Sparkling Clean Donor Records: Your Fall Clean-Up Project

Fall is in the air!  Can you feel it?!  Well, at least morning temperatures show the promise of cooler days to come.   

I have spent the last couple of weekends “fall cleaning” at home.  There is something about cleaning out closets, reorganizing my pantry, and getting rid of baseboard grime that brings order to my life and makes me feel ready for the mad rush of upcoming autumn activities.  

Fall is also a good time to clean up your donor database and make sure that you will be ready for year-end fundraising and donor communications.  Here are FIVE TIPS for getting your donor records in tip-top shape!

1) Manage overwhelming clean-up by prioritizing your top donors.  Run a list of your top 50-100 donors and review their accounts.  Make sure that you are addressing them with correctly spelled, familiar names (Jenny, not Jennifer) and that any mailing preferences are indicated and clear.    

2) Create a folder of “Clean Up Queries” that you can regularly run to systematize data clean up.  Create dynamic queries for common data entry errors like “Salutation is Blank” or “Address Lines are Blank” and make corrections before exporting your list for a mailing.  

3) Few things are more irritating to donors than receiving several pieces of the same mailing.  Run a duplicates report and ensure that you don’t have multiple accounts for the same donor households.   

4) Use a code for “Special Mail Types” to indicate accounts that you will exclude from mass mailings, such as “International Address”, “No Solicitation Mail,” “No Mail at All” and “VIP”.  Use queries to selectively include/exclude these accounts from mailings.  

5) Run your mailing list through an NCOA (National Change of Address) screening to get updated mailing addresses for folks who have moved or are deceased.  

Remember that the best way to tackle a daunting project like database clean-up is in small, manageable steps.  You’ll be ready for fall fundraising with sparkling clean donor records in no time! 

Have a great week!


Jenny Carrillo, MA, CFRE

Principal Consultant