Data Hygiene Series
Your CiviCRM database is the central hub of your nonprofit's fundraising efforts, membership and contact management, event organization and other important ongoing initiatives. Because of its integral role in your organization, your database requires ongoing maintenance to ensure optimum performance. With nonprofit constituent mobility and employee turnover at an all-time high, data can quickly become messy and stale when data entry procedures for the organization are not properly regulated.
Your organization creates a number of custom data sets and profiles.1 If multiple users have permissions to create custom data fields in an uncoordinated manner without clear guidelines, redundancies and waste will most likely occur. Redundancies because similar custom fields could be created for identical or closely related information, potentially with different data types, semantics or input formats. Waste because unnecessary custom fields might be created that will burden the organization (and their constituents) with entering and maintaining this information. Finally, the organization's needs will surely evolve over time, and so will the needs to collect or maintain specific information, the reports that need to be produced, or the forms used for fundraising, event registration and membership maintenance.
Any public facing fill-out form can fall victim to nefarious robots looking for a way to gain access to admin-only areas of your system or payment forms that can be used to test stolen credit card numbers. If they take hold of a given form, this can result in the creation of thousands of contact and contribution records. Since these robots are relentless and continuously adapt to new security measures, there is no 100% fool-proof method of stopping them.
Membership status is normally assigned and updated automatically based on your configured membership status rules, and, as explained in "Data Hygiene: Keep your Membership Data Up to Date", the key to maintaining accurate membership data (or any data for that matter), is to limit the amount of data that needs to be manually keyed into the system.
Membership-based organizations rely on membership revenue for a steady cash flow, so keeping accurate membership records and ensuring a smooth renewal process is vital. The key to maintaining accurate membership data (or any data for that matter), is to limit the amount of data that needs to be manually keyed into the system. When a new membership is created, CiviCRM automatically does the following:
Non-profit organizations are under intense financial scrutiny - they must show accountability through the willingness to explain actions to stakeholders, and must be transparent by publishing critical financial data about the organization. These two tasks, however, can become exceedingly difficult if multiple systems are used to track financial information without regular reconciliation. Luckily, CiviCRM has an Accounting Batch feature that allows you to avoid manually re-keying financial data into your accounting software.
In "Data Hygiene: How to Keep Data Clean and Healthy!", we spoke in general terms of the basic steps you need to take to keep your data clean and healthy. In this blog post, we outline 5 simple steps that will keep your contact data squeaky clean!