How to Clean Up Old or Inactive Accounts in eTapestry

Category: Database Health

Some data has a shelf life. The value of data deteriorates when it is no longer needed or useful. As the last time a constituent engaged with your organization gets farther and farther into the past, the data associated with that account becomes less and less valuable. So how do you clean up or even delete inactive accounts that are no longer valuable to your organization?

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Why clean up accounts in eTapestry?

Cleaning up and potentially removing accounts is a process you should consider performing once a year. This process is an eTapestry best practice because:

  • A clean mailing list or email list of active constituents will increase conversion rates, decrease costs per appeal, and improve the overall effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
  • Your eTapestry database becomes easier to manage and the quality of your data increases when accounts in your database are actively engaged with your organization.
  • Your eTapestry license is based on the number of accounts in your eTapestry database. Cleaning up inactive accounts is a way to manage your annual software license.

3 Steps to Clean Up Accounts in eTapestry

Cleaning up and potentially deleting inactive accounts from your eTapestry database is a major project. The clean up process should be well thought out. Taking great care during this process will ensure that whatever actions you take don’t impact the integrity of your database.

Step 1 – Identify old or inactive accounts

The first step in the process is to identify all accounts that you consider inactive. The definition of “inactive” will vary widely from organization to organization. It is important to develop a list of conditions that are specific to your organization.

It is best to write out the definition of an inactive account before you continue with the next steps in this process. For example, if you identify donors that haven’t given in the last five years to be inactive, then write down that condition. Draft a complete list of conditions for your inactive accounts.

Step 2 – Build queries to capture old or inactive accounts

Build a separate query for each condition and determine how many accounts exist within each segment.

Keep in mind that each query will be exclusive of the other queries you build for each condition, so expect duplication. Create a compound query to see an unduplicated list of accounts that are “inactive” based on your conditions.

Confirm that the accounts contained in your queries, and based on your conditions, are the ones you want to clean up. Do not proceed to the next step until you are one hundred percent certain you captured the correct accounts.

Step 3 – Decide how to clean up old or inactive accounts

Approach this final step with caution. Some of the clean up options in this step are irreversible. Review each option carefully and be sure you understand the implications of each option before proceeding.

  • 1. Mass update all accounts as “Inactive”

    Cleaning up inactive accounts doesn’t always mean, “deleting” inactive accounts. Your organization may want to add a user-defined field (UDF) to the constituent account profile that identifies accounts as “Inactive.” Using the queries you built to identify inactive accounts, you can mass update each query with the “Inactive” field value. Now you can exclude accounts from communications lists using the “Inactive” field value.

  • 2. Selectively mass edit accounts as “Inactive”

    Instead of using mass updates to flag accounts as inactive in bulk, you can be more selective with a mass edit process. Add a UDF to the constituent account profile like we outlined in Option #1 above. Export all or some accounts to Excel, and then edit each account’s row in Excel by flagging certain accounts as inactive. You can modify all accounts in the Excel file or selectively choose some accounts, and not others. Then re-import the data back into eTapestry.

  • 3. Leave accounts as is and exclude specific accounts from communications lists

    Now that you’ve categorized all inactive accounts into a single compound query, you can simply exclude those accounts from all future communications lists. Use the “Subtract” compound query logic to subtract your inactive accounts query from your target list of accounts for your mailing list.

  • 4. Archive and manually delete accounts one by one

    If you want to remove accounts altogether, you can manually remove accounts one by one from your eTapestry database.

    Export any accounts you plan to delete to Excel before you start the process. Archive the data in your organization’s shared drive to ensure the data is available if you ever need it in the future.

    Go into each account that you want to delete and select Delete Role from the Account Settings page. This will permanently delete the account from your eTapestry database. Deleting an account is an irreversible action.

  • 5. Archive and mass delete accounts in batch

    Deleting accounts in batch is also an option. However, we recommend this option only after careful consideration and only after you archive all of the data you plan to delete. This process is quicker than deleting accounts one by one, but can be more damaging if it isn’t planned out beforehand.

    Many organizations choose to flag accounts as inactive instead of mass deleting accounts in order to maintain the integrity of their database.  Mass deleting accounts in your organization’s database is also an irreversible action.

Keeping your eTapestry database clean and healthy

Account data gets old and can weigh down your eTapestry database. We recommend taking action to clean up old account data once per year.

With many options to consider when cleaning up old or inactive accounts, your organization should think through your intended path first. Be sure to outline why you want to clean up inactive accounts and how you will proceed with the cleanup process.

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