will send membership application data from the website into a spreadsheet. From there it will automatically send confirmation emails to the submitter and to the grotto. We need to be able to easily manage, notate, and update the information for each member so we can track things like dues payments on a personal level.


All this and more is possible with Google Docs and Google Forms. Have you ever used them? I'm familiar with what enterprise software and relational databases can accomplish, but a grotto with under a few hundred members is a far cry from a 10,000 member organization and grottos aren't exactly flush with cash. I also know that there are plenty of problems I've looked to solve where the best solution was the free solution so "you get what you pay for" can sometimes be a moot point. Web Mapping APIs for instance. They're all free, despite years of intense development and wide use in industry.
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Re: Member management software

Postby Phil Winkler » Sep 3, 2015 9:21 pm

Luke, you clearly understand what is needed. My error/faux pas.

This stuff isn't getting any easier, but finding the right software for the task remains critical.

Thanks for your reply.

Norm's software sounds fantastic!
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Re: Member management software

Postby LukeM » Sep 4, 2015 7:32 am

I agree, something made specifically with grotto record keeping in mind sounds great.
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Re: Member management software

Postby Crockett » Sep 8, 2015 6:59 pm

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Re: Member management software

Postby KeyserSoze » Sep 15, 2015 11:22 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into these.

We have actually been using Google drive docs already. The concept worked for a little while, it certainly works better than paper and notebooks that always seem to get lost, but it's just getting too hard to manage. The add-ons would be great to get working, but they are a little bit above my level of interest for technical complexity.
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