[Strategies for Success - Smart fundraising ideas from Hartsook]

Time to Declutter Your Database

imageIt’s never too early to get your fundraising house in order for the year. As inspiration, consider the popular new show: Tidying Up With Marie Kondo where Kondo encourages people to remove anything that does not “spark joy” and rid their lives of clutter and the associated burdens.

For nonprofits, one of the biggest areas of clutter is found lurking in the database: former addresses, incorrect spellings, deceased donors, new marriages listed with old names and a thousand other ways to waste time and resources while annoying current and prospective donors.

Why not make this the year you set out to spring clean and declutter your database? Here are some tips to get you started.

Data cleaning and maintenance is a never-ending chore.
On average, 20 to 30 percent of an organization’s contact data goes bad every year. If a thorough cleaning has not taken place in several years, you can expect to invest a lot of time getting things in order. But, it will be much easier once it is cleaned annually and well-maintained year round.

An untidy database is expensive.
A database that is not up-to-date costs time and money, both in missed opportunity (annual appeals sent to the wrong addresses) and in missing the mark (prospective donors receiving mail to a deceased or former spouse). These can be difficult errors for donors to overlook. They may never read the appeal because they can’t get past the salutation. At the very least, a messy database does not convey a donor-centric approach.

Start by consolidating and eliminating duplicate records.
If you do not have the staff or expertise in-house, these tasks can be outsourced. Companies will electronically match and update your data using proprietary database technology. Particularly for email address updates, this will help cut down on bounced emails and SPAM complaints.

Deciding to tackle this to-do is the first and most important step in the process. It will be necessary to invest time and resources, but the outcome will add confidence and peace of mind to your fundraising.

Jason Wood, Senior Vice President, [email protected]

logoJoin Us on the Growing Philanthropy Tour

Next stops on the road to achieving Hartsook’s mission of growing philanthropy by 25 percent in the next 20 years:

Grapevine, Tex.
February 1, 2019

IGNITE 2019: Conference
Sustainable Fundraising
Karin Cox

Inverness-shire, Scotland
February 4-6, 2019

The Great Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

London
February 7-8, 2019

LSE Annual Behavioural Public Policy Lecture
Grantham Centre
John List

San Diego
February 12, 2019
2019 NSFA National Conference
Demystifying the Major Gift Campaign
Karin Cox

Inverness-shire, Scotland
March 4-6, 2019

Think Double! Fundraising Masterclass
Adrian Sargeant

Past Stops on the Tour

Resources for Smart Fundraising Available on Kindle

Keep up to date on the latest fundraising trends with the Kindle ASR Media collection:

  • Fundraising Leadership – The definitive source for empowering board members to become pro-active fundraising leaders by Karin L. Cox
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Book of the Monthimage

Hartsook President and CEO Matthew J. Beem’s book Performance-Driven Fundraising: Taking Control of Your Success shares decades of fundraising insights and features campaign success stories. Performance-Driven Fundraising will help accelerate anyone’s learning curve and serve as a valuable reference tool for new and seasoned fundraisers. Go here to purchase the book.

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Strategies for Success explores smart ideas, connecting with thousands of fundraising professionals. We welcome your best practices contributions or comments. Send to Strategies for Success editor Karin Cox, [email protected]. If you’d like a free subscription to Strategies for Success or its monthly companion, eHartsook on Philanthropy, contact [email protected].