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Data Conversion: Mailings to Marketing Efforts in Blackbaud CRM™

If you have ever gone through a database conversion you know there are a million decisions to be made before go-live happens. A common area on the list that requires both pre and post-conversion work is moving mailings to Blackbaud CRM™. The Marketing Effort functionality in Blackbaud CRM™ is very powerful. If you are moving from a system that didn’t have a lot of bells and whistles in this area, the move can seem intimidating at first. However, with some careful planning, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with Marketing Efforts in Blackbaud CRM™. Here are some things you should think through:


  1. Create a cheat sheet of all of the codes typically used for marketing and where those codes will ‘end up’ in the new system. These may include things like fund codes, do not mail flags, mailing preferences, club/membership information, attributes, and other indicators.

  2. Document the criteria being used to determine who will be included in a mailing. You may have to pull the data in a new way, but it is important to have a reference point for what you are trying to replicate in the new system since access to the old system may be limited after go-live.

  3. Save some lists! Take a few of your regular mailings and save the lists of who was included. This way you can practice replicating these mailings in the new system and have them as a reference point for validation.

  4. Create a document that includes the mailing name, date, and how many people were included in the mailing for any efforts that happen on a regular basis. It’ll be handy to know if you are in the ballpark for an effort from last year.

  5. Look at your mailing schedule and determine what effort you’ll pull from the old system and where to start in your new system. You’ll want to allow for some time, post-conversion, before pulling that first effort so you can become familiar with Marketing Efforts.

  6. Discuss how you're going to track mailings that were pulled out of the old systems if gifts arrive after conversion. Will you recreate all of your previous year's mailings? Will there be a default mail code? These decisions matter.


  1. Set aside some time to practice with real-life examples. If you’ve documented your mailings and saved some list examples that were pulled recently use those to start getting used to Marketing Efforts.

  2. Give yourself 7 working days, minimum, to work on your first effort from Blackbaud CRM™. This gives enough time to set everything up, ask questions, learn about new tools, and compare numbers to your historical list.

The post-conversion list sounds easy but taking some time for the first marketing effort is essential. Your first reaction will be to try to make things match exactly to what was pulled in the past. The hardest part is you have to be willing to accept that the numbers will not be a 100% match from system to system. There are many reasons for this. The data you used to use may have converted differently or not at all.

Marketing efforts in BBCRM have functionality around address processing that may be different from what was used in the past, the way constituents fall into your segments or the use of households may impact who is available for the marketing effort, and the list goes on. The best piece of advice is that you should establish an accepted variance amount between the old and new efforts. This way when you calculate an effort and it falls within that variance you know it is good to go and if it is outside of the range then you’ve got more work to do to see what might have been missed or added due to new information.

If you'd like some help with your marketing efforts, our team of experts can lend a hand. Give us a call today.


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