Power of a Clean Database

Every nonprofit I’ve ever worked for struggles to clean up and update their donor database. This happens because we get distracted and have so much to do, we do not understand how the database works, or a million other reasons. But we cannot lose sight of why a clean database is important.

Why should you clean up your database? Fundraising professionals are usually not at a job for more than 2 or 3 years. If you are not cleaning up old data and inputting new data all of those contacts and the information your or your employees have in your head leaves with them. Your database is the best place to hold all of the giving and personal history of your donors.

Have you ever sent an invitation to a donor and their spouse only to learn that their spouse is remarried or deceased? That kind of thing needs to be changed in the database right away. Current information helps keep your donors confidence in your organization high. Regular updating of addresses and names will keep your costs down because you do not have to resend mailings out. If you have an accurate database it is easier to segment your database and appeal to your donors interests.


3 Responses to Power of a Clean Database

  1. Kendra says:

    So true! Getting what people know about a donor from their head or personal file to the database is one of the hardest things though. It’s one of the biggest frustrations I’ve dealt with since starting in non-profit, but it makes my job so much easier to have current and accurate data.

  2. Jason, thanks for bringing this up. I think this is too often overlooked but it’s extremely important. I have a list of queries and fixes I do monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually. If you have more one or more imperfect persons working on your database, you will have errors! Fixing them is an ongoing process.

  3. Janice Chan says:

    With regards to regular updating of names and addresses, the U.S. Postal Service now requires organizations to check their mailing lists against the NCOA (Nat’l Change of Address) Registry every 95 days to qualify for bulk mailing rates! It’s not that expensive and well worth it, especially since you will not get mail returned if it is a year or more after the person has moved (unless the mail clerk decides to be nice and return it anyway) – so you may not even know if half your list is not getting your mailings!

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