While databases may not seem all that important in the grand scheme of things in an organization, they can actually make a huge difference and save your organization money. If used correctly, they can make you more efficient, make it easier to collaborate on items, and can cut down on the amount of duplication of information and efforts that routinely occur in organizations.
Donor/volunteer databases make collecting, organizing, and using your information easier and faster. They can help you to track where information came from, make updates to contact records, search for volunteers with certain skills or areas of interest, and track who has donated and when. You can also use it to sign customers up for various email lists, such as those interested in wine tastings or seasonal products and services.
When placed online, these databases become accessible anywhere you have internet access, using pre-configured log-in information. This allows you to share the same database with satellite offices, staff members when they're at other locations, and more. By sharing the same database online, you won't end up with multiple local databases all with different information stored inside. This is very important, as databases confined to a local computer tend to become duplicated and outdated, making it difficult to tell who has the correct information about your voters, donors, and customers.
Having it online means volunteers and supporters can easily add their own information to the database via forms on your web site. This means you can quickly grow your database and cut down the amount of data entry to be done at the same time. If you allow them access to do so, they can even update their information themselves, which increase the chances of your records being up to date.
Online databases also allow importing and exporting, which means you can have a local copy of your database and you can import any existing information you may have. Fields are fully customizable, which means your database is made for you - it's not a one size fits all solution.
Databases are secure and protected, with only authorized users having access. Permissions can be customized, allowing for different levels of access based on the guidelines set forth by your campaign or organization.
The database we use - CiviCRM - gives your organization or business many options in addition to email lists and forms. One such feature is event sign-ups for both paid and free events. This allows you to capture event sign-ups in the same databases where your email lists reside, which means you can easily send out emails to everyone who attends. This is commonly used for last minute reminders, changes in schedules and agendas, and an after event "thank you" to attendees. You can easily tag each person as to whether they have paid, are awaiting payment, attended, cancelled, and more.
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