How to avoid losing touch with your supporters using NCOA

Posted June 6, 2018 by Virginia Davidson

how to locate lost donors

Fundraisers always strive to write appeal letters that inspire donors to contribute, but even the most compelling appeal letter won’t bring in results if donors don’t receive it. As you plan your next appeal mailing, consider running your database through the National Change of Address Registry to ensure that you’re sending letters to current addresses. If you’ve never done this before, you’ll likely find that between 5 and 15 percent of your constituents have outdated addresses in your database—that’s a lot of potential lost donations!

What’s the National Change of Address Registry?

The National Change of Address Registry (NCOA) contains the names and addresses of permanent change-of-address records from individuals, families, and businesses who have filed a change of address with the United States Postal Service. Running your data through NCOA helps you maintain up-to-date addresses for your contacts and saves you from having to manually update addresses in your database.

Can someone else run my list through NCOA?

Absolutely. If you already work with a mailhouse, check with them first—it’s likely they’re already performing this service for you.

There are many other NCOA providers available, too, including Little Green Light. If you’re using Little Green Light as your donor management system, you have the option to use LGL’s NCOA service. The entire process with LGL takes 1 to 2 weeks and leaves you with updated addresses so that you can maximize your fundraising results! You can learn more about LGL’s NCOA service here.

How often should I run my data through NCOA?

We recommend going through this process once annually, and to do it at a time that coordinates with your annual development calendar. For example, it’s best to do it in advance of your end-of-year appeal.

Want more tips on how to raise more money by cleaning up your data?

Check out these resources:

4 tips for keeping your donor database healthy

How to assess your donor database health



Don’t let out-of-date address records end your organization’s relationships with donors and prospects. Consider using an NCOA service to ensure that your mailings are reaching your audience and save your organization from mailing to incorrect addresses. Accurate data is invaluable.

2 thoughts on “How to avoid losing touch with your supporters using NCOA

  1. Virginia,

    I’ve tried all the links about using an NCOA service but can’t find what the cost is. We’d likely run this through our printing house. Can you send me a link or pdf for the pricing structure, please.
    Thanks, Catherine Nopp

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