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Deleting Database Records - Yes/No?

  • 1.  Deleting Database Records - Yes/No?

    Posted 30 days ago

    Hello. We are in the process of converting our database to Blackbaud. As part of that process we are cleaning up our current system and have considered moving some records to a historical in-house database (vs permanently deleting). Segmentation would include records that meet criteria such as:  deceased never gave; deceased and gave more than 10-years-ago; non-donor records with no assigned solicitor; SYBUNT records more than 10-years-old, etc.

    It occurred to me we need to leave in anyone who has opted out of philanthropy so we don't put them back in the database as a new Grateful Patient referral. What other landmines are we not thinking about? What does your organization data hygiene and records policy look like? I am eager for feedback and always grateful for examples of documentation.

    Many thanks,

    Traci Lucas

    Traci Lucas
    Director of Philanthropy
    Ochsner Health

  • 2.  RE: Deleting Database Records - Yes/No?

    Posted 30 days ago

    Good morning, Traci –


    If you think you may ever need/wish to perform fundraising analysis for more than 10 years in the past, you may want to ensure you include all of those individuals in the new database.  Similarly, you may wish to include deceased people who have relationships (e.g. father, mother, etc.) with people who you plan to move over to the new database. 


    My general inclination is to leave records in the database – even in the case of deceased never-givers – unless it's a matter of merging duplicate records together. 


    That's just my two cents...


    Michael Halverson, Ed.D.
    Senior Director of Advancement Services
    Loyola University Chicago
    T. 312-915-7283 | C.
    320-363-4987 |



  • 3.  RE: Deleting Database Records - Yes/No?

    Posted 30 days ago
    I agree with Michael.  If they were important enough to create they might be important enough to retain.  You never know.  I have seen many unexpected gifts come in twenty-plus years after nothing.

    You can always "inactivate" records you want to keep out of list pulls and reports.  But call me a pack-hound - I don't like getting rid of anything when storage isn't an issue.


    John Taylor

    Big ideas; small keyboard

  • 4.  RE: Deleting Database Records - Yes/No?

    Posted 29 days ago
    I like moving some records to a historical in-house database, so long as you know what it will take to get reporting out of that database. It's not enough to save the data, there has to be a process in place for accessing it too. 

    In general, I've found that Higher Ed institutions, who anticipate lifelong relationships with alumni, tend to keep everything. Advocacy orgs, that cycle through enormous numbers of leads and small-money donors tend to have a shorter time horizon on what they keep. Grassroots giving benefits a lot more from cleaning up the DB of these types of exceptions than major giving does. Perhaps that should factor into your rules for which records to keep around.

    In terms of other landmines, think about soft credits. Some of your described searches might bring up donors who have extensive soft credits, eg spouses, DAF givers, etc. I would also be on the lookout for folks like government officials, who might be on mailing lists but who won't have any gift history -- or Foundation and corporate officer records.

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

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