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How are other folks handling direct mail lists, specifically deduping households and salutations?

Brass Contributor

I'm curious how other F&E customers approach generating direct mail lists. Some of the issues at play:

  1. Multiple household members > 1 piece of mail
    1. If we build a report or marketing list around Contacts, each household member will appear as a row in the list and will need to be deduped at some point to ensure the same family doesn't receive multiple mailings.
    2. If we build a report around Accounts, that will only include Contacts with a household account specified. Is anyone taking the NPSP approach and auto-creating household Accounts for *every* contact, regardless of the number of household members? Or instead running multiple queries to build lists around Contacts without households, then Contacts with households? Or perhaps if Contacts have a related Household, only include them if they are marked as the "Primary Household Member" in the "Household Relationship" field?
    3. If creating Households for everyone, I assume also building automation to update address values in some capacity across records?
  2. Household greetings/salutation
    1. Who's using these? Did you build out significant automation to generate and update the fields? It seems... tricky to automate all the permutations (Contact record deleted or moved to another Household, how to manage order of the names, etc). But manual seems problematic as well...
    2. Have you taken a totally different approach to generating salutations?
7 Replies

Hey @Duncan_McGovern

 

I know your question was targeted to other nonprofits/community members, but I've brought this up to the product team to see if someone can weigh in and provide some insight here. I will follow-up again as soon as I hear back from them. 

 

Thanks,

@MeenahKhosraw - any update on recommended approach/best practices to share? Thank you!

Hey @Duncan_McGovern,

 

Unfortunately, not yet. I'm still trying to track down someone who can provide some insight to your questions. My apologies!

 

There was an in-person Microsoft event this week and the team that can answer your questions were in attendance. I will be following up with them again first thing Monday. 

 

Thanks,

best response confirmed by MeenahKhosraw (Community Manager)
Solution

Hi @Duncan_McGovern

Great question!  Like you, I’d love to hear what other users of Fundraising and Engagement are leveraging as best practices with regard to direct mail lists in the product.  I want to provide resources and some perspective on why we built the Account and Contact data model as we did.

 

As you are aware, we leverage the Account entity in two ways in Fundraising and Engagement.  First, individual person accounts and second household and organizational accounts.  It was very important to us when creating the Common Data Model for Nonprofits and extending households in Fundraising and Engagement not to force organization who don’t mail to households to leverage household accounts, nor force organizations who do leverage household accounts to create a household on top of every individual person contact as is required in Nonprofit Success Pack.  This is expensive overhead from a data and duplicate management perspective.

 

Many of our customers leverage mailing lists out of the box for Fundraising and Engagement, but mid-sized and larger nonprofit organizations are going to find D365 Marketing and D365 Customer Insights to provide more powerful real-time journey and campaign management, automation, and de-duplification capabilities.

 

Some additional background on these options:

In addition, the following Microsoft partners offer de-duplification services beyond the out of the box capabilities that the D365 platform provides:

I'm not aware of a standard practice within the F&E community for choosing between building lists on contacts vs. households, and it would depend on how you’re fundraising and what your goals are.

 

To your questions on households and salutations, I want to bring some clarity and share some ideas:

 

You’re right, if you build your mailing list from the Contact entity, individual household members will need to be included, then de-duped if needed to reduce mail to 1 piece per household. Some of the benefits of building marketing lists by contacts are that you can tailor your messages more precisely to each individual, based on their interests, preferences, and behaviors. You can incorporate more activities that are linked to the contact record, such as volunteering, event attendance, or other activity records that you’re importing from external systems.

 

We created the household account contact to allow users to more quickly generate single streams of communication to primary household account holders, so I would recommend leveraging household accounts with mailing lists. Some of the benefits of building marketing lists by households are that you can target based on aggregate household giving activity and lifetime and influenced giving totals, which can help you identify major donors, prospects, and influencers. 

 

Depending on your fundraising goals and methods, you may want to use either or both approaches for building your marketing lists. But you're right that there are some challenges and trade-offs involved in maintaining and updating these lists, especially when dealing with changes multiple contacts in a household.  I would stop to consider whether this is the most data streamlined way to meet your intended business goal.  Will doubling the number of overall records in your CRM serve your organization? Will there be additional costs to storage for your organization?

 

One option is to look into building dynamic lists and evaluating them before your marketing campaigns to keep only the primary contact info for the household.  If you wanted to address all of the members of the household with your direct mail pieces, I agree with you that creating automation to maintain these salutation fields is a good practice.  There is business logic in F&E to handle when a household dissolves and household primary member needs to shift as well as a streamlined way to update addresses for household members.  One idea is to create a Power Automate flow from the Households page to maintain the household salutations based on combining the salutation fields from the contact records like “Dear [primary member’s formal salutation] and [non-primary member's formal salutation],” and trigger it based on updates to the contact records linked to a household record.   It’s even easier to create flows now with Copilot in Power Automate in case you want to try that out. Get started with Copilot in cloud flows - Power Automate | Microsoft Learn

 

I'd love to hear more feedback on how everyone is using marketing lists and whether they're integrating with other marketing tools. Let us know what you've tried and how it's working for you!  Thanks for the question, Duncan! 

 

Thank you for the reply.

I suspect our fundraising use case is a very common one: the majority of contacts have no known household members in the database, but many do. We are thus presented with a few options: either automate the creation of household Accounts for *all* Contacts; double our segmentation efforts (one set of logic when Contacts are members of a household, another for standalone Contacts); or focus on Contacts and build out some additional logic - maybe formula fields - to pull down household values when relevant, otherwise default to Contact fields.

It sounds like there is no particular best-practice recommendation from Microsoft here—I would still be very interested in hearing how other customers have solved for this.

In addition, I do have one specific follow-up question: can you clarify what you mean by "individual person accounts" in the second paragraph? Do you simply mean "contact" or is there another account concept that is different from a household account?

Thanks for the extra information, @Duncan_McGovern!  Having a majority of individual donors with a minority of households does seem like a very common situation.  Doubling your segmentation efforts might be too unmanageable, but it would also offer the chance to have different strategies and messaging to your smaller audience of households.  But based on contacts alone, one idea could be to use the household giving statistics but the primary donor salutation. 

 

And to clarity my answer, yes you are correct that I was referring to the contact record as a kind of account for individual donors not in a household. 

 

If I hear of any other options that customers have tried, I'll be sure to post back on this thread so we can keep the conversation going.  Thanks again for the great discussion topic! 

1 best response

Accepted Solutions
best response confirmed by MeenahKhosraw (Community Manager)
Solution

Hi @Duncan_McGovern

Great question!  Like you, I’d love to hear what other users of Fundraising and Engagement are leveraging as best practices with regard to direct mail lists in the product.  I want to provide resources and some perspective on why we built the Account and Contact data model as we did.

 

As you are aware, we leverage the Account entity in two ways in Fundraising and Engagement.  First, individual person accounts and second household and organizational accounts.  It was very important to us when creating the Common Data Model for Nonprofits and extending households in Fundraising and Engagement not to force organization who don’t mail to households to leverage household accounts, nor force organizations who do leverage household accounts to create a household on top of every individual person contact as is required in Nonprofit Success Pack.  This is expensive overhead from a data and duplicate management perspective.

 

Many of our customers leverage mailing lists out of the box for Fundraising and Engagement, but mid-sized and larger nonprofit organizations are going to find D365 Marketing and D365 Customer Insights to provide more powerful real-time journey and campaign management, automation, and de-duplification capabilities.

 

Some additional background on these options:

In addition, the following Microsoft partners offer de-duplification services beyond the out of the box capabilities that the D365 platform provides:

I'm not aware of a standard practice within the F&E community for choosing between building lists on contacts vs. households, and it would depend on how you’re fundraising and what your goals are.

 

To your questions on households and salutations, I want to bring some clarity and share some ideas:

 

You’re right, if you build your mailing list from the Contact entity, individual household members will need to be included, then de-duped if needed to reduce mail to 1 piece per household. Some of the benefits of building marketing lists by contacts are that you can tailor your messages more precisely to each individual, based on their interests, preferences, and behaviors. You can incorporate more activities that are linked to the contact record, such as volunteering, event attendance, or other activity records that you’re importing from external systems.

 

We created the household account contact to allow users to more quickly generate single streams of communication to primary household account holders, so I would recommend leveraging household accounts with mailing lists. Some of the benefits of building marketing lists by households are that you can target based on aggregate household giving activity and lifetime and influenced giving totals, which can help you identify major donors, prospects, and influencers. 

 

Depending on your fundraising goals and methods, you may want to use either or both approaches for building your marketing lists. But you're right that there are some challenges and trade-offs involved in maintaining and updating these lists, especially when dealing with changes multiple contacts in a household.  I would stop to consider whether this is the most data streamlined way to meet your intended business goal.  Will doubling the number of overall records in your CRM serve your organization? Will there be additional costs to storage for your organization?

 

One option is to look into building dynamic lists and evaluating them before your marketing campaigns to keep only the primary contact info for the household.  If you wanted to address all of the members of the household with your direct mail pieces, I agree with you that creating automation to maintain these salutation fields is a good practice.  There is business logic in F&E to handle when a household dissolves and household primary member needs to shift as well as a streamlined way to update addresses for household members.  One idea is to create a Power Automate flow from the Households page to maintain the household salutations based on combining the salutation fields from the contact records like “Dear [primary member’s formal salutation] and [non-primary member's formal salutation],” and trigger it based on updates to the contact records linked to a household record.   It’s even easier to create flows now with Copilot in Power Automate in case you want to try that out. Get started with Copilot in cloud flows - Power Automate | Microsoft Learn

 

I'd love to hear more feedback on how everyone is using marketing lists and whether they're integrating with other marketing tools. Let us know what you've tried and how it's working for you!  Thanks for the question, Duncan! 

 

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