March 2, 2021
Spring Clean the Donor Database
Regular maintenance of donor data is a never-ending chore, but well worth the effort. The lost-opportunity costs of bad data is just too much to pay. On average, nearly a third of a nonprofit’s prospect and donor data becomes inaccurate annually due to address changes, job changes, new phone lines, marriage, divorce, death and so on.
In addition to having a standardized system for updating information as you go, set aside the time and resources to undergo a thorough “spring cleaning” each year.
Combine or eliminate duplicate records.
Some donors will accidentally create duplicate profiles when making multiple transactions, using a different email address or a derivative of a name: Robert Jones, Robert Jones Jr., Rob Jones. Donor software processes will vary, but basically, the goal is to merge donor information rather than having multiple versions.
Use a list-processing service to check donor addresses against the USPS National Change of Address (NCOA) data base. This will indicate if anyone on your list has filed a change of address notice with USPS in the previous 18 months and provide a new address, if one is available. Yes, there is a cost, but consider the wasted dollars and missed opportunities when the addresses are wrong.
Segment the data.
Set up data files, so you can search by keywords: high wealth, corporate gifts, sponsors, volunteers and any other categories – alumni, former board members – that make sense for your organization.
Lower marketing costs, increased response rates and better donor engagement are certainly worth the time and resources it takes to spring-clean your database.
Executive Vice President
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