Would you like to know an easy way to clean up your constituent records?
Do you know that feeling when you clean up your home, organize your belongings, and actually have space available to relax in? It may not last long, but it feels great to have everything in order. When you think about a constituent record in The Raiser’s Edge with all of those tabs, fields and buttons, it can be a bit overwhelming. I view constituent records similarly, the more organized they are, the easier it is to find information. This article will focus on how to manage your constituent information by removing the excess and focusing on the important data. The Raiser’s Edge provides a tool called “Custom Views” which allows users to determine and customize the aesthetic design of a constituent record.
Customize the data points YOU want to see within a record.
The best part about custom views is they are incredibly easy to setup and alter.
Based on job role, organization, or other factors, each user or user group has a different task in The Raiser’s Edge. A board member for a hospital foundation needs a very different data set than an alumni team member or a development officer who needs a quick recap of upcoming actions for their solicitors. Although all of these scenarios could be handled through reports or dashboards, custom views allow a personalized design of each constituent record. Whatever the need may be, custom views can get the information in a consolidated custom design. The downside of custom views is the inability for a user to edit data directly within a custom view. For example, if your custom view includes a list of recent actions, to make any edits to the action you would need to click on that action and edit the record manually.
Although custom views do not let you edit data directly, they can be a great asset for users that simply need to view information. In the following, we will look at a few examples of custom views and discuss how to create one from scratch.
Above is a custom view designed to quickly show biographical data, contact information, education history, and relationships. Instead of having to navigate between multiple tabs and fields, the data that is important to the user is displayed in an organized fashion.
This is another custom view designed to quickly view gift information including recent gifts, total gift amount, lifetime total, pledges and recent actions.
This example is designed to show general biographical data as well as event attendance and volunteer job assignments. This custom view would be a great way to gauge a constituent’s activity level with your organization.
Now that we have seen a few examples of custom views, let’s walkthrough how to create and edit them.
Within The Raiser’s Edge, head to Configuration in the left navigation bar. If you do not have access to configuration, contact your database administrator. From this list, you will see “custom views”. This is where each custom view is listed. From here, we can create new custom views or edit existing custom views. We are going to walk through how to create the below custom view which provides bio and contact information, preferred address/phone data, last gift data, and recent actions. This is a simple custom view to get your feet wet in the creation process.
So let’s begin creating! For configuration purposes, let’s assume a scenario where we have users that are going to be making outgoing calls to constituents. As they search for specific records they need to see the name, spouse name, address, phone information, last gift data, and recent actions.
To accomplish this, first choose “create new custom view”. You will then see a blank window pane to the right (custom view designer), and a toolbar on the left that displays available fields and objects. The toolbar is where you can create text-labels, add images, links, and fields from The Raiser’s Edge into your custom view. The fields available are almost an exact replica of the fields provided within the export module. Biographical fields, gift fields, summary information, and action fields are all great places to start. Simply drag and drop the fields that you would like to be displayed from the left tool bar into the editing window. Include text labels, images, fields, and more depending upon the information you wish to display.
Before we begin adding fields to our custom view design window, let’s configure the format of our view. We will first define a background color. In the right view designer window, right-click and choose “properties”. Select “Background” and you will then see options for “background color”. From here, you can define the “color” by using the drop down or clicking the ellipsis button. When the color options displays, you can choose between a web palette, named colors, system colors, or custom colors. To follow this example, use the named colors tab and find “Cornflower blue”, but feel free to get creative! Once you choose your color, select “OK” to return to the Background color properties. Choose “OK” from this window to return to our toolbar and editing window.
Next, we will add a text label. From the left toolbar, under Additional Objects, click “Text Label” and drag it over to the right editing window. Position this label in the top center of the view design window. Double click the box to edit the text and size the image. Add the text, “Custom View for Call Campaign”. You can include text for any reason, such as to explain a section of the custom view or give instructions to the user on what they should be looking for. Once your text is determined, right click on the text box and choose properties. This is where you can edit the font, size, and position of your text.
Once you have the text label included, let’s create a frame for our biographical data. A frame allows us to group fields together within a border. From the left toolbar, under the Standard Objects, select “Frame”and drag it to the right editing window. Click on the newly added frame to position it on the left side of the design window. You can use the diagonal points to change the size of your frame. We will also need another text label to describe the information placed within. From the left toolbar select “Text Label” (under Additional Objects) and drag it into the frame we just created. Click and drag the text label to position it at the top of the frame. Double click the text label to change the text. Type “Biographical and Contact Data”. This will help the user identify the fields within the frame.
Once it is defined, we can add our biographical data fields within the frame. Navigate to the left tool bar and expand “Constituent Information”. You will then see a list of biographical fields that we can add to the editing window. Select and drag “Name” into the frame we recently added in the view design window. If you hold the CTRL key while dragging the field to the editing window a name identifier will be added as well. The “Name” field will combine the first and last name of the constituent together into one field. Next, we will add address information to our frame. From the left toolbar, expand “Address” and then “Preferred Address”. From this list, select “Address” and drag it to the frame within the view design window. This field will consolidate the full address (similar to an address block). Next let’s add the spouse name. From the left toolbar let’s expand “Spouse”, then “Biographical Information”. From here select “Name” while holding the CTRL key. This will add the consolidated spouse name as well as a field indicator. Drag these fields into the frame we created and position them accordingly. If you hold the CTRL key, a field indicator of “name” will be included. This works just like a text label. Double click on the field indicator and change the text to “Spouse Name”. At this point, your custom view should now look similar this:
*Tip – At any point during your creation process, you can minimize your custom view designer window and open a constituent to test your current view. Use this option to ensure your spacing, text, and fields are formatting correctly.
Next, we will add phones and emails from the preferred address. From the left toolbar, under the “Address” list (which should already be expanded), expand “Preferred Address”, and then “Phones”, then drag “Phone Number” to the right editing window. You will then be prompted to choose between a “grid layout” and a “free form layout”. This choice is given because we are adding a one-to-many field to the custom view. The biographical fields we added in the previous steps were “one-to-one fields” (IE:, a constituent can only have one first name). A phone number is considered a “one-to-many field”, meaning that a constituent could have multiple phone numbers. The custom view needs a way to display multiple sets of data.
Let’s select the grid layout. This will create a “Phones Grid Block”. You can position and size this to your liking. To follow this example, move the grid just below the biographical data in the custom view designer. Now we can add additional phone fields to this grid layout. Drag “Phone Type”and “Do not Contact” from the left toolbar to the phone grid layout. Once those fields have been added, right click on the grid layout and choose “Edit”. This will toggle on the grid design mode. This will allow you to change the order and spacing of your columns. Click anywhere outside of the Phones Grid Block to exit grid design mode. Now, let’s right click on the phone grid again and choose “Criteria”. This allows you to filter your results in the grid. We can determine how many phones we would like to see, which phone types to include, and define the order of which the phones are listed. Switch the radial button from “All Phones” to “Selected Phones” and choose to only include specific phone types. Move the phone types you would like included to the right window. Select “OK” to return to the toolbar and custom view designer.
We will add last gift information the same way we added the bio and contact data. Let’s create another frame by dragging “Frame” from the left navigation bar to our view designer window. Position this frame below the phone grid and size the window to match the others. We need to add another text label to indicate what information will be in the frame. From the left toolbar, select “Text Label” and drag it to the view designer window. Position the label within our new frame and then double click. This will allow you edit the text. Change the text to “Last Gift Information”. Feel free to change the font and size by right clicking and choosing “Properties” (as explained previously).
Just like we did for the biographical and address fields, we will add our last gift fields within the frame. From the left toolbar, expand “Last Gift”, select “Gift Amount” and drag it into the frame we just created. Let’s also add “Gift Date”, “Fund”, and “Campaign”as well. If you have followed each step your custom view should look like this:
The last piece we will include for this custom view is recent action information. From the left toolbar expand “Actions”and choose “Action Date”. Drag this field into the custom view designer window. We will again see the choice to use a grid layout or free form layout. Select the grid layout and choose“OK”. This will create an Actions Grid Block which you can position and size. Move it to the right of the Biographical and Contact Data frame. Just as we did for the phone grid layout, we will add additional fields to the actions grid layout. Under the “Actions” list, drag and drop Type, Campaign, Solicitor(s), and Status in to the Action Grid Block. To change the order of the columns, right click and choose “edit”(this will activate grid design mode). To make sure the grid only shows recent actions, right click on the Actions Grid Block and choose “Criteria”. This window will allow including or excluding specific actions based on categories, types, statuses, etc. In the bottom left of this window, change the date from “Include All Dates” to“<Specific Range>”. Define a start and end date for your range. This will ensure that your actions grid only shows actions that fall in this specific range. Once that is completed click“OK”. Your custom view should now be looking similar to this:
Congratulations, you have created your first custom view! Although it is a basic one, you now have an understanding on how to create a new custom view, add fields, frames, and text headers.
Once your custom view has been configured to your liking, choose “Save and Close”. At this point, you can apply your custom view to constituent records. Simply open up a constituent record, and choose “View”. You will now see all of your custom views from configuration. Once you select a custom view, you can revert back to edit mode at any point by selecting “View” from within a constituent record and choosing “Edit Mode”. Below is a sample of our final result.
Custom views are one of the best hidden secrets within The Raiser’s Edge. These versatile views are user-configured to present constituent information the way you need it. Custom views are especially helpful for users that do not edit data in The Raiser’s Edge, but simply view records for specific information. By implementing custom views, users can focus on the data that is important to them while removing the excess. Give custom views a try and see if you can get your Raiser’s Edge data to meet that clean, organized room of yours! For a full walk through of custom views, checkout the official Blackbaud Custom View User Guide.
Article written by Baird Hall
Omatic Software is dedicated to integrating disparate systems and democratizing data access for today’s nonprofits. Founded in 2002, Omatic has worked with thousands of nonprofits globally to remove their data barriers by integrating systems and enabling nonprofit teams to leverage their donor data rather than be burdened by it. The Omatic team has one goal – unleashing the power of data to show a complete view of your donor, enabling data-driven decision making and opportunity creation for your organization.