How to Become a Raiser's Edge Tech Geek


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As a Raiser's Edge user, you can probably list which order every field goes in on every tab, but have you re-purposed them? Have you ever created an elegant solution by using a module for which it was not intended? Have you ever written code to automate Raiser's Edge processes? Welcome to the next level of being a database administrator. We'll talk about tips and tricks related to Fields and Attribute Config, some interesting ways to "re-purpose" modules and fields, some useful applications of the import and mail tools, and a small intro into the world of API/VBA. You know what The Raiser's Edge was meant to do. Now see what you can make it do.

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  • Serious information about the Speaker
  • Some common fields that get repurposed: Bio2/Org2 fields: Religion, Ethnicity, Target, Income, Industry, Birthplace SSN/SIN
  • Credit to Tiffany Elser of Blackbaud, Inc., who taught this to me.
  • Exists on only a few mail types. When all else fails, use Quick Letters.
  • Order is important. If we switched the order of these queries, there would be no records in the random sample group, since they were all pulled into the main query.
  • Using the “Select From” option in query will allow you to create a daisychained AND merge (as in Query 1 AND Query 2 AND … as many times as you want). Segmentation allows you to build daisychained SUB queries.
  • How to Become a Raiser's Edge Tech Geek

    2. 3. <ul><li>About the talk and the Speaker </li></ul><ul><li>Fields and Attributes </li></ul><ul><li>Import </li></ul><ul><li>Segmentation </li></ul><ul><li>Case Studies of Repurposed Modules </li></ul><ul><li>Here be dragons: VBA and API </li></ul>AGENDA
    3. 4. WHO AM I? … MY GEEK CRED GEEK RE Geek Gamer I “get” Big Bang Theory Social Media Socks + Sandals =  Math Degree
    4. 5. <ul><li>Director of Professional Services/Raiser’s Edge Consultant. Some current and former clients: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>National Public Radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canadian Red Cross </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kidney Foundation of Canada </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Former Raiser’s Edge DBA at the Canadian Cancer Society AB/NWT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>DB of over 1M+ constituents and several million gifts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Have worked with The Raiser’s Edge, The Education Edge, The Financial Edge, NetCommunity, Sphere </li></ul><ul><li>Member of the Blackbaud User Society (kschmidt) </li></ul>THE NON-GEEK CREDS
    5. 6. <ul><li>“ I didn’t know The Raiser’s Edge could do…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I never thought about using that part in that way…” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Bow before me, for I am your Raiser’s Edge King/Queen…” </li></ul><ul><li>We are here to learn cool and different ways to use RE. </li></ul><ul><li>If you have done, or know of something cool - or just thought of something in the middle of this talk – please share. </li></ul>WHAT IS THIS TALK ABOUT?
    7. 8. WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT FIELDS? <ul><li>Do you have unused RE database fields? </li></ul><ul><li>Depending on the field, you can do some or all of the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make the field hidden </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make the field required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Switch the field between being text or a dropdown table </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rename the field </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Just because it exists there does not mean you HAVE to use it, or for the reason originally intended! </li></ul>
    8. 9. FIELDS <ul><li>Canada has two official languages, and sometimes, people prefer to be contacted in one or the other. </li></ul><ul><li>Preferred Language could be an attribute </li></ul><ul><li>Do we use solicit codes? </li></ul><ul><li>How about a repurposed Bio2 field? Do we store religion? Ethnicity? </li></ul><ul><li>EXAMPLE </li></ul>
    9. 10. <ul><li>Sometimes a text or table dropdown is the best option for your attribute. </li></ul><ul><li>But sometimes, it’s not… </li></ul><ul><li>Numbers </li></ul><ul><li>Financial Values </li></ul><ul><li>Date </li></ul><ul><li>Yes/No </li></ul><ul><li>Constituent Name </li></ul>ATTRIBUTES: MORE THAN TEXT AND TABLES
    10. 11. ATTRIBUTES <ul><li>We have a constituent attribute of Yes/No for whether or not our constituent receives renewal notices via email or not. </li></ul><ul><li>What do you do when there’s no email or DNC? </li></ul><ul><li>What does no value mean? </li></ul><ul><li>You cannot perform queries on “Does not equal ‘yes’ “/ Does Not equal ‘no’” </li></ul><ul><li>EXAMPLE 1 </li></ul>
    11. 12. ATTRIBUTES <ul><li>We are performing the action with Organization X, but we want to know who we actually performed the action with. Do we store the action on the contact record or the organization? </li></ul><ul><li>Advantages to each </li></ul><ul><li>Both </li></ul><ul><li>ZOMG! Store a “constituent name” attribute on the action to be able to query against. </li></ul><ul><li>EXAMPLE 2 </li></ul>
    12. 13. <ul><li>Great! We’re going to use the former Religion field to store special codes about the constituent. </li></ul><ul><li>What? There’s 100 different values! </li></ul><ul><li>So.. You use import… </li></ul>SEGWAY
    13. 14. IMPORT
    14. 15. <ul><li>There is no “Import Table Entries” type of Import </li></ul><ul><li>However, there is a “Create Table Entries” option on imports. </li></ul><ul><li>Create test constituent </li></ul><ul><li>Add constituent ID to every row of your CSV file </li></ul><ul><li>Set import to Create Table Entries </li></ul><ul><li>Import every entry </li></ul><ul><li>Delete the Constituent. </li></ul>IMPORT TABLE ENTRIES
    15. 16. <ul><li>All imports have “Create Static Query” option. </li></ul><ul><li>So if you have a list – as long as it has SSN, Import ID, or Constituent IDs… </li></ul><ul><li>Create import with “Modify Existing Records” </li></ul><ul><li>Make the ONLY import field the ID </li></ul><ul><li>Create static query </li></ul><ul><li>Import </li></ul>CREATE QUERIES FROM EXTERNAL LISTS
    18. 19. <ul><li>So you want to do A/B testing for your direct mail… </li></ul>A/B TESTING USING SEGMENTATION…
    19. 20. <ul><li>Query A = Query 1 SUB Query 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Query B = Query A SUB Query 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Query C = Query B SUB Query 4 </li></ul><ul><li>If all you really wanted was Query C… </li></ul><ul><li>OR… </li></ul><ul><li>Include Specific Records on the Mailing – Query 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Segment 1: Query 2 – no output query </li></ul><ul><li>Segment 2: Query 3 – no output query </li></ul><ul><li>Segment 3: Query 4 – no output query </li></ul><ul><li>Segment 4: Query 1 – output query </li></ul>MERGING AND KILL FILES
    20. 21. MID-WAY POINT Any questions so far? Anything that you want to share?
    22. 23. <ul><li>Forget about what the module is called. </li></ul><ul><li>What does the module do? </li></ul>REPURPOSING MODULES
    23. 24. <ul><li>… runs, bikes, etc. </li></ul>FRIENDS ASKING FRIENDS-STYLE EVENTS <ul><li>Individuals fundraising on your behalf </li></ul><ul><li>Goal-based </li></ul><ul><li>How many gifts and how much each person raised is IMPORTANT </li></ul>
    24. 25. <ul><li>How does this work? </li></ul><ul><li>Tribute Type: Specific Event </li></ul><ul><li>Tribute Description: Team name (if applicable) </li></ul><ul><li>Gifts: Amounts given to the individual are linked to the Tribute, and then, by going to the Honour/Memorial tab, you can quickly see how many gifts they have received and for how much. </li></ul><ul><li>Reporting : Basic tribute reporting for amounts. If you want team totals, a Pivot Report looking at Tribute Type, Tribute Description, Tributee, and Donor will provide a drilldown for the entire event all the way down to individual donations. </li></ul>USING TRIBUTES FOR PLEDGED EVENTS
    25. 26. <ul><li>Needed: </li></ul><ul><li>Actions to control internal timelines </li></ul><ul><li>Expenses </li></ul><ul><li>Store authors, editors, and any others people involved in the publication. </li></ul><ul><li>Options: </li></ul><ul><li>Action Tracks: Constituents, Appeals, & Events </li></ul><ul><li>Expenses: Appeals, and Events </li></ul><ul><li>… authors could be relationships, or… </li></ul>REPURPOSED MODULE #2: PUBLICATIONS
    26. 27. <ul><li>How does it work? </li></ul><ul><li>Participation: Involvement in publication (Coordinator, Author, Editor, etc.). </li></ul><ul><li>Action Tracks: Based on track, controls the action track for the lifecycle of the publication development </li></ul><ul><li>Event Start Date : Date that the process started </li></ul><ul><li>Event End Date : Date published </li></ul><ul><li>Reporting : Major reporting has to do with number of publications of certain types. Other reporting includes how many publications individuals have been authors for, how many publications staff authors have been involved in (participant with Primary Business of This Organization). </li></ul>USING EVENTS TO CONTROL PUBLICATIONS
    27. 28. MOVING ON… … and now here's something we hope you'll really like…
    29. 30. <ul><li>Almost anything is possible with VBA/API! </li></ul>UNCHARTED WATERS <ul><li>Automate processes </li></ul><ul><li>Auto-calculate fields </li></ul><ul><li>Access other databases </li></ul><ul><li>Manipulate File Structures </li></ul><ul><li>Take over the world… (ok, maybe not) </li></ul>
    30. 31. <ul><li>VBA: Visual Basic for Application </li></ul><ul><li>Similar functionality exists in Microsoft Office products </li></ul><ul><li>Runs within RE, but cannot run as an outside interface </li></ul><ul><li>API: Application Programming Interface </li></ul><ul><li>Similar to VBA, but with some extended functionality. </li></ul><ul><li>Can run outside RE, and act as an interface for applications. </li></ul>WHAT ARE VBA AND API?
    31. 32. WHICH SHOULD I USE? <ul><li>VBA </li></ul><ul><li>User interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Small scripts </li></ul><ul><li>Non-excessive customization </li></ul><ul><li>API </li></ul><ul><li>Want to run outside of user interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Developer </li></ul><ul><li>Need to interface with outside programs/websites </li></ul>
    32. 33. EXAMPLES… <ul><li>Why is there No Valid Address? </li></ul><ul><li>A checkbox means no date, no reason, no historical information. </li></ul><ul><li>So we created an address attribute. A special data entry form popped up when the “Has No Valid Address” checkbox was changed upon save. </li></ul><ul><li>CONDITIONAL ENTRY WITH SPECIAL FORMS </li></ul>
    33. 34. EXAMPLES <ul><li>Smart Attributes </li></ul><ul><li>I have categorized my donors as per giving levels. </li></ul><ul><li>One option would be to put those as an attribute, and try to manage it… </li></ul><ul><li>Or, I auto-populate the attribute based on the criteria, every time the record is saved. </li></ul><ul><li>AUTO-CALCULATED FIELDS </li></ul>
    34. 35. EXAMPLES <ul><li>Auto-Populated Region </li></ul><ul><li>One org classifies donor address by region </li></ul><ul><li>They had an excel file with all cities/towns, and the corresponding regions </li></ul><ul><li>So we check the city field, compare against the database of city/regions, and auto-populate region. </li></ul><ul><li>AUTO-ENTERED FIELDS, TALK TO OTHER DATABASES </li></ul>
    35. 36. EXAMPLES <ul><li>Gift Entry through Batch Only </li></ul><ul><li>For accounting purposes, we wanted all gifts entered by batch </li></ul><ul><li>We set “New Gift” not saveable unless the person was in a particular security group </li></ul><ul><li>Editing on the tab was still allowed. </li></ul><ul><li>USER CONTROL </li></ul>
    36. 37. EXAMPLES <ul><li>Theoretically… </li></ul><ul><li>Step 1: Person opens constituent (trigger Before_Open) </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2: Supress standard form </li></ul><ul><li>Step 3: Bring up new, custom form, where you can set triggers on any field, and value, etc… Data entry in any order you want, with calculated controls… </li></ul><ul><li>*This is exceptionally dangerous and not an idea to be taken lightly. This is really just to illustrate that, theoretically, almost anything is possible with enough time and code… </li></ul><ul><li>THINKING BIG! </li></ul>
    37. 38. <ul><li>VBA/API costs: </li></ul><ul><li>Development time </li></ul><ul><li>Testing time </li></ul><ul><li>Computer Resources </li></ul><ul><li>What happens when Blackbaud upgrades the software? </li></ul>WARNING WARNING, DANGER DANGER!
    38. 39. FINAL NOTES
    39. 40. <ul><li>IMPACT Tip One </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explore fields and attributes, and think about how the different options could be used to better store the data that you want stored. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IMPACT Tip Two </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use tools like Import and Segmentation to create very specific lists of constituents for your mailings. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>IMPACT Tip Three </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Forget what the module or the field is supposed to do – remember how it functions and how that could be of benefit to you. Raiser’s Edge is a framework, but it’s your database. </li></ul></ul>IMPACT TIPS
    40. 41. #BBCON TWEET TAKE AWAY: What do you want Raiser's Edge to do? Lots of hidden tools when you repurpose, script in VBA, and segment. #bbre
    41. 42. QUESTIONS/COMMENTS/HATE MAIL @kirkschmidt kschmidt [email_address]