Membership, Mailing and Response Services

Intro

[Pretty sure this is out of date info, as are many of the listings below …] Note that bulk mailings (4,000 or more) can get discounts under Royal Mail’s Mailsort service if they are pre-sorted – mailing houses may keep quiet about this and keep the discount for themselves! Sometimes it can be worthwhile to set up your own Mailsort account – try 0345 950950 for your nearest Sales Centre.

Membership/Mailing list management

  • Membership Plus are ‘membership marketing communications specialists’. Membership cards, renewals, fulfilment, mailing, consultancy, creative services. Phone 01227 741066, email: info@membership-plus.co.uk
  • The Lavenham Group Design and Print, Fulfilment, Communication Centre and Event Planning as well as Database management. TLG, Arbons House, Water St, Lavenham, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 9RN, phone 01787 249199.
  • Kingston Smith Have an ‘Association Management’ outsourcing division which does database and membership management. While it appears to be focused on trade associations, the firm also has more general ‘not-for-profit’ expertise, so worth a try. Phone 020 7304 4646, or the trade association contact Michael Trenchard on 01727 832261, email: met@kingsmith.co.uk
  • Electoral Reform Society (under Other services) also do subscription renewals, database management, membership surveys, appeals management, mailing services etc.
  • Dataforce The whole bundle of membership admin and more, in just about any combination. They have handled appeal responses for the likes of Oxfam and WWF including call handling, banking, renewals processing, National Trust magazine mail-outs etc. but are interested in smaller scale too. Phone 01604 673800.

Mainly Mailings and Marketing

There are a large number of ‘Mailing Houses’ who will take a mailing list and process it in various ways. Some with voluntary sector experience include:

  • FDML Do design, print management as well as ‘direct mail’ generation. FDML House, 5 Sovereign Close, London, E1W 3JG, phone 020 7265 0686, email: fd.ml@virgin.net. Also Midlands office.
  • Hamilton House Have done work for DSC and NCVO. Hamilton House Mailings, Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, NN17 4AX, phone 01536 399016
  • ITO, a mental health charity. Mailing, response fulfilment, packing and distribution. Lydstep Terrace, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 1DR, phone 0117 966 8491.
  • Adare has long experience working with charities, such as RSPB. Mailing services, printing etc.

Slightly different but worth noting, is L-Mail, where you can send send letters to any postal address via the Internet.

For email newsletter management and the like, see Internet and Web Services.



Response handling

Coping with response to appeals or the promotion of a special event or membership drive can really strain the resources of many groups. Often part of one of the above services, and is noted where known, but some of the banks will also provide the service (whether postal or phone, possibly even internet), checking cheques or other payment and passing on or processing information received with it. The Co-op Bank is one such.

  • Broadcast Support Services Phone 020 8735 5049.
  • Two-Ten Communications, phone 01937 840210.
  • Tokenhelp.

Maximising the value of your Mailing list

Occam Direct Marketing run the (probably) unique Reciprocate exchange system which maximizes the effectiveness of charity reciprocal swap mailings. ‘An outstanding success story for over 100 charity clients with 21 million supporter records, the Reciprocate database includes some of the best known charities in the UK.’ The Stables, Manor Farm, Chilcompton, Radstock, Bath, BA3 4HP, phone 01761 233 833, email: mark.gilden@occam-dm.com

Other membership services

Elections, ballots. Electoral Reform Services Ballot services for unions and other membership organisations. Free seminars too. 33 Clarendon Road, London, N8 0NW, phone 020 8365 8909, email: lynn.davall@electoralreform.co.uk

Ballot boxes. Try Shaw’s election supplies.

Membership System Suppliers

Customer, and Client/Service User, Relationship Management systems, including web based.

Can be called CRM (customer/client relationship management) – CRM systems in general may now have sufficient capabilities, so we may include ones which are in active sector use. Also see Membership software intro page.

Noted Suppliers

This selection is not definitive, but generally we have seen their products in action or heard good reports. They should still be checked out properly by you.

  • Enterprise MRM (Membership Relationship Manager) links to Sage or Pegasus Accounts. Also Enterprise SCS for small charities. See Intelligent Solutions.
  • Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge for Windows Concentrates on fundraising. Now also own AppealMaster (produced by ngc4it) which is widely used in small to medium size organisations for fundraising, alumni management, membership and general contact management; can be accessed over the internet or standard telephone lines, works alongside Microsoft Office (it is based on Access). The European company is wholly owned by Blackbaud Inc, of the US. Single user version £5,000 (Dec 00). Phone 0141 575 0100, email: sales@BBEurope.co.uk
  • civiCRM is a web-based, open source, Constituent Relationship Management system which builds on open source software, namely Drupal, Joomla or WordPress. There are various UK suppliers.
  • Computercraft FirstPoint More of a contact manager, but Computercraft have been developing databases for the voluntary sector for 20 years, and RNID use it for their call centre. Off-the-shelf extensions cover Grant Management, Course Bookings and Subscriptions Management, amongst other tasks. Intelligent Solutions were favouring this over Accounting Answers (qv) when last we talked, bringing their expertise on working with smaller Sage clients. Phone 020 7284 6980, email: enquiry@computercraft.co.uk
  • contactLINK from ITsorted, a “low cost database designed and priced specifically for voluntary organisations”, launched 2006. The people behind it have extensive experience in the charity sector. Advanced version can handle events and membership. (Based on MS Access.)
  • iFinity (was Fisher Technology) Supply the iMIS* range of products (and integrate it with Sage, Access acs, Sun etc), over 2750 systems installed, Windows and Mac, starting at £1225 per product. Plus VCGenius content managed web site integrates with a wide variety of membership systems including iMIS. Phone 08712 880251, email: enquiries@fishtech.net
    *iMIS is an international product from Advanced Solutions International – European office phone 08705 887 700.
  • Progress CRM Windows based, can be quite cheap to start with. ProgressAnywhere is their ‘over the internet’ service. Part of Advanced Solutions International (ASI) – originally from Fisk-Brett.
  • Westwood Forster Visual Alms. Definitely the high end of the market, over 200 systems installed. Having started as purely for fundraisers, now handles grant-giving, membership, alumni management. Phone 020 7251 4890, email: info@westwood-forster.co.uk
  • Ebase FREE ‘An integrated database template for non profits that want to manage interactive communications with their donors, members and citizen activists’. Developed in the US with various American funding for registered US and Canadian non-profits. Based on FileMakerPro database which runs on Windows PC or Apple Mac systems. You may well want to check out what the position is on using non-American format postcodes and phone numbers, and you may need to live with dollars and funny dates too. They have introduced pay-for support.
  • KISS Contacts Based on MS Access, up to version 1.5 when we reviewed (Dec 00). Simple to use and cheap. Restrictions to selection and reporting are the flipside of this, but will be more than adequate for many small to medium organisations. Version 2.9 (at spring 2006) has extended the reporting, added Gift Aid, Direct Debits and Standing Orders as well as facilities to print badges and send emails. £100 plus VAT. Email: sales@kissoftwaresolutions.com

Web-based

This section was created when web features in membership systems were rare. Internet functionality is now pretty standard in most systems listed on this page.

Specialist Database Systems

Systems for contact, client or service user management (previously on a separate VolResource page).

  • CharityLog, although described as a web-based Contact Management system, revolves around a diary screen allowing the management of client related work e.g. booking a home visit, recording result, ensuring follow up, referral or other action. Will produce a variety of reports, for internal or funder use.
  • LampLight records service users, the work done with them, and produces detailed monitoring statistics, with Version 2 (March ’06) dealing with outcomes as well as outputs. Functions for second tier organisations have been added. Costs £10 per month.

Other sector CRM systems

Advanced NFP Was Iris NFP, which itself took over/merged with a large number of software companies in this area. Their offerings include:

CARE (was from Care Business Solutions) First membership system was installed in 1987. Used by RSPCA, RSPB, Save the Children (10 user to 1400 user systems, starting at £30,000, summer 04). Also outsourcing services.

Charisma (was from Minerva) Clients include RNLI, Nat Housing Federation, Dogs Trust.

Consensus focused around training course, membership administration and event management, with web-based .NET CRM application.

Integra software, as well as membership, has events, examination and case management options.

Profile Concept Has a particular niche in learned societies and professional bodies, but not limited to this, and specialise in membership systems. Web Access Module allows flexibility on which aspects of central database are web enabled.

3Si Open Market manages member details at an individual and organisational level. Subscriptions, Events, Product sales. Can be web enabled and tailored to specific organisation needs. Phone 01782 713409, email: sales@3-si.com



APT Solutions Stratum Contact Administration Designed for associations, charities, clubs, institutions, trades unions; runs on Windows NT or UNIX. Facilities include Contact Management, Subscription processing, Covenants, Legacies, Campaign Management, Conferences & Events, Examinations, CPD, Help Desk, Merchandising, Directory Publishing. Managing over 8 million contact records (at spring 07). Phone 01952 214000, email: sales@aptsolutions.com

Ariadne Computer Systems Acquired by Miller Technology, April 2007. Customers for their membership system (AMS) include CAMRA, Royal College of Physicians, trade unions and friendly societies. Modules include membership, subscriptions, committees, events & venues; integrates with Microsoft Office and Exchange, uses SQL Server. Phone 01223 263243, email: mail@ariadnesystems.com

Avant-Garde Proclaim – as website now gone (forwards to Sys-Care) this software presumably no longer available. A donor and contact administration system, used by over 40 charities. From £750 for a single user (Lite version allows 10,000 records), developed with MS Access. Phone 020 8408 1590.

Care Management Systems, a division of CMAC Computer Systems, produce DonorFlex, which is mainly a fundraising tool. Phone 0121 458 7887, email: donorflex@care-data.co.uk

Data Developments ‘for church and charities’. Membership Co-ordinator (£129 at spring 2013).

Dataware Consultancy Centre Subscriber.NET (developed in MS.NET technologies) includes member/contact management, events, fundraising and gift aid, volunteer management, BACS processing. Linked to MS Office. Phone 01375 489820.

Decisions Express The usual membership management competences (look under CMS on the web site), but ‘unique replication ability’ catering for the needs of regional structures – regional offices can handle new members and get data verified centrally later (very crudely put). Phone 020 8441 9800, email: info@decisions.co.uk

Deverill SMART is targeted at Institutes, Professional Bodies and Membership Organisations. A modular, flexible, out-of-the-box solution which can be tailored or extended to meet the specific needs of an organisation, and includes modules for contact management, membership, events, training, CPD and recruitment administration, publications. Note: no information about this product seesm to be on the web site at MAr 05, so may be discontinued. Phone 01202 785000, email: sales@deverill.co.uk

Exact Abacus 3EX. Mainly for commercial order processing, but has list/membership management capabilities. Installed software (min 4 users) or ASP (min 50 transactions/week) approach. Phone 01772 455052, email: sales@exact3ex.co.uk

Icaris (previously JA Computer Solutions).

Miller Technology was set up to provide computer systems for the administrative requirements of membership-based organisations in the not-for-profit sector. Based on Oracle databases and online access, with customers handling from 5,000 to 2 million contacts/members. Contact Philip Crouch, Sales Director, phone 020 7843 9724.

Oomi “CRM for anyone anywhere” – integrated Engagement Management System for the NFP sector, combining CRM, Website, Collaboration, Engagement & Social Media. (Previously as Centrepoint Computer Services, provided a Membership Management System as part of the Target range, with events and publications management modules too.) Phone 020 8390 8899.

Pangaea Consuling supplies systems based round Aptify – membership, events, susbcriptions, fundraising etc.

PowerDev Circle, a membership system for the smaller organisation, no longer features on their website, but they do have sector customers for their bespoke database consultancy and development services.

ProTech Computer Systems Pro-7 ‘Designed in conjunction with some of the UKs largest membership associations to handle diverse information management requirements, including membership, contacts, fundraising, marketing, events management.’ Phone 01922 722280, email: enquiry@protech.co.uk

Rubicon Accelerator. Phone 01276 706900, email: sales@rsuk.com

SDA Software (originally suggested by a VolResource subscriber) provides online leisure management software, which includes sports clubs membership management.

Senior Internet Ltd supplies RiverCRM, a CRM specially developed for membership, NFP and charitable organisations, as well as e-vol for the voluntary sector. They also provide membership websites through their CMS, River, as well as CPD. Contact Commercial Director Ben Mactaggart on 0115 838 9555 or project@senior.co.uk

SystemWise MemberWise Facilities offered are: Membership Records, Subscription Calculation & Collection, Membership Administration, Club Accounting. Phone 0131 339 8304, email: general@systemwise.co.uk

ThankQ Clients include Comic Relief, Concern Worldwide (Ireland). Has a Small Charity Edition? Phone 01509 235544.

Touchstone CRM.

TSG Tribe CRM for membership organisations.

Velum has disappeared into Godeltech, taking all traces of MRS (Membership Relationship System) with it (was RSS/Rivington Street Software/TISL).

VeryConnect includes non-profit management, stakeholder engagement, and giving back. UK based team, starts from £150 a month.

Workbook In use by a variety of charities etc – case studies on the website (at Oct ’14) include Coeliac UK, Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association, Index on Censorship, Regen SW.

Trustee and Member Resources

Trustees

Don’t forget that trustees often go under another name. In charities which are limited companies, they will also be company directors. The board might be called a management committee.

Training, Advice, Networks

There have been a number of initiatives around ‘Good Trusteeship’ over the years, although some have now disappeared off the web. Here are some useful current results.

Charity Trustee Networks became part of Small Charities Coalition in 2011. There is a list of various local and specialist trustee groups, who may have events, resources, meetings.

Young Charity Trustees website appears to have gone, Jan. 2014.

NCVO’s Governance and Leadership pages now generally refer elsewhere.

In Northern Ireland Volunteer Development Agency, which has become part of Volunteer Now, had a governance project offering training, support and information for management committee members – now defunct? But see the next item.

DIY Committee Guide provides online access to “extensive resources and guidance for voluntary management committees in Northern Ireland”.

TrusteElearning has 12 online training modules developed by the Governance Hub and Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisation.

See Functional support bodies for Charity Treasurers’ Forum.

Other umbrella bodies have useful material. For example SITRA has Job descriptions for Company Secretary, Treasurer, Management Committee member etc. (look under Publications).

Published Guidance

Duties of Charity Trustees direct link, pdf format. Pocket size introduction to the issues from specialist solicitors Bates Wells and Braithwaite.

Charity Commission also publishes guidance. See The Essential Trustee (CC3) for instance and check out other material on their web site. Also of interest CC24 Users on Board: Beneficiaries who become trustees looking at how potential conflicts of interest can occur, suggests ways to minimise their effects and lists sources of further guidance for charities looking at the issue. Publications order line 01823 345427.

There’s a trustee’s checklist on our Governance issues page.

Recruitment

REACH recruits volunteers (to be placed in a charity of community group) with managerial, professional and technical experience, including for trustee positions. 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP, phone 020 7582 6543. Also has Scottish, Welsh and NI bases.

Bar in the Community is a Bar Council initiative which aims to help voluntary sector groups by identifying barristers willing to serve on Management Committees. It is not about barristers providing free legal advice, rather that they have many other valuable skills which would benefit voluntary organisations. Bar in the Community, c/o Bar Pro Bono Unit, 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7HZ, phone 020 7611 9511.

ICSA (company secretaries) runs a trustee register to help with the recruitment of charity trustees.

NCVO have set up Trusteebank which lists trustee placement services.

Trustee Finder is a service from Small Charities Coalition and the volunteering site Do-it.

Business on Board NI, a project of Business in the Community NI.

Also see: our Consultancy page for projects putting professionals with particular skills in touch with local projects (under Business Links). Sector support bodies sometimes publish such ‘opportunities’ or have lists.



Members

Voluntary organisations have members for a whole host of reasons. Some exist purely for their members, such as self-help groups (educational as well as supportive), others want member involvement in campaigns, raising funds or volunteer activities to carry out various functions . While there are many membership issues in common, such as keeping records (see Membership Software), others will be more particular. If making comparisons with other groups on how they handle members, do think about what is different in your case and apply lessons appropriately.

Meetings

The Charity Commission has produced (April 1999) with ICSA, a guide to Charities and meetings (ref CC48), with suggestions on good practice, specimen notice and venue checklist as well guidance on the law. Registered charities should obtain in the usual way from the Charity Commission.

Members’ Code of Conduct

When asked a question on this, we wondered why this wasn’t an issue with a higher profile. Perhaps it is because of the diversity of the sector. On a quick Google search, we came up with 2 contrasting examples: a family history society and a Lesbian, gay centre (ie building based), while the enquirer was going to have service users alongside community professionals and public sector members . What is essential for one could be completely over the top for another. We’ve looked at these as we put together something of a checklist on issues to consider. We would suggest that shortness, clarity and keeping the Code as ‘unheavy’ as possible are good guiding rules.

  • Control of the identity and intellectual property of the organisation. Should you highlight the need for permission to use the logo or name, reproduction or re-use of (published) material, who is allowed to speak on your behalf?
  • Conduct on the premises. In many instances, reference to ‘acceptable types of behaviour’ may be sufficient; in more sensitive contexts explicit reference to unacceptable actions which will result in immediate suspension/removal may be appropriate. What members should do if encountering abuse (of themselves, another person or the premises/equipment).
  • Codes for undertaking activities – e.g. field work. This starts to overlap with volunteering codes or policies, but if member means effectively the same as volunteer, does there need to be a separate document?
  • Are there more than one type of member? E.g. service users, service providers or volunteers. Where is the appropriate place to define conduct or boundaries of relationships? Are there possible professional discretions which could complicate a wish for complete openness, for instance?
  • Complaints, grievances. Who to address them to, how, timescales for response, maybe set procedures.
  • Disciplinary procedure / why and how someone’s membership might be revoked.
  • More positive statements about supporting the ideals and aims of the organisation. Tolerance of views, lifestyles, equal ops.
  • Establishing common expectations amongst members, to enhance interaction and understanding, reduce conflicts. Declarations of interest when debating issues.
  • Appropriate reference to the constitution. Try not to repeat or overlap too much, as that complicates any later amendments and peoples understanding of the legal position. The constitution, whether for a club, trust or a limited company, should always be seen as the prime document. Standing orders for meetings is another place for rules which could connect up (e.g. exercising voting rights, rules of debate).

Where membership may, entirely or partly, consist of other organisations, issues are more likely to be about avoiding conflicts of interest, clarity of roles and legal responsibility (which body is a person representing?).