Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe v9 Review

Reviewed by: Lianne Reitter, July 2005, updated Nov 2006, Feb 2008
Published by: Quickverse
Requires: Windows 98SE through XP; Pentium III/500MHz or faster CPU, 128MB RAM, 150MB free hard drive space
MSRP: US$349.95

(Ed. Note: Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe v9 is clearly aimed at Churches and other non-profit organizations, charity and even some philanthropic NGOs. Kickstartnews Contributing Editor Lianne Reitter is also an office manager and chief financial officer at a family owned property management company, so we thought she was just the right person to do a serious, hard-nosed, business oriented review. 2007 version is Windows Vista-compatible).

Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe is an integrated suite of tools to manage any size Church or non-profit organization. The software is designed to track contributions, pledges, take attendance, manage finances, print reports, access member information and perform a wide range of related tasks. The program is essentially a robust database for assisting in the management of all facets of membership information and the growth of an organization.

Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe is presented as a set of integrated modules, each with their own set of functions. From a module to keep member information to one that tracks meetings, calendars, surveys and reports, the system makes organizing the information within the software a fairly logical process. The left side of the program window contains icons for each module and you can access any part of the software at any time without having to back out of anything first. After you've become familiar with the software, front & center access to the program modules becomes quite useful and makes navigation within the software easier.


The first module is the one that provides access to your member information. Knowing your members is vital to the health of any organization. Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe allows you to track membership by individual, family or organization. Conveniently, an individual record can become a part of a family record so you needn't duplicate individual entries when setting up a family. The software records all pertinent member information including addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, birth dates, wedding dates and member photos. A user-defined section is included and can be easily configured to track any other data a member may provide (confirmation date, prior denomination, health status, volunteer interests, etc., etc.). There is even a function that will allow you to instantly access MapQuest over the Internet to obtain a map and driving directions to a member's address.

Another vital aspect of keeping a parish running smoothly is knowing which members have received counseling and who in the community is due for a visit. Membership Plus has an area to keep track of which pastor visited which family or member along with the details of the visit including any follow up meeting dates. My only quibble here is that while Membership Plus 2005 integrates with Microsoft’s Smart Tag feature, it does not seem to tie in at all with Outlook’s reminder alarms, and it has no such feature of it’s own. It would be nice to have a reminder alarm set a few days ahead of a scheduled meeting. It may be a personal preference, but I like an automated reminder instead of having to check the calendar myself every day. Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe has a calendar that you can access at any time to view scheduled events for the day, week or month and create different calendars for tracking separate information. Having the member information along with payables, receivables and events in one calendar could make things very confusing so this feature should come in very handy. I should mention here that the program installs a small utility called MPQuickView. While this isn't an automatic reminder program, it will give you a quick view of all the days events without having to launch the main program.

There is so much more to keep track of in a busy church: youth groups and summer camps, meetings, meeting locations, equipment, facility access and so on. Keep track of all of this using the Group and Event Registration modules. Include group membership lists, an attendance roll for various events, roles and responsibilities, and notes on each group using familiar word processor commands. Schedule all your meetings, the time, the place and the location. The Event Registration module can be used to detail each event, set a ticket price if necessary, track attendees, amounts paid, balances due, what needs to be done to get the event off the ground, task assignments, due dates and the status of each task.

Almost as important as the membership are the donations made to the various funds and accounts. Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe allows you to track each member’s contributions, the date, the amount and how much of each contribution is allocated to each fund or account. The software can also output directly to any connected scanner so that you can keep a file copy of each check you receive. Like every other business it’s also important to track expenditures. Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe helps create a full set of General Ledger accounts, including full budgeting functions. A double entry accounting system assures that every dollar deposited and spent is allocated properly and a check printing function help to ensure that payments are made on time and to the right payees.

Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe’s greatest strength I think is in the Reports module. There are dozens of pre-designed report templates to choose from including accounting reports, attendance sheets and even name badges. If you need a reporting format that isn't already included there is a Report Designer module that can be used to create your own. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time with the report designer—it's not particularly intuitive.

Membership Plus 2005 includes a Workflow Wizard that makes backing up your database, among other functions, quite simple. You can perform full backups or pick and choose data: member information, bank information, meeting information, any of dozens of different reports to include in a workflow project and then have the program carry out the selected backup function—storing data, synchronizing it with Outlook, archiving it or even checking it for errors and repairing them. You can also use the workflow wizard to perform other repetitive functions, but experience tells me that using it to back up and archive your data may prove to be it's most important role.

If all of that isn't enough, included is a letter generator allowing you to send the same letter to any number of people at once. You can design your letter and then pick the parameters of all the recipients: all the families, members of a certain group, output to e-mail addresses or print address labels for easy mailing.

The program also has a master administrator tool. Global changes can be made to the database, program configuration options can be accessed, users added to the database, new database entry fields can be created and existing fields can be modified. You can even set the Policies and Procedures for your organization.

Cons: Reminders and Ticklers are not integrated. When I launch this sort of software, I want alarms and reminders to pop up and yell at me—tasks, appointments, organization events, membership issues, etc. Why do I have to run the Reminder module separately? The Report Designer is indecipherable at a glance and there aren't any detailed instructions in the help system or manual describing the custom report process. Even though the pre-designed templates supplied with Membership Plus cover most needs, considering the importance of printed reports for regular monthly review by directors, regents, elders and whomever else your church or organization consults, the report designer should be much easier to use. Topping the list of cons is the Membership Plus user interface. In a word, it's awful. It looks like a throwback to the old GFA Basic programming language and it can be serious impediment to comfortable and intuitive use of the software. As well, the main program window incorporates several elements which should increase or scale in size, or at least render at a higher resolution when you expand the window to full screen. The problem is that most of the program interface elements are apparently designed at a fixed size (it appears to be 800 x 600) which means that almost every user interface element looks jagged and blurred when you try to take advantage of all the space on typical 17" and 19" monitors running at 1024 x 768 or 1280 x 1024. The Pictorial Directory, which allows users to browse images attached to individual records was not used or tested during the review period.

Pros: Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe is a powerful, versatile, functional database and financial recording package. Import/export function makes transferring data (including PDF files) from other programs much easier. The main Welcome screen helps you start off any session. The workflow wizard works well. Despite the antique user interface, everything is available to you front & center with nothing hidden behind menu options or otherwise difficult to find locations. With an investment of some time, experienced church and community organization administrators can make effective use of Membership Plus 2005 Deluxe v9 to get their databases up and running and their membership information organized and well controlled.





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