This process validates addresses against United States Postal Service standards in real time as the data is being keyed into the database, guaranteeing the quality of the data being added.
National Change of Address (NCOA®)
About 11% of the U.S. population moves every year and reports it to the United States Postal Service, which requires that mailers process their data through NCOA at least once every 95 days to keep mail files current.1
1 2017, United States Census Bureau
Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA®)
Another 5% of the U.S. population moves every year but doesn’t report address changes to any entities other than banks, credit card companies, and utility providers. The PCOA process takes data gathered from those types of organizations and applies it back to the house file, allowing organizations to keep donor records current. Typically, this process should be run once per year. Many nonprofits use NCOA but don’t realize PCOA is an additional option. Unfortunately, this can mean that bad data builds up over time, leading to duplicate data for the same donor, disconnected records, and campaign delivery issues.
Often, a donor will provide an address that isn’t 100% complete; it will be missing an apartment or suite number—or perhaps that data simply isn’t keyed into the database. This is problematic when trying to match those donors to analytics sources, or when trying to mail into any type of dense urban area. Apartment append adds or corrects the secondary address on a donor’s record, significantly increasing its potential use for analytics and campaigns.
On average, an organization will lose 2–3% of its house file each calendar year because of constituent deaths. Yearly deceased suppression identifies and flags any supporters who have passed away, which removes them from inclusion in analytics and keeps the database updated.
Once your data has been standardized and updated using the above processes, most CRM systems can identify and consolidate duplicates, removing double entries of “James Smith” or “Amanda Williams” that may appear in the database under multiple addresses.