February is usually a slow period in development offices, and more specifically on the database management side of things. That is why the shortest month of the year is the perfect time for your not-for-profit (NPO) to conduct a donor database audit.
I know that the word “audit” can be a frightening concept. But seriously, you don’t want to be reacting to a database issue at a future moment in time. You need to be proactive and make sure that your data integrity is strong. Invest a week and take time to dive deep into your donor database.
What is a Donor Database Audit?
A donor database audit is when you review the contents of the database to make sure that your data is reliable. Specifically look to confirm:
- Consistency in entering data
- Collection of contract information, constituent coding, and gift history
- Tracking progress in securing philanthropic income
Steps to Conduct an Audit
Surprisingly, conducting an audit is easy, unless you don’t know where to start. Below I’ve outlined the easy steps to conducting an audit.
Step 1: Obtain records of 25-50 of your constituents
Step 2: Review contact information of each constituent, making sure information is entered consistently and accurately.
Does each constituent have a mailing address, email address, and a preferred phone?
Is each constituent labeled with the appropriate constituent code(s)?
Are gifts being entered completely? Remember, it isn’t just about dollar amounts.
Step 3: Run various reports to get a snapshot of your philanthropy program:
Total number of database records
Total number of donors
Total number of pledges
Step 4: Analyze the data
If you don’t take the time to analyze the data and what you’ve found, you won’t know if your data is truly clean.
Step 5: Create an action plan to fix any issues.
If you find any issues with your data, you need to take time to create an action plan to fix it.
For example, if you find that data isn’t being entered consistently, you will need to go back and clean up the errors. Many times, you can find a formula to make changes to records, but sometimes this won’t work. That is why it is important to enter the data correctly the first time around.
This is also a great time to make sure your organization has policies and procedures to ensure data quality remains high. Review existing policies to make sure everything is accurate.
Get It Together (GIT) with a Database Audit
Once you complete your first database audit, you will find that it is easier to do. My recommendation is that you conduct an audit twice a year. That way you’re not at risk of having to carve out time to fix a massive data problem. Now that you’re in a slow period, now is the time to Get It Together (GIT) with a database audit. Here’s a free guide on conducting your donor database audit!