Suggestions on the best way to manage a mailing list?

bovinda

Board Regular
Joined
Jun 11, 2005
Messages
87
I recently volunteered to organize the mailing list and attendance rosters for a non-profit organization. The list, which has around 1000 to 1500 people or so from around the country, is badly out of date and needs organizing.

What do you guys think is the best software for the task? It was given to me with a program called "My Deluxe MailList & AddressBook." I haven't looked at it yet. Before I do, I wanted to get opinions.

Would an Excel spreadsheet do the trick as well as anything else out there? Any programs/spreadsheets you'd recommend? I also need to keep track of attendance at workshops around the country (mostly from the same pool of people). A program or spreadsheet that does all that would be fantabulous, though the mailing list is the main thing.

I've never done anything like this before, but a hunch says a good Excel spreadsheet might be as good as anything else out there. Any and all opinions, tips, or suggestions are greatly appreciated! :)
 

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Seti

Well-known Member
Joined
May 19, 2002
Messages
2,916
If you don't want to use the pre-packaged solution, I'd look at using Access as the source for the data. You could assign a unique identifier to each person. In table1, you could store ID, name, address, etc and in another table, you could store the attendance at various workshops.

No matter what you do, when you are cleaning up your current data, make sure that you are very consistent. Maybe have a field for things like Jr., SR, III, etc. Create a separate field for Mr., Ms., Dr., etc. It can be a real pain later if you don't. Make sure that first names, middle initials or names and last names are all in different fields or cells. Figure out how you want to store the address. Will you need 2 address lines for street address or only 1? Make sure that the zip code is a text field to maintain leading 0's. Will you need a country field?
 

bovinda

Board Regular
Joined
Jun 11, 2005
Messages
87

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What is the actual difference between Excel and Access? How would Access be more useful than Excel--can't you do all the same stuff with Excel?

Something else I am considering is keeping all the data in Excel, then exporting it out to that mailing list program as needed. I just feel that Excel is more flexible (with the ability to make VBA scripts, etc.) than the software I was given.
 

Seti

Well-known Member
Joined
May 19, 2002
Messages
2,916
The only real advantage of Access (database) over Excel (spreadsheet) in this project is the workshop attendance piece. If you use Excel, you will need to find a good way to tie the data together with the mailing list info so you don't have to have a lot of duplicate info. In a good database design, you would normalize the data so you wouldn't need duplicate information.

If you do go with Excel, how were you thinking of handling the attendance issues? Would you create a column for each workshop and fill in data for each person? It might me a lot of work if only 20 out of 1500 people attend the workshop. Would you use a date or Y/N or just a Y?

I'm not saying you can't make Excel do this. If you are comfortable in Excel, then that may be the correct tool for you. I think you just need to look at the big picture and figure out how to manage the data before you design anything and before you start populating the spreadsheet.
 

bovinda

Board Regular
Joined
Jun 11, 2005
Messages
87

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Hmm, I see what you're saying about the difficulty of how to record what events they attend. And it's quite possible that only 20 out of those 1500 would attend one event. I will have to think about that.

What is the difference between a database and a spreadsheet? Can't you set a spreadsheet up to be a database? Or I am I missing a technical definition? (I think I am.)

Any good resources you (or anyone else!) know of that could explain more to be about what Access is, Access versus Excel (a pros/cons thing), or how to use Access?

Thanks Seti.
 

bovinda

Board Regular
Joined
Jun 11, 2005
Messages
87
Thanks atmospheric, that's a good find. I will have to think about which will be more advantageous for what I want to do (seems like Access), compared to which I am more familiar with (Excel).
 

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