Data Integrity 101: A Charity’s Cheatsheet

shutterstock_729823768

A well-maintained donor database can be a powerful tool for building, maintaining, and improving your organization’s relationships with its supporters.

By affirming the integrity of the data within that database and understanding the tools that allow you to leverage its contents, you can ensure that your donors’ information is accurate, actionable, and accessible.

To help you keep your organization’s data integrity, we’ve outlined three areas to watch.

Accuracy

Inaccurate or incomplete data costs Americans USD $3.1 trillion per year, IBM estimates.

Whether caused by human error, cybercrime, or mechanical malfunction, making decisions using inaccurate data can be a costly mistake.

In his 2003 book, “Data Quality: The Accuracy Dimension,” software expert Jack E. Olson suggests that the two components of data accuracy are its form and content.

Olson argues that the quality of your data’s content is irrelevant if the form it takes is indecipherable.

Consider this:

On your to-do list, you read that you must send out your charity’s receipts on 11/10/21.  By what date must your receipts be sent?

If you’re based in America, your receipts would probably go out on Nov. 10, 2021.  If you’re working in the United Kingdom, you’d likely send them on Oct. 11, 2021.

The correct date, however, is whichever the writer intended.

In his book, Olson writes, “A value is not accurate if the user [emphasis added] cannot tell what it is.”

By training your charity’s staff in a standardized data input format, you can make sure nobody misreads your donors’ data.

Actionability

Actionable data helps us inform our actions, either directly or indirectly.

Directly-actionable data allows us (or the software we use) to take informed action immediately.  A piece of actionable data may trigger an alert telling you to modify a form or might be a keyword in a donor’s profile that indicates where you should file it.

Indirectly-actionable data, on the other hand, provides decision-makers with information they can use in future decisions.  Often, decision-makers use indirectly-actionable data during their planning processes.  Statistics, trends, and records are good examples of useful data upon which we usually don’t act immediately.

If the information in your database doesn’t help you act in the present or the future, it’s probably just taking up space.

Accessibility

In his 2006 book “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors,” business team management expert Patrick Lencioni writes, “Silos … devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals.”

A silo is a decades-old business concept that describes interdepartmental alienation.  Members of an organization’s various departments often keep to themselves without a good idea about what the other departments are doing.  Silos tend to lead to the misinterpretation of top-down strategic goals and, in larger organizations, a damaging sense of tribalism.

Today, the term has expanded to include departmentally-compartmentalized access to data.  

Data siloing may result from several factors, including:

  • Incompatible software
  • Highly-specialized staff
  • Isolationist management hierarchies

Data silos inhibit productivity and waste resources by causing various teams or individuals across an organization to capture, analyze, and store redundant data in different locations.  To prevent it, Lencioni recommends ensuring that every member of your organization who works with its data has access to the same database.

Next Steps to Improve Your Data Integrity

Your non-profit’s data is one of your charity’s most valuable assets.  By protecting its integrity, you can streamline workloads, reduce resource consumption, and increase your database’s usefulness.

Causeview’s donor management software integrates seamlessly with your organization’s Salesforce database to improve your donor data’s accuracy, actionability, and accessibility.  

Causeview’s expertly-trained staff monitor your donors’ data constantly and manually verify its accuracy and actionability weekly.  Because Causeview hosts your donors’ data on its secure servers, anyone from your organization who needs to use your data can access it using a unique login.

Causeview helps you take control of your data so that you can make it work for you.

To take control, Click Here