fieldnames

Customizing Raiser’s Edge™ Field Names for Unique Data Needs

Have you observed an increase in the amount of constituent data that you’ve been collecting over the years? Whether the data is gathered through research or volunteered by constituents themselves, information is driving us to be better stewards of data. When we know more about someone, we create fewer duplicates, we’re able to personalize our interactions, and we’re less likely to commit a constituent-alienating faux pas. Does sending a letter to a deceased spouse sound familiar to anyone? *cringe* 

Recently, I worked with two organizations that had unique data challenges. They had really great information about their constituents, but they couldn’t find a home for their information in Raiser’s Edge™ (RE). One organization worked in the LGBT community, and they needed a more nuanced code table to track someone’s gender. The RE code table for Gender/Sex is hard-coded, so we couldn’t add values beyond Male, Female, Unknown. Another team needed a way to track Head of Household that would be available in a Participant query. This organization explained that they use Head of Household to ensure only one auction bid number is assigned per couple at an event.

When both organizations found incompatibility, they initially sighed and headed towards the Attribute tab. They figured that this was the only way to track the data outside of RE’s standard functionality since they already had dozens of attributes on the records. Attributes are a great way to track very specific information, but they’re not the only way. Have you ever considered renaming an existing field on the constituent record?

After a little discussion, the first organization determined that they never use the “Birthplace” field on Bio2. So, they renamed it to “Gender Identity” to make use of this valuable space on the tab. The field will now be used to track the variety of values that their constituents use to self-identify their gender. The second organization realized that they have a lot of participant fields they never use, so they chose one of those for marking the head of each household at events.

In both situations, the organizations thought creatively and honestly about what information is important to each of them. Then, they customized RE to reflect their needs. If you would like to do the same, here are some great tips to keep in mind:

  • Think about how a particular field is handled in ImportOmatic, EventOmatic, or any other process you’re using to manage your records. Changing the name doesn’t change the behavior of the field.
  • Consider the long term effects – just because you’re not using a particular field now doesn’t mean you’ll never need it.
  • Think about whether the field should be free text or use a code table.
  • When you’re ready, open “Configuration”, then “Fields” to find the field you want to rename.
  • After you change a field name, spot-check different areas of RE, like Query and Export, to make sure you can find it.

As you can see, there is no need to compromise your unique data needs. Raiser’s Edge can be set up and customized to work for you, and here at Omatic we are always happy to help you do just that!

Raiser’s Edge™ is a trademark of Blackbaud, Inc.

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