How to stuff up your fundraising database without even trying – part 2

Ok, I’ve heard you. 5 ways to stuff up your fundraising database  wasn’t enough. You want more? No problem. If you’re lucky, you don’t even need to create these – your software may be leading you to them

Use one record for couples

Mr & Mrs McGillicuddy donate to your cause. They don’t want two pieces of mail; they do everything as a couple. Well, it’s good news that they are so close because housing both people on ONE donor record with a title of Mr & Mrs means they are going to be sharing everything.

Now, I mean EVERYTHING! You’ll need to expand your gender field to allow for ‘joint’ or ‘both’ in addition to male and female. Or even better call it Other. I like producing a donor stats report which says 50% female, 45% male and 5% other.

They get to share their birthday as well. When she married she didn’t just give up her surname (if indeed she did so), she gave up her date of birth as well! Oh well, that’s no big deal. When your donor relations person asks the data monkey for a list of donor’s and their birthdays, the monkey will just produce a list with a lot of ‘twin’ births – who ended up married!

I can hear a donor relations person say now: ‘stop being such a data purist. I’ll just put the husband’s birthday in the notes.’

In reality the sharing of birthdays and mobile phone numbers is probably the least of your issues. What do you do when Mr McGillicuddy passes away? The normal course of action is to mark the record as deceased. Never mind that you may have just cut off all contact with Mrs McGillicuddy!

So, if you don’t mark the record as deceased, do you just remove one name from the record? Do you archive that record and make a new one for the surviving partner (thus separating her from all her giving history. Again, not an issue, unless you want to acknowledge years of support).

And if you thought I was finished complicating it, you’d be wrong. What do you do when the person who has died leaves a bequest. Does that go on their shared record? Another record?

If you’re using a fundraising database which has poor – or no – management of mailings for households, then I suspect the day will come when you just want rid of that database so that all your joint record nightmares will be over. There’s just a minor little issue of data migration first in which you’ll have to give you married couples the data equivalent of a divorce!

Allow people to create new values on the go

Oh what a fantastic idea. No more relying on a data administrator to add a new look-up value; if a user types something that isn’t in the picklist, just ask whether they want to add it, hit yes, and Bob’s now your… step-uncle twice removed.

I bet you’re thinking that a data monkey should be able to come up with a better tip to stuff up your database than this one. Surely people will only add things that you need? I thought so too. I’ll give you just ONE example.

Members of parliament need a title of The Hon. Simple. Then why does the picklist look like this?

  • The Hon
  • the hon
  • The Hon.
  •    The Hon
  • The hon
  • The Honorary
  • The Honorable
  • The Honourable
  • Hon
  • Honourable
Add to this the lovely feature that many databases have for auto-creating a salutation and you get things like this:
  • Dear The Honorary Abbott
  • Dear Hon Abbott
  • Dear Honourable Abbott
If only people couldn’t add what they liked to the title field on the fly. Here’s a few other things which may be avoided:
  • Mr
  • Mr.
  • Mister
  • Mr & Mrs
  • Mr and Mrs
  • Mr/s (which gets 50 bonus points in the data garbage rewards scheme)
  • Mr + Mrs
  •   Mr & Mrs (probably with the space because someone wanted it to go to the top of the list so they didn’t have to scroll.)
and my personal favourite from the person who forgot the shift key
  • Mr 7 Mrs

Posted on July 29, 2011, in Data, Fundraising and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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