Dirty data will get you nowhere…except broke

I moved in April of this year. It is now nearly August. I am surprised not a single non-profit organisation – school, university, cultural, environmental, health, medical research, or other type of organisation, has found where I now live. If it were not for Australia Post’s mail redirection service, I would have lost contact with every organisation I support.

Millions of Australians move each year. Few, only on rare occasions, take the time to tell the charities they support of their move. Charities are the last to learn someone has moved. Most individuals will not inform the charity through a proactive channel – a call, email or some other communication.Dirty Data

So, where does this leave the charity? In the dark unless the charity actively searches for constituents who have moved and seeks new contact details.

When I signed up for the Australia Post mail redirection service prior to the move, I was given the option to opt in, to allow, or opt out, to not allow, Australia Post to pass along my new address to for profit and non-profit organisations (including charities I support). This works only if I opted in and if those charitable organisations seek the new details. The important point here – if a charity does not ask for the information from a supplier in the marketplace, the charity does not receive the information.

After three months, none of the more than 180 charities I support seem to have engaged with a supplier to seek new contact details for any constituent who has moved over the last quarter. How do I know this to be true? Every piece that has reached me at my new address has arrived due to the Australia Post Mail redirection service and not directly with my new details.

Ask a few questions in your office today:

  • When was the last time our organisation performed a data cleanse? One year ago? Never? Best practice suggests data cleansing should be performed on your data set at least one time per year.
  • If our organisation has done a data cleanse prior, what was the process? What exactly did our organisation acquire in the data cleansing process? Who was the internal champion/lead and what supplier(s) did we use?
  • What was our biggest challenge when we did the data hygiene process? Importing the data into our CRM? Some other obstacle we need to overcome? Most organisations faced one or more pain points and this has caused the staff of the organisation to be shy (or prefer to have a root canal) over doing another data hygiene process. For others, the fear of the unknown overpowers good decisions.

The benefits of data cleansing are many, including:

  • Reduced costs. Mailing only to those for whom we have a well structured address
  • Reduced waste. Materials and Postage
  • Donor retention

The cost to acquire a new donor is high. Why risk losing the donor simply because the donor has moved and not informed the charity through direct means of the move. Donors and prospects who once heard from your organisation and no longer receive communications, solicitations, or donor care pieces will think you no longer are interested in a relationship. In fact, you are interested it is simply you do not know their contact details.

Data enhancement. Learn:

  • who lives in which type of dwelling
  • who has children and who has grandchildren
  • various wealth indicators
  • who meets other lifestyle characteristics you will find valuable in fundraising efforts

What happens in an address hygiene process? Your addresses are structure to meet Australia Post standards, i.e. apartment numbers are placed in the proper position and street, avenue, Lane and others are abbreviated, etc. A Delivery Point Identifier (DPID) number is assigned (a unique identifier assigned to each of our households). The data will be matched with the Australia Post Postal Address File (PAF) and other consumer files to return not only new addresses, but enhanced data.

Think about the return on investment in data cleansing. There will be some upfront costs for supplier(s) and data acquired. Nonetheless, those upfront costs will be minor compared to monies saved and donations received. The investment will pay multiple dividends.

Where do you begin? Find a supplier in the market who has the expertise to take you through the entire process and who understands the data you should acquire. FundraisingForce is one such supplier working with data hygiene partners with years of experience in this space. Together, we will assist your organisation to achieve better results and reach constituents who have moved like millions of others this year.

Your spring appeal and Christmas appeal are just around the corner. Take the time now to invest in the file, to cleanse it, and to prepare for the best appeal season possible.