An innovative approach to data hygiene to optimize omnichannel acquisition



Save the Children is a leading global nonprofit that works around the world to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn, and  protection from harm. Founded over 100 years ago, Save The Children was the first global organization devoted solely to serving children’s needs and securing their rights. The established charity had a goal to have an up-to-date, rich donor database and to increase engagement with its mission supporters and champions. To do this, they turned to Data Axle Nonprofit Solutions.


Save the Children is an early adopter of an omnichannel approach to constituent engagement. Audience channel is a core component to their acquisition and house programs. In working with their digital lead program, they were challenged in creating a timely and effective onboarding program while still maintaining high data quality standards. It was important for the constituent journey that those engaged digitally be identified as new to file or already existing. Based on that relationship the best constituent journey could be implemented. Save the Children wanted to automate the data cleansing process to handle their large house file and come up with a system to verify the digital leads that were constantly flowing into their CRM at a quicker pace. Their previous system involved an employee manually verifying data and the process took 4-6 weeks.

Every week, Save the Children received 15 different files with a list of new donors that was manually added to a master database across 3 different CRM systems. This manual process required two fulltime employees to do basic data entry. Save the Children had tried other vendors to help automate the process, but they only saw a 18% match rate that required this process to stay manual.

They were also frustrated because they were constantly re-acquiring potential donors that were already in their house file as there was no process to dedupe accounts. Save the Children knew if they wanted to expand their retargeting marketing program, they needed to come up with a more efficient system.


The importance of good data hygiene cannot be overstated. Nonprofits are under immense pressure to grow their house file at a low cost and keep leads fresh and viable. Save the Children brought in Data Axle to audit their current process and determine where the gaps and where the opportunities were to create efficiencies and scalable, repeatable processes that could also be automated with accuracy.

The result was Smart Match.

Smart Match: An automated, scalable approach to data matching and appending

Data Axle created an on-demand data cleansing process – Smart Match. Smart Match was originally created for a large legacy financial institution to ensure their house file was always up to date and accurate. Smart Match allows Data Axle to take a file, directly from the client, and in one easy pass – reverse append contact information and add key demographic points. With Smart Match, Save the Children is now able to add critical data points to existing contacts, such as adding mailing addresses to contacts with only email addresses in order to incorporate them into a direct mail program. They can also view crucial insights into their audience as Data Axle adds demographic attributes to the contacts as well – including wealth/HHI, age, presence of children, ethnicity and more. Once that’s done, we resolve those records and perform a match back to see if the contact already exists in the house file. If yes, we make a note to the existing contact and if not, we add that contact to their file. Data Axle’s match back rate is higher than industry average – topping out between 25 and 35%.

Data-Driven Actionable Insights to Power an Omnichannel Program

As Smart Match has hit a regular cadence, Save the Children and Data Axle explored how to apply the same coding to other acquisition programs. We are collaborating on modeling for other Save the Children programs. As well as working on integrating their 3 disparate CRM systems to create an ultimate “source of truth.” Save the Children also chose Data Axle as their quarterly National Change of Address (NCOA) partner. Applying intense data hygiene practices to direct mail is more important than ever as it becomes more expensive to produce and send campaigns.

Our work with Data Axle has increased the value of our house file and digital acquisition file. By automating our processes, we’ve been able to increase the effectiveness of our outreach as well as save vast amounts of time and internal resources.

Andrea Friedman, Business Analyst


Time and resources saved

Through this process, Data Axle has saved Save the Children considerable time. Before implementing Smart Match, getting a clean lead into the CRM took 4-6 weeks; now the turn-over time is one day. Also, the two employees who were manually updating contact lists are now active on  more strategic functions helping to growing the overall donor base.

Smart Match by the numbers

Data Axle appended 50% of the profiles in Save the Children’s house file with additional data. Data Axle was able to add full names to 9% of profiles and addresses to a whopping 30%.

A more effective acquisition program

This effort also provided more intel into how and where they should be putting their acquisition efforts. In the first three months of processing using Smart Match, Save the Children discovered up to 68% of their acquisition contacts were actually existing contacts. With this data, Save the Children is now able to optimize existing programs and improve the efficacy of their current digital acquisition strategy.

The Smart Match system is also being applied to leads acquired for all digital programs – such as membership, sustainer, advocacy and more. Data Axle is now Save the Children’s chosen data partner as they move to enterprise data across their organization. Watch this space as we continue to work together.


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