You’ve heard it from us before. “Clean up your database now while the summer months are slow and you are planning for the holiday giving season!” Did you clean up your database last year? If not, when was the last time you cleaned up your list of donors? We’ll say it once more: bad data creates an inefficient process, mails to incorrect records, and can cost you a lot of time and money.
Your furry friend,
Database cleanup may not be the most fun part of your job. However, not spending the time or focus to fix issues can hinder your fundraising efforts. Your donors and supporters are your most valuable asset so to send them duplicate pieces of mail or incorrectly spell their name can cost you more than you think. Take into consideration your acquisition mailings throughout the year and how hard your organization works to recruit fantastic new donors to your cause. Now think about how easy it is for someone to stop donating just because they were not asked for a forwarding address or they received three pieces of the same appeal. How would you react?
The Best Defense
Prioritize, train, backup, and evaluate. Rank and segment your records by major donors, volunteers, monthly donors, and other key groups. This will let you update the most relevant information efficiently and in an organized manner. Train personnel to enter new donor information correctly. If donor data is input the same way every time, it will make cleaning up files next time that much easier. Backup your database. Technology is not always our friend so keeping an extra copy of records will save you a headache later. Evaluate your data and donor files. Pay attention to individuals who are moving, going through life changes, upgrading, or lapsing. Knowing movement within your file will help you effectively communicate!
The Resources Available
No matter what database platform your organization is using, there is training available! Most database websites have a section filled with upcoming webinars, quick resource references, or basic training videos to get you started. For more cleaning best practices, such as dedupe and NCOA changes, check out a great webinar we did last year here. We also published an informative article about cleaning your donor files, which you can read here.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.” – William A. Ward