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Rethinking Your Database: From Sacred Collection to Engaged Community

#1 Thing You Need To Know from This Post:

The single most important asset of any non-profit organization is its relationships with its volunteers, donors, and other stakeholders. If you treat these relationships like sacred data collections instead of an engaged community, you are at risk of becoming irrelevant.

A More Detailed Exploration:

cards02I spend a good portion of my time traveling across the country to attend conferences and meet with clients and prospective clients. Even in this digital era, the custom of exchanging printed business cards is alive and well. As you can see from the photo to the right, I have quite the collection.

But don’t confuse that collection of cards for a robust network of strong relationships. Getting the card is just like adding a new person to your organization’s database. If you do nothing to build the relationship, that business card becomes an artifact proving very little other than that you once had contact with the person.

The Historical Role of the Database

Common wisdom says that you can measure an organization by the number of people who are in its database. Historically, a central staff maintained this database and treated it like a sacred collection of artifacts. In an era when information didn’t flow so easily and it was very difficult to connect with people you’d never met, protecting that collection of records at all costs was a self-evident truth. After all, these records had taken a great deal of work to assemble and represented the lifeblood of your organization.


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