A walk through any charity’s administration department in the weeks following their pre tax appeal mailing, and you’re bound to find boxes stuffed full of their direct mail items marked as Return To Sender.

Most people would argue this is part and parcel of using direct mail, as a channel to generate valuable income for your cause, so receiving and processing return mail is a fundamental part of the process.

When you take into account that every day in Australia approximately 9,500 people move house and 400 people die, maintaining accurate up-to-date information about your donors is a constant daily challenge for any organisation.

The critical most important factor to the success of any campaign (regardless of channel) is the accuracy of the data, so it goes without saying using inaccurate and out-of-date data costs you money, lowers your response rates and damages your brand. Therefore cleaning your data regularly is the only way to maintain the integrity of your data.

A decaying database will deteriorate at a rate of about 6% per annum, and whether you clean annually or monthly it will still equal 6%. The only variable is in how much money you waste mailing people who have moved or died since your last clean. This number inevitably gets bigger the longer you leave it.

These days suppression (identifying deceased and gone-aways) seems a bit of an inadequate solution. I worked really hard to acquire that donor and now they have moved without telling me! Well yes of course! What, you expected them to tell you? Wrong!! Don’t panic, however, help is at hand. These days there is a range of data suppression files and tracking products available on the market to help you maintain contact with your donors and tell you where they have moved to. Make sure you ask your supplier to run the gone-aways identified against a tracking product such as the New Address Enhancement (NAE) file so your gone-aways actually represent a retention opportunity, because we all know that retaining a donor is more cost-effective than winning new ones.

For more information about our data suppression and data cleansing services please contact Glenn Harrison on 1300 873 849 or