New Year, New Database Clean-up: Part 1

Happy New Year! Congratulations, you survived the end of the year! I hope you’ve taken at least a few minutes to reflect on the amazing work you’ve done to advance your organization’s mission through year-end fundraising. You deserve a pat on the back (or two… and maybe a nap).

This time of year is great for reflection. What worked last year? What didn’t? What’s the new or continued focus of your fundraising? And just as important, what will you do to ensure the integrity of your data? Now, let’s talk database clean-up.

Over the next few weeks, I will provide easy-to-digest ways to prioritize and tackle database clean-up. This week, let’s get back to the basics.

Update any and all new or undeliverable addresses you received.

First and foremost, remember that stack of returned mail you received from your year-end solicitation that have “return to sender,” “undeliverable,” or change of address information? Make sure to check, update and mark each one in your database. If you use a printer or direct mail company to send out your appeals, make sure to get the list of address changes and invalid addresses from your mailing. Isn’t it great when they can supply an updated address?

If an “undeliverable” does not include a new address, take some time to locate a new address either through your research tools (such as LexisNexis for Development Professionals) or even Google. Those few extra seconds to find updated information are so valuable in keeping your donors and prospects connected to your organization. Remember, it’s much more cost-effective to retain donors than find new ones, so don’t mark donors as “invalid address” unless your search comes up empty.

Likewise, if the trail of breadcrumbs comes to an end and you can’t find the new information, mark the donors appropriately. You will save yourself time and money in the long-run by not continuing to mail to undeliverable addresses and not trying to locate the updated address all over again for your next mailing.

Are you short-staffed or don’t have the resources to locate new information or develop a database clean-up schedule? Contact Brittany at for help you tackle these critical projects!

Stay tuned for the next segment of database clean up next week.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to my longtime friend and colleague Heather Barber (of Corning Community College) for her suggestion to feature database clean-up this month!


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