Database Technology Promotes the Economic and Cultural Vitality of Neenah

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Future Neenah, Inc.
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Future Neenah, Inc. is a community driven non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the economic and cultural vitality of Neenah.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Future Neenah Inc., (FNI) is a not for profit community development organization operating in Neenah, a community of 24,000 located along the Fox River in Northeast Wisconsin. We are a quality of life organization that strives to improve economic and cultural conditions of our community. This has been increasingly challenging, given the current economic conditions of the country. However, a number of factors have helped to keep this quintessential American community moving forward, including Microsoft’s contribution to FNI, which has gone a long way toward maximizing our impact in our community. STREETBALL CHALLENGE EVENT DATABASEFor 18 years, Future Neenah, Inc. has organized a successful 3on3 hoops basketball tournament called Future Neenah StreetBall Challenge. In 2009, 325 teams with 1,300 players plus approximately 7,000 spectators will join us on the Downtown streets of our community. Basketball players, age 8 through adult, from throughout the state of Wisconsin and beyond, come to Neenah for this event. StreetBall Challenge has an economic impact of $336,000 on the community through heads in beds at area hotels, and consumer spending on activities such as shopping and dining. For 16 years, we struggled to enter, format, and output vital team and player stats using an antiquated DOS based system called Powerbase. A robust database system was necessary to manage and bracket this event and its extensive amount of player data. The challenge of finding technical support and compatible programming for the DOS based Powerbase was growing increasingly difficult as the years passed. Finally, after 17 years, we transferred this data to a more powerful and user-friendly Access data entry program that we were able to obtain through techsoup’s Microsoft Office Suite purchase program. It is necessary for our organization to manage two levels of data – team and player info - and integrate them so they ‘talk’ to each other. We collect and manipulate a variety of data from each player, including height, weight, basketball playing experience, t-shirt size, age, sex and contact information. We are then able to average all of this information and sort it by court based on age, category and playing experience. We can now also call for this information a variety of report formats. For the first time ever, in 2009 we were able to draw upon returning participants’ data simply by entering their name, thus eliminating the need to begin a search by re-entering data already contained in the system. All of this now makes us better able to serve our client base of players. Finally, the database program allows us to easily import data from our online registrants, even further streamlining the process. The new StreetBall Access data entry system is more time and cost effective, allowing FNI to allot our staff and fiscal resources to other important activities that support our mission of promoting the economic and cultural vitality of Neenah. DOWNTOWN GIFT CERTIFICATE PROGRAM DATABASECommunity-based organizations such as Future Neenah are faced with new marketing challenges during these difficult economic times. To sustain positive momentum, it is necessary to look not only at programs that can produce immediate impact within the business community, but also those that will build a strong base of support and participation over the long term. With those two strategies in mind, Future Neenah sponsored a Shop Local Marketing Campaign on April 22, 2009.This marketing initiative was intended to spur increased retail trade in Downtown Neenah. Our small “Mom and Pop” businesses have been seriously impacted by the economic downturn. The Shop Local campaign combined increased marketing to consumers about the many shopping and dining options in the Downtown, along with an incentive to purchase and use Downtown Neenah Gift Certificates. The campaign featured a “spend $40 and get $50” gift certificate sale. Our past experience with this type of initiative shows direct and immediate infusion of dollars into local businesses, and an impressive “return on investment”. The result of this most recent gift certificate sale demonstrates the value and success of this marketing effort. This one-day “spend $40 / get $50” special sale resulted in the purchase of gift certificates valued at over $37,000! These are dollars that we know will remain in our local community, supporting and sustaining our Downtown businesses. Over 180 families and businesses purchased certificates with an average sale value of over $205 per customer! Sales were so brisk that near the end of this April 22 sale, the supply of certificates was exhausted and rain checks were issued. Since the Downtown Neenah Gift Certificate program was initiated in November 2002, more than 9,000 gift certificates worth over $210,000 have been sold. Equally as important as the economic impact of the sale itself is our ability to track and utilize this data in a meaningful fashion for the future benefit of the organization and community.The Microsoft Excel program that we were able to obtain through techsoup provides us with a quick and easy-to-use system to log customer sales in a rapid-fire fashion as they arrive in our office the day of the sale. We, in turn, utilize this information to keep customers posted of future sales and add them to our donor and magazine mailing lists. The Excel spreadsheet also averages the dollar amount of each sale; number of certificates sold and prevents duplicate sales abuses. In the end, we also use the program to track canceled certificates as they are returned from the bank, as well as those that expire after a year. Due to the sheer volume of gift certificate information, we have now linked our Excel files into Access to more easily prepare reports. These reports provide the statistics relevant to how the program is impacting our Downtown businesses such as how many certificates for what dollar value were redeemed at which businesses. In short, our Excel gift certificate database, when partnered with Access, allows us to easily manage the entire program. In closing, the Microsoft Office software has helped us to optimize our mission of “promoting the economic and cultural vitality of Neenah,” economically through the Downtown Gift Certificate Program and culturally through our community events such as the StreetBall Challenge. Thank you for your consideration!

Submission Category
Transformations to Maximize Impact