Building a Membership Database for a Non-Profit
How Aciron does it
A state non-profit organization had a mission to speed the transition to a low-carbon future. Their team required a custom database application to manage their membership, and they needed a software development company to help them build it.
A non-profit organization that provides discount heating oil and renewable energy was experiencing inefficiencies with their current database. The company had been working with a development company to build a custom online database application in PHP, Angular JS, and SQL Server.
Slow progress on development as well as a variety of bugs in the application drove the organization to search for a new software development company to help bring the application to completion. The goal was to have a web-based application that would allow staff to manage member records, send and receive payment transactions, and generate reports. The application would also allow members to manage their membership online using a self-service portal.
Aciron began with an initial code exploration phase to determine the best strategy for continued development. After performing a high-level review of the application's front-end and source code, our consultants discovered that the code was not well structured, and that fixing bugs would likely cause additional issues elsewhere in the application. For this reason, Aciron recommended a full re-write of the application, where we were there every step of the way.
Once Aciron had a good understanding of the business and technical requirements for the application, we began development of the highest priority module. By taking a phased approach and breaking down development into smaller builds, the client was able to begin using the new features and functionality as soon as possible.
For each build, the Aciron team continued to collaborate with the client to define functionality and translate those business needs into a fully functional, bug-free application. The client was encouraged to provide feedback throughout the process by performing User Acceptance Testing ("UAT"). UAT gave the client's end users an opportunity to test-drive the system and identify any desired tweaks before rolling out the application to all users.
Aciron developed a management portal that addresses all of the organization's needs, including customer service, membership management, and financial reporting. Key functionality of the application includes:
Membership Management: Staff can view and approve member applications. Users can search for members, merge duplicate accounts, manage the status of members' accounts, and track communications.
Payment and Donation Management: Staff members can track members' previous payments and donations, as well as record new dues payments and donations.
Extranet: Prospective members can apply for membership in the non-profit's programs or make donations to renewable energy funds. Current members have access to a members-only site, where they can update their information, check oil prices, contact the organization, make donations, and more.
Dealer Price Calculations: Staff can input daily wholesale prices, calculate averages, input survey data, and export reports on heating oil prices.
Reports: Users can generate detailed reports on membership, donations, financial data, and more.
The client is extremely satisfied with the re-write of their old application and continues to work with Aciron to add new functionality. Staff members are able to easily manage membership data and provide improved customer service.
The extranet module provides members with a user-friendly method of applying for programs and connecting with the organization. Thanks to the robust reporting module, the organization also improved insight into their data, allowing them to improve their program offerings.