Quick Tips for Database Maintenance in Raiser's Edge and Raiser's Edge NXT

24 Mar 2023

Written by Erin Fleischmann, Strategic Consultant, Cathexis Partners

Erin has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit technology, including everything from system implementations and project management to strategy and leveraging technology. Prior to joining Cathexis Partners, Erin worked for several nonprofits

Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge and Raiser’s Edge NXT are powerful tools for fundraising and donor management. They help nonprofits find new supporters and untapped potential in their existing donor database with cultivation tools. They also provide analytics that automatically surface recommendations such as top prospects, suggested ask amounts, donors at risk of lapsing, and more. For example, when you connect Funraisin and Raiser's Edge NXT, you can send your donor, event registrant, and supporter data directly to your Raiser's Edge NXT CRM.

But as powerful as the Raiser’s Edge tools may be, to get the most out of them, it’s important to ensure your data is as clean as possible.

Organizing and tracking data maintenance tasks 📝

An effective way to keep your data clean and ready to use is to create a spreadsheet to track data maintenance tasks. In the spreadsheet, build columns for:

  • Frequency of each data maintenance task (for example, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually)
  • Data maintenance tasks (for example, looking for and correcting records with blank addresses, incorrect ZIP codes, or phone numbers with incorrect formats)
  • Each month of the year

Here’s how that spreadsheet might look:

Use the “months” columns to indicate when you’ve completed each task. 

Here’s a handy template that you can use as a starting point for your own spreadsheet.

Creating and naming data maintenance queries ✏️

Once you have your spreadsheet in place, generate queries in Raiser’s Edge for each of your maintenance tasks. It can be helpful to create a “Maintenance” folder to house all of your data maintenance queries in one place.

As you name your maintenance queries, include an indicator at the front of each query for the frequency at which they should be run. This approach makes it easier to find the right queries when it’s time to run them. For example:

  • “D –” at the front of a query name can indicate daily maintenance
  • “M –” can indicate monthly maintenance
  • “Q –” can indicate quarterly maintenance
  • “A –” can indicate annual maintenance

Here’s how that might look:

Determining the right frequency for data maintenance tasks ⏱️

When setting a schedule for data maintenance tasks, such as deduplicating data, correcting incorrect data, or adding data to incomplete records, complete them frequently enough that they don’t pile up and become overwhelming. At the same time, there’s no need to run them so often that there are only a few records to update and it’s not worth your time. 

Here are some steps to get you started:

  • Start by completing each data maintenance task once per week.
  • Move to every two weeks, then once per month, etc., until you find the right frequency for each task.
  • Run one-off data queries as needed. For example, if you have an important direct mailing going out, run a data integrity query before pulling the mailing list to make sure your list is as clean as possible.

Learn more 🤓

Having donor data that’s clean, accurate, and ready to use is critical to getting the most out of your Raiser’s Edge software. Maintaining high-quality data health and hygiene isn’t a one-time activity. It takes ongoing work. But once you make it part of your organization’s routine, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge to maintain.

To learn more tips about how to analyze, use, and clean your nonprofit’s data, read the guide, How to Use Data to Take Your Fundraising to New Heights.

And, if you’d like to discover more useful Raiser’s Edge NXT basics, watch the on-demand webinar, Things You Should Know About Raiser’s Edge NXT. You’ll learn tips for entering gifts, pledges, and recurring gifts, plus a lot more to help you sharpen your Raiser’s Edge skills.

Since 2008, we’ve worked with more than 1000 nonprofit clients. And we still have one focus: to use technology to help your organization raise more funds and engage more supporters.

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