My friend and fellow consultant John Kenyon is fond of saying that, after people, data is an organization's most important asset. An organization's databases store its history: contact records; people served; donors, funders, and prospects; VIPs, volunteers, and vendors; event attendees, and more. Yet many organizations don't pay enough attention to the care and feeding of their databases.

Without policies, procedures, training, management, and ongoing attention, databases will become filled with inconsistent, unusable data, and data will be scattered hither and yon in spreadsheets, shadow databases, and desk drawers.

Some tips: Make sure someone is overseeing training and user support and watching for (and fixing) data entry errors. Pay attention to confidentiality and security: give staff and volunteers access to the data they need to do their jobs, but no more. Do all you can to prevent staff from downloading sensitive data to laptops and memory sticks. And run backups religiously.

NOTE: This post is part of a collaborative effort organized by Convio. Other participating blogs include:
• Judi Sohn
• Michael Cervino
• Beth Kanter
• Tad Druart
• Jeff Brooks
• Roger Carr
• David Neff
• Matt Wilson
• Peter Deitz
• Wendy Covey

The resolutions are collected at, where readers can vote on their favorites. And you can also link your own resolution posts to