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Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

  • 1.  Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

    Posted 27 days ago
    The University of Notre Dame is in the process of reviewing the required data points for a new constituent to be added to our database.  Currently, we require, First, Last, and Address.  We are finding that more and more there are requests for us to add constituents/prospects with just name and email.  We are also finding that some third-party vendors who facilitate company's payroll deductions are only sending name and email.

    Are any schools/institutions that have been more flexible with the creation and how are you managing them from a data integrity standpoint?

    Patty Herrity
    Director - Advancement Records
    University of Notre Dame

  • 2.  RE: Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

    Posted 27 days ago
    Hi Patty,

    Rules for adding constituents look quite different in different orgs. Advocacy orgs, for example, that do a ton of digital marketing, lead generation and lead nurturing, create constituents based on only an email address - not even name. Some of the issues we've encountered with different clients include:

    • The less information you require, the more you need a strategy and process for enriching donor records. This includes doing data appends and research, but also creating more (usually digital) engagements that offer opportunities for data collection. You have to set up a kind of journey where, over time, a lead/constituent gives you more and more data as they respond to offers you make. This digital lead stewardship is different from traditional donor stewardship.
    • Costs for data systems are frequently wired to the number of records you have. There will be budgetary impact to lowering the bar and making more records
    • Policies and procedures for deactivating, archiving, or expunging inactive constituents need to be reviewed/created and implemented, because you will have more churn at the bottom of your engagement ladder
    There's tons to say here about unified identity management and so forth, but this is a start, at least.

    Thank you,
    Isaac Shalev
    CRM Expert
    Sage70, Inc.
    (917) 859-0151

    Schedule a 30-minute consultation now:

  • 3.  RE: Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

    Posted 27 days ago
    I've always been of the opinion that a name and at least one method of contact would be enough to add a constituent.  Of course, we prefer address as that is easiest to track, but a phone number or an email address definitely fit the bill.  It was hard to get some people out of thinking about needing an address.  In today's world, I don't think it's necessary very much at all for most people.

    Dariel Dixon
    Business Analyst
    REX Healthcare Foundation

  • 4.  RE: Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

    Posted 27 days ago
    I have graduated from the Dariel Dixon School of Thought on this matter.

    One confirmed means of contacting the individual is sufficient to create a record.  Otherwise, if there's a gift involved and I have no way of confirming the validity of the contact point, I'll record the gift on a "Various Donors" record.

    However, I do think there is a deeper conversation here.  We should be asking ourselves, "Exactly what do we plan on doing with the record after we create it?"  If we suspect this to be a one-off donation, much like you might receive for some sort of "thon," with no plans to ever reach out to the donor again, I might not create a record.  Most of the time, I will create that record - and all I need for that is the name and a verified means to communicate with them.


    John H. Taylor
    John H. Taylor Consulting, LLC
    2604 Sevier St.
    Durham, NC   27705
    919.816.5903 (cell/text)

    Serving the Advancement Community Since 1987

  • 5.  RE: Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

    Posted 21 days ago
    In agreement with Dariel and John--you need to have a confirmed method for contacting the individual. For suspected "one and done donors" we use a different constituent code that enables quick exclusion from future solicitations and mailings.

    Jeannie Goings
    Scripps College

  • 6.  RE: Crating a new constituent in your database - required data points?

    Posted 27 days ago

    Interesting topic.


    We would certainly like a first and last name and at least one method of contact to create and entity.


    From our perspective, having just a name doesn't do very much to let us manage our data.  After all, if we had just the name John Smith and we then ran across new activity from someone named John Smith, how would we determine whether that's the same person or a different person?


    We will sometimes create a record without a method of contact if we have some other piece of information that would, at least in theory, identify the constituent, say by triangulation.  If all we have is the name John Smith, that doesn't help much, but if we know that John Smith is a relative of our donor Mary Smith, that at least gives us something to work with, and we'd encourage whatever office/unit initiates the record to flesh it out, if at all possible and at the earliest opportunity.


    I'm also seeing some records created with a name and business information like an employer or a LinkedIn profile.  It's also worth noting that, in some of these cases, the limited-information record is a stub that was created to assign a research task to find out more information, but the initial creation might be just a name and a city and state and maybe some limited identifying information (other than contact information).


    One case that we've been thinking about lately is a gift from a payroll deduction program or an entity like Benevity where all we get is a name, a zip code, plus the amount and purpose of the gift.  If it's an employer, that's one bit more information than if it comes from Benevity, but not much more.


    So far, we've held the line on having at least a first and last name.  Mostly.  We have looked at loading records from a unit's email contact list where we had just an email address and a first name and an initial for the last name-but we kicked back records with just an email address and maybe a first name.  And we have a small number of converted legacy records that are pretty, hmmm, obscure.


    For me, it keeps coming back to whether there is some plausible way to identify that person down the line, from the information that we have, so that we might be able to cultivate a relationship, even if the current information isn't adequate to do that.


    My US$0.02 worth; the usual disclaimers apply.


    Good luck!




    Alan S. Hejnal   

    Data Quality Manager




    Smithsonian Institution - Office of Advancement

    600 Maryland Ave SW Ste 600E

    PO Box 37012, MRC 527

    Washington, DC 20013-7012

    Voice: 202-633-8754 | Email: