Here’s how to build and use a fast and effective free database to collaborate with your community to manage volunteers and resources, and meet rapidly changing need for help in your local area.
It’s a database framework that we have built for our town community isolation support group, that others have said they would like to use within their local groups during the Covid-19 virus outbreak.
Please share onwards freely, adapt and improve. Together we’re stronger.
What the base does
It’s a relational database run on free cloud-based platform AirTable that provides a ready-made but adaptable framework for managing data for community isolation support groups.
It holds data on People, Streets, Resources, Requests for help, Offers of help, Equipment, and Shops & Services information, and allows you to collect data via forms, and share data views via direct links or embeds on a website, and match help available to help needed.
People you will need to run the database
- DATABASE BOSS – Someone familiar with AirTable or willing to learn fast – aptitude for spreadsheets/databases is the thing to look for – This person does any structural work on the base, like field names, views, relationships
- COMMUNITY LEAD – Needs to get familiar with the base and have leadership of team
- ADMINS – Gets familiar with the base, and communicates with helpers and those needing help
- HOUSEKEEPING – Someone to make sure all data entry is kept as up to date as possible, take calls and monitor emails – someone meticulous and sensible
Cost and Requirements
No cost at all for blank base or AirTable, and no other essential kit.
AirTable are offering free Pro plans for Covid-19 response groups using the platform. Apply here for free Pro access once your Base Boss has an AT account and workspace. This gives access to advanced features like locked and password protected views, and unlimited records (handy for larger communities).
It is easier to share with your community if you have a webpage or website that can be used to embed forms and selected data views, or at least have a list of links, but it’s not essential as direct links can be used.
Someone in your community may already have a site you can use and have the skills to edit the page or pages. You can take a look at ours here to see a working example.
If using direct links I recommend using bit.ly to generate short easy to share and remember links for forms and data views.
What you get
A blank snapshot of the base containing dummy data, and some get-started videos.
What you don’t get
There is no support or ongoing development for this. It’s built, and we are very happy to share it, but cannot provide support or answer questions.
In the base you will find links to AirTable resources and the get-started videos (additional videos may be included when time allows).
Please make use of those resources.
You’re welcome to leave comments below, but please don’t ask for assistance here – there’s only one person on the other end of this website and I’m busy maintaining our local version.
INSTRUCTIONS TO SETUP YOUR BASE – FOR BASE BOSSES
1 – Get started with AirTable
If you’re already familiar with AirTable skip on to next step
Set up a free AirTable account to use with your ActiveCampaign Roadmap Base – head here to sign up for a free account – you won’t need the paid plan at all for this unless your base goes over 1.2k total records.
Go to their get-started documents here for orientation if you’re brand new to AirTable.
2 – Make a copy of the blank version of the base
Copy the blank community support base to your AirTable account.
- On desktop, log in to your AirTable account
- Click the link to the blank base
- Click “Copy base” at top right
- Choose a workspace to put your base in (any will do)
For fun and exploring, make a copy of the Amazonian Animals Top Trumps base too, print out the gallery view and play with your household. We made it for a homework a while back, and it’s our favourite base ever.
Use this one to get familiar with how to share a base, make views, edit and generally get to know AirTable.
3 – Take a 10 minute tour of the blank base with Kay Peacey
( In case of the video embed not showing click here to view in Loom )
4 – Share the base with your admins
Keep this to a small number of people who are known and trusted. AirTable have a nice short video on how to share a base with a collaborator.
5 – Make it your own
This is a starting point – it’s not polished, and it’s not right for all communities.
Happily, AirTable is ridiculously versatile, so you can edit, change, add to, create and organise pretty much any way you want to.
As a first step, get your own list of streets in there, and if you’re using a different term, like monitor or wardens instead of aunties/uncles, change the field names and form working to suit.
Then start people filling out the form to register with the base by sending them a link…
6 – Share links to forms and selected views, or embed them on a website
( In case of the video embed not showing click here to view in Loom )
7 – Learn more about AirTable or ask for help
For support and help with using or adapting your base, please use these brilliant established resources.
Who built this, and why?
Kay Peacey (aka me!) – and this is my business website. I’m a marketing automation specialist, working primarily with ActiveCampaign, which I often hook up to AirTable to do amazing organisational things for small businesses.
We really needed this to get organised to help everyone in our little town, and we figured it makes sense to share the outcome so others can use it too.
There’s a facebook post below with a video introduction for this piece of database development if you want to meet virtual-me a bit more or to share onwards in your own networks
Right now I’m very busy helping my clients and contacts and local schools get digital in a hurry – I’ll see you on the other side.
Feel free to add a comment below if you like. See you on the other side.
Introduction video transcript
I am in Cornwall in the UK, and we have just spent in this community the last couple of days sort of scrambling, to get a community support group in place, to support people who are isolated, or who are vulnerable, and who need help right now to deal with what’s happening.
What we’ve done in this community, is we’ve built a database using AirTable, completely free, anyone can use it, to manage our community isolation support delivery.
So we’re going to use it to keep track of the people who need help, and the people who can help them, the resources that we’ve go in the community, equipment, keeping a record of what shops are open, what their opening hours are, who’s delivering, what are the meals this week, all sorts of things… who needs a prescription collecting, and keep track of who needs stuff, who’s delivering to meet that need, has it been done. when did it need doing, and keeping track of all the phone numbers and emails, and stuff like that.
Because yes, Facebook groups are great, but they get really long and really confusing. So a database is a way of just controlling and managing that data. So, if you want to set up one of these databases that we’ve created, you can make a copy of it and use it in your own Community.
What you’re going to need to be able to do that is at least one person who is moderately techy.
So, if you’ve got someone who is used to using spreadsheets or databases, great, grab them up see if you can persuade them to be your database boss, because you need someone to take control of it.
If you’ve got anyone who’s already familiar with AirTable, that’s them. As well as that you’re going to need some admin people to help keep on top of it, and share the data with other people in the community who need it.
So, for example, if someone’s given you their contact details they’re going to need to be passed on to the right person, or tell people where that prescription needs picking up from, pass on the shopping list…. So you need some admin people as well.
And ideally you hook up with your community support networks. Like here, we have a Town Council and they’re going to get involved, the church group’s going to get involved and we’re ALL going to collaborate but we’re going to collaborate using this database, to help us make sure that the people who need help get that help in a good, timely way, as far as we can get it to them, and that we’re keeping track. And so, we’re making the best possible use of the resources that we have in this fantastic community.
So I hope it’s useful to you. Hooray for digital tech, because it’s an amazing tool, AirTable. It’s free to use, so I’m very I’m feeling very grateful right now that we have this at our disposal in our community, and globally, to help meet this sort of really urgent organisational need.