11 eTapestry User-Defined Field Applications

Category: Custom Fields

“Out-of-the-box,” eTapestry® by Blackbaud® is a powerful donor management and fundraising system, but its capabilities can be expanded. Many organizations know that eTapestry can be customized, but don’t know how far customizations can go or the ways eTapestry can be customized. This post outlines ten different ways you can customize your eTapestry database with user-defined fields.

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What are user-defined fields?

User-defined fields are custom fields that you can build in eTapestry to collect, manage, and analyze data that is specific to your organization. User-defined fields are also known as UDFs.

UDFs can be added throughout your eTapestry database. The type of UDF and placement of that UDF dictate how data will be entered and reported in eTapestry.

You can manage UDFs by selecting the Management drop-down, selecting User Defined Fields, and then taking action within the UDF categories.

Note: Before you start building custom fields in your database, we recommend that you blueprint your fields and field values. Blueprinting is an important strategic process because it outlines what you intend to build in eTapestry before you build it. Because you cannot delete fields or field values from eTapestry (you can only disable values), it is important to be intentional and disciplined when creating new user-defined fields.

UDF Placement

The placement of a UDF is dependent on context. There are nine locations where UDFs can be placed in eTapestry. However, we recommend thinking about the four major locations, which are broken down into two categories: account and journal. Narrowing the list of potential locations for a UDF simplifies the UDF blueprinting and building processes.

Constituent Account Level

The first and most recognizable location where user-defined fields are applied is on the constituent account level. UDFs on the constituent account level are static. This means they don’t need to be tracked “in time.”

Constituent account level UDFs include demographics, preferences, characteristics, and other qualities that aren’t tracked, recorded, or monitored in time.

UDFs on the constituent level act 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 UDFs for these demographics on the constituent account level of your eTapestry database.

Journal Level

User-defined fields are also applied to one of three major journal data objects. These objects are transactions, contacts, and notes. These data objects track your organization’s engagement, interactions, activities, exchanges, or events 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 task they worked on), you need the ability to track multiple volunteer activities over time. The journal 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.

The data object you select for journal UDFs will depend on the type of engagement, interaction, activity, or event you are tracking.

Tip: A UDF should be applied to a journal object based on the reports you want to run. Outlining the reports you want to run can show you how to build UDFs in your database because reports display UDF field data.

UDF Applications

User-defined fields can expand the capability and capacity of your eTapestry database. The fields and field values used in each of the applications described below will vary by organization. These are general examples only. Customize these use cases to your organization’s specific needs. We recommend blueprinting your desired fields for each category below before building them in eTapestry.

  • 1. Constituent Segmentation

    Constituent segmentation fields filter your constituents into unique groups. Constituent segmentation fields can identify communication preferences, interests, attributes, affiliations, demographics, and other unique characteristics.

    If you intend to use constituent UDFs for filtering, queries, and list segmentation, we recommend making fields discrete with single select or multi-select values. Where possible, keep away from vague text or note fields because those field types are difficult to query.

  • 2. Transaction Segmentation

    User-defined fields on the transaction data object modify and enhance financial transactions. Transaction UDFs can be used to segment raised, received, and gifted dollars.

    Additional transaction fields expand fundraising reporting capabilities beyond the standard fund, campaign, and approach designations. In addition, UDFs on the transaction data object can identify and enhance different types of financial transactions like in kind donations, event ticket purchases, or tribute gifts.

  • 3. Grants

    Using a combination of UDFs on the journal contact or journal note object, you can track the status, characteristics, and relevant dates related to grant applications, awards, and compliance. With these fields, you can create reports that track action items, due dates, and deadlines for grants.

    A grant management system of UDFs can be extremely valuable because it brings all development data into a single database.

  • 4. Volunteers and Volunteer Activity

    Using a combination of UDFs on the constituent account data object, your organization can manage volunteer data like demographics, interests, and preferences as well as specific data you gather on a volunteer application.

    A fully developed constituent UDF profile for volunteers can also be used in an online volunteer application DIY form.

    If your organization needs to track volunteer time and activities, you can also use a set of UDFs on the journal contact data object to track time, the activity the volunteer participated in, and any notes related to the activity.

  • 5. Events

    Events can be managed using UDFs on the journal contact and potentially the journal transaction object as well. You can manage data related to event attendance, table assignments, and other special event data for pre-event, during event, and post-event activities in eTapestry.

    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.

    You can also use UDFs to manage registration lists, name tag print outs, and attendance sheets. UDFs for events can also be incorporated into DIY payment processing forms for event ticket purchases.

  • 6. Major Gifts and Moves Management

    Use eTapestry as a prospect management tool with the right combination of user-defined fields. UDFs on both the constituent account and journal contact objects can build a major gift tracking, moves management, and major gift action system in eTapestry.

    With this system, you can track the flow of new prospective 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.

  • 7. Memberships

    Memberships can be tracked in eTapestry using a combination of UDFs on either the constituent account or journal contact data objects. Where you track memberships will depend on how you want to report on memberships.

    You can track memberships on the constituent level if you don’t want to track renewals or multiple years of membership (there are workarounds to this). If you want to track histories of membership, you need to track memberships on the journal contact.

    With UDFs, you can track data like start and end date of membership as well as membership benefits. Reports can be generated for renewal notifications, action items, and deadlines. These fields can also be carried into membership DIY forms.

  • 8. Planned Giving

    Planned giving items can be tracked and managed with UDFs on the journal contact data object. Fields will vary, but you can track planned gifts that aren’t closed financial transactions.

    Rather than tracking these items in Excel or other systems, you can house them in eTapestry with your other fundraising and development data.

    A set of planned giving fields can track things like the status of a gift, the type of gift, estimated gift amounts, confirmation dates, and gift details.

  • 9. Programs

    Blackbaud eTapestry is a fundraising and donor management database first, but it can also be expanded to cover some program data management needs as well. eTapestry isn’t a program management database so program management in eTapestry should only be used if program data needs are small and reporting needs aren’t overly complex.

    The UDFs required for program data management will vary substantially from organization to organization. Because eTapestry isn’t built specifically for program data management, we highly recommend blueprinting or outlining your data needs and testing whether eTapestry can meet those needs before building new user-defined fields in your database.

  • 10. Marketing and Communications

    Marketing and communications are becoming extremely scientific activities that are driven by measurement, evidence, and continuous improvement. eTapestry can assist in this effort.

    It is a best practice to log a journal contact for every constituent that receives a piece of communication (mail, email, or other) from your organization.

    Use UDFs on the journal contact to track marketing and communications strategies. These fields can be used to track response rates, conversions, and reach for a particular marketing or communications strategy.

  • 11. Surveys

    Using a combination of custom fields on the constituent account or journal contact data objects, you can track survey responses from constituents. UDFs for surveys can segment constituents and report on aggregate trends among a group of survey respondents. You can use eTapestry to aggregate data from surveys, export this data to Excel, and conduct analysis on the data in Excel.

Expanding your eTapestry database with UDFs

UDFs expand your eTapestry database so you can capture, track, monitor, and report on a variety of information. All UDFs are reportable and give you the flexibility to do more with eTapestry. User-defined fields can transform eTapestry into a total data management system for your organization.

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