Flying for Life

Millions of people live in communities or remote areas with no roads and minimal access to the outside world. If this was your reality, how would you reach a doctor to help you and your family? How would you work to provide for those who rely on you or learn and develop new skills? Physical barriers, such as dense jungles and impassable mountain ranges, or obstacles resulting from natural disasters or conflict are all real impediments to communities in need.

For over 75 years, Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has helped overcome these barriers and today uses light aircraft to provide flights for more than 2,000 aid, development and mission organisations, enabling them to bring everyday essentials as well as medical care, emergency relief, long-term development and Christian hope to thousands of communities.

With a MAF plane taking off or landing every four minutes, the need for continued support and funding is essential. We spoke with Duncan Colyer, MAF UK’s Database Manager, to find out how maintaining communication with supporters allows the vital work to continue;

“I joined MAF two and a half years ago to migrate the existing supporter management system to Dynamics 365. We were previously reliant on old tech and wanted a new cloud based solution that would allow us to better communicate with our supporters.

Part of the brief was integrating additional functionality including full document management, automatically adding emails and address validation to help ensure supporter data was accurate.

Of all the components we integrated, the address validation from AFD was by far the simplest to get working. It was pain-free and refreshing to have something we could just get done simply.”

Best use of resources

With a traditional supporter base from an older demographic, MAF principally uses physical letters to maintain contact with supporters in a variety of ways. Duncan explains:

“In terms of individuals, we have over 100,000 supporters within our database, though not all are active and being mailed to. We send around 8 mailings a year to our ‘active’ supporters and we also send letters to express our thanks to supporters who have made donations.

In a year we can send up to 400,000 physical letters and we need to do all we can to make sure this vital correspondence is reaching the intended supporter.

There is a cost to the creation of the content, printing and mailing of such a large volume. Then there is the downside to consider of our highly valued supporters potentially not receiving our communications, which would severely impact further donations and support.

AFD’s address validation solution helps us to minimise the possibility of wasted expenditure, reduce the chance of getting supporter data wrong and maximise the likelihood of our 400,000 letters getting to the right place.”

Powerful and insightful analysis

In addition to the benefits listed above around data accuracy, AFD’s solutions contain a wealth of additional data that MAF is beginning to uncover. Duncan continues:

“In exploring the solution from AFD I know there is a lot of additional data that will provide powerful and insightful analysis.

One example is the Health Authority Area that will enable us to link our supporter records to other datasets from the Office for National Statistics and allow for regional analysis of supporter trends.

We have also discussed the geodemographic classification dataset Censation, which will provide indicative affluence, life stage and lifestyle data for our supporters. This data helps us better understand the types of people with whom we engage and enables us to reach out to similar people who share our passion to reach more remote communities with our life-changing work.”

What we hoped for and more

When asked what he would say if another charity asked for advice on selecting a partner in address and data quality Duncan said:

“I would recommend The Postcode People at AFD Software. We have used other address validation providers in the past but there are key differences with AFD. Being able to pick up the phone and speak with a real team of experts is a benefit, as I know we are a  valued customer.

The solution itself does exactly what we hoped for, was very easy to integrate and it provides a lot more functionality that we are keen to explore.

As a charity, it is important for us to partner with an organisation that shares similar ethics and also looks to have a positive impact on the world. We know AFD Software is led in a way that is aligned with what MAF does.”

How is your organisation helping to ensure data accuracy in its contact database?

For almost 40 years AFD Software have helped organisations validate and cleanse contact data, speak to Joel Miller today on 01624 811711 or email to discuss your requirements.

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