Data Cleaning

So your crowdfunder has been a huge success, you’ve exceeded your target, and you’ve downloaded the spreadsheet with 500 donors whose perks need to be delivered. And then you notice it’s not all quite there.

Because there no such thing as a standard UK address, and because web forms only offer minimal data validation, inevitably the file you get from your crowdfunding web partner will need some cleaning up before you actually get to printing address labels. Printing badly formatted or partial addresses will result in perks getting lost or delivered to the wrong address, costing you money. So these need to be fixed first. Here are just some of the issues you’ll regularly encounter:

Single case
The donor has typed their name and address either all in lower case, or in upper case. This is largely a human-readability issue, but can confuse both Post Office staff and automated optical address reading machines.

House or flat number on a single line
This affects a huge number of addresses. The crowdfunding web forms encourage people to put their house or flat number on a separate line from the street name. This results in a nonsensical address where the first line is simply a number.

Post codes without spaces
The Post Office uses a two-part post code formed of letters and numbers. The rules for this are quite complicated, and a post code can be 6, 7 or 8 characters long formed into two groups. People often type their post code without the space between these two character groups, which again can be confusing for Post Office staff and machinery.

Partial post codes
This is particularly tricky if the donor has only typed the first half of their post code into the web form. If you send it as is, it might end up in the right city, but there’s little chance of it landing on the right doormat.

Partial addresses
Similar to above, the donor has only typed half their postal address into the form. Again, this will confuse the heck out of postal workers and automated sorting machines.

No name
Incredibly, this does happen. People forget to put their own name on the crowdfunding form! This is a particular problem when it’s being delivered to a block of flats and it’s not immediately obvious to the postal worker who’s letterbox to put it through.

If you were to manually go through the file and correct these issues line by line – and believe us, we have done that – it would take hours, possibly days!

Happily, we’ve developed tools to analyse address data and correct almost all of these issues automatically in a matter of seconds. Our private donor database means that we can match partial addresses or post codes to a known donor with the click of a button.

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