Beacon, the membership management for u3as created and run by u3a members, is about to reach the milestone of 500 u3as using it. To celebrate, we are counting up with articles celebrating Beacon – including this interview with Alan, Chair of Wigan u3a.
Why did your u3a join beacon?
We were looking for an IT system we could use as a database of all our members details. We also needed an easy way to communicate with our members and Beacon enabled us to do both of these things. It was also noted that it had other functions and could be used for the u3as finances. At the time we didn’t know how successful it would be but we thought that if about half of all the u3as were using it it must be OK.
How has Beacon changed your u3a experience?
On a personal level it has made it very easy to contact all our members. I also use it to check on members (past and present) details such as addresses and phone numbers. The system is easy to update with new members or a change in details which is done by our membership secretary. It is also used by the committee member who publishes our newsletter. Our group leader has set up a group to contact the group leaders and they are being trained to use it to contact their own groups.
What are the benefits of using Beacon?
I think one of the biggest advantages is that the system is looked after by a group of volunteers and doesn’t require any maintenance by anyone from Wigan. It has also been specifically designed for our needs
What has your personal involvement with Beacon been?
I was one of the people who assessed the system when we first got it and I use it to contact members and check details.
How much engagement is there from your members who use the system?
It is very good with new group leaders being trained to use it. We do not insist that they must use it but several of them do and it works very well.
What do you think of there now being 500 u3as on Beacon?
I think it is a natural progression for the system – I am surprised that some u3as don’t use it and go to the trouble of maintaining their own system. Anything that makes the running of a u3a easier has got to be a winner.
Read more about Beacon 500 on our website.
If your u3a is not currently using Beacon – find out more.