Nonprofit necessity

Do more with your membership roster using this comprehensive program.

If you've ever worked for a nonprofit organization where your job included managing the membership roster, and had to do so using an outdated database program with very few useful features, you'll appreciate a program like Membership and Activity Records System. This comprehensive nonprofit database keeps track not only of your membership list, but of everything about your interactions with your members. It takes some effort to learn how to use MARS, but its multitude of features makes it worth the time investment.

MARS' interface is fairly straightforward, with its main features organized in five tabs. Some of the screens can be a little overwhelming at first glance, with numerous drop-down menus, text fields, and radio buttons, but these all start to make sense once you get used to how MARS works. You can keep track of your organization's members using "activities," which can include everything from membership renewals and annual meeting attendance to contact preferences and fund-raising participation. You can add your own specific activity types, too, allowing a certain degree of customization. We liked the program's interactivity; when we created a new member and then added an activity for her membership purchase, that member's profile automatically updated with her new membership status and the start and expiration dates. The program also makes it easy to export and merge data, and you can even e-mail members directly from the program without opening a separate e-mail client.

If some of this sounds a little complicated, don't worry; MARS comes with a detailed Getting Started tutorial and thorough explanations of all its features. Overall, we were quite impressed with MARS, and we think it's a great choice for any nonprofit that aims to become better organized and improve the quality of its contact with members.

MARS comes as a ZIP file. It installs and uninstalls without issues.

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