A B C’s of Development Data Maintenance

There are several objectives that institutions have (or should have) for capturing and maintaining their Development data. These include:

  • Capturing All the data, Accurately – that is, making sure that when you get a change of address, you follow-up to confirm why the address was changed – a move, divorce, job change, what? So if the home address changed, you may also need to get a new work address, new phone numbers, new e-mails, etc. How about checking on relationships – spousal and work? Similarly, if you get a change of marital status, ask about all of the other information as well. If one person of a couple passes away, do addresses change? Has a planned gift “matured”? Won’t joint mailings and salutations change?  Note that this is equally applicable to development officers as it is to records processors. In a contact report, DO’s must capture information about their prospects completely and accurately and document their contact meetings and calls as well as identifying their next steps. Get all the data, and get each part of it accurately.
  • Following Best practices (all of the points in this document) – in all of the Advancement Services areas including:
    • Gift & Pledge Processing
    • Prospect Tracking
    • Campaign Reporting
    • Stewardship, Scholarship and Endowment Processes
    • Annual Giving Data Management and Procedures
    • Events Management Systems (handling Quid Pro Quo’s, etc.)
    • Data Administration
    • Reports and System Operations
    • Others…
  • Establishing Internal Controls and assuring Compliance with industry guidelines – Internal Controls should include such items as:
    • Batch Controls and validation of data
    • Separation of duties
    • Supervisory reviews and approvals
    • Reconciling bank accounts and receivables
    • Access controls over systems and computers
    • Reviews of performance against budgets and metrics
    • Having documented (and Board approved) policies and procedures

Compliance should include following guidelines from:

    • IRS
    • FASB or GASB, as applicable
    • CASE
    • PCI
    • Others???
  • Dodging Duplicates and having Documented policies and procedures – having duplicate records for individuals and organizations is one of the biggest time wasters and causes for embarrassment with donors (and management.) Having documented procedures in this area to first maximize care in entry and then having system automated checks with the ability to easily merge any duplicate records found help to minimize this problem. And generally having documented Policies and Procedures inform staff on “What” (via policies) and “How” (via procedures) they are to do on a consistent basis.
  • Efficiently and Effectively using the Existing system – Efficiency and Effectiveness are related – both to getting things done. Efficiency relates to minimizing the use of resources or doing things right; Effectiveness relates to the extent that a goal is reached or doing the right things. (So, I may be extremely efficient in shuffling papers, but if I am not getting gifts posted, or contacts made, I may be horribly ineffective.)  And if the Existing system doesn’t support both efficiency and effectiveness, I may not be as successful as I (or management) want.

Efficiency and Effectiveness









  • Timely entry and reporting with Trained Staff – Not falling the A-B-C order but still important is the objective of doing things on a Timely basis with Trained Staff. It is important to have metrics for gift (and bio) entry, for follow-up on contacts and moves through your moves management system, for cleaning up backlogs of mail returns, for getting graduates loaded into the Advancement system, et. And if you don’t have staff trained on your procedures, your guidelines, your data entry standards, and your policies, none of this will happen on a timely basis. A book written a number of years ago called “The Squandered Computer” talked about what a waste it is to spend many dollars on software and hardware without training folks to use them. Your ROI will be awful!

How does your organization stack up against these objectives? Could I help you improve?

I’d welcome any comments/questions via e-mail at CharliesBlog@riarlington.com  And please sign up for my periodic blog posts in the space in the column on the right!

SDG, Charlie Hunsaker
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