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.
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: HejnalA@si.edu