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How a data management change helped Save the Children

Charitable organization Save the Children leverages technology to enhance processes and help comply with GDPR.

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The UK operation of Save the Children (SCUK) works to save lives by preparing for and responding to humanitarian emergencies caused by natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and armed conflicts.

Read also: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance checklist

Like many charities, SCUK faces a number of challenges in fulfilling its mission. These include regulatory and compliance requirements such as the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires charities to be open about how they manage data and spend funds to avoid any suspicion of fraud; overcome "donor fatigue," where donors are contacted by numerous charities; and transparency, which requires charities to be open about how they manage their data.

A key data management challenge SCUK faced was trying to speed up the cleansing and loading of data into its customer relationship management (CRM) system from 50-plus streams, combining donations from direct debit, online, SMS messaging, TV campaigns, and other sources.

SCUK has been using its current CRM application for about 15 years, and the system contains more than 800 tables with more than 800 million records. These include communication histories, financial transactions, and the details of more than four million contact and organization records captured since 2002.

The team handling data import was under pressure to deal with the growing volumes of complex data, and it needed to find a more efficient way to manage the data streams that would improve the quality of incoming data and better identify potential duplicate records.

The organization deployed data integration and data quality software from Talend, which accelerated the cleansing and loading of data into the CRM system and reduced information import times by 60 percent. Another benefit was gaining an accurate view of donors, improving SCUK's ability to deliver relevant, targeted marketing campaigns that help increase donation levels.

The products have improved the identification of duplicate records prior to loading data to the CRM application, according to Penny Kenyon, data import and integrity manager at Save the Children. This ensures that new records aren't incorrectly created. Any new action by a donor is added to an existing record, ensuring a holistic view of a supporter's interactions with the organization.

"By using [the Talend products] to support the importing of supporter data to its core fundraising CRM system, Save the Children is able to ensure data feeds are loaded on a more frequent basis, with the knowledge that the quality of information meets all business rules and that no duplicate records will be created," Kenyon said.

Having better data imports and reducing the creation of duplicate records helps SCUK to provide an accurate picture of donors and supports its ability to contact donors with relevant messaging.

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And with the GDPR compliance deadline looming, it's an added benefit that the technology is helping SCUK address the new rules by improving visibility over a specific record or piece of data at any point in its lifecycle. For example, it can trace sensitive data and determine how it's accessed or processed at any point, so it can prove exactly where and why data manipulation was needed at that stage.

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