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Behind Every Successful Fraternity Is a Good Database

Alumni are your greatest asset, the key to your fraternity or sorority’s long-term health. Keeping in touch with them is vital, but there’s only one way to do that: maintain a robust alumni database.

When you have hundreds or even a thousand alumni, keeping a clean, current database can be tough. We’ve worked with groups across the country and have learned a few tricks to get you started:

· Record as much information on your alumni as you can. That means going beyond valid email addresses and current mailing addresses. What information might you want? Job titles, employers, donation history and records of updates they’ve shared about their lives. By tracking this information, you’ll be able to easily identify prospective donors for a campaign or notable alumni to feature in your next newsletter.

· Validate the accuracy of your data. It’s important to remember data you collect or that is submitted to you may not always be accurate. There’s no sense in sending emails or mailings to invalid addresses, so be sure to make use of tools that can help you verify the accuracy of your data, such as those that offer email verification.

· Track bounces. If you’re sending emails, be sure to mark in your records which email addresses have bounced (in other words are invalid) or confirm that the software you’re using can provide a list of emails that bounced. You can then publish a list of brothers or sisters for whom you’re missing emails in an effort to collect current contact information. Alumni are often in touch with others from their era and may be able to share the missing information, allowing you to update your records.

· Always provide an update form. If you’re sending appeal letters soliciting for donations, be sure to provide a form so your alumni can provide updates to their contact information. It helps if you perforate it so they can tear it off and send it back with their donation.

· Use Address Service Requested or Return Service Requested when mailing. This is one of the easiest ways to get address corrections from your most recent mailed piece. With the use of these Ancillary Service endorsements, you’ll receive address corrections, and you can update your database with the most current address the post office has on file.

· Don’t have the time to mantain your database? Let the experts do it for you. The point is an up-to-date, accurate database is key to building and maintaining relationships with alumni, donors and potential donors. Even the best letters and emails will fail if they are never delivered. Only when you have a clean, current database can you effectively reach your alumni to share news, build camaraderie and solicit their support in the form of financial donations or volunteering. Affinity hosts your data, analyzes it, “scrubs” it clean and then continually updates it for you. If you don’t have the capacity to maintain your database, we’re happy to do it for you!

Have questions about any of these tips or how to start compiling or updating your database? Email us or call your Affinity Connection managing editor at (814) 237-0481 to learn how we can take care of all your database needs.