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Database management: It's all in the details


Take a second to think about all the ways information in a membership database is used: email communications, membership renewals, event management, certification records, merchandise purchases and statistics are just a few of the possibilities. An organization can use its membership database in numerous ways, but in order for a database to be truly useful it must be maintained. Keeping up with database management is a big job and shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Here are a few tips I always keep in mind when working on a database.

Attention to detail is a must. It might be tempting to rush through updates but typos can lead to missed communication opportunities and even lost revenue. I’m all for efficiency, but there is no point in having a database if the information is inaccurate. Taking a little extra time to make sure information is entered correctly is well worth the effort.

Format consistently. This is especially important if the database is used to generate items like membership directories or event registration lists. Abbreviations, address information and punctuation should all be entered in a consistent format. Otherwise, those lists and directories may end up looking unprofessional and unpolished. If multiple individuals are responsible for entering and updating records make sure everyone involved is aware of these formatting guidelines.

Keep up with database maintenance. On a busy day it’s easy to set database updates aside for another time, but in my experience it’s more practical to add or update records right away. If I absolutely can’t get to an update that day, I put it in a designated folder in my inbox. I have a calendar item set up reminding me to check that folder each morning.

The database will never be complete and can always be improved. Membership is always changing so database management is an ongoing project. As membership evolves, the database should too. Don’t be afraid to make changes to the database setup to better meet the needs of the organization. The database is a powerful resource but it must work for an organization!

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