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RE 101: Understanding Record Types in The Raiser’s Edge

Today, we are going to examine the different types of records available in The Raiser’s Edge® and what it means to work with each record type to create a cohesive database. A deeper understanding of RE record types will allow you to keep track of your constituent base, and your donations!

Let’s first discuss these record types: Constituents – Individual, Constituents – Organization, Gifts, Actions, Campaigns, Funds, and Appeals. In addition, we’ll cover these record types that are associated with RE optional modules: Memberships, Jobs, and Events.

Constituent Records (also referred to as Donor Records) are used to keep track of people and organizations that have a relationship with your organization, or ones your organization would like to build a relationship with in the future. We can record biographical information, relationships, appeals, special notes, memberships, events, volunteer work, and even event data! The constituent record can be viewed as the “crown jewel” of the RE database because without them, we wouldn’t be able to track specific giving information, or reach out to donors to let them in on the latest news about our organization. Individual records are used for people, and Organization records are used to track companies, businesses, and other types of organizations. Building a constituent record as completely as possible is critical to the success of your database. Your database should be monitored on a regular basis to prevent duplicate records, and to ensure that information remains updated.

Gift Records are used to track the gifts given to your organization, and these records live on the donor/constituent record. A gift record cannot exist without being associated with a constituent record. The Raiser’s Edge allows for multiple gift types such as cash, pledge, stock/property, gift-in-kind, recurring gifts, and “other” gifts. Matching Gifts can also be created for organizations that match their employees’ contributions. Tracking gifts in RE is important in order to help guide both solicitors and gift officers on how to generate more donations from your donor base. Reports can be created to view gifts based on a query of a specific group of records, as well as over varying time frames. Such reporting is essential to knowing how to increase your bottom line as your organization grows.

Action Records are used to assist volunteers, solicitors, and other members of your organization, with tracking how much contact is being made with your donor base. Actions can additionally be used to cultivate new donors, as well as to take special care of, and pay closer attention to, very active or major donors. Reminders and alerts can be set for actions to serve as a “tickler” for members of your organization and assist in streamlining communication between your organization and your donor base. Potential and existing donors alike!

Campaign Records are considered to be the over-arching objective for funds and appeals. Campaigns can be thought of as being the driving force behind collecting donations for your organization. An example of this would be a campaign to build a new shelter for your animal rescue organization. The shelter, as a whole, is the over-arching objective, though there are many specific parts that need funding. Monies received through donation would be tracked based on that campaign.

Fund Records are the next level deep from Campaigns, and one campaign can have many funds. The fund denotes the specific purpose a donation is meant to fund, and tracking this ensures that all donated monies are booked where the donor has requested. Funds are also used, in conjunction with your accounting software, to designate gifts to a specific set of accounts for management of those monies. In order to create a gift record in RE, a fund must be specified. Continuing with the example of a new animal shelter, you might have funds for these specific purposes, under the main campaign: medical equipment and medications, enclosures for the animals, an outside exercise area, food supplies, and a maintenance reserve.

Appeal Records are used to track how a gift was requested, or what was used to “appeal” to the donor in order to encourage them to donate to your organization. They are one level deep from a fund record. The appeal is the specific “ask” for a donation. For our animal shelter, we might send cards inviting people to a “topping off” ceremony for the shelter building, and request a donation for admission. We might send an email letting people know we’re going to have a car wash to fund the food store – a bag of food, or a $10 donation, gets their car washed.

You can further define an appeal with packages. Although packages are not their own independent record type, but instead live on an appeal record, they can assist with further defining or categorizing a broad appeal. Packages are also good ways of testing out several appeal vehicles to see what resonates with your donor base – maybe it turns out that mailings/emails containing progress pictures of the construction actually work better to drive donations for the new shelter than ones with just images of animals.

Record Types for Raiser’s Edge Optional Modules:

Note: Membership Records, Job Records (Volunteer module), and Event Records may not appear in all Raiser’s Edge databases because they are all associated with optional modules for The Raiser’s Edge 7.

Membership Records can track the history of membership activity, as well as membership card information and benefits, for donors that have a membership with your organization. Configuration settings can allow automatic lapse, and renewal, notifications to be generated for members.

Job Records will be available for creation when the Volunteer Module is purchased for your Raiser’s Edge database. Job records allow volunteer, and paid, positions at your organization to be tracked. It also provides accrual functions for time donated by your constituency base, making it easier to know when to recognize your volunteers for their hard work. Time sheets are also a feature of the Volunteer module.

Event Records are useful for creating and maintaining contact with registrants, guests, and sponsors, if your organization handles or organizes events. Event records are particularly useful because they allow your organization to keep track of registrants who are not yet in Raiser’s Edge without adding a full constituent record to your database. The Events module lends to keeping event management, lists and all, simple and concise. Combine RE:Events with Omatic’s EventOmatic tool, for a powerful event management solution!

Understanding the record types available in RE will assist in the creation of a database that offers a continued future of growth for your organization and its mission. The more your employees understand about the different record types available, the easier database management becomes.

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