Managing Historic Blocks on DARS

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Author: Alison Edwards (UOAO)


This article will be updated on a regular basis. Updates may be required in response to updates to DARS or changes to business processes or errors.

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Content Last Modified: 03 June 2013


This document gives advice to DARS Participants on an approach for communicating with constituents where their record has a ‘suspect’ (i.e. where you think the block has been applied in error) solicit code or other mailing blocks, or where a clear explanatory note for the block is missing.

Pilot project

UOAO ran two small pilots in 2012-13 for:

  • Alumni with a solicit code imported from Visual Alms (the legacy database) of the type ‘Internal Decision’;
  • Alumni with a ‘Do Not Contact – Central University’ solicit code, where the explanatory note was blank/imprecise and where the Relationship Manager was not a DARS Participant.

Alumni were sent a letter/update form derived from a template approved by the University’s Legal Services and Data Protection teams, asking them to get in touch if they thought that the block on their record was inaccurate. Both pilots resulted in quite a number of alumni getting back in touch with the institution.

Step one: be clear about why you think the block is ‘suspect’

  • Does the solicit code/negative preference comment give you reason to believe that the individual might have changed their mind?
  • Do you suspect that the solicit code was applied incorrectly, for example, the most common instance of this would be an alumnus who said ‘don’t send me fundraising emails’ and who has then had a solicit code of ‘no contact’ applied where ‘no solicitation emails’ would have been sufficient

Step two: run a query but then manually check your export list

  • Make your query as defined as possible: for example, full alumni of your unit (use the Alumni Card Affiliation rather than the constituency code/only alumni of your site), with a ‘do not contact’ block where the comment is either blank or implies that the request may have been as a result of fundraising communication, or similar.
  • Carefully eyeball the list to make sure that it doesn’t include any anomalies/alumni and friends with whom you have an established relationship, etc, etc

Step three: edit the template letter appropriately

  • The historic blocks template letter and form were approved for use by the University’s Alumni Office with regard to a specific pilot mailing, but provide a good example of how to phrase a communication to your alumni on this topic. The template is in the appendix of this document.
  • Edit the template letter as appropriate for your specific audience/reason for mailing.
  • Edit the form as appropriate for your college/department.

Step four: consider a sample mailing to gauge reaction

  • Depending on the size of the mailing, you may want to consider running a test to a sample segment initially, to measure the level and type of feedback before embarking on the full mailing
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