Why Clean Data is Vital for Nonprofits Using Salesforce

Clean data is vital to all industries, but nonprofits specifically have much to gain from utilizing it. As nonprofits start to branch out into more complex data collection techniques, there is more data than ever coming in. Yet, according to the Nonprofit Trends Report by Salesforce, 74% of nonprofits say that measuring and reporting on data is a challenge. Data is only useful if it is reliable, accurate, and organized. Nonprofits need to understand that to succeed in their mission, they must ensure that the data they are processing is not only current (i.e., accountable for any recent changes), but also rid of any inconsistencies.

Salesforce equips nonprofit organizations to manage data through such solutions as its Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) and knows that an error as small as an incorrect email address can ultimately affect your nonprofit’s ability to reach donors. Salesforce aids organizations in reaching their donors by ensuring that data collected about donors is kept clean and organized through the Insights Platform Data Integrity. A nonprofit example of the importance of clean and customized data can be found in the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which uses Salesforce’s NPSP and Marketing Cloud to keep up with the increasingly sophisticated needs of their donors and track their specific interests. This level of attention to detail requires that duplicates are removed and that the donor feels that they are known and valuable to the organization.

Benefits of Clean Data for Nonprofits

Nonprofits that use analytics’ capabilities to keep their data clean tend to fare better than those who don’t. According to the IBM executive report on analytics, Leap before you lag, 78% of nonprofits with advanced analytics capabilities reported that they perform their missions with greater efficiency. As the report notes, “To make meaningful advances, nonprofits need to commit to becoming data-driven.” Administrators for nonprofits are then better able to collaborate with partners, donors, and others within their network.

Integrating a data-driven solution offers specific benefits to the nonprofit industry, including:

  • Membership recruitment and retention
  • Fundraising and outreach
  • Accountability and reporting
  • Budgeting and forecasting

When the organization Israel EMS, a completely donor driven nonprofit, was experiencing a duplicate issue within their donor database, it turned to a data-driven solution to remove duplicate records from their system. Duplicates are a prime example of “unclean” data and prevent organizations from truly understanding the number of donors they have. Tova Stross, who manages the database for the Israel EMS foundation, said “I had 9,600 records, and it was cut down by 1,000,” all due to data-driven solutions that can be found in AppExchange.

Tova shared the example that, in some cases, two members of a household might be separately recorded in the system. Yet, the joint donation by the couple is credited to both records, and the donation is counted twice. This could cause an inconsistency between the real monetary amount of donations received and the amount calculated by the database. As any successful nonprofit knows, inaccuracies in the data, especially duplicates, degrade the value of the contacts and, thus, the development potential of the list.

How Salesforce Helps Nonprofits Reach Their Donors

Many nonprofits consistently struggle with the hygiene of their database. This is especially problematic as potential and current donor information stored in a nonprofit’s database is essential to successful fundraising efforts. Even though Salesforce can notify users that they are about to create a duplicate record and even block them from doing so, there are many other ways that duplicates can enter the system. Importing contacts from a spreadsheet and migrating contacts to Salesforce from a previous CRM are just two examples.

Salesforce ensures optimal use of data, automation, analytics, and nonprofit tools to enhance the relationship between internal and external aspects. It also helps donor acquisition, retention, and attracting new donors to charities.

Besides providing a platform to hold relevant information about employees, donors, and volunteers, Salesforce provides many analytical tools that can be utilized to craft successful campaigns. However, before such analytical tools can even be employed, it is extremely important that the data being analyzed is in hygienic condition. Salesforce goes further than just analyzing data for nonprofits as it provides methods to prep and cleanse data for successful, beneficial analysis.

For example, Salesforce Einstein Analytics helps to capture constituent’s information for effective management of operations and services. Data can be gathered based on their behaviors across many online channels and stored in a database to take future nonprofit steps. Online channels include email, Google ads, messages, and calls.

Specifically for nonprofits and built on the Salesforce connected platform, Nonprofit Cloud breaks down silos between fundraising, marketing, programs, and leadership by giving everyone a single, shared view of your organization and all those associated with it. With a single source of truth, teams can work as one to get to know each donor, engaging on their terms to deliver exceptional experiences. Additionally, as part of the Nonprofit Success Pack, Salesforce offers the Insights Platform Data Integrity, which helps cleanse and clarify data, making it accurate, complete, and reliable.

Data Hygiene is the Straight Line to Successful Fundraising

Clean data is essential for nonprofits and directly correlated to easy and effective fundraising. Through the data cleansing process, missing data can be identified, and duplicate data can be targeted and eliminated. This impacts and increases the efficacy of donor outreach and ultimately leads to greater amounts of funds being raised. To overcome bad data that may be hindering fundraising efforts, it is imperative that nonprofits identify the sources of low-quality data, prevent the collection of bad at its source, and cleanse data on a routine basis.

The good news is that eliminating bad data is now easier than ever. Utilizing methods created through AI and machine learning models, nonprofits can increase the accuracy of data and decrease the amount of time necessary for data clean-up.

Ultimately, data hygiene is a win-win situation for nonprofits. Not only does clean data provide a reliable donor base, but it also increases success rates for fundraising efforts. Today, there is no reason that organizations need to tolerate bad data. There are many resources readily available to improve data hygiene and by taking advantage of them, nonprofits will improve their fundraising outcomes.

Steve Pogrebivsky, the president and co-founder of DataGroomr, is an expert in data and content management systems with over 25 years of experience. Steve has founded several technology companies, including MetaVis Technologies, which built tools for Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, and other cloud-based information systems, and Stelex Corporation, which provided compliance and technical solutions to FDA-regulated organizations. Steve holds a BS in Computer/Electrical Engineering and an MBA in Information Systems from Drexel University. You can follow Steve on Twitter @pogrebs or LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/pogrebs).

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Steve Pogrebivsky

Steve Pogrebivsky

Steve Pogrebivsky is co-founder and president of DataGroomr, the only deduplication solution for Salesforce to use machine learning.

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