“The solution works so easily out of the box! It tells me how many duplicates I have and I can easily go through them one by one or merge them all automatically, just with the click of a button.”
A Nonprofit Salesforce Administrator Delivers Data Accuracy for an Ambulance Company
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Israel EMS Foundation is a nonprofit, providing compassionate and professional emergency medical response and ambulance transport to residents of Beit Shemesh at no cost to the patient in any circumstance. The purpose is to allow patients the comfort of calling for help without adding additional worry over the prohibitive cost of traditional EMS response and ambulance transport.
Tova Stross manages the database of the Israel EMS Foundation, a nonprofit in Israel that provides ambulance care to the community. The organization is dependent on donations in order to keep running, literally.
When members of their community need transportation to the hospital, it’s important that they know someone will answer their call. But as with so many nonprofits, a small budget doesn’t mean that the data can be any less accurate. The list of contacts that they have compiled is the direct line to revenue for the business of providing ambulance service. As any successful nonprofit knows, inaccuracies in the data, especially duplicates, degrade the value of the contacts and, thus, the development potential of the list.
Driving Toward Clean Data by Removing Duplicates
Tova was approached by the director of the organization to manage the EMS database. They had turned to Salesforce as the most efficient way to keep all phone numbers, emails, and donations in one place. Tova explained that the donations could appear in two separate places if, for example, more than one person in a household provided contact information or had donated previously. “The accounts are listed by household,” said Tova. “You could have a contact for the husband and another for the wife. So the information is listed together, but you have two contacts. We were encountering donations that were being credited to two separate places.”
The contacts within the household listing would be different, but the system wasn’t identifying the extra data as duplicate. As a result, the donation numbers would be incorrect, giving an erroneous view of how much money had been donated. Additionally, the same household can be contacted multiple times when there is no distinction among duplicates in the data. Donor relations suffer when an organization seems oblivious to who is giving money. An added layer is the international profile of many of the Israeli residents, who are also American citizens with different spellings between names in Hebrew and in English. Tova noted that even simple spellings could present problems in the data, like Jessica spelled with one ‘s’ or with two. “We also have surnames that could be different but are related to the same contact, such as Brown vs. Braun,” added Tova.
Tova, who had been working in Salesforce for about a year at that point, realized that the introduction of duplicates to her data was causing enough of a problem that she needed a solution.
Benefits of Clean Data for Nonprofits
Nonprofits that use analytics capabilities to keep their data clean fare better than those that don’t. In fact, 78% of nonprofits with advanced analytics capabilities reported that they perform their missions with greater efficiency, according to the IBM executive report on analytics, Leap before you lag. As the report notes, “To make meaningful advances, nonprofits need to commit to becoming data-driven.” Administrators for nonprofits are then better able to collaborate with partners, donors, and others within their network.
Integrating a data-driven solution offers specific benefits to the nonprofit industry, including:
- Membership recruitment and retention
- Fundraising and outreach
- Accountability and reporting
- Budgeting and forecasting
Tova was aware of the information she needed but was frustrated by the inability of the Salesforce system to weed out the duplicates. They knew that optimizing fundraising efforts through reliable data not only has a positive impact on a nonprofit’s success, but it helps to ensure the organization is accomplishing its mission. In this case, the EMS business was not getting a true picture of its benefactors. Without visibility, they couldn’t get an overall sense of whether their strategy was effective. Lack of insight to data affects both long-term planning and day-to-day operations.
Tova first reached out to Salesforce, which provides licenses to nonprofits. “I was still learning Salesforce, but it is kind of tedious. As a nonprofit, we don’t have the money to invest in a lot of the additional tools that can optimize the data.” Salesforce does provide a message board for its nonprofit members, and Tova turned to that for help.
”As a nonprofit, we don’t have the money to invest in a lot of the additional tools that can optimize the data.Tova Stross
The Rush to Identify a Deduplication Tool
Salesforce duplicate management is one of the core components that is available in all editions of Salesforce. However, the deduplication function is only able to deduplicate three records at a time. And duplicates are stealthy. You can read more about these shortcomings in our blog, Salesforce Duplicate Management Isn’t Enough. Even though Salesforce can notify users that they are about to create a duplicate record and even block them from doing so, there are many other ways that duplicates can enter the system. Importing contacts from a spreadsheet and migrating contacts to Salesforce from a previous CRM are just two examples.
Many third-party duplicate checking apps also struggle with the inability to catch all dupes. In the case of contact importing, both Salesforce and most apps require the user to import the contacts first, and then it would run the duplicate check. However, such an approach puts the user on the defensive, always having to be on the lookout for new duplicates.
This is the exhausting scenario that was confronting Tova. She posted her query for suggestions of a deduplicate tool on the Salesforce nonprofit message board. “People recommended many of the top apps currently on the AppExchange. I tried one of the major tools as a free trial. But it didn’t scan through all of the contacts and accounts. I didn’t see a difference to what Salesforce had already built in. Plus, it wasn’t easy to use out of the box and it was very expensive.”
Tova’s search on the AppExchange brought her to DataGroomr. “DataGroomr was immediately helpful and very accommodating,” commented Tova. She noted that it was good timing, because she had reached a point with her database that managing the duplicates was becoming untenable. She had to check many records manually.
With the DataGroomr 14-day free trial, “It was amazing,” said Tova. “I had 9,600 records, and it was cut down by 1,000.” After the trial, she subscribed to the app and notes that the other differentiating factor for her was DataGroomr’s customer support. “When I was working on the customization, Ben got on the phone with me and walked me through the entire process.”
”I tried one of the major tools as a free trial. But it didn’t scan through all of the contacts and accounts. I didn’t see a difference to what Salesforce had already built in. Plus, it wasn’t easy to use out of the box and it was very expensive.Tova Stross
Machine Learning Delivers CPR for Ailing Databases
Machine learning is a unique and effective way to manage duplicates in the data because it doesn’t require any filters or rules to be set up. DataGroomr is the only deduplication app to apply machine learning algorithms. You can learn more about the distinction between machine learning and automation for deduping in the blog Machine Learning vs. Automation: What’s the Difference.
One of the biggest advantages is that it does all of the work for the user. The system learns to identify duplicates based on user actions. As information is collected, each relevant field will have a “weight” assigned. The more information collected, the more accurate this weight becomes. When implemented properly, the process can be highly accurate and scalable in detecting duplicates.
“Trimmr is the main DataGroomr tool that I use,” said Tova. “It’s so easy for merging all contacts. Even when something is spelled in different ways, DataGroomr knows to put it all together into one contact.” Trimmr shows duplicates side by side, so users can merge the way they want to. Other tools within the DataGroomr platform are Importr, Supervisr, Schedulr, Auditr, and Brushr.
Tova subscribed to DataGroomr when her free trial was over, also acknowledging that the price point, with nonprofits getting a 20% discount, was highly attractive. “The solution works so easily out of the box,” she added. “I didn’t have to program anything. It tells me how many duplicates I have and I can easily go through them one by one or merge them all automatically if I am confident in the suggested matches, just with the click of a button.”
”Trimmr is the main DataGroomr tool that I use. It’s so easy for merging all contacts. Even when something is spelled in different ways, DataGroomr knows to put it all together into one contact.Tova Stross