Keeping your fundraising database up to date with the latest and most accurate address and contact details should be your highest priority. After all, what is the use of creating segments of supporters in your database to target appeals to when you can’t get in touch with them?
Around 30% (or higher) of most fundraising databases are made up of inactive or lost supporters. The dream for most of us is to locate these supporters so that we can reach out to them again.
In this post, I identify ways to make sure you manage your address and contact data well. This will enable you to reach as many of your supporters as possible in your next appeal.
1. When you acquire a new donor, ask for as many contact details as soon as you can
When acquiring your supporters, do your best to collect the best postal address, all phone numbers (including both mobile and landline) and email addresses. Collecting the email address and mobile number is becoming increasingly important with the drop in use of landline numbers. It is also handy for when people change address, as these numbers will not change as frequently as a landline will.
Having all of this information on file will increase the opportunities for direct marketing, as you can use not only direct mail, but telemarketing, SMS, and the email channels to reach your supporters. You may also want to collect social media handles as well for the same reason.
2. Once you have acquired a supporter, check their contact details regularly
There are many points of contact you will use with your constituents throughout your relationship with them. It is a good idea to regularly check their contact details with them at each point of contact. I am often surprised how infrequently organisations do this. Every time you reach out to them, whether via email, phone, mail or online, you should always ask them if they have changed their address and contact details. Ask for as much contact information as possible, including for information you don’t already have on file for them.
3. Follow up on your return to senders and email bounces as soon as you get them
Return to senders and email bounces are a great excuse to give an ad-hoc call or email to a supporter to see how they are and to ask them for their updated contact details. Check on all of their contact details.
With bounced emails, you need to check on the type of bounce you are getting. They are often described as either “hard” or “soft”. Soft bounces are typically temporary, and it means you should be able to contact the constituent using the same email address later on. Hard bounces, however, are forever, so contact your supporter as soon as this happens to update all of their details. If you don’t know if the bounce is hard or soft, call the supporter anyway. It is better to find out that no contact details have changed than to lose your constituent and not be able to reach them again.
4. Perform cleansing on your address data
Every one or two years, consider using a data service that can help you wash your constituent address data against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database. NCOA is a database that holds changes of address that customers of Australia Post have given permission to be distributed to organisations that have their old address on their database. This will give you the opportunity to discover their new address. You should use this data to find lost constituents on your database, to get in touch with them and reconfirm their contact details.
Other services are also available which can help you validate your addresses as you enter them in your database. The addresses are corrected real-time to match that of the Australia Post Postal Address File (PAF). This is useful when supporters accidentally give you slightly incorrect address data that can often result in returned mail.
Hopefully these tips have helped on what you need to do to make sure you do not lose your most valuable possession, your existing supporters!