Measuring the Overall Health of Your Fundraising Database (Part 1 of 4)

When was the last time a database health check was performed on your fundraising database? If you don’t know, then it’s been too long. Your fundraising database should be the first place you look when searching for prospects, beginning a strategic plan or starting a new job. Everyone in your development shop should be utilizing your fundraising database.

Oftentimes databases get cluttered with duplicative records and nonessential information. If this is the case, typically fundraiser and leadership’s faith in the fundraising database wanes and what should be an asset in their toolkit earns the reputation as “untrustworthy.” Luckily, there are a few ways to quickly measure the overall health of your database. Below are four items you can check today, that can help improve your data integrity and database health.

Measuring Your Overall Data Health

Duplicative Constituents

Less than 3% of all records should be duplicative. Most databases have a canned report that allows you to scour the database for duplicative records. Run the report, pare down your duplicates by merging records, and create gift entry standards to curb adding any additional duplicates to the system.

Records with no gift history

Your database should be chock full with records of current or prospective donors. It should not be the phone book. Query your system to see how many of your records are lacking any gifts and not being pursued by a gift officer. If it’s more than 3%, work with your development colleagues to scale it back.

Security Settings

Are you the only one with the keys to the kingdom? Hopefully not, that is not a best practice. Make sure at least two people have super user rights just in case one wins the lottery (not hit by a bus).

Constituent Coding

Your constituent codes are a way to identify large groups of constituents. If you have constituent codes in your system and less than 100 constituents qualify for that code, it should be deleted. For example, ‘former hospital president’ is not a constituent code….that person should be coded as an Individual. Personally, I like to keep to approximately 10 broad constituency codes, but never more than 20.

These are a handful of ways to measure your data integrity and health. Stay tuned for three more parts in this series, including gift entry/pledge management tips, database utilization, and constituent management. Unsure where to start with your database or already looking for more information? Our Database Insights package can help. With Database Insights we review your database against dozens of industry best practices and provide a clear set of enhancements in the areas that need improving. Contact us today to see if Database Insights is right for you!

About Mary Hackett

Mary is a fundraiser & operations strategist who specialized in helping development offices create deep, meaningful experiences for their donors.

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