Bad Data Stewardship Will Ultimately Cost You Serious Money

Bad data means lost donors and lost donations

If you are not regularly updating your donor database and practicing good data stewardship with NCOA processing, deceased suppression and data enhancements, you are losing touch with donors and as a result losing money.

Imagine that you have a mailing list of 1,000 donors. If just 12% of those donors move between mailings, that's 120 donors you'll lose touch with. That's 120 lost engagement opportunities, 120 gifts you never asked for, and 120 stamps you didn't need to buy. Check out the table below to see how quickly that impacts your fundraising.

donor retention

This problem compounds over time

If you do nothing to manage your donors' data, in five years time you've lost nearly half of the donors in your database along with their donations.


Given that change of address information is consumer reported, you will never totally eliminate returned mail or maintain a perfectly updated database. However, you can take simple and affordable steps to keep your database as up to date as possible.

  1. Put someone in charge. Given the importance of data management, it only makes sense that someone should be in charge of maintaining it.
  2. Create standard procedures. Establish data entry procedures to maintain data quality from the start. If address data is entered incorrectly it can prevent a match when trying to update it, even if the original address was technically deliverable.
  3. Perform regular NCOA updates, deceased suppression and data enhancements.
    • The USPS requires that mailers update their mailing list 95 days before the mailing date to meet the Move Update Standard and qualify for non-profit and bulk mail discounts.
    • Deceased suppression will cut mailing costs. More importantly, it's showing respect to your donors and will allow you to honor their support of your organization and will protect your brand.
    • Data enhancements allow you to segment your database and create customized and memorable messaging.
  4. Perform regular manual updates. No update method is perfect. Even with the steps above, you will still receive returned mail. Some percentage of donors will not file a change of address form when they move. The only way to update address information for these individuals is to...
  5. Stay in regular touch with your donors. Even without valid address information, you will often have email, or phone contact information. When your receive a returned piece of mail you may need to reach out and verify their mailing address.

Give us a try...

Register now for TrueGiver's CRM Data Hygiene and Enhancement Services for fully automated hands-off data updates.