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Increase in Response Rates By Using Clean Data


We appreciate your ongoing support. The last time we were in CITY FIELD BLANK, I had a chance to speak to your friends and neighbours about NOTE: DOG CAMPAIGN TO BE NAMED LATER.

Please consider donating again this year.


That’s the kind of relationship-busting mailing that is sure to sink a campaign quickly. But it happens a lot more than you think. Direct marketers often serve-up this type of mailing because address, name data or other information is carelessly used for “personalized communication.”

Bad data is killing your personalized fundraising campaigns. Click To Tweet

I mention this because last month a new client happily reported that our data clean-up contributed to a noticeable increase in donations over their previous year’s campaign. I was thrilled. Obviously I was happy for their success and the boost it gave to their charity. But I was equally happy because this result served as a further support of data scrubbing tactics we’ve been refining for years. And, when these updates were uploaded into their CRM, the benefits continue for years to come.

How can you benefit from clean data? Well you’ll be able to avoid these scenarios:

The “old friend, who’s name you cannot remember”

When you bump into an old friend, an ex-colleague or someone who helped you out of a tight spot and you forget his/her name and then go on to botch his wife’s name too, how does that reflect on you as a person?  

Your name data serves the same purpose for donors. It makes them feel wanted, valued and cared about. So spend some time manually cleaning it up. Start with your most recent donors and then your largest ones or most frequent. Just output a spreadsheet with their name, company and address fields and manually update the odd-looking stuff. Here are are a few things to look for:

  • Several names in a First Name field (Sally and Bob)
  • Several names in a Company Name field (they all gave at a company fundraiser)
  • Messages to telemarketers and door-to-door marketers in the address fields (big dog, Bob deceased)
  • Duplicates of the same person such as B. Smith, Bob and Robert Smith or Sally & Bob Smith.  

That is a good start. But there are literally hundreds of ways that these few fields can be corrupted. And each one has potential to damage your organization’s relationship with a donor.

The “Did you move? I keep sending Christmas cards to your old address”

18% of Canadian households move every year. If you care to nurture the relationship you have with a donor over a long period then you need to know when they move.  There are widely available NCOA (National Change of Address) services that help identify movers — even some deceased individuals.

In the US, the post office requires this update for all large mailings. Here in Canada, it’s left up to the mailer. And many can’t be bothered! That’s too bad because it provides great ROI value. We tested donor mailing segments of NCOA-processed versus no NCOA and found larger gift amounts and response rates when lists are processed with NCOA. It more than pays for itself in a single campaign and many times over when you think of the cumulative donations you’re likely to receive over decades.  

I wish I could offer some tips on how to remember the name of that old friend you’re probably going to bump into at the upcoming holiday party. I’ve been there many times and it is humiliating and embarrassing.  

But since it’s an election week I’ll leave you with this. I once heard that all the great politicians are remarkable with names. Bill Clinton was renowned for meeting people once and getting their name right years later. It worked for him and might work for your organization.

Do you have a dirty data problem? We can help. Send me a note now and we’ll get things cleaned up in time for your holiday campaigns.


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