You can have all the data in the world but if it is not accurate or documented then it can be of very little use to you.  Now also keep in mind, there isn’t one organization that is not constantly updating the information on their donors.  Just when you think you have everything updated someone moves, changes jobs, or has a change in their assets.

Most CRM databases have the ability to track and store an enormous amount of data but unless you can link it to helping you in being strategic in segmenting out your database or implementing strategies then it is only taking up space.  Every organization is different and just because one organization tracks 25 different items or variables doesn’t mean you need to do the same.  Below are some key components you may want to consider in having the most up to date accurate and strategic information.

  1.  Update Address information on a regular basis.  Be sure that this is built into someone’s job description.  I also suggest blocking out a certain amount of time so that it becomes part of your regular cycle.  For instance, I will update address information every Friday at 2pm.  You should also consider doing a National Change of Address (NCOA) based on the number of constituents in your database. Examine all the demographic and contact information you have and determine what is missing. For example do you have birth dates or email addresses and if not you may want to consider a data appends for these items.
  2. Entering donations on a daily basis is generally something everyone does.  You should also create documentation on how that data will look.  Ask questions such as do we record soft credits?  If so, how does that look?  Make sure you are consistent in how you track and define soft credit gifts.  This could be very useful in determining if this is something you want to consider in doing data analytics.  Don’t assume everyone understands how everything is tracked.  This needs to be shared with the entire development team at the very least.
  3. Review additional attributes you are tracking on your prospects.  Ask yourself is this still vital information that needs to be tracked?  Are we documenting the information in a manner that is useful?  What other variables should we be tracking on our constituents?  Are we consistently documenting the information and does everyone understand the variables?  If you are conducting donor surveys, be sure the information is documented in the database.
  4. Contact reports and action items are essential part of keeping your database up to date.  Develop a system that works for your team and once again create a regular job schedule so that it becomes routine instead of added work.  If all this great contact information is only in a gift officer’s head and they leave the organization then it is like starting over and the donor may be irritated by being asked questions they have provided answers for in the past.  Instead of “leaning into the organization” they may step back thinking you are not very organized and is that a place I want to be contributing my time and money.
  5. Finally, I think developing some kind of analysis around the time it takes to secure a major gift.  How many visits/interactions on average does it take to secure a $25,000 gift; $100,000 gift; $1,000,000 gift or whatever levels are pertinent to your organization.
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