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Casual Formalities

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First I lurked than I irked. Now I self-promote!

Since I have received help from various forumgoers I thought some might like to know how that help is being put to use.

Six years ago (when I was merely 18) I was hired by a non-profit, charitable organization that provides financial management for individuals in need. Specifically, we receive SSI disability or Social Security income on behalf of our clients who cannot properly manage their money or bills due to their disability, abuse, neglect, mental illness, addiction or simply poor management skills. Here is some recent shameless praise from our local paper

My hiring was also my introduction to Filemaker. They were already using a solution created by a very generous and intelligent IT couple whose knowledge was apparently not Filemaker intensive. I think they learned filemaker just to make a check register system for us. It was certainly a step up from writing checks by hand and at the time, it was appropriate for the few dozen clients they had. When they hired me they had grown to nearly 700 clients. Now we have over 1500. I have slowly assimilated all of the IT duties for our operation. (This does not mean I am properly qualified, but nonprofits can't be choosers.)

Last year, we migrated from Filemaker 5 to 8. I got a shiny copy of Advanced out of the deal and we have been upgrading and tinkering ever since. We desperately need a completely new system. Why?

Our current system is flat file. We have one database file (in the form of a check register) for each client shared through windows filesharing. We have a separate file on the same machine shared via Filemaker sharing for all of our client info, bill information etc. It is also flat.

Besides being against Filemaker networking orthodoxy, it's simply an atrocious waste of file space and bad data structure.

I have been harping on our need for an entirely new solution for years and they have finally given me the go ahead to develop it. It has given me an immediate purpose and many ideas for the future.

I am amazed at the lack of competent IT available to nonprofit organizations. Being a capitalist I understand that you get what you pay for, but whereas other business professionals (doctors, attorneys, even mechanics) provide discounted or pro-bono services to the community I do not see the same charitable, service oriented outlooks in the IT community. This is surprising to me, since I am frequently exposed to kind and generous individuals in the industry. My company is an ideal example. Our success is actually a model for other businesses like ours. I have been led to believe that we are the largest private rep payee agency in the US. I don't know if that is true, but it is very frightening when you look at my description of what we are using on a daily basis!

I am wondering if there is a niche there for entrepreneurship. We have close relationships with many other charities in town and I have already come across several, including a food bank, that are using completely inadequate or sometimes nonexistent tech. This lacking is a drain on resources.

Uh oh, now I have shared some personal vision-time to wrap it up before things get intimate.

So thank you all for your past and continued assistance.

Neophytically thine,


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