Improving Parent Data

Posted on 04/01/2021

Good parent fundraising starts with good parent data. Having reliable information can help you identify who is excited about your institution, who has the capacity and inclination to make a gift, and which specific areas interest them. It also ensures that you have a way to reach them whether through an email address, a mailing address, or a phone number. 

But maintaining good information on parents is easier said than done. It doesn’t just magically appear in your database with the important notes highlighted in big bold letters. You’ll need to be proactive and organized as you go about collecting, updating, and (most importantly) using it. With that in mind, here are 6 tips to help your advancement program improve its parent records:

  1. Start by forging a strong relationship with the office of admissions. They’re going to be the best source of information on new families.
  2. Insert requests for parent information wherever you can – including biographical data fields on forms at admissions events, student orientations, and family events throughout the school year.
  3. Conduct a survey to assess parent feelings about the school – this will have the added benefit of providing updated contact information. Try to do this as soon as you can during their student’s first year. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their assets and philanthropic interests.
  4. Conduct a wealth screening to identify parents who have the capacity to make a significant gift as early as you can after their student has been admitted. Make sure those parents with high ratings don’t fall off your radar. 
  5. Be sure to include parent records in normal data hygiene processes, including NCOA and email address/phone number appends.
  6. Create a schedule and a process for research on inactive records. When you know you’ve got bad information, focus on fixing it.

Mapping out a plan for collecting and maintaining good parent data is one of the first steps in developing a strong parent fundraising program. When you take the time to do it well, it will serve as a foundation for everything else you do. It will also help you and your colleagues stay focused on the right prospects and give you the tools you need to make your engagement and solicitations efficient, meaningful, and productive.

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