In 2020, our u3a started using a new national membership management system called Beacon. The system was initially developed by a group of u3a members, for use by u3a's.
What is Beacon?
- Beacon is a Membership Management System for u3as
- It allows any u3a to manage their data and communication with their members easily and efficiently
- It can be a huge time saver for those who manage membership and group information
- With new regulations on Data Privacy it ensures that U3As comply with all legal requirements
What it is, what it does and how it can benefit our U3A...
Beacon provides individual U3As with a secure, efficient and effective means of managing their day-to-day business functions
- All our data is together, secure and held in just one place
- It can be accessed by our chosen authorised users, usually committee members & group leaders, each with their own ‘individual permissions’ to do just what they need to do
- In the future, Beacon can be accessed by our members - who can view and amend their details and groups
- Security, no duplication, on-line payments, joined-up functionality, less work, more accuracy
Beacon provides a comprehensive set of tools for handling membership: new members, renewals, subscriptions, address changes, membership cards and communications.
Groups are the heart of a U3A, and Beacon provides group leaders with membership management, venues, calendars, group ledgers, and easy communication with group members.
Finances (we don't use this section just yet)
Financial management is based on a secure, simple transaction approach. Every transaction can be assigned to individuals, groups and categories, and the system provides tools for reconciliation with bank accounts and regular reporting. In the future the system has the possibility of enabling members subscriptions to be paid online.
The Beacon Help pages can be found here >> Beacon Help Pages.
A Beacon User Guide is available here >> Beacon User Guide.
See the latest Beacon presentation >> Beacon Presentation.
Beacon Upgrade Project
The Third Age Trust are in the process of developing Beacon 2. The vision of the Beacon Upgrade Project is to give the u3a movement a system which is:
- Designed with the needs of the whole U3A movement in mind
- Capable of being used across the movement
- Based upon up-to-date, secure and reliable technology
- Supported by the volunteer Beacon Team
The ambition is to complete the specification phase for all components by the end of March 2021, by which point the software development will already be well under way and a firm expectation of when the rollout can commence will be set. At this stage, it is anticipated to be by autumn 2021.
The Rayleigh Grange u3a Committee and Group Leaders have now been given access to Beacon and received training. Group Leaders will be able to keep an accurate record of their group members, easily send bcc. emails to their members, and enter or change forthcoming group meeting dates.
Logging on to Beacon for Committee members and Group Leaders >> Beacon log in
Logging on to Beacon (not available yet for members - coming soon!)
Be aware, the details you enter on the "Rayleigh Grange u3a Members Portal" log in screen have to be exact i.e. All boxes have to be completed. Your Forename must begin with a Capital letter. Your surname must all be in CAPITALS. Your postcode must have a space between the first and second parts. Spaces must not be left at the end of input fields. Ipads and iphones have nasty habit of adding spaces automatically, which will need to be removed before you are able to log in. Beacon 2 will hopefully make the log in process more user friendly.
For Group Leaders
As a Group Leader you should now have your log in details for Beacon if you have asked for them. Your Group will have been set up - please log in to check the details are correct. Help and instruction is available to all users if needed. If, as a Leader, you decide that you do not want to use Beacon, our Groups Coordinator can look after it for you. If this is the case, please inform Carol Bright, our Groups Coordinator. Carol will go through with you your list of members on Beacon in case it needs updating. You will need to provide her via email details of changes as and when they happen in the future i.e. members, meeting dates, times and venues.
Not Getting our emails?
If you are concerned that you are not receiving emails sent to you from Rayleigh Grange u3a, via the Beacon system go to your email account and enter 'email@example.com' into your trusted/allowed email addresses and contacts. If you see one email that has gone into your 'Spam' folder from our email address click it as 'non-Spam'. This should ensure, as far as possible, that you always receive emails sent by Committee Members and your Group Leaders.
Links in Emails
If you receive an email that includes a link (the link text will normally be blue or mauve and underlined when you hover over it), it means that there is more information to be seen on the link. All you need to do is click (or tap in the case of a mobile phone or ipad) on the blue/mauve underlined text and you will be taken to that extra information. (Apologies to the more computer literate amongst you that know this already).
If you have any questions or queries about the Beacon system please contact Phil Cogger, Beacon Administrator, and I will try to answer them.