I don’t often talk about my local gun club on these pages, but in this case I’m seeking some advice. You, dear readers, often have ideas I didn’t think of, or know of products I haven’t come across. I have been the club’s secretary since, I think 2009 at this point, and now I am tasked with rethinking some of the club’s processes. Let me give you some background:
- For years our club was run by a small handful of dedicated people who did most of the work, including handling dues processing every year. This was a very manual, paper process.
- Those people have either died, been voted out of office, or stepped aside. The people coming in don’t have that kind of time to dedicate, so we’re going to be much more dependent on process and automation than we have in the past.
- I am now helping to devise a system for invoicing members via e-mail, allowing them to pay online with a card, and only doing paper invoicing for people who prefer that.
- Whatever new system I come up with needs to be usable by people with average computer skills for baby boomers. It’s OK if it takes mad skill to set up, but beyond that it mostly has to just work.
- We need a secure way to back up data. I was thinking maybe using an encrypted S3 bucket at Amazon. Off site storage at my house is another option, and wouldn’t cost anything except the cost of a machine and disk, but we’re trying to move away from the club’s processes depending on single people.
- We’ve long wanted to use a “members only” forum. I like Google Groups, but I don’t want to have to manage accounts on Google and on club systems.
At the center of this, our new Financial Secretary has chosen to manage his role using QuickBooks. I have managed to enter our membership information into it, but I’m disappointed by how bad some of Intuit’s user interface is. For instance, I can’t sort the customer list by member number. It sorts it alphabetically, rather than numerically. There doesn’t seem to be any good way to change this.
QuickBooks may be a good accounting tool, but it sucks as a way to manage members. I’ve been looking at this product, to possibly sync certain fields in QuickBooks with a MySQL database, using Access as a front end to MySQL. This way membership information can be managed in two places, and it also would offer a means to set up MySQL-backed OpenLDAP for use with Google Cloud Directory Sync so we could set up “members only” Google Groups. I want a single place to manage membership information, and have it automatically update in QuickBooks, LDAP, etc, without someone having to manually update this information in multiple places.
I’m curious if anyone has any experience with this. I know another area club uses Wild Apricot, but our Financial Secretary was worried its QuickBook integration was tedious. I am also a bit wary about cloud applications, both because of security issues, and because if it goes under, or they make a major feature change that we’re not prepared for, we could be stuck up a creek without a paddle. I’m OK with using Google Groups, since that’s not a core function. We could live without it a while. But dues invoicing and managing membership information is critical.
If anyone has done anything like this, or something similar, I’d be curious to hear whether you think my idea is sound, or maybe there’s a better way.