Long before students leave school, what they experience on campus promotes life-long interest in their alma mater. You’ll want to be able to reach out and engage these students for years after graduation.

The first few years of post-college life can be some of the most dramatic, with job changes and moves around the country.  It can make the life of a university fundraiser especially difficult, so putting data best practices in place, will help you reach this all-important crowd of young donors now and in the future.

We’ll take a look at each of these key areas to improve your ability to reach donors:

  • Checking your database for bad records
  • Updating your existing database
  • Maintaining your data

With a few steps in place, you’ll be able to more effectively reach your alumni.

Checking Your Current Records

Young people move around a lot, but at any point, your alumni may change addresses or phone numbers. Data decays at a rate of about 25% per year, so even a well-maintained database eventually needs to be checked for out-dated records.

AlumniFinder’s free Data Quality Report is designed to help identify records that are older and no longer working. The report will show you the following:

  • Confirmed addresses as well as the number that needs to be updated
  • Confirmed phone numbers (cell phone and landline phone) along with the number that is out-of-date
  • The number of accurate birthdates as well ones that need updating
  • Deceased records in your database

With this information, you can easily see the errors in your database where information needs to be updated. Use the Data Quality Report as the first step before moving onto the next part of our strategy.

Updating Your Database

Now that you know where the errors are in your database, the simplest way to get everything updated is by doing it all at once through a service like AlumniFinder Batch. Using data resources, our experts will deliver updated information for addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, emails and more.

Depending on what your needs are, you can also choose to append additional information to your database to help your fundraising efforts such as employment or social media identifiers.

If you need to look up a small number of donors to find complete information on them, whether it be your largest donors or donors you’ve been unsuccessful contacting, AlumniFinder Online powered by LexisNexis data offers an easy online tool to research donors.

Maintaining Your Data

After your database is updated, good work – the hardest part is now done! However, that decay rate will continue to degrade your database’s accuracy, so make sure you implement data hygiene to reach your alumni.

After every mailing, mark your returned mail in your database to make updates. If you have a working phone number, don’t be shy about calling your alumni to get a new address. This is the least expensive way to maintain the work you’ve already done to get the database to this point. If you discover during a phone-a-thon that a number isn’t working, again mark this down and try to contact with a different method.

If you are unable to reach your alumni to get updated information, a tool like AlumniFinder Online can help you retrieve and update the records you need. This is a great way to handle smaller numbers of updates to update your database. Many searches are also available for less than a dollar to keep your fundraising cost effective.

Overall, updating your database regularly will help you make an impact and keep your organization’s fundraising efforts strong. A little work and investment on your part will pay off much more as you’re able to reach donors.

Eileen Blake

Eileen Blake

For more than two years, Eileen has worked for AlumniFinder as a Marketing Manager sharing solutions for prospect research, fundraising and more. Eileen has a Bachelors in Mass Communication from the University of South Florida. In her free time, she is active in Rotary International.