What sort of database for a non-profit training organisation?
September 18, 2012 12:51 AM   Subscribe

I need to organise some kind of database for my non-profit training organisation, to track students, courses taken, etc in Moodle, and possibly to integrate with a Joomla site as well. I've been told that Access will not work for us. Will a Customer Relations Management thing suit us, or is something more required? If so, what should we be looking for? Requirements and constraints inside.

Staff: < 10 with me being the most tech-savvy, but I've never worked with a database before.
Budget: free is great, cheap is acceptable, enterprise-level is out of the question.
Customer-base: a couple of thousand and growing.

- GUI or other easy-to-use interface
- tracking which courses our clients have taken, contact details, organisation/department, etc.
- can be used as an external database for Moodle authentication (requires mapping of tables, I believe)
- push a training/events calendar to Joomla

Bonus points:
- can be used as an external database for Moodle enrolments (more mapping?)
- can be used to create a single-sign-on between Joomla and Moodle
- integrates with Outlook or has email capability

I think this means I'm looking for a database which can run on the same server as our Moodle and Joomla, but has a GUI too. If that GUI isn't all about following up sales leads (or can be modified, have plugins, whatever), that'd be lovely.

Recommendations so far:
Access - doesn't have a GUI when run on a server, I think? Can I get one for it?
SugarCRM (community version) - good for the CRM part, but will it integrate with Moodle/Joomla?
A billion dodgy-looking software sites - I think I'm not using the right Google terms!

Suggestions or recommendations for software, useful articles or better search terms are all welcome :)
posted by harriet vane to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can set up Access so that the frontend (the GUI) is on each user's individual computer, while the single backend (containing all of the data) is on a centrally accessible server. Each front-end will then have a series of "linked tables" connecting it to the backend.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 4:06 AM on September 18, 2012

My grant funder just set us up a database using CiviCRM, which is open source. The company that designed the database is called Giant Rabbit (i know! squee!), and they work with nonprofits exclusively, I believe.

They customized it for our needs, but if you look at the (LONG) floss manual I linked to above, you can get an idea of how or if it would work for you.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:36 AM on September 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks! I've also been recommended to look into Filemaker Pro - anyone got experience with that?
posted by harriet vane at 6:27 PM on September 18, 2012

I'll second the recommendation for CiviCRM. Sounds like a good fit for your situation.
posted by johnsu01 at 11:02 PM on September 20, 2012

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