3 Ways to Run a Clean Mailing List in eTapestry Software

Donor engagement is a key to fundraising success. Whether you communicate with donors via mail, email, or other methods, you will need segmented lists of constituents from your Blackbaud® eTapestry® database that exclude constituents that should not or do not want to hear from you. The final list of constituents is what we call a “Clean Mailing List.”

The ability to produce a clean mailing list is one of eTapestry’s many benefits.

  • Enter every constituent in eTapestry
  • Flag each account with preferences and demographics
  • When the time comes, you can magically produce a list of constituents for a mailing or email quickly and easily

Although eTapestry software does most of the work for you, generating a clean mailing list isn’t “push-button” easy. In fact, there is more than one way to generate a clean mailing list. Let’s explore three options.

What is the Mailing Status field?

The “Mailing Status” field lives on the Constituent Defined Fields page of an account. Every account has a Constituent Defined Fields page. The Constituent Defined Fields page contains custom fields for constituent preferences, demographics, and interests.

The Mailing Status field generally contains field values like Do Not Mail, Do Not Solicit, Bad Address, Not Head of Household, and Inactive. It can contain others.

The purpose of this field is to flag accounts that should not receive direct mail communications from you.

Accounts that have a field value listed in the Mailing Status field should be removed from mailing lists. A clean mailing list, in its most basic form, is a list of all constituents excluding those with a Mailing Status field value.

How to build a clean mailing list

Like most tasks in eTapestry, there is more than one way to achieve a clean mailing list. The method you choose will depend on how you plan to use the mailing list and the structure of your data in eTapestry.

  • 1. Compound query

    Building a compound query is the best option if you plan to use your mailing list with the communication features in eTapestry.

    Build a compound query for your mailing list in eTapestry and you can immediately use that query to send a mass email or generate a batch of letters, labels, and envelopes.

    Use the “Subtract” compound formula for your clean mailing list query.

    • Step 1 – Create a query of the constituents that you want to include in your mailing list. The criteria for your mailing list can be complex or simple. The final query may even be a combination of basic, compound, and custom account queries. However you get there, the final output should be a single query that contains all of the constituents you want to include in your mailing list.
    • Step 2 – Create a query of the constituents that you don’t want to include in your mailing list (i.e. the constituents you want to exclude). The criteria will most likely include those with a Mailing Status field value like Do Not Mail or Do Not Solicit (and any others).
    • Step 3 – Create a new compound query and subtract the query you created in Step 2 (those you don’t want to mail to) from the query you created in Step 1 (those you do want to mail to). This final output is your clean mailing list.

    You can simplify the query building process by writing out a query blueprint before you start building any queries. A blueprint will tell you the steps to take to generate the final clean mailing list query.

  • 2. Basic query (field has no value)

    If your database is set up in a specific way, you can skip the compound query option.

    Most clean mailing lists exclude constituents that have a “negative” mailing status value. A negative value is any constituent that should not receive mail from you or does not want to receive mail from you.

    If the “Mailing Status” field in your eTapestry database contains ONLY “negative” mailing status values, you can use a simple exclusion in a basic query to remove them from your mailing list.

    • Step 1 – Build a single basic query that includes all of the constituents for your mailing list. If you need to build a compound query to capture your mailing list, this option will not work and you should use the compound query option above.
    • Step 2 – Add the Mailing Status field criteria to your mailing list query.  Make sure your mailing list query also includes criteria for all constituents that you wish to include in the mailing.
    • Step 3 – Set the Mailing Status field criteria to “Field has no value.” This means find all constituents where the Mailing Status field is blank. Stated differently, find all constituents that don’t have a “negative” Mailing Status value, meaning they are good to go for our mailing list.

    As stated before, this option only works if the Mailing Status field in your eTapestry database includes all values that you want to exclude from your mailing list.

    This option, like the compound query option, is perfect if you want to a use clean mailing list query to generate a mass email or a letter template in eTapestry.

  • 3. Filter in Excel

    If you plan to export your mailing list into another communications software, building a complex query in eTapestry may be overkill. Export your mailing list to Excel and filter your clean mailing list in Excel.

    Filtering in Excel is generally quicker and easier than building multi-level compound queries in eTapestry.

    • Step 1 – Create a query of the constituents that you want to include in your mailing list. The criteria for your mailing list can be complex or simple. Be sure to include every constituent you want in your mailing list.
    • Step 2 – Build a report that includes the contact data you need for the communication. For example, add the address and salutations for a direct mail campaign. Also add any fields that identify constituents to exclude from the final mailing list. For example, add the Mailing Status field to the report.
    • Step 3 – Export the report to Excel. Use filters to exclude all accounts that should not receive the mailing or do not want to receive the mailing. For example, remove all rows where the Mailing Status field is not empty.

    This option is flexible, but don’t use it if you plan to run a communications template through the eTapestry mass email or eTapestry letter features.

Should you clean up mailing lists inside or outside eTapestry?

The method you use to generate a clean eTapestry mailing list depends largely on whether you will use the list inside or outside eTapestry software.

  • By default, if you plan to use eTapestry mass email or eTapestry letters, you must build the full query in eTapestry.
  • If you are using another email or mail program, then exporting to Excel and filtering in Excel is generally easier than building perfect queries in eTapestry.

Pick the method that matches your requirements!

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