Cleaning up records of missing members

Discuss questions around local unit policies for membership (creating records, transferring records, etc.) This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
barryhill
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Cleaning up records of missing members

Postby barryhill » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:43 am

Our membership records are in bad shape. Several Bishops and clerks have made varying attempts to produce a working record base, but the overwhelming task never gets done. A large percentage of names on the roster have been just that, "names on a roster" that no one can locate for many years. The bishop is committed to breaking this down to a persistent long term task.

I know there used to be a specific list of actions we had to document to move a record out of the ward. I tied a search or two on the Wiki but found nothing.

Where can I find the list of actions needed to move a record of an unknown member with an unknown address out of our ward and how do I move the record out after we have complied with the requirements with an exhaustive search for the member?

Thanks as always for the great support.

Barry

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:16 am

barryhill wrote:Where can I find the list of actions needed to move a record of an unknown member with an unknown address out of our ward and how do I move the record out after we have complied with the requirements with an exhaustive search for the member?


You can find a list of ways to search for new addresses on the wiki at Locating members.

The procedure for moving a record out is on the wiki at moving membership records, and in the MLS Software Manual (page 14).
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

barryhill
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Location: Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA

Thanks

Postby barryhill » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:18 am

Thanks so much. I had a chance to briefly look at your links and those documents will be extremely helpful.

Barry

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sun Apr 10, 2011 10:13 am

At one time there was a specific form to be filled out and sent in to get records moved to "Address Unknown". I think that procedure ended quite some time ago - at least before MLS came into being.

The form had a number of steps that needed to be checkboxed and signed off on. Steps such as "Call last known number", Check with directory assistance, Send mail to last known address with "Change Service Requested" on it, Talk to neighbors, etc. If course I'd suggest also talking with the various auxiliaries and see what they know about the member.

Now it's a good faith effort that the bishop has approved.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

barryhill
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Location: Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA

Postby barryhill » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:43 am

RussellHltn wrote:At one time there was a specific form to be filled out and sent in to get records moved to "Address Unknown". I think that procedure ended quite some time ago - at least before MLS came into being.

The form had a number of steps that needed to be checkboxed and signed off on. Steps such as "Call last known number", Check with directory assistance, Send mail to last known address with "Change Service Requested" on it, Talk to neighbors, etc....


As an old-timer I remember that form and I want to make sure I comply with current policy. As far as good-faith effort is concerned, I am making up a form with all those steps on it plus with a check box for at least 5 of the suggested 10 websites searched. We will also read the names in a joint RS/Priesthood meeting in the hopes someone has a lead we can follow. I have enough short comings to bring under the atonement without adding failure to make a concerted, good faith effort to find the lost sheep. :) The bishops is not only concerned with finding these people, but also with giving the leadership a real directory they can exercise stewardship over. At this point it almost invites neglect of the real names of less active that are in the directory.

I already have the first step; 59 letters with USPO "Return Service Requested" that have been returned to us with no forwarding address.

As I understand it, once we have made a real documented effort, I can then send the records to Church HQ. Is that correct ???

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:02 am

barryhill wrote:As I understand it, once we have made a real documented effort, I can then send the records to Church HQ. Is that correct ???


Yes, that's correct. As it says in the wiki at Entering the new address, you will have to enter the date that the bishop approved sending the record out with no new address, but after you've made the effort to find a new address, you can indeed move the records out even if you haven't found a new address.
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RossEvans
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Postby RossEvans » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:53 am

Local resources might also include property tax records (no help looking for renters), and other public-domain sources. There are commercial database searches, but local units usually lack access or training in using all these skip-trace methods together.

See also this thread.

To research forwarding addresses, an essential step is doing a comprehensive mailing with a Return Service Requested endorsement on the envelope or card. (Also train your auxiliary leaders to do that with their own mailings.) The normal forwarding address processing only looks back 18 months, but it is extremely useful to do commercial database processingof your mailing list to return forwarding addresses going back 48 months, along with a wealth of other valuable postal data, then follow up with the physical mailing. It does take some work and some money, but it is very worthwhile. Our ward has done this for the past three years.

It is a good idea to do a "welcome to the ward" mailing (Return Service Requested) immediately when records come in -- focusing on members who have not walked in the door. A significant number of such records turn out not to live there at all -- most likely because they already have moved on. Best to find that out before the trail gets colder.

There may be other resources that a local unit can employ, such as online searching. But beware of phone-directory-based searches. White Pages directories typically omit apartment numbers from addresses, so using the incomplete address from such a source to ship a record to another ward can send that member or household into a black hole. (You can check to see if an apartment is missing by doing a Zip Code lookup at usps.com). Unless you also have a phone number to give the new ward some opportunity to contact the member with a missing apartment number, I think it is better to include the incomplete address information you have and send the record to Address Unknown.

After doing due diligence locally and determining only that the person does not live at the address and can't be found, it makes no sense to keep the record in the ward. It benefits no one. Move it to the Address Unknown office, which theoretically has resources the local unit does not. Sometimes, for example, headquarters can contact family members.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:29 am

barryhill wrote:As an old-timer I remember that form and I want to make sure I comply with current policy.


Current policy seems to be "as long as the bishop approves". I'm not aware of any guidance to the bishop on the subject. I personally don't disagree with your proposed actions, but I suspect some will consider that excessive.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.


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