Beacon is a computer database system which has been developed within the Third Age Trust by a national team of experts and enthusiasts.
It is now used by over 300 individual U3As, providing a systematic approach to the management of U3As and their membership.
Beacon provides a record keeping system which stores the necessary details of all members, including names, addresses and contact details, as well as membership status and payment records.
It stores details of all the Groups we run, the membership of those groups and allows Group Leaders to contact members through a secure email system.
Beacon is used to manage our finances and each Group can keep its own financial records on the system, which allows the Treasurer to incorporate their activities into our accounts automatically.
In addition, there are numerous administrative tools that simply aid the smooth running of a U3A.
As from last year, Beacon has also provided the system that allows individual members to renew their membership online. This will happen again in 2019.
It’s important to stress that your data is held securely; nobody outside our own U3A can access any information. It’s a national system but implemented entirely locally. Within our U3A, data access is strictly controlled on a “need to know” basis, so that only those that must have access to information can see it. This is controlled through a range of permissions set by the System Administrator, and all Beacon usage is logged and monitored to prevent any unauthorised use.
Furthermore, all use of the Beacon System is controlled and structured to comply with the General Data Protection Regulations, and our U3A Policies and Procedures governing this are published on our own website.
Beacon is a very useful and time-saving tool, but it’s not perfect. At present an initiative is just being launched to update and upgrade the system, leading in time to “Beacon II”. In the meantime, we will continue to make use of Beacon and hopefully make your experience of our U3A as smooth and seamless as possible.