How accurate are your membership records?

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How accurate are your membership records?

Postby cdw3423 » Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:25 am

There are many ways you could decide to quantify that, so let me be more specific.

What percent of the the people on your membership records actually live where their records say they do?

I suspect most ward clerks would have to guess. In my case, I can say 75% do live in my ward where we think they do. 6% do not live where we think they do (I'm working on trying to find those) and 19% I don't know one way or the other (I'm trying to get ward members and missionaries to visit those addresses.)

The reason I bring this up is to tell how I know those numbers for my ward. First some basic stats for my ward. We have about 300 households, 500 members and an average Sacrament Meeting attendance of 125. In a perfect world I would be able to look at who had been visited by home or visiting teachers in the last several months and get this information. But in my ward and stake that is very far from reality and it will be a long time before we can get there. I strongly believe one of the reasons we are so far from that reality is because our records are so inaccurate. (I have moved out over 100 members in the last 6 months or so.)

So with out any real help from home and visiting teaching records, how did I get my 75%, 6% and 19% numbers?

I created a website that has the following 3 main features to help me.

1) I have a survey that lists all of the households in the ward with 2 options: “Know”, and “Don't Know”. I have had all of the members of the ward council as well as some other active members who have lived in the ward for a long time take that survey. This has helped me focus my efforts on who to start looking for.

2) Members of the ward council can see the results of the survey and see who we need to find/get to know. When they visit a family they can record a “home visit” for that family include any relevant notes as well as indicate if we need to update their records in some way.

3) I have data value for each household I call “Address Accuracy Certainty” I can set with a slider control from 0 to 10. It is 5 by default, meaning I don't have any idea if the address is correct, 0 meaning I'm sure they don't live there and 10 meaning I am sure they do live there. I also record the date the address accuracy certainty was set, so when it becomes old I am alerted we need to check again if that household is still there. For active members I see all the time I just click to refresh the set date.

Using the information I gather I have a query I run on the database that gives me the numbers and it data updates automatically as things change.

Before I had the idea for this website I had no idea how accurate my records were. The only thing I could do was keep a list of people who I had been told don't live at the address we have, and try and find out where they do live.

It is still taking far longer than I want, but at least now I have measurable goal and a way to track progress.

One of the other features I have on the website is links to quickly search county land records, court records (marriages and divorces) white pages, facebook etc. All without having to type everyone’s name in (or even copy and past) one at a time on all those different websites. Using this I was able to search the property records for every household in my ward in only 2 hours. Granted if they could be renting the home and not live there but the land records for the counties my ward is in has information that gives you a pretty good idea (though not a certainty) if someone is renting their house. That alone helped me determine 40% of my list of people that no one knows does live here. It also helps me find people that are living in a home they don't own and if there is no indication that it is a rental, I can focus more on them.

Any way I just thought I would share what I have done. I really wish the church could add features like these to LCR. Some of it I'm sure they couldn't do. Since all of the public records searches are different for every state/county/town that would not be possible to do generally.

One last note to anyone who thinks it is a lot of work to keep records accurate and up to date. That is a walk in the park compared to what I have been doing for the last year or so.

Chris W
OKC2 Ward Clerk

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Re: How accurate are your membership records?

Postby johnshaw » Fri Jun 19, 2015 12:13 pm

If only all units were able to keep on top of these records like you describe yourself as doing, we could carry on a great legacy of clerking!

I always felt that this was my top priority (other than recording ordinances and ordinations) - that always came first, but was troubled by how little other leaders in the ward council cared about it:

Here are a few other things you might try.
1. Eliminate the use (The Bishop must iron-hand, dictate this be done) of separate lists (Primary, YW, YM, RS, EQ, HPGL) - I found and continue to find that everyone keeps their own authoritative list and will privately talk about how annoying it is that the records of the church are not updated, while continuing to keep that information from being updated by the clerk

2. Dedicate some time in a coordination meeting like Missionary or Ward Council for this kind of information to be shared (even if it is only a few minutes)

3. Educate Auxiliary leaders about this important duty of record-keeping as they go through transitions (newly called, replacements, etc...)

If it becomes a culture of the ward council, it will be proactive and ongoing, surviving changes in clerks, and Bishops. I, however, believe this will continue to be a problem as we take a least-time-possible-to-do-my-calling approach to things... continue to see less inter-dependency in wards (the 'that's not my calling mentality), etc...
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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Re: How accurate are your membership records?

Postby cdw3423 » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:53 pm

Thanks for the ideas. I will have to see if I can find out if other organizations are keeping records that are separate. I'm pretty sure some have phone numbers that aren't on the records.

The thing I find most frustrating right now is I have 95 households that no one on the ward council and none of the long time members of the ward know anything about, and the ward council isn't very motivated to go out and visit them so we can find out if they really live there. That's when I decided to do everything I could using public records to find out if any of them lived here or somewhere else. I did find that a significant number owned their home so likely do live here, but still the majority are unknown and the missionaries are about the only ones I can get to go visit these people. They don't have time to visit very many because our missionaries keep pretty busy teaching. I'm now down to 58 households I don't know anything about.

Chris W
OKC2 Ward Clerk

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Re: How accurate are your membership records?

Postby russellhltn » Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:07 pm

cdw3423 wrote:I have 95 households that no one on the ward council and none of the long time members of the ward know anything about, and the ward council isn't very motivated to go out and visit them so we can find out if they really live there.

Maybe they'll change their tune when the new LCR-based HT/VT stats makes them look bad.

(If they've been doing their own records, odds are they've been doing their own calculations for HT/VT percentages - and so those unknown families may not be affecting them. It's not supposed to work that way, but it happens.)
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Re: How accurate are your membership records?

Postby mwgrover » Sat Jun 27, 2015 1:21 pm

Don't forget good old snail mail as a pre-visit tool, to find out whether unknown members live at the listed address. Last Christmas we mailed a letter out to every household in the ward from the bishopric. USPS returned many of them undeliverable. Some had forwarding addresses, some didn't; either way, it let us know that they weren't really there and we could take the next step in trying to find them.

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