How to Manage Custom Data with Custom Fields in Bloomerang
Bloomerang is a very functional, user-friendly, and intuitive donor management and fundraising database. It has a simple layout and it has easy-to-understand features. However, don’t let its user-focused design and simplicity fool you. Bloomerang has a robust structure on the back-end that allows administrative users to customize the database. The database can be customized with custom fields. Bloomerang allows users to add as many custom fields to the database as needed. This gives your organization an unlimited, blank canvas to track and report on data about your constituents and the interactions they have with your organization.
What are custom fields?
Custom fields are fields you can add to your database to track unique data related to your organization, your constituents, and your donor management and fundraising practices. Custom fields can be added in a number of locations in your Bloomerang database. In addition, there are a number of field types to choose from. In order to build a structure of custom fields in Bloomerang, it is important to understand the available options.
Before you start building custom fields in your database, blueprint your fields and field values. Blueprinting is an important strategic process and will help you set-up your database for success.
Where to put custom fields?
Adding custom fields relies on context. It is important to put custom fields in places where they help you manage and report data. Although there are four locations you can put custom fields in Bloomerang, organizations often find it easier to begin thinking about custom fields for the constituent or for the timeline.
The first way to add and track custom fields is on the constituent level. Custom fields on the constituent level are static. This means they don’t change in time. Constituent level custom fields include demographics, characteristics, and other qualities that aren’t tracked, recorded, or monitored in time. Custom fields on the constituent level are like addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for your constituents. While these values may change, you don’t need to track historical changes in these fields. For example, if you want to track race, gender, affiliation to your organization, or favorite color, you can create custom fields for these demographics on the constituent level of Bloomerang.
The second way to track custom fields is on the timeline level. The timeline is broken into a number of data object types. These include transactions, interactions, and notes. All of these objects help you track engagement with a constituent in time. These data objects are used to track and report on historical data and trends. For example, if you are tracking volunteer activity (i.e. the number of hours someone worked and what they worked on), you need the ability to track multiple volunteer activities over time. The timeline allows you to track multiple actions or “touches” you have with a constituent so you can see the historical progression (timeline) of your relationship with that constituent.
How-to add custom fields?
Custom fields can be added in the administrator settings area of Bloomerang (gear icon). The fields are created within each separate data object (i.e. constituents, transactions, interactions, and notes). You must select the data object in order to add fields to it. The following provides some basic tips and definitions for each item in the “New Custom Field” screen.
Name: Add a name for your field that is easily identifiable for users who are responsible for data entry as well as users who are responsible for reporting. Creating clear names for your fields will provide clarity in both your data entry processes as well as your reporting processes.
Required: This feature can be used to improve data quality and consistency. A required field forces users to enter data for this field before they can save the record. Caution: Don’t make fields required unless the person doing data entry will know the value at the time of data entry; otherwise they won’t be able to save the record.
Active: If the field is active (checked), data can be entered into the field and the field can be used in filters and columns in reports. If the field is inactive (unchecked), data cannot be entered into the field, but the field can be used in filters and columns in reports.
What kind of data goes in this field?: This selection determines what type of data is captured in the field. It is important to select the appropriate data type because the data type determines the way you can report on that field. For example, if you choose text instead of currency for a ticket price field, you won’t be able to filter on ticket prices above or below a certain value and you won’t be able to summarize that field in reporting.
How do you enter data in this field?: This selection determines the data entry style. There are three selections. “Type it in” allows you to subjectively type values into a box. “Pick 1 value from a list” allows you to select one value from a list of options. “Pick multiple values from a list” allows you to select multiple values from a list of options. Picking values improves data quality and consistency, and allows for easier reporting of specific field values.
When to use custom fields?
There are a variety of cases where custom fields can expand the capability and capacity of your Bloomerang database. Here are some examples. The fields and field values used in each of these cases will vary by organization. As a result, these examples will provide general examples. It is important to customize these cases for your organization’s specific needs. We recommend blueprinting your fields for each of these categories before building the fields in Bloomerang.
Constituent segmentation fields are great to use if you need to filter your constituents into unique lists. Constituent segmentation fields expand the constituent profile for each constituent in your database.
Custom Transaction Values
Custom fields on the transaction data object can help you track specific data related to a transaction. Examples might include a receipt number or a field for ticket or item quantity.
Using a combination of custom fields you can track the status, characteristics, and relevant dates related to grant applications, awards, and compliance. With these fields, you can create reports that will help you track action items, due dates, and deadlines for grants.
Volunteers and Volunteer Activity Management
Using a combination of constituent custom fields you can track the demographics of your volunteers and volunteer application information. You can also track volunteer activities and time on an interaction or note in the constituent’s timeline.
Using a combination of custom fields on an interaction or note in the constituent’s timeline, you can track event attendance, table assignments, and other special event data for both pre-event, during event, and post-event management. For example, you can track who was invited, who accepted, who declined, and who attended your event as well as the conversion metrics between those that were invited and accepted, those that were invited and declined and so on.
Prospect or Moves Management
Using a combination of custom fields on the constituent and the timeline data objects you can track the flow of new and existing prospective donors through a funnel of steps to a major gift and into stewardship activities. These fields can help you manage your prospective donor processes and keep fundraising efforts streamlined. Reports can be generated with these fields to track funnel progress, manage action items and deadlines, and estimate the expected value of active prospective donors in your funnel.
Using a combination of custom fields on either the constituent or timeline data objects you can track your constituents’ memberships. You can track data like start and end date of the constituent’s membership as well as membership benefits. Reports can be generated for renewal notifications, action items, and deadlines.
Using a combination of custom fields on the constituent or timeline data objects you can track survey responses from constituents. You can use Bloomerang to aggregate data from surveys and also use this information to segment and qualify constituents in filters and reports.
With custom fields you can expand your Bloomerang database to capture, track, monitor, and report on a variety of information. All custom fields are reportable and give you the flexibility to do more with Bloomerang. Custom fields allow you to create a total data management system for your organization.
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