What is a database?

The simplest explanation for a database is that it’s just a list, usually a list of people.

You may already make lists on the computer. You may have used Microsoft Excel to make your lists, or maybe you’ve used tables in Microsoft Word or Corel Wordperfect. A spreadsheet or table allows you to organize a list into columns and rows.

Many nonprofits need to keep lists of donors, donations and fundraising events. Most nonprofits also need to keep a list of the people they serve – their clients – and perhaps also the services they render to their clients on a daily basis.

There are problems with using spreadsheets or wordprocessor documents for your lists. These sorts of “databases” are not very user-friendly, are not well suited to multi-user environments, do not generally allow complex querying on your data, and do not generally do good data validation. (Data validation, simply put, is making sure users don’t enter bogus data.)

Unlike your spreadsheet or wordprocessor software, Microsoft Access is software made especially for databases. SpringLight can create a Microsoft Access database for your organization that is very user-friendly and full of great features to help you do things like automate your mass mailings.

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