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Four Steps Toward Better Data

Keeping your home or office clean and organized means you know where things are when you need them and helps ensure efficiency. Let’s face it, it can be an annoying task—but one that saves you time and frustration in the long run. Your organization’s constituent list (i.e., house file) is similar. With all your day-to-day responsibilities it’s easy to overlook the job of cleaning, organizing, and securing your member data. But these tasks should not be pushed to the back burner. It’s time to do a temp check: Is your data being properly maintained?

Re-engage or Purge Inactive Records

Your constituent list is going to include many inactive email addresses. It may seem tempting to keep contacting these people (on the off chance they finally open an email) but doing so can negatively impact your sender reputation. This could result in your emails going to spam folders where they’re unlikely to be seen. It’s important that your organization establish criteria that you can use to determine who is—or is not—active on your list. Essentially, what time frame (6, 12, 18 months, etc.) and action (email open, email click, form submission, etc.) constitutes “recent” activity.

Once you establish your criteria, you can make a plan for what to do with your inactive lists. This could include suppressing them from future messages, trying to reactivate with them through a targeted re-engagement campaign, or deleting the records entirely from your CRM system. In the end, emailing only your most engaged constituents should increase your open and click rates, which is an added bonus.

Simplify How Contacts Can Update Their Own Information

It’s likely that an individual’s contact information will change over the course of their support for your organization. Names change, people move, and email addresses change with each career move. It’s critical to keep track of these adjustments to ensure that your contact records are up to date. Whether you have a log-in portal where members can make changes themselves, or a form they submit through your site, make sure to give your constituents an easy way to update their details.

Organize Your Members into Groups

Having a person’s contact information in great. Knowing how they found your organization and what their first point of interaction was is even better. If you know what brought them in, you can create targeted communications that will be especially relevant to them. Whether you call them tags, groups, or lists, they allow you to sort your data based on what you know about your constituents. Inventory your groups regularly and keep only those that are relevant and useful. It’s also a good idea to create a consistent naming convention for your tags or lists so they follow a similar format and are easy to search for within your email tool.

Don’t Forget About Security

Personal data protections were front and center at the end of May when the General Data Protection Regulation took effect. This EU legislation sets a new standard for ways that companies and organizations must protect constituent information. If you’re required to comply with GDPR and haven’t already, you’ll need to seek advice from a lawyer about what steps you need to take. Even if you’re not required, it’s worth examining some of your organization’s practices. Chief among those is reviewing who has access to your databases. Make sure that you keep track of administrators and that you remove permissions or change passwords when employees leave your organization.

Warm weather and vacation planning sometimes make it hard to tackle big projects during the summer, but this is actually a great time of year to think about data organization. Year-end fundraising will be here before you know it and taking these four steps will help ensure that your data is current, safe, and properly sorted. Then you can use it to work more effectively toward your fundraising goals. If you’re ready to put these tips into action you’re in the right place. Email us today to get started.

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