Data Health Tips

Five simple steps to increase data health for your organization

Data health and governance can be daunting and easily take a back seat to other priorities within your organization. But without clean data, when it comes time to evaluate campaign performance, analytics can become confusing and frustrating.

So here are five simple ways to impact your data health to reveal accurate and actionable insights:

1. Consistency is key.

Having consistent organizational usage throughout your CRM or donation platform is the most impactful way to boost data health within your organization. This ensures that queries and exports are returning the values you anticipate when creating reports and analysis. A great way to carry this out would be to create a document for data entry standards so there are clear definitions of what should and shouldn’t be entered into your CRM, whether that is for internal staff, volunteers, or external contractors.

2. Give data gold nuggets their own house.

Every organization has specific data points that are impactful to their specific data needs, whether it’s a “Do Not Mail” selection, a recurring designation, or a donor group allocation.  These special data points are the “gold nuggets” for your organization, and it is important to make sure that information is housed within a designated field. Placing data gold nuggets in a tag or catch-all section is like throwing your data gold nuggets in a dumpster, which makes them harder to find later. Don’t throw your gold nuggets in a dumpster. Treat them with the respect they deserve and give them a house in your CRM. If there is not a current field available in your CRM for this information, consider creating a custom field to house it.

3. Create ties between different communications if they belong to the same campaign.

In omni-channel marketing campaigns, multiple communications across various channels should be labelled within your CRM with a consistent “code” or naming convention to help tie those communications together in reports or queries. For example, your organization’s April marketing campaign may consist of a direct mail and email communication, so we could code the direct mail as DM2204 and the email as EA2204. Both codes consist of “2204,” creating a bridge to tie these communications together as a portion of a singular campaign.

4. Avoid using special characters within field values when possible.

Including commas, tabs, returns, and other special characters within field values in your CRM may affect the file format when exporting your data (especially for mailing communications), so avoiding these when possible is recommended to minimize file formatting headaches later when putting together reports or queries.

5. When in doubt, leave it blank.

Filling in fields with “default” values may seem like a good idea to fill in as many CRM fields as possible, but in data, it is all about quality rather than quantity. Don’t know a donor’s phone number? Leave it blank. This helps with data quality and serves as an indicator if most phone number fields are blank, for example, that your organization could leverage a data append service to fill in those gaps with quality information. If the field is required to be filled in by your CRM or donation platform, document these fields and the default value to communicate this data-health nuance to your team.

Incorporating these five simple steps into your organization’s data process can increase the availability of actionable insights, assist in accuracy of analysis, and save your organization time and money with healthier data practices.

For more tips and insight from our senior leadership team around current issues surrounding digital privacy, be sure to listen to the Cause+Effect podcast episode,Digital Privacy: What’s the Balance?

+ More Insights from Dunham+Company: “Data Science – Your New GPS

Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters.