Accurate contact lists are mission critical for non-profit organizations. Contact lists fuel fundraising and membership drives. A robust, clean contact list is the foundation of any non-profit’s existence.
A non-profit client came to us with a contact list that had not been verified in many years. The list grew each year but outdated information was lowering the value of the list and increasing its cost.
They needed to know: How accurate is this list and are these contacts receiving our mailings?
You would think it’s simple to cull a list to only active contacts but we need to answer more than just the question, “Is this person still at this address?” We need to figure out whether simply updating an address will save the contact and we need to know if the contact is gone for good – possibly deceased.
The National Change of Address (NCOA) file helps us find address changes but only goes back 48 months. When we’re trying to address a list that is older than four years, we need a bigger solution. So we follow-up by comparing the list’s contact/address records against our national mailing database for the contact. We can figure out if contacts older than four years may have moved.
Because of the age of this list, we also felt it was more likely we would find deceased contacts and ran the list against our Deceased database.
After we completed all our cross-checks, we provided the resulting, concise database in spreadsheet format, weighting each result by level of validity. This allowed the client to review the final contacts and make decision about keeping or removing contacts whose address had changed.
For example, some clients may want to continue communicating with people who have moved out of their area; other organizations may not. Our data hygiene process delivers actual, current addresses for live contacts, allowing the list owner to make choices about retention or deletion.
Almost 8% of the original list were deceased persons and were removed.
Over 40% of the contacts no longer lived at the address associated with their name.
Some records showed people who had not lived at the listed address for 15 years.
Only 3% of people had moved in the prior 4 years and the client did want to continue mailing to out of state contacts. Assuring they had updated contact information for contacts older than 4 years was important and covered by our extra step process.
The final, cleaned mailing list was reduced by 60% – a savings of 60% on future printing and postage.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
When the client used their new, clean list for the first time, they found that financial donation numbers were not affected. They spent 60% less to retrieve the same amount of donations.
Going forward, this client is implementing database management procedures to assure their data is accurate. They will bring their better-managed list to us each year for a cross-check.
How much could you save by tending your contact garden?