Have you chosen one database to keep your contact information? If you don’t already, you need one place where you know all your information is up-to-date. For Campus Crusade for Christ staff (and actually several hundred other ministries), you could use TntMPD or MPDx to keep names, addresses, etc. all in one place.
One Database = Confidence
With maintaining only one database, you’ll know which information is the most recent and accurate, but you’ll need two habits. First, always update a single database. Start today putting all contact information in your database, that is, ministry partners (present, past, future), teachers, neighbors, doctors, plumbers, and relatives.
Second, regularly synchronize this master database with the other “homes” which you use for other ministry purposes. For instance, MailChimp would be another “home” for names and email addresses (we’ll work on MailChimp later in this series).
Multiple Database Hazards
If your own experience hasn’t frustrated you already, here’s some reasons to avoid multiple databases. You might forget to update a record in more than one place or you might be wasting time and energy updating two places (or more) with the same information. As an example, you don’t want to manually make email address changes in TntMPD and in MailChimp when you receive these in emails from donors.
Instead, you should use sync features to “do the work” of maintaining these names and addresses for you. If you learn sync functions, all the other “homes” for your data are also correct. If you rely on yourself to manually sync data, the two databases will eventually be different from each other since computers will do a better job than you. Be very cautious, however, about letting any program synchronize your contacts without understanding what the process might do. Make backups before trying a new sync process and make sure you know how things will change before you let a program alter your master database.
If a team or a staff couple need to work on the same data, but on different machines in different locations, they need to sync the two databases or else they won’t know which one is accurate. If you do this correctly, you actually still have one database and are just looking at it from different locations. TntMPD recommends using Dropbox to sync multiple copies or use the TntSync feature. MPDx is cloud-based, so it is already one database and doesn’t require syncing.
More than One Database Exceptions
Some of you may maintain a personal staff account of donors and also donors for a campus ministry. If this is similar to your experience, track two different designations and maintain two separate lists of names. I recommend you don’t mix these databases.
I know several of us who have an MPD / family database and also a database for our personal ministries. For example, I keep a second database of 1,500 names for eQuipping for eMinistry.
If either is true for you, I’d recommend only learning TntMPD as it will handle your data well and work for both scenarios.
Please make changes this month to have one synchronized database. This is foundational in order for you to minister well to your financial partners and acknowledge their generous contributions. On February 15th, I’ll present my research so you can see the features of TntMPD and MPDx and be able to choose the database software that will work best for you.
Have you invited your friends?
Visit the Table of Contents for the You-Can-Too series posts. This post is the first in the database series. Keep following the series for posts on databases, communication, websites, and social media.