How To

Prep Your Donor Database for Year-End

“Garbage in, garbage out.” It’s a common phrase people say when referring to data management systems like CRMs. After all, you won’t get good data out of your CRM if you don’t put clean, complete data in. Now is the perfect opportunity to take back control of your database, so you can prevent obstacles to getting tax receipts out and make data-informed decisions for your next year of fundraising. Not sure about the status of your data? Let’s run through some common issues CRM users face and how to resolve them.

For a full guide on how to maintain a healthy DonorPerfect database, click here.

Avoid Having Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Having staff and volunteers help with data entry can be a real relief. But sometimes not everyone is on the same page, which can lead to honest, but problematic mistakes that take a lot of time to undo.

To decrease room for errors in your donor database, there are preventative measures you can take:

Standardize the way you handle data entry.
Educate your staff and volunteers on your data entry process, when to create new codes and donors, and how to check for existing codes and donors. Create a document for staff and volunteers to reference when entering data.

Only allow trained individuals to enter data.
Ensure that only the right people have access to add or edit codes and other data. Your donor management system should include user settings that you can configure.

Schedule a weekly report of any data that’s been added in the last week.
This recurring practice makes it easy for administrators to review newly entered data and correct issues immediately.

Code Cleanup: No Missing and/or Duplicate Codes

You won’t be able to measure the success of your campaigns and solicitations if your gifts aren’t properly coded. Fortunately, there are ways to quickly and easily determine whether they’ve been coded incorrectly or not coded at all.

Look for these red flags when cleaning up your coding system:

Codes that make no sense
Take time to review your codes and you’ll spot errors the moment you see them.

Resolution: Rename the code. Or, if you think the gifts should be under another existing code, your donor management system should allow you to perform a global update to push those gifts to the correct code.

A line item for miscellaneous gifts (AKA gifts without codes)
You can usually find these holes in your database when you spot blanks in reports that break down gifts by solicitation code, general ledger code, and more.

Resolution: Obtain a list of uncoded gifts and give them each a designation. If several of them require the same designation, you should be able to perform a global update to assign these codes en masse.

Duplicate codes
You might have to pull out your fine-toothed comb for this one. Let’s say you have two different codes for your 2018 Gala: “18GALA” and “GALA18.” Your results should be listed in alphanumeric order, so it won’t be obvious that the code’s been duplicated.

Resolution: Pick one of the two codes. Use a global update to move all gifts with code A to code B, then delete code A.

Eliminate Duplicate Donor Records

Have you ever mistakenly sent an appeal letter to a donor twice just because they’re recorded in your database twice? Your CRM should be able to merge all information from duplicate records at once, including addresses, gifts, and touchpoints. Here’s how to identify duplicate records and merge them in DonorPerfect.

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