The Deep Clean
If your organization has heeded the advice of conference speakers everywhere, it has recorded information about donors into a database, donor-management system or constituent-relationship management system. Fifty thousand records later, it has effectively developed a phone book. It’s a large database, but it might not be a deep one.
Here we examine three major stages to increasing and taking advantage of database depth.
Stage 1. Increase reachability
Core to every record is basic contact information, such as e-mail, phone and mailing address. These enable corresponding outreach campaigns in the most rudimentary sense.
Since, generally, people do not donate unless they are asked to, if they cannot be reached, then they will not donate. The metric to optimize here is “reachability,” namely, how many of the contacts can be reached right now. This number decreases over time not because the database is broken, but because the world is changing around it. People move, change jobs, get married, etc. This is called “data rot” and is one of the most common reducers of reachability.
Completeness means that every contact has every form of contact information, and correctness means that this information is actually usable. Some organizations set interns or administrative staff to the arduous task of scouring the Web to improve completeness and correctness. If that is your organization, stop!
Data-cleansing services exist to automate this process, enhancing data quality by enabling human resources to be applied to tasks that only humans can handle. We have seen up to a 900 percent increase in year-over-year donations as a result of such a service combined with more effective utilization of staff members.
Here’s what to look for in an effective data-cleansing service:
1. Missing contact information is appended: For example, if a record has a name and address, the service should be able to provide an e-mail address and phone number. Completeness of the incoming data set has a big effect on service quality because, after all, there are a lot of John Smiths.