5 Tips for Building Bloomerang Reports
Getting data and information out of Bloomerang is a critical task if you want to leverage Bloomerang to its full potential. While the Bloomerang reporting features are functional and user-friendly, there are some tips and tricks you can use to get more from Bloomerang reports.
1. Designing a Bloomerang report
Bloomerang reports can be complex. The complexity of your reports will grow as your demand for data increases. It is easy to get overwhelmed when building complex reports with complex requirements. Simplify Bloomerang reports with up-front planning and design. Define your desired report before you start building the report. Then approach your report building process in a systematic way. Follow these four steps.
Step 1: Write the report narrative
Start your report building process by writing the narrative for your report. This is the best way to simplify the report building process. Your narrative becomes the blueprint, definition, and roadmap for your report.
Your narrative will start with “I want…” and then conclude with the data you are looking for in the final report. For example, I want the contact information (name, address, email, and phone number) for all donors who gave last year. For this example, “gave” means anyone who contributed real dollars to our organization in the form of a pledge payment, donation, or recurring donation payment (i.e. revenue).
Step 2: Determine the type of report
Use the report narrative you developed in Step 1 as a guide to build your report in Steps 2, 3, and 4.
Start your report build in Bloomerang by determining the type of report you need to create. The type of report is dependent on the type of information you intend to report on (or export) and the types of filters you need to segment your Bloomerang data. Bloomerang has the following data types, which correlate to report types: constituents, transactions, interactions, notes, and tasks. These report types correlate to the different data objects in Bloomerang.
The report type tells Bloomerang to “return” a certain type of information in your report. A constituent based report is needed for the “all donors last year” report because constituent contact information is required in the export.
Step 3: Select the data filters and logic
Next, determine the filters associated with your narrative. Filters segment data by finding data that matches the criteria of your report narrative.
There are two types of filters and two types of logic statements in Bloomerang. The filter types are “Include” and “Exclude” and the logic statements are “OR” and “AND.”
Filters segment data and specify which data to display in a final report. Based on the example narrative, we want to segment only those donors that gave last year. We also know that “gave” includes only those who gave in terms of revenue. We can use the “Has Transactions” filter to find the constituents that gave last year. Select a date range of last year, transaction types of donation, pledge payment, and recurring donation payment, and an amount greater than $0.00.
Your report narrative will describe what filters are needed for your report. Look for language in your narrative that “calls out” specific sets of data from your Bloomerang database.
Step 4: Define the export format
Lastly, define the export format of your report. The export format is the information you want to display in your final report. This information can be modified on the “Report” tab within the report builder.
Using the narrative, find the elements necessary for the export. These elements will be identified as outputs. Outputs are the columns in your report. For example, in this narrative we want addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and names. Each output (column) will identify a piece of data from a record returned by the report filters.
Add columns to the report for each element of the export described in your narrative, then run the report.
2. Understanding filters and logic
Filters can be a difficult concept to grasp. As described earlier, filters segment data within your Bloomerang database.
The blank in each example below represents the different data return types in Bloomerang (transactions, constituents, interactions, notes, and tasks).
Include ______ where… AND
This filter includes all data that has all of the filter characteristics listed under the AND inclusion logic. In other words, return data that matches “all of these criteria.” For example, all donors who have brown hair and brown eyes. Each donor returned in the filter will have both brown hair and brown eyes.
Include ______ where… OR
This filter includes all data that has all of the filter characteristics listed under the AND inclusion logic, OR with any of the filter characteristics listed under the OR inclusion logic. In other words, return data that matches “any of my criteria.” For example, all donors who have brown hair or brown eyes. Each donor returned in the filter will have either brown hair or brown eyes, or may have both.
Exclude ______ where… AND
This filter excludes all data that has all of the filter characteristics listed under the AND exclusion logic. In other words, don’t return data that matches “all of these criteria.” For example, don’t return donors who have brown hair and brown eyes. Each donor excluded in the filter will have brown hair and brown eyes, but those with one of the characteristics will be returned.
Exclude ______ where… OR
This filter excludes all data that has all of the filter characteristics listed under the AND exclusion logic, OR with any of the filter characteristics listed under the OR exclusion logic. In other words, don’t return data that matches “any of my criteria.” For example, don’t return donors who have brown hair or brown eyes. Each donor excluded in the filter will have either brown hair or brown eyes, and those with both will also be excluded.
A note about exclusions
If you have “Account Status is ‘Inactive’ or ‘Deceased'” listed as an exclude AND logic filter (which is the default in Bloomerang), adding more exclude AND logic filters will exclude only “Inactive” or “Deceased” accounts with the additional characteristics. This segments your “Inactive” and “Deceased” accounts by narrowing the exclusion criteria. If you are going to filter other characteristics beyond “Inactive” or “Deceased,” make sure to use the OR logic. Again, if you use AND logic, you will exclude “Inactive” and “Deceased” that have the additional characteristics specified, not constituents that are either “Inactive” and “Deceased” or the additional specified characteristics you select.
Another tip on filters and logic
You can also build aggregations of filters. This means you can build sets of AND logic statements that are related with sets of OR logic statements. For example, all those that have brown hair AND brown eyes OR blonde hair AND blue eyes. This would return all individuals with either set of characteristics. While you can aggregate filters in Bloomerang, it is important to remember the four logic definitions above when constructing your filter sets. The logic definitions remain the same regardless of how deep or complex you build your filters.
3. Defining transactions by revenue, raised, and type
Pay attention to your filters when you run transaction reports. Look carefully at your narrative and make sure you adequately define the words gave, giving, contributed, and donated. The filters in your report will depend on your definition of “giving.” The definition of giving in your narrative will determine how you filter for transactions in a Bloomerang report.
If you run a transaction report with no filter for raised, revenue or transaction type (maybe just a date filter, like last year), Bloomerang will return all transactions from that date range. This will include soft credits, pledges, pledge payments, donations, recurring donation payments, and recurring donation schedules. Bloomerang returns these because they are all “transaction” objects in the database, but you may not need some of these transaction types in your report. Make sure to specify exactly what you are looking for in your narrative so you can select the appropriate filters in your report.
Why is this important?
If you ran a transaction report and were looking for total contributions to the organization last year, but didn’t filter by raised, revenue, or transaction type, you may double count transactions in the “Amount” column of your report. By default and with no filters selected, soft credits will be counted in addition to the donation attached to it. The amount column will double count the soft credit amount and the original donation amount. You may also double count a pledge and a pledge payment. If the proper transaction types or amount distinctions (revenue or raised) aren’t selected, there is a possibility that your report won’t reflect accurate totals.
Raised will return all pledges, donations, or recurring donation payments. This returns the actual and promised “dollars” contributed to your organization.
Revenue will return all pledge payments, donations, and recurring donation payments, but excludes pledges and recurring donation schedules. Revenue returns the actual “dollars” contributed to your organization.
Apart from the Raised and Revenue filters, you can also use the “Transaction Type” filter. This filter has six different selections. Based on your narrative, you may choose to use this filter instead of the Raised or Revenue filter. The filter options are: donation, pledge, pledge payment, recurring donation schedule, recurring donation payment, and soft credit. You can pick the transaction types that match your report narrative.
4. Exporting to households
Household reports are easy in Bloomerang. Take advantage of this feature. Exporting to households is available in the “Details” tab of the report builder fir transaction, interaction, note, and task reports. For constituent reports, change the primary filters on the top of the “Report” page from “Constituents” to “Households.”
5. Other features and options to consider
The last tip is quick and relatively simple. There are three additional features you should take advantage of before you export your Bloomerang report to Excel. These options are available in the “Report” tab of the report builder screen.
You can group columns by like fields. For example you can group all transactions by account name, or you can group all transactions by transaction type, appeal, or campaign. Click the down arrow on a column and then select “Group by this Field.”
After you’ve grouped by a column, you can collapse groups into a single row. For example, if you group transactions by account name you can see the amount totals for each account based on that batch of transactions. Select the blue down arrow within the new grouping and select the option “Collapse Group to One Row.”
You can also sort columns by clicking the down arrow next to each column header and selecting “Sort by This Field” from the drop down. Sorting puts the column you are sorting into alphabetic or numeric order from high to low as numbers and from A-Z as alphabetical. After selecting sort, you can select Sort Ascending or Sort Descending for that column.
Getting the Most from Bloomerang Reports
Running reports is a critical task in Bloomerang. While the Bloomerang report builder is straightforward and relatively easy-to-use, there are some tips and tricks to help you build great reports. If you leverage these five tips, you can elevate your report building processes and get the most out of your Bloomerang database.
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