When Jan Brasching, database manager at Christian Aid, carried out a health check on the charity's list of supporters, he discovered a number of problems.
"We were missing data on a lot of people, such as addresses," he says. "We didn't have a first name for more than 100,000 people, and we had a date of birth for only 7 per cent.
"We had the right demographic data for only a quarter of our contacts, so we could not market ourselves well to different sections of the population."
One of the biggest problems was the number of duplicate entries. "It was very high - more than 30,000 entries," says Brasching.
The solution was to introduce new software to get rid of existing duplicates and stop the problem recurring.
From the various software packages on the market, the charity chose QAS Match. "The software was integrated with the front-end applications that we used to submit new entries," said Brasching.
"Now, every time a new entry is about to be created, our users receive a report on the best match, and they can decide whether to create a new record."
The system has also been applied to new data acquired from agencies, he says, and is being used to check records manually once a week.
"It's worked well," he says. "We've got fewer duplicates. When we get a supporter on the phone, we can capture their data. We send out fewer wasted mailings and we're wasting a lot less money."