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Contact Exclusion Codes

  • 1.  Contact Exclusion Codes

    Posted 08-12-2022 03:44 PM

    We are evaluating our email, mail, and phone exclusion code policy, and trying to figure out the best way to manage this in which we respect the constituent's wishes about contact, while not overdoing it and leaving them out of all communications. Would anyone be willing to share their policies on exclusions codes – any information you would be willing to share is great, but a couple of questions we do have are:

    • Do you let your exclusion codes expire? Meaning, do you remove them after a certain amount of time (5 years, 10 years, etc)?
    • How specific do your exclusion codes get in terms of different types of emails, mailings, etc.? Are they a blanket No Email, No Mail, No Phone, or are the specific to different types of emails, mailings, and phone calls?

    Thank you!

    Colleen Deal
    Executive Director of Advancement Services
    Appalachian State University

  • 2.  RE: Contact Exclusion Codes

    Posted 08-12-2022 03:58 PM
    I do not believe an automatic expiration is a good idea.  You have been asked by the donor not to reach them by some (or all) means.  Disregarding that request could create a major donor relations issue.

    Many times on this list, however, we have discussed a periodic confirmation with the donor.  Roughly once every three years, you write the individual, affirm or confirm that you have been honoring their request.  But then asking whether they wish to have the restriction removed.

    The letter informs the individual that they do not need to do anything if they wish to leave things as they are.  However, they can contact you if they wish to remove any or all of the restrictions.

    Most organizations I work with have the following coding:
    • Do not contact (period, by any means)
    • Do not mail
    • Do not phone
    • Do not email
    • Do not solicit
    That last one can be set in addition to the previous three.

    You may also consider an additional "Permanent No Contact."  That's reserved for truly furious individuals who do not even get the once-every-three-years letter.  However, I prefer to create a separate record status code for these folk.  Much like an "Inactive" record does not receive any communications, a "Permanent No Contact" record does the same thing - but for a different reason.

    Some organizations with the technical capabilities offer far more options.  Back in the 2000's we had 37 choices based on colleges and programs.  That could be a bit of an overkill.


    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

  • 3.  RE: Contact Exclusion Codes

    Posted 08-15-2022 09:24 AM
    We considered both the types and means of contact when setting up our contact exclusions. Types are General (newsletters and other information), Solicitations, and Invitations. Means of contact are Mail, Phone, Email, and SMS. If we're asked to not contact a person we mark them "Do Not Contact" but if they unsubscribe from a particular type and means we only remove them from that one. This gives us the ability to respect the request of a person who wants news by email but nothing else, but isn't so granular that constituents have to opt out of every single message we send out.

    Shortly after we came up with this system we did a project where we contacted people who had opted out of communications because there had been a history of opting people out of ALL communication when they asked not to be solicited or not to be mailed to. That was a one-off, though.

    Lianna Bodzin
    Assistant Director of Advancement Services
    Colorado School of Mines

  • 4.  RE: Contact Exclusion Codes

    Posted 08-15-2022 10:41 AM
    We have the same issue in which we have people coded with all of our contact exclusions by the call center from 16 or 17 years ago. Given that so many had all of the codes on them, we are under the impression they did not realize they were opting out for all. Was your project in which you contacted those that opted out, successful? Do you have any recommendations on what worked or what you may have done differently? I think that is a great way to determine what needs to happen with those codes.

    Thank you!

    Colleen Deal
    Executive Director of Advancement Services
    Appalachian State University

  • 5.  RE: Contact Exclusion Codes

    Posted 08-15-2022 10:52 AM
    When we did the same thing (contact no contacts) for the first time at Duke in the 1990s, easily 75% indicated they had never made such a request!  Apparently, phonathon callers and fundraisers were frequently making judgment calls.

    Not only did we then implement the three-year confirmation rule, but we also wrote every individual when we coded their record for one of the exclusions to confirm that was their intention.

    John H. Taylor 
    919.816.5903 (Cell/Text)

    Big Ideas; Small Keyboard