Vowing to eat healthier and/or exercise more this year? You’re not alone.

I, for one, have decided to make a few lifestyle changes after my credit company called with concerns about a “suspicious” charge on my card: some vegetables.

But while we are ramping up our diet and workout routines, it’s important not to forget everything else. Why not take a more holistic approach this January by keeping your data healthy as well?

Join me in keeping your database fit with these three tips:

Ditch those chips

The BBQ potato chips sitting in my pantry need to go. I don’t even like them that much. Those salty little buggers are just something to munch on when I’m bored. What’s more, they’re taking up space that could be used for a healthier and tastier snack.

Just like those chips, dormant members within your database are holding you back. They are the folks that refuse to open your emails and haven’t made a donation in some time now. They occupy server space that could be used by someone who is passionate about your cause, ready to offer time and money to your organization. A good way to get started is to decide when that cut-off is within your organization for someone to be considered “dormant”.

It can be hard to delete a large group of “supporters” from your system. If you are afraid of losing people who genuinely still want to be kept up on your list, send out a ‘Last Chance’ email – they can choose to opt in to staying on your list. Everyone else can go. Your records will decrease, but you will have a stronger list of engaged supporters.

For our Databank clients, try clearing out these unengaged records with your Dormant Member Report. This helpful report will help you free up the space you need for all of the new, more enthusiastic members that you will acquire throughout 2017!

Get in a groove

The first couple times I get back to the gym will be rough. My arms and legs will no doubt be sore from the exertion that they haven’t experienced in what seems like an eon. However, with a little perseverance and a lot of ibuprofen, my body will adapt.

So it is with merging duplicates. I challenge you to spend ten minutes each week on combining these unnecessary copies. That’s it. Ten minutes is all it takes. While it may seem like a pain at first, soon it will become a natural part of your schedule. After a while, you’ll be keeping a healthy database, free of the clutter caused by duplicate records, strictly out of habit.

Why would you want to remove these duplicates in the first place, you ask? Consider that these records could be costing you future engagement with your members. Take for example if Amanda, a long-time supporter in your database, made a recent donation under the name Mandi. This would create a whole new member record, not placing that donation under Amanda where all her previous giving is stored. Not only would this be confusing, but slightly insulting. She would receive two thank you letters at the end of the year: one addressed to Amanda and one to Mandi. This might indicate to her that you don’t know, or care, who she is, which wouldn’t exactly inspire her to continue engaging with your organization.

Here’s a helpful hint for our clients: Merge Records That Are Not Detected By Our Regular Duplicate Merging Process.

Buddy up

When it comes to diet and exercise, two heads are better than one. If I have a friend that’s willing to drag me out of bed for an early morning workout there is a million percent better chance that I will accomplish my goals. Being held accountable makes a big difference.

This is exactly why you should elicit the help of your members in keeping your database fit. Send out a signup form to all of your constituents asking them to update any info you’d like, e.g., their phone number, their email address, or their mailing address. This way you can be certain that your data is most accurate.

Additionally, if you’re a client of the Databank, you can turn on the auditing function within your Form Builder to receive an email anytime a member makes a change to their information.

Whether you are a client or not, if you don’t have the tools for constituents to be able to update their information, you can run various data service appends like an NCOA or address verification.

So there you have it: use these three tips and your database will look nice and trim in no time.

How do you keep your database in shape? Comment with your healthy habits below!