Article #6 - Mapping Your Data

Article #6 - Mapping Your Data

Your existing data may be coming from multiple sources, some electronic, some paper based and some residing in people's memory. "Mapping" refers to the activity of taking existing data that was labeled in a certain way and "slotting" it into your CRM. This is a very important step and skipping it may cause undesired consequences in the future. For example, you may not be able to control or report on data the way you expect.

Everyone thinks about data differently, based on experience with another CRM or no CRM at all. For example, "Donation", "Opportunity", and "Contribution" all refer to money given to your organization. Your CRM was designed to be flexible and adaptable, so you should have no problem finding the proper place for every piece of information relevant to your organization.

Resist the temptation to add custom fields right away. Instead of adding a new field for manually entering membership expiration dates, learn about your CRM's membership component that already automates membership duration, expiration and renewal reminders for you. Having multiple fields to collect the same data will cause confusion later. Avoid data duplication by making informed choices up front. Sketching it out on paper helps! We are also here to help you with this one-time but crucial migration step. 

The following will introduce you to options your CRM already provides for you out of the box with tips along the way for mapping your data. Instead of using "flat" spreadsheets, relationships will tie your data together. Using relationships, you will be able to create a more complete picture of the community that makes up your organization.

Basic information about your contacts

Your CRM comes with default fields to store contact names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, notes and other contact information. Since your CRM was designed for nonprofits, the mapping of your most basic contact information should be very easy.

Your CRM divides contacts into 3 categories (Contact Types) based on who or what they are:

  • Individuals: any person your organization wants to keep a record of (the one you'll use the most)
  • Organizations: this could be another non-profit, a company, a chapter of your organization, or a committee. You already the default organization included (look at Article 2). 
  • Households: a family or group of people who share a physical location

Each contact type comes with different fields, according to the different kinds of data you will probably want to track. For example, gender only applies to individuals, not organizations or households, so the gender field is only available for Individual contact types and subtypes.


Information about your contacts that is specific to your organization (Basic Introduction to Custom Fields)

Many organizations collect data specific to their mission or structure. Even though your CRM comes with fields to store basic data that all non-profits collect, similarities between non-profits end at a certain point. For example, your organization may be interested in information about allergies (for individuals) or service area (organizations).

When mapping data into your CRM, decide if the information pertains to an individual, organization, or household. Additional information like "service area" only makes sense for Organizations. 

Another example of Custom Fields is "voter data" which some organizations depend on to know who are voters in a particular area and who are not. Voter Data are custom fields that are included in every portal. It can be easily disabled if this data is irrelevant to your mission.