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Take a moment to envision a work world where your data is centrally stored, organized, complete, valid, and maintained regularly. For nonprofit organizations, this data daydream could manifest as complete donor profiles, up-to-date mailing lists, or accurate measures of donations.

Back in reality, data is often messy, unstructured, missing, and/or inconsistent. Not only is poor data quality financially costly, but it can also lead to productivity loss, missing or inaccurate insights, poor donor relationship management, or worse, create a dent in revenue due to missed opportunities. Harvard Business Review points out that “it costs 10 times as much to complete a unit of work when data is flawed in any way as it does when the data is good.”

Could data stewardship alleviate your data nightmare? In this quick guide, we’ll explore the key principles of data stewardship, review the characteristics that make data ‘good’, and share practical tips to getting to a state of clean data.

Data Stewardship Defined

If you’re thinking, ‘I’m not a data analyst, data scientist, or database manager, why should I care about data stewardship?’, consider how data affects everyone in your organization. Depending on your role, you may support data entry into your centralized CRM database. You likely pull data points to generate KPI reporting. Perhaps you share data with agency partners. Or maybe you use data to determine the value of a donor’s giving history.

All and all, everyone on your team has a duty to protect and maintain data. That’s where data stewardship comes in. Informatica defines data stewardship as “a collection of practices that ensure data is accessible, usable, safe, and trusted.”

Data Steward Includes: Knowing the data, where it lives, safeguarding data, and enforcing rules for use

Data has become one of, if not the most valuable assets to an organization. Protecting the integrity and usability of data is an integral role for all members of staff. Ask yourself, does your team know what makes data good?

The Good, the Bad, & the Clean Data

Good data and clean data are related concepts, but clean data is an important component of good data.

Most can agree that clean data is free from errors, inconsistencies, and inaccuracies. Clean data does not have duplicates or spelling errors and is in the correct format.

Good data includes the elements of clean data. However, good data can be trusted to inform business decisions. Below, review a handful of qualities that make data good.

Good data is timely, complete, valid, unique, consistent, and accurate

On the contrary, bad data includes missing or incomplete records, a lack of data standards, duplicate accounts, outdated data points, and more.

Exemplar Good Data Evaluation Questions:

Explore the elements that make data good by examining a few examples.







Next, let’s find out ways to better your data stewardship to achieve a state of good data.

Steps to Becoming a Data Steward

Clean data doesn’t happen overnight. While professional data services can help clean your data during migration or conversion, day-to-day acts of data stewardship across your organization can positively impact your data quality.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of ways to become a better data steward and improve data cleanliness.

Determine Data Responsibility

As mentioned, each team member plays a role in the integrity of your entire database, but not everyone contributes the same. First, identify who is responsible for gathering and maintaining data points. For many organizations, this responsibility would not fall onto a single individual.

Set Data Permissions

Next, determine who needs to have access to data points. Does your finance manager need access to the same data points as a campaign coordinator? Chances are that each role in your organization varies on what data is relevant to them. Safeguard your data by setting data security permissions for sensitive or confidential data. Or limit permissions on data that does not need to be shared across multiple departments or members of your staff.

Set Up a Process to Score Data Quality

Data quality scoring is the process of evaluating your data points based on predefined criteria such as accuracy and validity. It helps organizations identify and prioritize data quality issues, track improvements over time, and make more informed decisions based on reliable data. Using an email validation service, such as ZeroBounce or Experte, to test the quality of your mailing lists is an example of data quality scoring.

Stay Consistent with Formatting

Propper data formatting contributes to data consistency, accuracy, and usability. There are several types of data formatting to be aware of. Here are two common examples:

  1. Numeric Formatting: This involves specifying the number of decimal places (ex. 1.0 or 1.00), your use of commas to separate thousands (ex. 1,000 or 1000), or currency symbols.
  2. Date and Time Formatting: How are dates entered into your database (ex. 02/20/2023 or 20/02/2023)? Do you use the 12 or 24-hour clock?

Spread Good Data Across Your Nonprofit Organization

Based on what you’ve learned about data stewardship, your individual action of applying the provided tips will only go so far. If the rest of your team continues with bad data practices, your work may go unnoticed. Here are a few tips to spread the message of good data across your organization.

Data Policy Manager

Lastly, if your team is looking for a less hands-on approach to resolving bad data, consider a data policy manager. Andar/360's Data Policy Manager module is a set of policies describing how data should be entered into your database. With a data policy manager, ensure your data is consistent and retrievable while eliminating the need to update, publish and distribute policy documents to every user. Interested in learning how the Data Policy Manager can help you get to a state of good, clean data? Contact our team

Blog Article by Hanna Middleton | Marketing Manager | Andar Software

Mississauga, ON – February 28, 2023 – Andar Software, an industry-leading CRM software and cloud hosting provider, today announces that Greater Twin Cities United Way will transition from multiple legacy systems to Andar/360. A complete migration to Andar/360 and consolidation of multiple technology solutions will help Greater Twin Cities United Way realize significant cost savings, centralize data, create efficiencies, and streamline all workflows.

“It’s remarkable that we’ve found a one-system solution to meet all of our needs,” stated Athena Mihas, Greater Twin Cities United Way Chief Financial Officer at Greater Twin Cities United Way. “Our decision to partner with Andar Software was based on its proven track record with hundreds of United Ways, great customer service, and enthusiastic support for the technology across our organization.”

Andar/360 strongly met Greater Twin Cities United Way’s CRM requirements for the following:

While several team members were already Andar/360 users, Greater Twin Cities United Way assessed several options to ensure Andar/360 would meet the needs and fulfill the technical requirements for its large team across several departments. Fortunately, Andar/360’s robust system includes mission-critical modules for every department in a nonprofit organization.

Greater Twin Cities United Way required not only a software company, but a service provider that could support its mission of uniting changemakers, advocating for social good, and developing solutions to address the challenges that no one can solve alone. Data conversion services from legacy systems, and training for the addition of 98 user licenses and 8 Andar/360 modules, will be delivered by Andar Software Specialists who themselves have more than 375 years of combined experience working with United Ways across North America.

“Bolstering our longstanding partnership with Greater Twin Cities United Way demonstrates our ability to surpass the technical functionality and professional services of other nonprofit technology providers,” commented Harry Veening, Andar Software General Manager. “Where other software lacks nonprofit industry-specific functionality, Andar Software’s technology and services are fully configurable to power data-driven outcomes for United Ways.”

Learn more about Andar Software’s proven donor management CRM built for United Ways.

About Andar Software

The story of Andar Software began over 40 years ago when two developers created Andar/360, a solution made specifically for United Way organizations. Since then, Andar/360 has processed billions of dollars of donations and serves more than 300 United Way customers.

Meet Pam Cottle, Karen Brown, and Bill Rosenberger. These three are not your typical Directors and VPs. They are hands-on, do-it-right-the-first-time executive leaders who wear too many hats to count. With each leading a nonprofit organization with fewer than 15 people, these leaders crave effective processes, time savings, and tools that can simplify the day-to-day work. Let's explore how Andar/360 is the core operational tool for departments across their nonprofit organizations.

Reframing How We Look at Databases

Karen Brown, Senior Director of Finance and Administration at the United Way of Waco-McLennan County had an epiphany about Andar/360 that changed her perspective on how she approaches the system.

"We are so used to buying a database that is one size fits all where you have to make your data fit the database. Andar/360 is not like that. Andar/360 helps you organize the data that you do have. You don't have to fill in every blank. You just take your data and get it in Andar/360. It's my data, and however I want to use it, I can set Andar/360 up that way. It's so flexible."

Karen Brown

Andar/360 is a fully configurable CRM and donor management database powering data-driven outcomes for hundreds of nonprofits. Each day, thousands of nonprofit employees – from resource development staff to volunteer coordinators to program managers - log in to Andar/360 to input, review, or extract data.

Role-Based Reporting with Customized Dashboards

Getting a clear view of the metrics important to your role is why so many departments rely on Andar/360's customizable dashboards and bio tabs. In just one click, you access role-relevant information. For example, dashboards allow you to see how your campaigns perform compared to one another. They can help you see your goal progress for each member of your fundraising team in a dashboard. 

Pam Cottle, VP of Operations and Marketing at Butler County United Way, had the Andar Software team develop a custom dashboard that's reactive and pulls in account details in real-time. With Pam's dashboards, she can monitor mail, see her response rates at-a-glance, and even pull a report directly from the dashboard.

Nonprofit Cloud Hosting and Managed IT Services

As an Andar Software Hosting customer, Pam receives managed IT services and "relies on Andar Software Hosting 100%". Pam trusts the Andar Software team compared to her previous "total nightmare" experience with a local IT service. When Pam's team migrated to a hosted Office 365 suite, she recalls, "the Andar Hosting team was so helpful in making [the transition] happen. They are truly willing to help with just about anything that comes our way." Pam concludes by graciously adding, "I wholeheartedly recommend them. They are very responsive and very helpful to us."

Andar/360 for Resource Development Teams to Boost Donations

When it came time to automate thank you letters, Bill Rosenberger, the Development Director, and his team at United Way of the River Cities worked with Andar Software's professional service team and a specialist with over 15 years of experience with Andar/360. Bill's team went from using individually typed thank-you letters in Word to generating and sending personalized thank-you letters directly from Andar/360.

Bill's resource development team also sent a personalized letter to every donor in the database. The letters included what donors gave last year, what they gave to United Way of the River Cities over their lifetime, and any major gifts given. Andar/360's data was able to produce these letters and as Bill states, "that was huge for us!" His team received many emails and letters back from donors saying things such as, "wow I didn't realize that I had given $30,000 over the last 10 years, that's amazing," Bill adds.

Many donors responded to their letters with cheque donations. Bill recalls the example of one individual who gave $1200 annually, but this year was $1607 short of hitting a cumulative $20,000 in donations. Bill was able to make the personalized ask for $1607 this year, and sure enough, they received it! Imagine getting a 33% increase on each donation by simply looking at donors' giving history. "If it wasn't for utilizing the data and the tools, I couldn't have made that personalized ask," Bill concludes.

Online Donation Management for Fundraising and Corporate Campaigns

When Karen's team decided it was time to go digital with fundraising but didn't have the internal bandwidth to set up all her e-Pledge online fundraising campaigns, she called on Andar Software's professional services. "This was huge because I didn't have to sit there and learn all the little ins and outs on how to do it. I just called Andar Software, and yes there was a little bit of a fee to do it, but it was worth every penny to have someone else set it up. I knew it worked and I didn't have to worry about it," Karen recalls.

Likewise, Pam's team is ditching the paper campaigns and went digital with e-Pledge. Since 2020, Butler County United Way have converted 90% of their campaigns over to e-Pledge. Pam encourages you to "take your time" with this process and reminds us that "Andar Software customer care is there to answer your questions. It is important to use this resource as much as possible. They are able to share insight and best practices to enhance the outcome of your project."

Financial Processing Made Simple with Andar/360

As the Senior Director and Finance Administrator who single-handedly runs the financial duties of her United Way, Karen needs to ensure her financial reporting is as precise and easily accessible at a moment's notice. Running separate campaigns in Andar/360 for each revenue stream (such as grant income, workplace giving) that "tie back directly to our general ledger makes it very easy," Karen explains.

With Andar/360, your finance department can rest assured that data is organized correctly, and therefore they can pull reports quickly when questions arise. When working with her community impact team, Karen can pull reports that show real-time campaign information. Similarly, every month, Karen runs a report that covers all key financial information that helps their third-party accounting team balance the books.

Online Connections with Agencies and Board Directors

Andar/360 expands onto the web through webpage portals designed for you to connect with agency partners, volunteers, and even board members. The Finance Manager at Pam's United Way use the agency portal to locate and send designation reports. Karen also uses the agency portal for designation reporting and describes that "I don't have to sit there and PDF or print or fold or email, it just happens... It works great and is such a time saver to push the button and out goes the reports." Pam adds, "why didn't we use this 5 years ago? It is such a time saver and definitely enhances your production."

By connecting to the web, your assigned user will log in and have access to their personalized view. In the cases above, a finance manager would be able to view designation letters in their online portal. Whereas a volunteer with access the online portal can review their upcoming time commitments and view other volunteer opportunities in their area. Similarly, agency partners use the Andar/360 online portal to find qualifying grant opportunities and report back to their grant maker with program reports.

Another unique use of Andar/360's online portal is creating an online access point for board members. At Butler County United Way, Pam's team developed a portal specifically for their board directors to access weblinks, videos, webinars, and board meeting documentation. Pam speaks to the flexibility of the online portal tool by adding, "you can use [the online portal] for whatever you want it to be used for, it is really limitless."

Andar/360, the Nonprofit CRM to Power Every Department

All and all, Andar/360 has impactful tools for all areas of your organization, even those departments not covered in Pam, Karen, and Bill's examples. Andar/360 is a fully integrated CRM.

As Karen says, "think of Andar/360 like a Swiss army knife with a corkscrew, a knife, scissors and a spoon." Think of these gadgets as each of your departments. She continues, "you don't necessarily need to know how to use the other tools [outside of your department], but once you learn one piece [of Andar/360], you can learn it all." Karen follows up with an encouraging statement to "get comfortable and learn the tools in Andar/360 and it will make [learning any other area of the system] much easier."

For more information on the Andar/360 nonprofit CRM, contact us.