Database Advice
November 29, 2011 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a database solution for a young and expanding non-profit.

I'm working for a startup sports and education non-profit and want to help them to organize some of their data.

They are growing quickly and currently have about 75 students enrolled. Currently, all data for these enrolled students is all over the place - some in email, some in hard copy, some in word or excel documents.

I would like to create a easy-to-use database which will contain all relevant data for each of these students, including contact, academic, medical and sports information. Also desirable is functionality for uploading files (pdfs, pictures).

Whatever solution cannot cost more than $300/year (preferably less of course), must be customizable for our unique fields, and must be easy-to-use for non-techie people (no IT person here). A cloud-based system is preferred but no required.

So far I have looked into bento (not customizable enough, more for personal use), filemaker (too complicated), and basecamp (no way to create forms).

Any advise is much appreciated.
posted by beisny to Technology (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I used Zoho Creator, a database web app for a non-profit event that required the public submission of photos (we received over 500 entries).

I had done research into other solutions before, for something that: took photos, was not too expensive, had public forms accessibility, didn't require hard programming, and didn't require an IT infrastructure. Fee is nominal, I think ~$30/month based on user accounts and storage for files.

This was the only product I could find and it should work for you - it's pretty fully featured, you can generate multiple views that are public/private for various roles and it can handle any number of fields, including files and images. It's a little obtuse though and not very well documented/supported so depending on how complex you want to get, you need to be willing to fiddle a bit, but I don't think I could find anything that could do this much for so little.
posted by artificialard at 11:26 AM on November 29, 2011

If your needs are very simple you may want to try google documents and forms to create a spreadsheet.

How to create a simple google form

pros: it allows some customization, it is cloud based, it is simple, it is free.

cons: I don't think it can deal with pdfs or images, it might be too simple.
posted by bdc34 at 12:49 PM on November 29, 2011

You might check out the Tech Soup website, they have a lot of advice on software for nonprofits. They also provide some free or nearly free software (things like MS Office, Adobe suites, and some other programs specifically for nonprofits) once your organization goes through their approval process.
posted by missix at 1:56 PM on November 29, 2011

Wufoo is similar to Zoho Creator and worth a look for comparison, though for your purposes there may not be much to choose between them: interface preferences for advanced features? a payment module at a lower monthly price with Wufoo? more advanced features in Zoho? etc.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:19 PM on November 29, 2011

I wonder if LibreOffice might work for you?

I'm pretty sure the database part - called Base - can hold images. I'm not sure about PDFs, though.
posted by kristi at 8:41 AM on November 30, 2011

Try Drupal
posted by WizKid at 2:28 PM on November 30, 2011

To elaborate more get a domain name/ hosting and install drupal.
Down the road this would be a better solution than most of the free services and should cost only around $50-100 per year
posted by WizKid at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2011

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