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 Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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