As any good direct marketer will tell you, data management is 90% of the battle. If this essential building block is not in place, then everything that follows is essentially a waste of time.
The ideal is a single, centralised and up-to-date database segmented by stakeholder group with us much information and contact history as possible. But first, let’s take a step back. What does ‘data’ actually constitute?
Information on existing stakeholders (donors, volunteers, trustees) - These are the people that already contribute to your organisation in some way and thus will accept – and expect – communications from you. You already have their important details such as their name, address, phone number, email. Ideally, you also hold information on when people give and how often, details of direct debits and any other lifestyle data.
Information on prospects (potential donors and stakeholders) - If you are lucky enough to know who these people are, their names, addresses and phone numbers, then congratulations! If not, finding this data will be tricky – and expensive to obtain. You can get data through two major sources.
The first is list rental, where professional data companies sell you names by the thousand based on your search criteria. This is rather expensive. Also, the data is only ‘lent’ to you (apart from a couple of samples that will be plucked from the list to prove its authenticity). In other words, you never see or own the data. You give your DM letters to whoever owns the data and they send them out for you.
A much better option is to find new data through third party acquisition – in other words, getting people to give you their details for free by signing up for emails, newsletters, incentives and competitions, either on your website, through the post, in person – or even through a third party (like Just Giving).
Golden rules of data management
Do it yourself?
Database management is something that absolutely, categorically must remain in-house. It needs to be managed, nurtured and respected for what it is – your most important asset. However, you may well need some assistance in collecting, cleaning and backing up all that data.
Here are some trusted sites to help.
The 1998 Data Protection Act
Mailing Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
Institute of Direct Marketing
Royal Mail's National Change of Address