Home Church Management Housekeeping Tips and Tricks for Clean Data

Housekeeping Tips and Tricks for Clean Data

by Janie Richmond

It’s good practice to do some housekeeping to clean up your data before sending contribution statements. Your data represents people, and you will have a tough time maintaining good relationships if that data is incorrect. Cleanup will take a little time on the front end, but it will save you headaches later. It may also save you money, particularly if you send statements through the mail and they get returned due to incorrect information.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may be able to identify discrepancies by manually scanning a list of your contacts, contact info, and donations to see whether certain data doesn’t look right or is incomplete. Larger organizations may need to utilize software or online systems to verify their data and clean it up. And regardless of the system you use, your organization likely has people with missing or inaccurate addresses, and duplicate contacts to merge.

If you manage donations in Excel, the “Sort and Filter” and “Find and Replace” features can help. For database users, your software probably has some useful tools as well. 

Here are some ways to clean up your data if you use Aplos.

Contact Info and Contribution Reports

One of the easiest places to start data cleanup in Aplos is to run the Donations by Contact or Donations by Household report. These reports will give you a good overview of who is making contributions to your organization. Then you can prioritize cleaning up these specific contacts to send their contribution statements. Apply filters or show additional columns to:

  • Identify missing fields in people’s contact information, including their primary mailing address and email
  • Verify the accuracy of their contribution details, as well as any non-deductible amounts that may have been applied
  • Note individuals who should be added to a household if they should have a combined statement
  • Identify duplicate contacts that need to be merged

If you notice anything incorrect, click on the contact name or donation amount to edit the data.

Merging Duplicates

Duplicate contacts can occur in any system. Someone like Robert Smith may be entered as Bob Smith, or B. Smith, or both. A person may have also used different email addresses to create multiple profiles. If you notice any duplicates, merge the contacts so all their information is in one place.

Have a lot of duplicate contacts? In addition to being able to merge contacts individually, Aplos gives you the option to do a mass merge based on the criteria you choose.

Address Verification

The Address Verification feature in Aplos can help keep your data clean and save you time. The optional upgrade automatically checks your contacts’ primary addresses nightly against the USPS database to update addresses when people have moved and standardize the address format for more successful mailings. This automated tool is simple to set up and ensures you have the most up-to-date addresses for your people. It will help you reduce the cost of postage wasted on returned mail, and you’ll save time on editing contacts and chasing down new addresses.

Once all of your donations and contacts are up to date, you can prepare your contribution statements knowing you have clean data. Check out our quick video for how to send contribution statements in Aplos.

If you don’t have Aplos yet, but you like what you see, try it for free.

Happy housekeeping!

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Barbara Offord January 10, 2020 - 3:52 am

Thanks for the information on how to clean up and merge contacts

Janie Richmond January 10, 2020 - 8:05 am

You’re welcome, Barbara! Glad it was helpful for you.


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