Earlier this week I talked about the importance of knowing where to put donor information in your database. Today I want to talk about what information I’ve found to be the most inconsistent and, by keeping that data relevant, how much more powerful your database can be.
Most of the inaccuracies I find are in simple contact and personal information: addresses, phone numbers, and emails. How many donors have you lost touch with because you don’t have any way to get a hold of them anymore? Have you ever made a follow-up call only to find out the person you’re calling for is now deceased? That’s a mistake you do not want to make twice. The most valuable information I input into Raiser’s Edge often goes in as a note with text describing insights I’ve learned about a specific donor. These insights can be as simple as their daughter playing soccer or a story he tells you about why the mission of your organization is valuable.
There is value in keeping this information so you don’t have to ask the same questions every time you talk with the donor or when you have staff turnover. But think of how valuable it could be if, before you talk with a large business in town, you could search and see how many of your donors work at that business. An employer will listen better if they know that they already have a number of employees that are giving to you. It is not a significant challenge to put education information under the education tab, or current work info under the employer tab. But this can make a huge difference in your work.
Take the time to learn where these key pieces of information should be stored in your database and then keep them there. It takes just as long to write something on a post-it note as it does to insert it into the database.