Data Quality, We Are All in This Together


Creating a robust data quality framework is essential to ensure that your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) implementation remains a powerful tool for your organization. 


But in some cases, stakeholders and users in advancement may be less inclined to trust the data in the system—especially during the beginning stages of your CRM implementation. 


Stakeholders and users may think, “Not much will change after implementing the new advancement CRM because there’s already a divide.” Or “Data quality is someone else’s job.”


But that’s not true. 


There must be a shift in the mindset and organizational culture regarding data quality. Ensuring quality data is the responsibility of every person within advancement. Here’s why. 

Data Literacy 

Data literacy is viewing, working with, analyzing, and communicating the data in your advancement CRM. 


The quality of your CRM data is only as good as the people entering it. Increase data literacy through ongoing training. 

  • Educate users about the importance of data quality. 
  • Provide training resources to help users understand how to enter data accurately and consistently. 
  • Encourage users to check their work and promptly report errors they encounter. 
  • Reward employees who demonstrate exceptional commitment to maintaining high-quality data.

Data Maintenance 

Defined as the task and process to keep data reliable and updated, data maintenance includes data security, processes, and procedures. And like data literacy, data maintenance is everyone’s responsibility—whether you have security access to enter or update data or only view it. 


Your advancement team and CRM users must have a solid understanding of data maintenance processes, including data entry guidelines, validation checks, data cleansing routines, and monitoring mechanisms to improve data quality. 


When it comes to data maintenance, stakeholders and users should be able to:

  • accurately input required information into the advancement CRM; 
  • eliminate outside silo databases like Microsoft Excel spreadsheets; and
  • maintain safety.

Consider creating one if your organization still needs a data safety statement. A data safety statement is a working document illustrating how users ensure data remains safe, including security, confidentiality, and privacy rules.


For example, a safety statement may include verbiage that if users find incorrect data in the advancement CRM, they intend to take the responsibility to report it and make sure it gets corrected—not just ignored or left for someone else. 

Data Stewardship 

Data stewardship is the collection of practices that ensure data is accessible, usable, safe, and trusted. Once again, like data literacy and maintenance, every individual within advancement should see themselves as a data steward. It is not solely one person’s job. 


Good data stewardship includes:

  • managing existing CRM system or overseeing the implementation of a new system;
  • verifying that system users are adequately trained;
  • monitoring users’ entries to prevent inaccurate data from entering the CRM system;
  • standardizing information and eliminating discrepancies;
  • resolving problems like duplicate or incomplete data;
  • running and checking reports for data accuracy;
  • understanding the organization’s workflow processes and identifying opportunities for automation; and
  • maintaining control of the CRM system as more data is collected and entered.

Effective (and collaborative) data literacy, maintenance, and stewardship enable the CRM system to produce reliable data your organization trusts.