Using your NCOA Results

Upon completion of the NCOA service on your address list, Five Maples returns three files to you. Each file name is prefaced with Five Maples’ internal work order number.

  1. The NCOA-Database file contains all the records in your address list, both changed and unchanged.
  2. The NCOA-Changes file contains only those addresses that were updated plus any addresses  for which neither a current address match nor a new address could be found. Use this list to change, delete or research the addresses in your in-house database.
  3. The NCOA Cert summarizes the results.

Working with the Changes file

Here is an explanation of the columns in the Changes file:

  1. ID. If this field is populated, it has the record or constituent ID number supplied with your list. You can use this field to match each address to the same record in your in-house database.
  2. Record ID. This is just the rank order of the names as they appeared in the list you provided us with.
  3. Return Code. The number codes in this column are explained below.
  4. Previous columns show the address in your original list. Only addresses that are changed or are potentially undeliverable are shown in this file. If a new address could be identified by the NCOA service, the new address is in the Current columns. Otherwise the address in the Current columns is the same as in the Previous columns. The columns Previous Alternate address or Current Alternate address are what often appear as Address2 in many databases.

 Here is an easy-to-use interpretation of the return codes:

  • Return Codes 35, 36, 37, 38 & 39. A move or address update is confirmed. Records with one of these codes have been updated with the addressee’s new address.
  • Return Codes 23, 26, 27, 28, & 33. Five Maples normally removes addresses with these return codes from our client mailings. 
    • Return Code 23. A move or address update is confirmed, but the new address could not be supplied. A possible cause for this is that a change of address card was submitted to the USPS, however the new address provided did not match an address the USPS recognizes as deliverable.
    • Return Code 26. The PO Box has been closed, and no forwarding address was supplied.
    • Return Code 27. A change of address form was submitted, but no forwarding address was provided.
    • Return Code 28. Customer has moved out of the country.
    • Return Code 33. Address flagged as Non-Deliverable.
      (Addresses with Return Codes 23, 26,27, 28 and 33 should be taken off your list or researched.) 
  • Return Code 31. These addresses matched to a record and are valid postal addresses. (These addresses can be mailed to with reasonable confidence.)
  • Return Code 32. These records are missing a suite or apartment information. They may or may not be deliverable. (Depending on the value or use of your list, these addresses probably should be mailed. You may find it worthwhile to do the individual corrections.) Five Maples normally mails these addresses.
  • Return Codes 10-17. These records may not be delivered due to poor address quality. (Addresses with Return Codes 10-17 should be researched to provide a full and complete address if possible or should be taken off your list.) When doing a client mailing, Five Maples attempts to fix these addresses. If they are not fixable, they are not mailed.
  • Return Codes 1–4 and 43–46 indicate that a move is suggested, but there there is not enough accurate data to verify the information. The lower the score, the greater the chance that a move has occurred. (Depending on the value and use of your list you may want to attempt individual correction of addresses.)
  • Return Codes 21 and 22. For these codes the NCOA check comes up with an invalid city, state or zip combination, or simply cannot find the address in its database or is getting too many responses to make a determination. Essentially, these addresses do not conform to postal standards and cannot be compared against the database. Some of them may be pre-911 addresses. They may or may not be deliverable, depending often times on the whim of the local post office. For example:

Correct Postal Address
Joe Smith
672 Fairbanks Drive
East Overshoe, VT 05333

List Address
Joe Smith
Old Fairbanks Road
Underfoot, VT 05333

The local post office knows that Joe Smith has never moved and he still lives on Old Fairbanks Road, even though his official address has changed. As a courtesy the postal worker delivers the piece despite the wrong address. However, the mail piece may also be diverted at the USPS sorting facility, and if it is first class, returned to sending, or if standard class, recycled. (You may want to attempt individual correction of addresses with Return Code 21 and 22 depending on the value and use of your list.) Five Maples normally leaves these addresses in client mailings.

Sample processing certificate: click to enlarge.

The NCOA Cert

The NCOA Certificate summarizes the results of your NCOA service. The 5 digit number beginning the file name is Five Maples’ internal work order number..

  • The first page gives you totals by Return Code. The column Not Coded indicates those addresses that the post office could not match to their address database.
  • The information on pages 2 and following, while it may be interesting to the post office, will not be useful to you

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Five Maples helps fundraisers save time, raise more money, and enjoy doing it! Give us a call today for a free consultation. Call Brett, our Director of Nonprofit Practice, at 800-437-7780 ext 102, or Email Us Today!