Data Management Policy
As you grow your donor file, you’ll continually input more and more data into your CRM platform. That means you need to recognize the lifecycle of your data. The data you collect is just as dynamic as the individuals that it represents, and you’ll need to educate your team on how to deal with data in all its iterations. To better manage the lifecycle of your data, you might rely on a data management policy.
A data management policy is a set of processes outlining how your team works with data in every stage of its lifecycle—from collection and storage all the way to its disposal. To implement this framework at your organization, consider these questions:
1. Are you able to group your data into distinct buckets? Evaluate all departments within your organization and consider the types of data they manage. From finance to grants to programs, where does each team input their data, and is it ever shared across teams?
2. Are you using all the data that you collect? Think about how many years of donor data you hold and whether you are still using it. Go through a similar process for financial and program data, considering any stipulations that require you to hold on to data, like for tax purposes, grant reports, or impact reports.
3. Are you able to minimize the amount of data that you collect? It’s critical that you first consider the types of data you can manage before beginning collection. You may find that you’re collecting information from your supporters that you do not need. If you are unable to tie a data point to your mission, you may not need to collect that type of data. Data minimization is a process that works through these steps to minimize the amount of data that you collect.
4. Do you have a plan for storing data? You should have a plan for storing the data you manage—and all the data you are going to accrue—just as you have a strategic plan that guides you when expanding program services or growing your subscriber base. Whether a third party or a team member backs up your data, be sure to designate a structure around your data storage.
5. Do you have a plan for disposing of data? Just as you might minimize data collection, you should consider disposing of old data after a certain number of years. Collaborate with your team to determine what data is still viable and set parameters for when and how you’ll safely discard the data you no longer use.
In addition, several states and countries have adopted regulatory requirements on data storage and destruction. Be certain that your data practices are complying with best practices and keeping the security of your supporters in mind.