Subscribe to my newsletter EDM News
Are you de-duping your lists?

In the mail today I received three (3!) identical solicitation letters from the same organization to which I have donated money in the past. Each of the letters had a slightly different variation on my name: Two were correct (with my name as “Wes” on one and “Wesley” on the other). The third had my last name misspelled near the end (“ill” instead of “lil”).

In all cases, the mailing address was identical.

I’ve donated to this organization in the past and will likely donate again in the future. But it does not give me great confidence in the management of the organization when a simple data management error like this occurs, which has a direct cost to the organization (three mailings for one person) and a potential future direct cost (annoying me enough not to donate again).

In this particular case, the de-duping would have been very easy. A simple de-dupe against first initial, first four letters of last name, and zip code would have kicked out my three addresses. My suspicion is there were a lot more dupes like mine that were sent to other fundraisers.

De-duping does take some time and adds some expense to your direct mailing (or emailing). But considering the direct expense of mailing and the potential of turning off donors, taking the extra time and expense is almost always worth it. Are you doing it?

About author:

2 Comments on "Are you de-duping your lists?"

David M. Patt, CAE - 28 March 2011 Reply

I worked for an association that merged event registrants from other organizations into its database. Most of those folks were non-members whom we only mailed to once each year. Quite a few used different variations of their names when registering for each event - e.g. Janet, Jane, Janie. And many of them moved frequently, so the computer could not tell if they were duplicates. A lot of names remained following a list purge and we had to view those manually and individually. Still, we could not always determine if they were dups. And it really wasn't worth the time and money to get rid of them all. In many zip codes, in fact, a non-member who received a piece addressed to someone else may have been just as likely to sign up for an event as the person to whom the mail was intended. So, some of your members may think you don't look organized by sending duplicate mailings. But it's not always cost effective to purge the list.

Wes Trochlil - 28 March 2011 Reply

Agreed, each organization needs to weight the ROI on de-duping lists. Success, not perfection. But in this particular example, de-duping would have been incredibly easy and relatively inexpensive. To add insult to injury, I received a FOURTH solicitation two days after these three arrived!

Leave a Reply

Archives

Sign-up for EDM News

 

 

Testimonials

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
%d bloggers like this: