Finding scraps of good data in a sea of irrelevancy
December 19, 2011 11:11 AM Subscribe
I was recently placed in charge of a large database which is probably 90% irrelevant information. What should my plan of action be for cleaning it up?
posted by showbiz_liz to Technology (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I work for a nonprofit, and we use Raiser's Edge for funder info, grant info, and (historically) as just a giant Rolodex of everyone any of our employees had ever met. As a result, we have about 14,500 'constituents' listed in our database, most of whom are either irrelevant to our work or no longer in the positions we have listed. They are mostly not donors- some are employees of our donors, some are just random people, but I'd guess that maybe 1% of the people/orgs listed as constituents have actually directly given us money. There are issues like- every embassy of a certain country has its own listing, even though most of those embassies have never been cultivated for a grant. Stuff like that. It's kind of a giant clusterfuck.
I am (partly) the record-keeper for my department, and part of that job is 'maintain the database.' I do what I can within the records of the 50-odd donors we regularly work with. But beyond that, it's a massive jungle, and I'm not really sure how to tackle it. Adding new info seems pointless, like tossing it down a well- with all the bad info, what's the point of adding in good info?
My boss knows these problems exist and is supportive of fixing it. My whole department currently has limited training on Raiser's Edge, due to a tumultuous few years in which all the staff in our department turned over and we were severely understaffed. In the last couple months, we've gotten back on track, and just bought access to unlimited training on the database. So I will be more prepared to deal with this, from a technical standpoint, in a few months.
But I'm wondering- has anyone dealt with a problem like this before? My first task here was to clean up our grant file folders, and that wasn't too hard, but this is a much bigger problem to tackle. I have a good intuition for organization, but this- I don't even know where to start.