In this article, we share a conversation with our amazing client, Coastguard Lake Taupo, whose volunteers and rescue vessels attend to emergency situations anywhere on Lake Taupo and the upper reaches of the Waikato River. Contributing to marine safety advice, boating education, search and rescue, and maritime presence, CGLT is recognised as an integral part of the support system for the Lake Taupo community. Keep reading to find out how infoodle helps them with managing volunteers, communicating with members and tracking finances.
Please tell us and everyone else about your organisation
Our volunteers provide a valuable and highly regarded service to all users of Lake Taupo, both community and business. We are relied upon for our contribution to community marine safety advice, boating education, search and rescue, and maritime presence. CGLT is recognised as an integral part of the support system for a community that loves its Lake and waterways.
Knowing a professional and reliable rescue service is available should the worst happen, helps enable people of all ages to more safely participate in outdoor water based activities from fishing, kayaking, jet skiing and boating all year round; improving the health, wellbeing and quality of life for locals and visitors to the Lake.
What was your situation like before infoodle?
We are a registered charity and our major funding source comes from our membership base. People throughout the country that come to Lake Taupo for their boating experience can apply for membership to CGLT, which requires an annual subscription fee. Membership provides several benefits, the main attraction is knowing that, should they get into some form of difficulty on the Lake, CGLT will come to their assistance, day or night, wet or fine, without any cost to them. Without the membership, boaties requiring assistance would need to pay a substantial fee (it costs a lot of money to operate a rescue vessel).
The membership is popular (like a cheap insurance policy) and we have over 1,000 members. Such a database requires a lot of time to manage and the system requires us to issue new membership cards each year. When this is run on a spreadsheet it takes a lot of manual manipulation to keep up to date and printing cards to distribute by post is tedious.
What solution did you find?
infoodle was the solution for us.
It is not expensive; it is designed for charities and is simple to use. It links to our financial software, Xero, which means there is only one source of truth for the data, meaning just one database to manage, not two. Searching for member data and producing reports is all done with the click of the mouse. We also provide member login to allow them to update their own data such as email addresses and boat details. They can see that they are financial members by using an app on their cell phone which means no more laborious production of membership cards and a big reduction in postage costs.
What were the results of implementing infoodle? How did it help with your regular operations?
We are a volunteer group meaning most of us have day jobs and getting volunteers to spend time on manually managing large databases is becoming more difficult every year. infoodle has reduced this workload from 3 days a month to 2 hours each fortnight without accounting for the time involved with manual postage. This was a huge advantage to us. We can now manage the process which, most importantly, protects our major source of income.
We can now communicate directly to members via email. We can write letters to specific members and the ability to address them by their first name has provided a personal link with our members. People will read our correspondence because it has their name on it and it is right there in front of them. They do not need to click on attachments or links. As a result, we have been able to get members that have slipped ‘through the cracks’ over time, back into our system as financial members. This provided some 20% of lost income from the past which was a great and pleasant surprise for us.
Basically, without a system such as infoodle, we would not be able to continue our great services to the Taupo community.
Let’s talk about financial operations. How does infoodle as a Xero add-on help you with financial operations?
There are a few of us that do membership management within our organization, so the link between infoodle and Xero is important to keep things moving. If one person adds a new member in infoodle it is then pushed to Xero for the next person to action the invoices. It is an easy system to use.
Which features of infoodle as a Xero partner have had the biggest impact on your work?
I think the best feature is the virtually instantaneous updating between infoodle & Xero – if we update a contact in infoodle and then log in to Xero it has already pushed the change through to Xero. It is very important for us to keep an audit trail of all changes and this change is also narrated as “system generated” so we know it came from infoodle. This also ties in with the great audit trail feature that infoodle has too.
The report builder feature is also very strong and I love the ease of being able to pick very specific criteria when running reports in infoodle.
Have you noticed a significant reduction in time spent on reconciling transactions, issuing receipts and generating reports?
Because infoodle talks to Xero we are not double handling any contact updates, one person can receive an email about an address change and enter it into infoodle and forget about it, knowing that infoodle will automatically update the Xero contact too.
What was your experience with the infoodle support team?
The staff at infoodle are very helpful. They listen to your concerns and, where possible (which is most times) will provide a solution to any problems that pop up. They continue to expand the capability of the system so new features appear throughout the year.
Why would you recommend infoodle to other organisations?
I cannot recommend infoodle highly enough!
Time is the greatest asset volunteer organisations have and it must be used wisely and efficiently. Any modern technology that can assist us is vital to our existence. infoodle is such technology; it is fit for purpose, not expensive, easy to operate, cloud operated (most important for volunteers), versatile and expandable for the growing size of your organisation.
All images are courtesy of Coastguard Lake Taupo
Coastguard Lake Taupo, Taupo
is a Volunteer Search and Rescue organisation based at the northern end of Lake Taupo and in the Eastern Region of the Royal New Zealand Coastguard. Learn more about them on their website.
For more information on infoodle, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org