Charity Data Cleansing
Charity Data Cleansing
Charities have come under increasing scrutiny in terms of their use of data, and the importance of appropriately contacting supporters. For many charities there’s an obvious way to improve their performance and effectiveness, through regular data management processes to clean and keep their databases up to date.
Many bureau can support a charity through deduplication, data (name and address) standardisation and enhancement. Really this can be the “easy part”, with the difficult thinking in working out how to apply this back into a live database environment, with the available proprietary components.
Adroit are able to go several stages further than most in offering a service which will help apply changes and cleanses back into The Raiser’s Edge, a platform in common use by many charities and not for profit organisations.
In a recent exercise, Adroit worked with a major UK charity to cleanse and improve their entire database, developing specific rules and utilities to work in helping them to consolidate and update records back into The Raiser’s Edge.
The data was audited and a specific set of processes were sequenced to improve the data. A hierarchy of over 40 audiences was developed that needed separate rules applied in the cleansing process, as well as individual audience reporting. By working with an offline copy of their data i.e. a “Sandbox” version of The Raiser’s Edge, the internal data services team at the organisation were able to see the impact of different rulesets on the system. The use of subsidiary systems like Scanstore to hold scanned gift aid declarations, means specific rules and logic need to be developed to ensure that active gift aid records become the primary record in a duplicate group. If the incorrect record is chosen as the primary record important gift aid income could be lost. Raiser’s Edge uses Non Constituent Records to associate individuals with a supporter, e.g. in the case of “Mr & Mrs” donations. However these records need to be promoted to be treated in their own right. Adroit developed a utility to do this, and found that many of these records in fact existed in their own rights and were therefore duplicates, that might have been incorrectly communicated with.
A specific ruleset was designed to merge contact information and ensure best practice compliance was achieved, without losing information. The end re-import of data was run out of hours to minimise impact, and involved over 20 individual re-import files. Deceased and Gone-Aways were flagged, but gone-aways were also retraced, necessitating an iterative standardisation and deduplication process. Duplicates were consolidated using David Zeidman’s Mergician utility, with additional scripting and logic developed by Adroit to define the duplicate hierarchy, and present duplicates as appropriate consolidation pairs.
The end result, the cleanest database the organisation has ever had, acknowledged by both the client and other parties working with the data. The benefits are extremely wide-ranging to different stakeholders in the organisation, improving campaign results, reporting and of course most importantly, the correct and appropriate contacting of supporters.