Building an Online Database
MANAGING DATA-ENTRY POINTS
Start small. Have non-primary users enter specific kinds of contacts first. For example, ask your board chair to only enter information pertaining to major-donor cultivation. Set this person’s access settings accordingly, as most databases allow for varying levels of access (e.g., Does Joan have the power to delete donor records?).
After a few months of limited data entry and access, you could find that this is all the responsibility that a volunteer board member can take on. Or, you may find that they have taken to the process -- maybe because they get great information out of it, too. In that case you can extend -- either through verbal agreement or accessibility preferences -- the kinds of contacts that such a person tracks in the database.
Maybe you could have a board chair who tracks information about member recruitment, for example. All of these aspects of training and user management will vary greatly depending on who you have working with you on the development team.
If you can put in the hard work upfront, the database will serve you longer, be more useful and will really multiply the number of successful approaches your development team has. Use the database to track relationships, how they start, develop and bear fruit. Having gone through the stages of developing several databases, I know this process can be daunting and tedious. It will pay off in the end.
Amie Latterman is outreach director for Child Family Health International, an organization that builds and strengthens sustainable healthcare services in undeserved communities worldwide. She can reached via e-mail at e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.