Losing track of your constituents, even for a short period of time, translates into lost fundraising opportunities. The problem of inaccurate data is not new, but it is getting worse. A 2015 data benchmarking reporting by Experian Data Quality indicates that 92% of organizations surveyed considered their data to be inaccurate. Additionally, 23% of respondents who indicated that their contact data is essential to marketing success reported that they believe their data to be faulty. These percentages have risen steadily over the past few years.
Here are a few steps to mitigate the issue of inaccurate data in your fundraising database:
Code constituent records associated with Lost Mail or Return to Sender mail so they are not mailed again, until a new address is acquired.
Like physical addresses that are invalid, code them invalid until a new email address is acquired.
Every Contact Point
Whenever anyone in your organization has contact with an individual or business in your database, the staff member or volunteer has a responsibility to confirm, edit and enhance: Confirm contact details while in contact with the constituent, edit incorrect contact information, and enhance or update additional information as soon as possible.
Run a duplicate name report
Once you have identified the duplicate records, take the time to merge and purge records.
Training the staff
Initially decide what information you need to capture and create a form that is accessible by everyone. Other than the basics, name, address, phone, email, and spouse’s information, you might want to know the name of their pets or the church/synagogue they belong to. Do they want to receive the newsletter or do they have an interest in a particular program that you run?
Update your addresses by finding those that are out-of-date or incomplete, using a service with United States Postal Service (USPS) standards or what is typically known as the National Change of Address (NCOA) service. This in turn will make any analytics project, wealth screening, or simple data appends have a higher likelihood of yielding results for those prospect records.
Updating the Deceased
It is critical to identify those records of deceased individuals. This service is usually included by an address hygiene service company or you can utilize the Social Security Death Benefit database. This is essential to making sure you are not wasting time, money, and embarrassing your institution. Plus when you are looking to analyze your database, you most likely do not want to include those prospects that are no longer living.
Age append services can be essential if you need to obtain the age of your prospects, which is helpful for major and planned gift initiatives. Are your prospects in their prime earning years and capable of giving a major gift to your organization? Are they at the age when they may consider establishing an estate plan, thus a planned gift of some type? Have they already established a planned gift via a bequest to your nonprofit? These are important questions, and having age data can help ensure you have the necessary data in place.
Appending phone numbers is paramount to the success of any major and planned giving program, as well as annual phone-a-thon programs. The most successful fundraising programs regularly update and append phone numbers. Look for a service that also obtains whether or not your prospect is on the “Do-Not-Call Registry,” as this can help determine if phone contact is the best way to communicate and engage with your prospects. Mobile phone numbers will also began to play a more enhanced role in fundraising as donors and prospects have shown an increase in text messaging as a vehicle of communication.
Emails are a low cost and effective way to communicate with your prospects and donors. Using a good email append service is a great way to enhance your database and increase methods of touching your constituents. Even today, email continues to be a highly desired method in which donors communicate.