With end-of-year planning in full swing, don’t forget to add data cleaning to your checklist.
You want your technology systems to be in their best shape before your “busy” season begins, so making sure you start putting some processes into play now by practicing good data hygiene so you can guarantee your campaign will run as smoothly as possible.
Jeff Miller, our in-house data management guru, gives three recommendations for maintaining good data hygiene that you can start doing today.
1) Keep addresses up-to-date and in a consistent format.
Make use of address standardization and validation services offered as part of your CRM or online fundraising system, including CASS certification and NCOA address updates.
Consider adding a front-end address validator, like SmartyStreets, to donation forms and other web forms where addresses are collected.
2) Stop ALL bad data at the source.
It’s not just bad/incomplete addresses that can be stopped at the source. Consider all the sources of incoming data—web forms, data entry forms, system integrations, import/exports—and make sure that they’re consistent with each other and capturing the information that’s really needed.
Use validation rules to enforce data requirements, and design forms that are specific to the task at hand. Where possible, dynamically hide/unhide questions and picklist options based on previous answers.
3) Don’t neglect duplicate maintenance!
One of the biggest reasons to use a CRM for fundraising in the first place is being able to see the entire relationship and history between a donor and your organization in one place. If that donor’s history is split up among several duplicate records, that advantage is lost. Plus, the resultant potential for duplicate mailings, inaccurate email audience lists, and generally increased customer service times, all come at a cost: both in program expenses and loss of donor goodwill.
Have a plan for regularly dealing with incoming potential duplicates (including prepping for the aftermath of high volume campaigns), and consider working with a vendor that specializes in detecting and merging duplicates if there’s a substantial backlog.
Start maintaining that data today and you will definitely benefit when your end-of-year campaign begins. And if you need any help getting started, feel free to reach out to our team!