By: Stu Manewith, Director of Thought Leadership and Advocacy at Omatic Software
The concept of ‘data-driven’ nonprofits is still as valid as ever. The challenge that nonprofits in 2021 are facing is that while data is great and all, there is just so much of it and it all comes at you, nonstop, from so many places.
And 2020 didn’t help. According to Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Trends Report (3rd Edition), 71% of organizations surveyed had to accelerate their move to digital programs or events last year due to the pandemic. That meant more platforms, more apps, and more disconnected locations that collect and aggregate data. It’s easy to end up with a lot of data silos, none of which provide a full picture of a supporter’s overall involvement.
When supporter information remains segregated, fundraising initiatives can be crippled. This is because fundraisers — up and down the pyramid — miss out on fundamental information that can help them better build relationships, effect the best possible messaging, and elicit support to further the mission. And worse, when some of that siloed information is stale or just plain wrong, relationships with supporters can actually be damaged.
So when you use a main CRM database, such as Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), along with an assortment of ‘satellite’ systems for online giving, fundraising events, email marketing, eCommerce, volunteers, and the like, data integrity has to be top of mind. Otherwise, users of your data will be working at a disadvantage and the concept of ‘data-driven’ flies out of the window.
The 3 Cs of Nonprofit Data Integrity
Data integrity can be boiled down to three Cs — currency, cleanliness, and completeness. When a nonprofit’s Salesforce database is current, clean, and complete, data can be used confidently and strategically to drive increased donor acquisition and retention. Cogent messaging and other fundraising interactions can employ that very data to create a personalized and compelling experience for prospects and existing donors alike. Here’s what it means to have your data integrity aligned with the three Cs.
1. You Want Your Data Current
The freshness of a nonprofit’s data will directly inform how it’s perceived — and received — by donors and other supporters. You store supporter data in various systems. If you fail to consolidate that information in a timely manner, or if it somehow gets lost in the shuffle, your Salesforce system can quickly become out of date and stale.
For example, if direct marketing segments are pulled before the most current gifts have been entered from donation pages, contacts may be pulled into the wrong groups and sent inappropriate solicitation messaging. If event participation is not up to date in Salesforce, contacts may either be sent the wrong event information or sent nothing at all related to the event in question. And if email preferences are not current in Salesforce, contacts may be sent the wrong email at the wrong time.
Data integrity can be boiled down to three Cs — currency, cleanliness, and completeness.
2. You Want Your Data Clean
The greatest enemy of credibility with supporters is unhygienic data. This includes everything from inaccurate biographical and mailing information to duplicate records to contact names with improper casing (eg, “scarlet oneill” rather than “Scarlet O’Neill”). And with more and more biographical data coming into main systems from external online sources, often it’s supporters themselves who unintentionally mistype their own information.
Standard import tools often don’t catch these errors and will create new duplicate records for individuals if, for example, their incoming email address does not match the email address on the existing record. Think of this scenario — Scarlet O’Neill, a donor already in Salesforce, makes a new online gift of $100, but inadvertently mistypes her email address.
The standard import doesn’t match her mistyped email with her actual email, and incorrectly creates a new (duplicate) record for her but with a bad email address. The giving history on her actual record is now understated. She also gets no gift acknowledgement because of the erroneous email address. This situation has now become ‘unclean’ on so many levels!
3. You Want Your Data Complete
When data is maintained in silos, nobody within the organization has a complete picture of their supporters. Just as bad, nobody can get an effective handle on groups of supporters that have characteristics in common — because information about them is fragmented and maintained separately.
By effectively consolidating data from various source systems into the main CRM database, users across the organization are afforded a full, comprehensive, and complete picture of every supporter. And, just as important, fundraisers and marketers can effectively and confidently build segments of supporters with common characteristics. This permits donors and prospects — individually or in groups — to be engaged in the most meaningful, effective ways possible.
One Approach to Address The 3 Cs
Effective integration software can ensure that data from all external sources is incorporated into your Salesforce system in a timely and efficient manner, so that information is always fresh and current. Integration software built especially for nonprofits can ensure that your Salesforce database is always clean and free of duplicates by using sophisticated matching criteria to indicate whether a ‘new’ record from an external source is actually already in the CRM. Further, the software can also properly ‘case’ contact and account names. And it can translate input abbreviations such as ‘LA’ to ‘Los Angeles’ or ‘Beantown’ to ‘Boston’.
Nonprofit integration software makes it easy and effortless to consolidate data from ancillary systems into Salesforce, so that system users always have a complete picture of donors and other supporters. And, assuming it’s an uncomplicated process, Salesforce can be updated daily or as often as is necessary.
Unanticipated Strategic Outcomes
Following deployment, organizations have been known to marvel about their integration software and how quickly the gift information and biographical updates get into the system. No more working overtime or sacrificing weekends or vacations for tedious administrative tasks.
But the unanticipated benefit of current, clean, and complete data is as much strategic as tactical. High-quality data — integrated into Salesforce expediently — can give fundraisers the head start they need when pulling marketing segments so that campaigns are never delayed. Discrete segments can be tested based on timely nuances in supporter behavior. And recent donors can be not only thanked sooner, but easily identified and suppressed so as not to get embarrassing re-solicitations so soon after making a gift.
While ‘data-driven’ isn’t about technology per se, technology can make ongoing data integrity easy rather than stressful, so that you can be ‘data-driven’ habitually and confidently. When your data is current, clean, and complete, you will naturally engage and retain donors more effectively, raise more funds, and have more resources for mission delivery. Visit omaticsoftware.com or email [email protected] to learn more.
Learn more about how your organization can get started with Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Success Pack.
About the Author
Director of Thought Leadership and Advocacy at Omatic Software