Database Investment: Are you Driving it to best advantages, or Underutilizing its best resources?

Has your organization invested in a “Mercedes” constituent relational management (CRM) database such as Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge® but find that you are still having difficulty getting it 100% operational?  Are you having challenges with producing accurate reports and analytics in which your organization can have confidence?  Are you preparing for a major campaign yet lack a database implementation plan?  That Mercedes may look great, but the tires are flat and you’re not going anywhere!

One of the most important aspects of successfully managing, tracking and reporting your fundraising initiatives is a reliable database coding and methodology system.  Due to staff changes, organization restructuring, inadequately trained staff members and/or simply a lack of resources, the database often suffers with numerous inefficiencies as time goes on.  The more inefficiencies, the greater the potential for leaving philanthropic dollars on the table.  Are you tracking your philanthropic dollars as well as you could? Here are the top five categories in which database inefficiencies reside:

Security Levels – The database security controls should be clearly identified and defined for each database user and/or user group.  Is your organization protecting the integrity of its database?

NCOA –It is strongly advised that nonprofits process their database through the USPS’s NCOA (National Change of Address) system at least twice a year. Is your database in compliance with the USPS standardization?

Campaign, Fund and Appeal Codes – To run successful campaigns your fundraising initiatives and goals must be both clearly defined and incorporated into your database.  Are you able to manage all aspects of your fundraising efforts in your database?

Incomplete Data – Incomplete biographical and addressee information can be costly and time consuming to correct.  Are you able to successful produce mailings and/or reports without manipulating the data?

Best Business Practices – It is critical to have the appropriate best business practices such as biographical and address standardization implemented in your database structure and methodologies.  Can you demonstrate that you do?

You might want to consider a database analysis and operations assessment to address your information management challenges.  A database analysis consists of an in-depth evaluation of the organization’s database coding structures, security levels, query and reporting methodologies as well as an examination of module utilization, best business practices and overall fundraising management methodologies.   At the conclusion of such an evaluation, the consultant should provide a comprehensive report of the findings and make specific recommendations to help your organization meet the industry standards of database management and reporting.

If you think it’s time for a “tune up,” we’ll be happy to help you determine what you need and create an action plan that is both focused and affordable.

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