Untangling Inactive Records in Raiser's Edge: A Comprehensive Guide for Nonprofits

Jul 17, 2023

A successful nonprofit fundraising strategy hinges on the efficient use of donor databases. Raiser’s Edge™ has become a trusted name when it comes to robust, flexible, and comprehensive fundraising software. However, like any powerful database system, it can throw up challenges. One of these involves managing “inactive records”. In this blog post, we’ll delve into understanding inactive records in Raiser’s Edge™ and how to effectively manage them.

Defining Inactive Records in Raiser’s Edge™

In the realm of Raiser’s Edge™, an "inactive" record generally refers to the donor records that are no longer active. These could be records of donors who have stopped contributing, passed away, requested not to be contacted again, or whose contact details are no longer valid.

Managing these inactive records in Raiser’s Edge™ is an essential part of maintaining an efficient and effective database system. Inappropriately managed inactive records can result in wasted resources, missed opportunities, and inefficiencies that can undermine your nonprofit's fundraising efforts.

Understanding the Importance of Managing Inactive Records

Before we dive into how to manage inactive records in Raiser’s Edge™, it's essential to understand the importance of this process. Here are a few reasons why managing these records is crucial:

  1. Enhanced Data Accuracy: Having a database littered with inactive records can lead to inaccuracies and confusion. It becomes difficult to get a clear picture of your active donors and fundraising potential when your database is cluttered with irrelevant information.

  2. Increased Efficiency: With properly managed records, your team spends less time sifting through irrelevant data, thus streamlining your donor engagement efforts.

  3. Reduced Costs: Many database systems charge based on the amount of data stored. Raiser’s Edge™ charges by the record count. By keeping your database clean, you can potentially reduce costs associated with data storage, including number of records.

  4. Improved Donor Relationships: Efficient record management helps in building meaningful relationships with donors. It helps to ensure that your communication efforts are targeted towards active and potential donors, rather than wasted on inactive ones.

Strategies for Managing Inactive Records in Raiser's Edge

Now that we've highlighted the importance of managing inactive records in Raiser’s Edge™ let's discuss some strategies to tackle this task effectively.

  1. Defining Your Parameters for Inactivity: Before starting the cleanup process, you need to define what ‘inactive’ means for your organization. Is it a donor who hasn’t donated in the last two years? Or is it five years? Your organization needs to set these parameters based on its unique needs and donor behaviors. Here are what we recommend to clients: Inactive records include those who haven't given to your organization in 5+ years, nondonors, both adults in the household are passed away, the donor has requested zero communication, and/or no contact information is available or accurate. 

  2. Establish a Regular Audit Schedule: Regular audits of your Raiser’s Edge™ database allow you to identify and manage inactive records routinely. These audits can be conducted annually, biannually, or based on a schedule that suits your organization's needs.

  3. Marking Records as Inactive: Once you have identified inactive records based on your set criteria, you can use Raiser’s Edge™ features to mark these records as inactive. This will prevent these records from appearing in your routine reports and searches, thus streamlining your processes.

  4. Archiving vs. Deleting: While it may be tempting to delete inactive records, a safer approach is to archive them. Archiving allows you to preserve historical data while keeping your active database clean and manageable.

  5. Creating a Data Retention Policy: An effective data retention policy can guide how long you hold onto certain types of data, including inactive records. This policy can be guided by both legal requirements and your organization's internal needs.


Managing inactive records in Raiser’s Edge™ is not just a task to be checked off your to-do list; it's an ongoing process that plays a crucial role in the success of your nonprofit organization. Proper management of these records enhances the efficiency of your database, leading to improved donor relationships and successful fundraising campaigns.

Always remember that while Raiser’s Edge™ is a powerful tool, its efficiency ultimately depends on the quality of the data it houses. By effectively managing inactive records, your organization can maximize the potential of this fantastic platform.

Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and guides on making the most of your Raiser’s Edge™ database. Remember, a well-managed database isn't just about clean data; it's about the opportunities that this data can unlock for your organization.

About Mary Hackett

Mary Hackett is a vibrant and engaging powerhouse in the world of major gift expertise, with a sparkling career steeped in the intricacies of fundraising operations. Residing in the picturesque town of Bend, Oregon, Mary's professional journey is as lively and inspiring as her scenic surroundings. Her extensive experience in fundraising is marked by a unique blend of strategic insight and a contagious enthusiasm that has consistently propelled organizations to new heights of success. With a knack for connecting with people and a deep understanding of the nuances of philanthropy, Mary has become a sought-after expert in her field. Her approach to fundraising is not just about meeting targets; it's about building relationships, weaving stories, and creating impactful experiences that resonate with donors and communities alike. In Mary's world, every fundraising campaign is an adventure, filled with opportunities to make a meaningful difference while having a whole lot of fun along the way. Want to work with Mary? 

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Learn more at www.maryhackett.co

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