Your database of persons and organizations who have purchased tickets, made donations, provided grants, sponsored events, signed up for your email or postal mailing lists, or just expressed interest is vitally important to the success of your goals. Maintaining this data in a clean form, without duplication, is extremely important as well, in order to maintain good relations with your patrons and to move them up the ladder of engagement.
Fully integrated patron management systems with all the pieces of ticketing, fundraising, marketing built in, such as the Arts People system, should provide tools for you to maintain your clean live data. But, the tools vary widely as to their user-friendliness, ease of use, automation and overall effectiveness.
The trouble with many systems
Many systems offer duplication cleanup tools that are extremely cumbersome. I was recently assisting a friend at a community non-profit organization with record cleanup of their Sales Force database and I was quite frankly shocked at how time consuming and cumbersome the process was. I had to conduct various searches to find the potential duplicates to begin with, not really knowing if I was actually finding all the records. Then I had to painstakingly look into each match one by one and specify how I wanted the pair to merge. It took at least several minutes per pair to conduct the process. It was days of work to clean up as many records as I had time for, without completing the task by a long shot. I truly don’t know how most organizations using a system like this can hope to keep their data clean at all, and unfortunately duplicate data leads directly to patron dissatisfaction when they receive duplicate mailings, have miscommunication from the staff about their contributions or worse.
The above scenario is just one example of how over-complication is something that most arts organizations simple have to avoid. We understand our clients at Arts People. As with so many non-profits, staff numbers are small and people are doing various jobs throughout their day. They just don’t have the time for a laborious process of trying to keep their data clean.
Arts People provides a better solution
As I’ve worked in the industry for nearly 30 years, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a duplication detection and merge process system that works as efficiently and easily as the Merge screen in Arts People. Duplicates are identified within minutes of data being entered or updated. Exactly duplicates are merged automatically! Partial matches are presented to the user side by side where they can make a decision as to merge them keeping the record details on right or left, or connecting them together as members of the same household. If there’s a question, users can click on the address or phone to trigger a whitepages.com search to help them identify current information for those records. They can also click directly into one of the patron records to check the entered date, update date and more to help them now which record is newer and more likely to be the correct data. Also, the system itself helps prevent duplication via the email address login process, enabling patrons online to link to their existing data. Clients are trained by their assigned client services representative to spend a few minutes each day or week to review and process any duplicates, keeping their data absolutely clean.
Don’t let your data cost you sales, donations or patron relationships. Make sure you’re using a system that is capable and easy enough to use that you can easily maintain your data, clean of duplication, and show your patrons that you care enough about them to communicate with them correctly and efficiently.
Patrick Spike is the Marketing Director, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. His work with clients has helped them to increase their revenue while streamlining their box office and back office operations. www.patrickspike.com
Arts People, software for the performing arts, serves theatres, music and dance groups, choirs and opera, high school, college and university programs, performing arts center facilities and more.