This is a guest post from Monika McMahon, Community Manager at Heller Consulting.

So, your organization has finally decided to move to a new database. This is great news! You’re ready to have a fresh start with new software. Before you can start using this updated software, you have to import, or map, your data into the new system, which can be a big task. Here are some tips on data conversion that Heller Consulting’s Susie Saxten has learned over her years of consulting that your organization should consider before you move any data into a new system. These tips will help you get the conversion process started off right.

Data Mapping

At Heller Consulting, we believe that data mapping is one of the most significant steps in a successful migration. The process involves taking every single field from the old database and mapping it to a field in the new database.

Data mapping is your first opportunity to consider how the new system is going to meet your current and future needs, not just replicate processes from the old system. A data map provides an agreed-upon record of where your data is going to end up. Often users’ main concern is where they are going to find their data in the new system. This part of the process clearly presents and documents a solution to that concern.

Code Structure

A migration is an excellent opportunity to streamline your financial and demographic codes. Often, to get to the heart of a client’s coding needs we ask questions like, “Who do you consider your main sources of funding?” or “What are your primary fundraising strategies?” Typically, the answers to these questions form the backbone of an effective code structure.

The key here is that your code structure should be something that reflects your goals and allows you to get the reports you need.


Just because all of your data fit into your old database, does not mean that it is going to fit into your new database. Different systems have different storage capacities and strategies. Often, additional storage is a hidden cost, and you don’t want to get caught having to purchase additional space right in the middle of a migration.

Historical Data

Before you begin a data migration, it’s a good idea to think about what historical data you want to bring into the new system. Be honest: Do you really need the contact information of constituents who haven’t donated, volunteered, or responded to an appeal in 15 years? Cleaning out some of that old, extraneous data can help you save storage and can help diminish that “messy” feeling.

Think It Through

Basically, a conversion is a great time to clean house. It is well worth your time to think holistically about the data you already have, what you want to keep, and how it can better support you in your new system.

For more tips and examples on data migrations that Heller Consulting has performed in the past, see Susie’s full post on

About Monika
Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.

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