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4 reasons why good data quality is essential for charities

I have a bit of an alarming statistic for you…

Organisations believe 30% of their contact data is inaccurate. Yes, almost one-third of their data.

We’re more connected to smart technology than ever and demand more personalised, seamless experiences across every single touchpoint. Charities or not-for-profits (NFP) aren’t immune from this and delivering a seamless experience to supporters, and gaining their trust and loyalty, (along with a host of other good stuff) requires good quality data as a fundamental starting point.

We work with a number of leading charities to help deliver a solid foundation of accurate contact data that will support targeted fundraising and better insight. It’s a topic that we’ll be covering in more detail at the IOF’s Insight in Fundraising Conference and so with that in mind, I wanted to give a summary of my top reasons why accurate contact data matters more than ever for charities.

1) Improve your reputation and supporter experience

It’s no accident this is the top reason. Our research shows the number one priority for 2018 for the not-for-profit sector was improving supporter experience.

Whether you’re engaging with your supporters through direct mail, email, online or over the phone - accurate contact data will help your fundraising efforts to be as effective and efficient as possible. You’ll be able to target your supporters with the right messages, at the right time, in the right place and see better returns from these outreach efforts. Our research showed 75% of organisations said they’d seen a return on investment from data quality solutions.

Without putting too blunt a point on it, trust in charity has shown no real movement since 2016, with just 51% agreeing that charities are trustworthy. But this doesn’t have to be the case. With accurate contact data you can target supporters with appropriate messages and use suppression to avoid contacting those you shouldn't such as the unfortunate situation of upsetting bereaved relatives if inappropriate letters, emails or calls are made.

In today’s digital age, consumers have high expectations. They expect seamless experiences, due to the exceptional experiences they receive in other sectors, such as retail, so the NFP sector must keep up.

2) Build more efficient day-to-day operations

Behind improving supporter experience, gaining cost efficiencies was a top priority for 2018. From successful GiftAid submission to pulling data for email campaigns and calling your supporters - all of this takes an unnecessary amount of time and is less likely to give you the results you want if the quality of your data isn’t up to scratch.

52% of donors said they used GiftAid on their donations so to make the most of this you want to ensure the contact data in your submission files is valid and correct. And if you’re using direct mail you can ensure you’re not wasting resources by mailing people at old addresses.

“The less waste of mailing unknown and gone away’s means that we can direct more philanthropic support towards the care and support provided to our patients, their families and carers”. Marc Stowell - Head of Fundraising, Royal Trinity Hospice

You can read more on how Royal Trinity Hospice saved time and money through data cleansing in our case study here.

3) Support your regulatory efforts

Regulation is an increasingly important aspect of today’s digital world and aims to ensure the privacy and protection of data subjects is respected. However, our 2018 Global Data Management research found that 68% of businesses across all industries also believe that increasing volumes of data make it difficult to meet their regulatory requirements.

You’re probably sick of hearing about the GDPR by now and it’s only one of the many regulations that organisations need to be conscious of. But it’s important to bear in mind that the GDPR is actually an opportunity to better your relationship with supporters and build trust and a greater reputation, in fact, 72% believed it presented an opportunity to refine their data management strategy.

However, the 25th May 2018 wasn’t the end of the GDPR…

Keeping your contact data up-to-date and accurate over time is essential to ensure you maintain your compliance efforts and respond to subject access requests (SARs), data loss events and the other requirements of the GDPR and similar data-related regulations.

More on how we can help your regulatory efforts here.

4) Pave the way for future innovation

Now for the fun part…

Once you have the foundations of good quality data you’re in a good position to be innovative and take your supporter experience, communications and brand to the next level.

This could be in the form of the creation of a universal supporter view, one that moves beyond a traditional notion of a more technical single customer (or supporter) view to one that combines analytics with database technology and data enrichment to develop a deeper, more meaningful understanding of customers, their needs and motivations.  

Once you have this in place, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can do with it.

A real-life example of charities doing cool things with data is Marie Curie’s The Great Daffodil Appeal which encouraged people to collect money for the charity on the high street. In action, this meant they gathered their supporter’s geolocation data and matched this with its database of collection sites.

They used this information to create a real-time personalised map in an email campaign, detailing the supporter’s nearest collection sites. They used modelling to build a target population and drive persona-driven messaging based on collection history and previous interactions with Marie Curie. And the results? The campaign boosted registrations year on year – especially online sign ups.

According to charities and NFPs, the biggest data-driven opportunity in the next 5 years is analytics and 43% are planning an analytics project in 2018. This and any of the above initiatives will fail to achieve their objectives and see little to no return for your organisation if the foundational data driving them isn’t up to scratch.

Don’t miss out on your chance to do the fun stuff because you don’t have the basics in place!

Where to start

In summary, here are 3 actionable tips you can implement to make the most of your data and enhance your fundraising efforts.

  1. Use validation tools: Using email, mobile and address validation at point of capture will ensure only valid data is entering your system. And a bulk cleanse will clean all the data you already hold.
  2. Consider suppression data: Using suppression data on top of contact data validation can offer benefits that are particularly relevant to charities. For example, you can avoid the unfortunate situation of upsetting bereaved relatives if inappropriate letters, emails or calls are made. You can also identify supporters who have moved house by using the Gone Away Suppression file. For organisations with tight budgets, this is a very useful activity because it avoids the wastage and manual effort spent dealing with mailing people who no longer live at the address you have. It also helps with fraud risk reduction, ensuring that you’re more likely to reach the right person.
  3. Enhance your data: We’ve also got an extensive array of datasets that will give you even more insight and a greater understanding of your supporters beyond what you know of them from your own data. This will help you better target your communications and create more personalised experiences.

Read more about how our tailored data quality solutions can help your not-for-profit organisation here.