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What is the best practice for contacts that are considered idle?

We have a number of contacts who gave once 10+ years ago but never since. We'd like to clean things up so that we don't waste resources chasing these old and idle contacts. Is there a best method for designating them? For example:

We can create a group, but then we need to remember to exclude that group in future mailings.

We can delete them, but that loses the data about their contributions from years back.

We could flag them as "do not mail" but that's usually only for people who have opted out.

How are other groups addressing this?

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It sounds like your expectation is that all contacts are active donors/subscribers unless otherwise excluded. But I think a more common approach to CiviCRM is for a contact to have no particular role unless somehow included. So a contact might just be someone who used to be on staff, or is the brother of one of your donors, or just someone who's phone number you collected a long time ago. These people are not automatically anything. You only take action on them if e.g.

  • They sign up to receive mailings (a CiviCRM group)
  • They are flagged as a donor of interest (e.g. via a LYBUNT report)
  • They are part of a smart group you define (e.g. of recent donors in a geographical area)
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  • Thank you... That's a different way of thinking about contacts. We think of everyone as a potential donor for certain bulk mailings. We'll have to look at this other perspective more closely.
    – ldgpangeo
    Commented Feb 17 at 20:16
  • @ldgpangeo you should also consider the legal implications of what you're doing. Sending bulk-emails to everyone you know runs afoul of most country's anti-spam laws. Typically the rule is that users must explicitly opt-in to your list & otherwise you're not allowed to message them.
    – Coleman
    Commented Feb 18 at 13:54

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