You cannot do it all with Excel®
(Well, OK, maybe you can. That's if your name is Mr. Excel or if your Excel knowledge is far beyond that of a mere mortal. Even Microsoft admits you can't manage a complex database with Excel. Why else would they sell Access®?)
Excel is a wonderful application, perhaps the world's most popular piece of software. In fact, Excel is so widely used that if there’s a time-bomb deep somewhere in the Excel code, we're rather certain Western Civilization will end on the day it goes off. It's handy for a variety of simple database applications. But if you're managing a campaign database, there are some real limitations:
Any mailing list needs to be householded before sending it off to be mailed. We don't see how the greeting (salutation) and name lines in a mail merge can be properly combined using Excel.
2. Absentee and Early Voting
The early-voting and no-fault absentee laws that have taken hold in 29 states have the effect of extending the Democrats' election-day activities from 30 hours to 30 days. Which means they'll have the time to turn out their voters and break the tide of Republican gains this year. The numbers are staggering. In this year's September primary in Cuyahoga County, Ohio (a no-fault absentee state) 75 percent voted absentee. You MUST compete for those votes and, on the backend, avoid wasting resources contacting those who’ve already voted. (If you're in a tight race and unprepared, you will lose. Simple as that.) You need a system that imports this information directly from the county website where available, OR enables you to quickly look up and tag voters manually where it is not. And not just when they request the ballot, but also when they return it (or, if you're in an early-voting state, after they vote). Think about it: if 60,000 vote in your district, that means you’ll be dealing with between 20,000 and 30,000 absentee ballot requests and turn-ins in the space of 35 days. Nearly 1,000 a day. Double that for the returned ballots.
3. Large Databases
If your database is larger than 65,000, then everyone who acceses it will need a recent version of Excel; the pre-2007 Office versions won’t work. And unless you're using a workbook prepared by someone with very advanced Excel knowledge, looking up certain individuals and PACs is slow and complicated.
4. Complex Searches
It takes an extremely advanced knowledge of Excel to enable the kind of searches you can pull from Filpac. Example: “everyone in UA Ward 4 who’s a R Super-voter and given at least $200 to any R candidate” or “everyone in County X who hasn’t maxed-out” or “everyone inside the district who’s given $200 or more” or “all lawn signs, in street order, in Ward 4”. Everything in Filpac is broken down into donors, contacts, lists and workers, with unlimited coding and combinations of each.
5. It requires an "Excel Guy"
... who might be unreachable at the very moment when volunteers are standing around in your headquarters waiting for their walk lists. If you're a Filpac user, anyone in the campaign who's used the program could probably generate the correct lists and, if not, they could dial our toll-free number and learn how. It's never a good idea to leave mission-critical functions in the hands of only one person.
6. Personal Contact
If you're a challenger in a swing district, you’re running against a ruthless politician who’s won before. He knows how to personalize the campaign. He's won before because enough swing voters feel they know him, and that's the number one reason people vote for a candidate, regardless of party or issues. If you want to win – and we speak from many years of experience -- you must to compete for the same voters at the same level. Forget what you hear about being swept in with the Republican tide. A candidate who establishes a personal connection with enough voters will defy that trend. If you’re making multiple personal contacts, as you should, with thousands of voters, then you need a system to facilitate this – something that makes data entry easy and clean, and something that enables you to quickly report, view or select people based on multiple criteria. You need a database with the power of Filpac.
7. Precinct Targeting
We have a system that divides precincts in to five
categories – Ticket-splitters, base R, Aspiring R, Base D and Solid
D. Using this system you can target your mailings and , when funding
limits demand it, TRIM your mailings to ensure you’re mailing to
those with the greatest likelihood of supporting your candidate.
If fund-raising is a problem, we provide free of charge an updated list of donors from the Secretary of State’s website. This is the same list that you can download for free, but in Filpac you can quickly view the donation history of everyone matched against their giving to other campaigns. So if someone has given you $100 but wrote $1000 to Kasich, it means you shouldn’t insult the guy by asking for less!
9. State and federal Reporting
Sure, you can do most of this in Excel, but preparing an export spreadsheet that will pass the validation requirements of the FEC or your state can be frustrating and complicated. The Filpac system makes this a snap. So easy, in fact, that one of our clients, a treasurer for a multitude of committees, has filed as many as 25 disclosure reports in a single day.
If you intend to use an Excel database in multi-user mode, everyone must have a licensed Excel copy.
And if you're still unconvinced, take it from our Customers . . .
. . . who usually start with us by handing over a collection of Excel workbooks to be converted into the Filpac system. They’ve already made the decision that it can't all be done in Excel.