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NCOA and Blackbaud CRM™ : Tips and Tricks

It’s time to run your database through the National Change of Address (NCOA) system. Let’s be honest: if you're not using the out of the box NCOA process, there is no magic button! Getting your NCOA updates imported back into Blackbaud CRM™ requires some, or a lot, of work.

Every constituent database needs to go through the NCOA process ensure accurate address data to receive preferred postage rates, and saving piles of returned mail. If your organization relies on the assistance of an outside vendor to run NCOA, the steps below will help import the updated addresses using available Blackbaud CRM™ batches, ensuring a smooth process for your organization!

Tip #1

  • The data sent in your outbound file is critical to ensure a successful import of NCOA files:

  • Be sure you don’t include foreign addresses or blank addresses when you send your file to the vendor.

  • Don’t include addresses that are missing both City and ZIP.

  • Country should be spelled out for all United States addresses (don't use the abbreviation.)

  • Include all required fields for your Constituent Update Batch templates that will be returned through to the inbound file, i.e. Country, Address Type, Address Is Primary, Constituent Type, Last/Organization/Group/Household Name, etc.

Tip #2

  • The layout of your inbound NCOA file is equally as important. In order to use Constituent Update Batch, ensure

  • ​Proper date formats are used (MM/DD/YYYY)

  • Proper values are used for Yes/No fields (1=Yes, 2 = No).

  • Address Zip should be Zip plus 4 in a single field.

  • Split the file into different types of files you'll import (i.e., Changes, Update, etc..)

Tip #3

  • Create Constituent Update Batch templates:

  • Create a template that can be reused each time you import your NCOA data.

  • Create different templates for each type of action you'll ask the import to do - i.e. Address Changes vs. Address Updates.

  • Use the Update Household Field to Update the same address on individuals, households and groups.

  • For No Forward/Undeliverable be sure to match to Old Address (this is a mistake people make frequently)!

Tip #4

  • Create Import Templates to bring data into Constituent Update Batches.

  • ​The Import template maps the data fields from the file to the Constituent Update Batch fields.

  • Create different templates for each type of action needed in CRM i.e. Address Changes vs. Address Updates (these should match the batch templates you create.)

  • On the Import Process Setting, pay close attention to the Address Update options you're choosing.

Tip #5

  • Split large files into separate files for ease of import

  • Undeliverable files are generally your largest file.

  • Work with you vendor to have the NCOA files split into Part 1, Part 2, etc.

  • In order to import more quickly, and reduce potential import errors, files should be limited to around 200,000 records.

  • It’s most helpful to import these large files overnight into Constituent Update Batch and review them before committing.

  • Review the timing of your import to ensure you're not conflicting with other scheduled processes.

  • Lastly, make sure you commit the batches before a large mailing is sent.

After the initial investment in time to set up the processes and templates, the good news is the process becomes repeatable. Still struggling with importing NCOA files? Send us a note, we'll be happy to help.

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