For the final installment of database clean-up, let’s talk about required fields. We often think to ourselves, “why do I need to mark any field as ‘required?’ Doesn’t everyone know that you need to include an addressee in every individual record?” Yes, any savvy development professional and database user knows that in order to create a mail merge, you need to include fields like addressees and salutations, but the idea of required fields is not always that simple. It’s about ensuring the accuracy of your data.
With staff turnover, new users and multiple staff members with the ability to edit constituent records, there is always room for human error. If someone has a whole stack of updates to make and is feeling rushed for time (and let’s be fair, who hasn’t?), it’s easy to forget a field here and there. Before you know it, you are exporting your next annual appeal mailing list and important information is missing. This is where required fields come in.
Based on the needs of your organization, create a list of required fields for your constituent records. These can be different for individual and organization records, of course. Typical fields that are required could be Last Name, Prefix, Addressee, Salutation, and Constituent Code, among others. However, your organization might have needs that go beyond these required fields. For example, in some organizations, it could be really important to know in which county the donor lives so you can include them in communications about local affinity groups. In Raiser’s Edge, the county field is slightly “hidden” within the address tab and is not located on the constituent landing page with the address. To make sure every address added or changed includes this information, why not make it required?
Obviously, the idea is not to make every single field required (that would be a nightmare); but by strategically thinking about your data and how it is inputted, you have a greater chance of successful exports and reports.
Do you have additional questions about data clean-up? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for help!