by Jeff Tunnell

We use Excellerate software for entering cell group information and it includes a financial component for tracking donations along with producing end-of-year tax receipts ready for mailing.  The “behind the scenes” platform is Microsoft Access.  The depth of this software has been more than we need most of the time and requires a good working knowledge of data-base software parameters.  The web interface is functional and works well in both directions:  you need to IMPORT the information entered by cell leaders via your website on the internet and after updating data in the office computer, it is necessary to EXPORT the new status of cells back to the website server.  This allows each leader to access current records of their cell online at the church website.  All of this is via password protected access.  Go to www.bigbearchristiancenter.org and pull down the LIGHTHOUSES menu, select LOCATE ONE to see the exported information for some of our cells.

Reports are produced fairly easily and can convert the data into graphs of growth to demonstrate to one cell leader, or the entire body of cells, what is happening in numbers or percentages.  You can review one cell, a district or the whole church quite easily.  Selection criteria for reporting is vast and only limited by data you decide to collect!  If you know how to write SQL you can make this program serve you completely.  Printing color or black & white graphs (at least 14 different kinds in 2D or 3D) is a boon that helps people relate to the data.  Reports are email-able which is helpful for sending requested information to inquiring cell leaders.  Directories can be made for one cell or the whole church and can include photos of individuals or families.

Email is integrated into the program but is rather clumsy.  You can export an email address report for any group that you have pre-selected and paste the records into your own email program also.

This is a Cadillac of programs (or is it Lexus by now?) but you’ll need someone to coach you at first if you are new at database collection and manipulation.  Training from the company is available.  If you are an Excellerate user I would appreciate your additional comments for the good of our readers.  If you feel I have left something out, please add.  If I have not represented the program well enough, please clean up my mess!

Questions?  Comments? (Please)

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