In the age of Big Data, campaigns are struggling to keep track of all their valuable information. And lost or missing data can be a particular headache when it comes to compliance.
Depending on how the campaign structures its data intake and storage, the end of an FEC reporting period could leave staffers scrambling like a bunch of procrastinators on Tax Day, but with more at stake than a few unwritten-off business dinners.
It’s important that a campaign has all of its revenue and expense data housed in a centralized database. All staff members and consultants of a campaign should know this, appreciate its importance, and abide by the centralized processes put in place around it.
Due to the intense pressure and long hours of campaign life, it may be tempting for a staff member to deviate from the process out of laziness or convenience—for instance, setting up another donation widget without telling anyone or incurring expenses without the treasurer’s approval. Any deviation is the creation of a puzzle piece that the campaign may or may not be able to locate in a timely manner during FEC reporting season.
A centralized database is vital for ensuring compliance with contribution limits. It also ensures a campaign maintains accurate, real-time budgeting. If there are 10 files of donor records that may or may not overlap, and three files of disbursements that may or may not overlap, the campaign is going to have a very difficult time unraveling and reconciling in time to report accurately. This headache can be avoided by a centralized database and a clearly-defined process that channels all receipts and expenses into that central repository.