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CRM Cleanup

  • 1.  CRM Cleanup

    Posted 17 days ago
    As some of you may remember, I reached out to the community a few weeks ago for CRM recommendations. I am still working to assess whether it makes sense to leave our current platform (DonorPerfect) and still welcome feedback! Either way, I know it's imperative to clean the information in our database which leads me to my next question for the group...

    I have found that our organization lists both spouses on one record. The husband is listed as the main person on the record and the wife is listed in the Spouse/Partner field. I personally don't think this is a good practice and would like to break out each person into their own record. The tricky thing is determining which contact information belongs to each partner and how to credit gifts and event registration to each spouse. Has anyone else gone through a similar process? How did you determine which information to save in each individual record? 

    Another piece of the data cleanup process is trying to fill in birth dates. Our organization has never tracked that information. Does anyone have recommendations for a good place to start collecting that? Or examples of communications in which you requested specific information from constituents? 

    I appreciate all of your help!

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    Heather Socha
    Director of Development
    Green Mountain Valley School
    hsocha@gmvs.org
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  • 2.  RE: CRM Cleanup

    Posted 16 days ago
    Starting cleanup like this is a great idea if you're considering a new CRM as not every system supports "name only" spouses like that.  We did some cleanup like that a few years ago.
    • For each partner getting a new record we assumed the home address was the same and if there was a home telephone number that it was also the same. We had some contact info tracked with comments or other indicators that it belonged to the spouse rather than the primary record and were able to use that information.
    • You can sometimes tell from email addresses who it really belongs to, but that's a manual process.
    • Since the majority of our constituents that we were cleaning up were alumni with a non-alum spouse, we decided not to do anything about the giving. It didn't make sense to go back and adjust contributions so the new spouse record got credit because of the time it would take and all the things we didn't know about date of marriage, etc. We simply started recording joint giving from the point where the cleanup was done. If we have a situation where we need to correct this due to divorce or so a widow(er) has accurate giving on his or her record we deal with that on a one-off basis.
    • Depending on how your database is set up, this can get even trickier when you start looking at other relationships. If these are parents, you'll want to make sure they're both linked to the students record. We had "name only" relationships in addition to the spouses, so a record for the kid and a record for the dad might both have the mom's name on them and both need to be cleaned up. This created a lot of cleanup for as as we had multiple kids with parents and step-parents and all with "name only" links between records.
    Keep in mind that once you do this you'll need to be more careful about "householding" your mailings and emails so you're not sending double. Depending on the reporting tools you use and the sophistication of your Advancement Services staff this can be challenging.

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    Lianna Bodzin
    Assistant Director of Advancement Services
    Colorado School of Mines
    lbodzin@mines.edu
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  • 3.  RE: CRM Cleanup

    Posted 16 days ago
    Hi Heather,
    Lianna has given quite a few great, practical tips on how to go on splitting these records. 

    I wish to add a few more points:
    1. As mentioned earlier, the motivation to break the records into individuals is a great idea.
    • However, while you do this, especially since you have DonorPerfect, you will need to devise a mechanism for tying the spouses together so as to identify them as each others' spouses. This can be done in a few different ways: either create a family id and store it in a custom file in the individual's record, or use organizations to denote families in addition to storing the organizations themselves, etc. The best-fit approach will depend on your use of this data. 
    • It may also be helpful to designate someone as "primary contact" for a household. 
    • Lianna made a great point about tracking further relationships. Especially since you belong to a school, eventually there may be value in collecting additional family details like kids, grandparents, relationships etc. While performing the aforementioned clean-up, it may make sense to keep these futuristic aspects in view as well. Although this is tricky in DonorPerfect, it's possible to do (but a few other CRM's have a stronger data model to support this).
    2. You did not list how many records you have in your database, but if you have few-to-several thousand records, then you might be better off using some sort of automation or script to perform this split. Typically, the script development may take a few weeks but it can handle thousands of records and process them. Scripting approach does have limitations too -- but in general, this approach proves to be more efficient than the manual approach.

    Hope this helps. If you wish to discuss any of the above aspects further, feel free to contact me for a no-obligation conversation!

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    Medha Nanal
    CEO & Principal
    Top Cloud Consulting
    medhananal@topcloudconsult.com
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  • 4.  RE: CRM Cleanup

    Posted 15 days ago
    Heather, while I appreciate the thoughtful responses of the other two who have responded, I would respectfully suggest you leave your system alone in this regard, at least until you have decided what system you are going to.  For example, if you were to decide to go to Raiser's Edge, dividing the spouses into separate records could be a mistake.  RE is designed so that in most cases, couples share one record.  It has no gender expectations -- either person in a different-gender or same-gender couple can be the "main" constituent and the other can be the "non-constituent spouse" -- but it is based, as I understand it, on the premise that in most cases, from a fundraising perspective, couples are a single entity.  We mail them, meet them, ask them, recognize them, etc. as a single unit in most cases.  While RE has soft credits to share giving credit between records, especially for spouses where each has its own record, it does not have "soft-like" credit for Notes, Actions, all that's on the Prospect tab (Ratings, Proposals/Opportunities, etc.), Attributes (custom fields), Addressees and Salutations, etc.  And I agree as a career-long fundraiser: most couples are a single entity from a fundraising perspective.  And when that's not the case, RE has functionality built in to handle addressing just the main constituent and the ability to handle two-constituent couples when the situation warrants it.  While there are people I respect who might take a different opinion on this in RE specifically, I would recommend you wait until you figure out what system you're going to and how it handles this situation before you make such a major foundational change.  It is far easier to promote non-constituent spouses than to undo that.  I mean this with all due humility and respect, but "I personally don't think this is a good practice" shouldn't be the rationale for such a change, but instead you should focus on the design and functionality of the new system and what works optimally in that.  :) 

    This is not a recommendation that you go to RE, I'm just using it as an example that different systems handle this differently, so wait until you've finalized your decision and met with your conversion consultant or team and get their take and others' on how this works in that system.

    Finally, I would add that knowing which data belongs to which person in the couple is needed in RE, and probably other systems as well (I don't know about DP), so you might still have cleanup ahead of you even if you keep one record per couple.  Do the research in advance and be ready to work with your conversion team to get each person's data to the right place, but I would hold off on making separate records until you know.  I hope this is helpful.  :)  Bill

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    Bill Connors
    Independent Consultant on Raiser's Edge
    Bill Connors, CFRE
    bill@billconnors.com
    https://billconnors.com
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  • 5.  RE: CRM Cleanup

    Posted 13 days ago
    I would second the suggestion that you determine first how your new system could handle householding and make your decision part of the selection process and deployment.

    However, organizations I have worked for have regretted putting spouses into one record. At one time we put them together and then took them back apart.

    Separate, householded records allow for more nuance with cultivation, stewardship, and event management, as well as tracking employment and other relationships that pertain to just one spouse.

    If you do decide to maintain one record, reconsider always making the male spouse the main constituent in a male/female couple. This is very problematic when a) the woman is the primary decision maker for household philanthropy; b) the woman is a board member, committee member, or volunteer; c) the woman's employer or other community relationships are also significant to your fundraising efforts.

    The old rule of thumb was to make the check signer the main constituent (or Head of Household). Online and other modes of giving have made it more difficult. My impression is that women tend to sign the checks, but the billing name for online gifts tends to be the man's. Separate, householded records solve the issue of attribution while keeping the giving history together as long as the couple stays together.

    Mary Ann

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    Mary Ann Coyle
    Director of Advancement Services
    Childrens' Hospital Foundation of Richmond
    macoyle@chfrichmond.org
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