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Avoiding Duplicate Records in Raiser’s Edge: Preventative Measures

Duplicate records in databases are the cause of many nightmares for DBAs. They are often referred to in the bizarrely medical context as “poor database hygiene” to highlight the dysfunction. Just like most major health crises in people; prevention is key and this is especially true for duplicate constituent records.

So, where do you even start?

Start at the source: talk with your data entry team. Fully explain the end result of a duplicate constituent in The Raiser’s Edge®, and not just from a clean-up perspective, but from a holistic relationship viewpoint. Avoid the eye glazing aspect of inaccurate reporting and dashboards, and talk about the disintegration of very REAL relationships with the donors. High standards of data entry need to be put in writing and fully explained to even the oft-forgotten, and highly underrated part-time intern/volunteer/temp during an “I’m for real, this is serious…” conversation.

Without these standards in place, what happens when Major Donor Jane Smith moves, marries, or divorces, is based on or determined by an instant judgment call by the end user. Do they dig deeper to look for a possible duplicate, or choose to “add new” because that’s easiest?

Now what?

Well, let’s back up a few steps and look at Jane’s scenario from a different angle – a preventative angle. Let’s bring the underutilized Raiser’s Edge Finder Numbers functionality into this equation. Including a Finder Number in a correspondence’s response mechanism to a constituent (an Appeal) can be a lifesaving tool for your DBA. Finder Numbers create a “unique” (I use unique loosely here) numerical identifier linking the Constituent and the Appeal. So even if Jane S. Adamson responds to an appeal having changed her name and address, the Finder Number easily identifies the correct original constituent record, prevents duplication creation, and continues the positive relationship with your donor!

If all else fails…

Search, search, and search. Instill confidence in your data entry team that if a check came in a branded envelope, there is a 99% chance that person already exists in RE. Try using the FREE FindOmatic tool. Search by partial names, address lines, phone numbers, email addresses and many other parameters all at once with ease. You will never go back to traditional RE form searching!

Keep it clean.

What if there really are two Jane Doe constituents from the same town that are both very involved donors in your database and you are super scared that your end users might merge or confuse the two? After you run your duplicate report, you can utilize a new function. As luck would have it, with RE 7.92’s new duplicate prevention functionality, you can now mark two records as “not duplicates”!

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