YMCA of Salt Lake City uses DonorPro

6 Basic Tips to Keep Your Database Humming

By: Jim Saunders, Senior Customer Care Specialist

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.

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

1.      Keep your data clean – Find and merge duplicate records, using tools in your database management program. 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 regular schedule, 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 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. Track constituents by name & number when you do a personal audit.

Perhaps you read all that and thought: I really need to get my database organized. Maybe you feel like Excel, Access, or some other program makes data maintenance difficult. It could be you're up and running with a database, but it's a daunting mountain of clutter. DonorPro can help. Give us a call at 866.935.9383 or shoot us an email at info@donorpro.com to see if our solutions are right for your organization. We've helped thousands of organizations go from clutter to clean and we want to help you too!

Get Started With DonorPro Fundraising Solutions: HERE


Or check out this 2 minute video on how two nonprofit professionals transformed their donor management operations with DonorPro