Don’t Get Spooked By Your Data!

Data health woes.


Outdated constituent information.

Just when you thought Halloween was the only time you got SPOOKED, you take a look at the data in your CRM system and realize you might be living in a data nightmare!

Here are a few thoughts on some of the common data nightmares- and how to take the next steps to address them:

Become the Data Health Doctor!

I recommend using the query functions (thank heavens for BLANK operators and keyword placeholders!) in your CRM solution to regularly run some “data health” queries- and you might even consider scheduling them to run on a scheduled job or queue if that option is available.

Want to get started? Here are a few examples of the types of queries I recommend using:

  • Constituents missing key pieces of information (no/incomplete address information, no addressee/salutation, marked as deceased but still receiving mail by error)
  • Donors who were never thanked (YIKES!) or who are missing key coding on their record that is relevant to your reporting and analysis
  • Out of date information
    • Constituents assigned to a past gift officer/solicitor who has left the organization (for manual or bulk reassignment to a new gift officer or solicitor)
    • Constituents with old and replaced codes on their record and they are NOT getting pulled into the right mailings, reports, etc. (consider using the query to globally add/edit/delete so the new and consistently used code is on their record)

Dupes. Let’s Face it: Everyone Has Them.

Take advantage of running duplicate checks on your data regularly to keep them at bay. All too often we see folks pass over the duplicates or actually spend more time working around them then taking care of them once and for all.

How to shift the focus? I have seen organizations implement fun duplicate “recognition” systems (spotted in the wild: A Duplicate Wall of Honor) to recognize those who take the time to clean them up/bring them forward for cleaning- and I have even heard of Duplicate Detection “parties” being thrown to do a mass cleaning on the database. As a data geek, that sounds like one invite I would not RSVP “no” to!

And lastly, that Out of Date Donor Information? Turns out it is more than just a nag- it could be costing you a lot of dough- both directly and indirectly. Check out this article from NTEN oThe Cost of Out of Date Donor Information for more details about some possible ways to explain and prove the case for why your organization might need to get their data cleanliness plan in order.