Data Stewardship Matters for Your Organization

CRMs and other technology solutions provide an invaluable asset: a place to store data. It's usually easy to put data in, but it can be challenging to get data out and understand how data health is impacting your success. That's not transparent at all. When your CRM is full of low quality, incomplete, outdated, or just plain wrong  data, it's not serving you. That's why data stewardship is so important.

Bad mailing addresses are costing you $1,850 per year.

For every email address you don't have, you are wasting $10 per year.

While direct mail is the industry's old faithful, donors and organizations are moving online. When you don't have an email for someone, you can't send them email. The only way you can reach them is through direct mail. On average, it costs about $2.50 to print, pay for postage, and send a mail piece. If you mail four times a year, each donor costs you about $10 just to make solicitations.

If you asked the question "how's our email doing?", where would you look to answer that question? Could you find the number of donors in your CRM that don't have an email address? What data would help you feel confident providing an answer to your CEO or board of directors?

You could pull campaign reports to understand basic things like open rates, clicks, and bounces. You would have some information to inform your next steps, but this is an assessment of campaign performance, not email data health. Through data stewardship, you can dig deeper and answer more specific questions. How many donors have more than one email address? Are opt-in and opt-out metrics tracked? What percent of donors have an email address on file? How many email addresses in the database have an invalid format? There are dozens, if not hundreds, more questions to ask... about email alone!

Strong data stewardship makes it easy to answer big questions about data health.

If your CRM and other technology partners are tracking the right data, they can help you transform deceptively simple questions into nuanced discussions. You alone aren't responsible for practicing good data stewardship. You are busy doing what you do best: making the world a better place. In the hustle of launching programs and building relationships with donors, data stewardship is an important practice that can quickly slide down your list of priorities. Your technology partners should have tools in place to help you assess your data health, and also to think of smarter questions to ask.