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6 Quick Tips to Clean Up Your Donor Database and Keep It Humming

We all know that small things can make a big difference.

Surely you know someone who paid a big price in time, inconvenience, and money, for neglecting routine maintenance and oil changes on their car.

If we remember to keep up routine maintenance, we can avoid this expense and keep our car running dependably for a long time. If we neglect maintenance, we risk our car coming to an unexpected screeching halt.

Clean Up and Refresh Old Donor Data

In much the same way, it is also a good idea to keep a maintenance schedule for your donor database in your donor management system. The effectiveness of your outreach and ability to track donors is only as good as the accuracy of your data! So make sure you do these six things to keep your data humming:

1) Keep your data clean

Find and merge duplicate records, using tools in your nonprofit database. Use services, such as National Change of Address, to eliminate invalid information such as invalid mailing addresses.  You will want to do this on a regularly...more often depending on the size of your database.

2) Keep your data lean 

Do you REALLY need 5 email addresses for everyone? Ask your constituents which address they prefer you use, then delete the others! If you’re a collector, store the extra address in an area that your donor database manager provides for generic notes.  Do you REALLY need to know the mailing address to where someone lived 5 years ago? If not, get rid of that too.

3) Realistic Shelf Life 

Decide how long to keep inactive constituents. Send one last special appeal or make a phone call to the constituent who gave years ago, but has subsequently ignored several newsletters and appeals. If they do not respond, delete their record.  If there are records without donations, find a clear way to identify them as “Prospects-2014,” “Strategic Partner,” etc. Then, maybe in December of 2015, review all “Prospects-2014” who have yet to donate.

4) Standardize your data

If you add notes to your records, or segment constituents into groups, use standardized language. For example, create groups such as “Golfer-2012,”“Golfer-2013,” et cetera rather than “2012/Golfed,”“Golf Outing ’13,” et cetera. If you use notes on records, work to standardize them as well. Finding and sorting data will be much easier.

5) Review your data

Pick a number of records to review on a regular basis; set aside one hour every Tuesday morning to do a full intensive review of your top 10 donors last week. Call each donor to confirm their address, phone number, and confirm relationships, et cetera that you have on file.  Set aside one hour every Thursday morning to contact top ten previous year donors who have not donated in the last 13 months.

6) Keep a Journal to track your progress

It feels good to be able to look back and see your success. This is often an incentive to do more. For example, before/after every cleaning session, log the total # of records, total # of possible duplicates on a spreadsheet. Effectively track donors and constituents by name & number when you do a personal audit.

Topics: Supporter Management