Cleaning up bad data can require a significant investment in time—perhaps six months or more—just to get files in shape for an effective mailing. What's more, you have to be vigilant about maintaining data integrity. Preventing bad data isn?t simply a matter of programming your software. Rather, you must take steps on a regular basis to ensure that you are maintaining quality data. Nothing is more important than your data—even your fundraising software or any other tools you use are only as good as the data you put in.
Keep in mind that the codes you use in your fundraising software should be an extension of everything you do as an organization. One mistake that many users make is not understanding the use of fields in fundraising software as they relate to the company's efforts. For instance, your Appeals code should spell out your marketing plan or development plan of action for a given year—whether you have done such a plan in the past or not. You may have been filling out the Activity code for a Donor/Prospect record without realizing what that value really means to your organization.
You have to be clear on what you want to achieve with your fundraising software, including what you need it to do for you and what you want it do to for you. Once you have established this, you will realize the importance of maintaining data consistency at a higher level. Developing a policy/procedures manual is crucial, as a proper manual will reduce training time, increase productivity, and ensure consistent data. Documented procedures help employees make decisions with an authoritative source for answering questions. A well-developed and documented manual also ensures compliance with regulatory agencies.
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