5 eTapestry Report Building Tips from a Sidekick

Getting data out of Blackbaud® eTapestry® in meaningful formats is incredibly valuable. While a query segments data, a report exports and formats that data. Queries and reports are two separate functions but require one another to generate an actionable set of information. There are a number of eTapestry reporting best practices that make reports simpler and easier. This post contains my top five tips for eTapestry reports.

1. Write the narrative

I use this tip myself. I like to simplify complex tasks to make them easier, eTapestry reports included.

Simplify the report creation process with a report narrative. A report narrative works in conjunction with a query narrative (more on that here). A narrative describes a desired report in plain English. The plain English version is then translated into eTapestry terminology to produce an eTapestry report blueprint. The blueprint is your guide for a new eTapestry report.

Write out the narrative by hand or in a Word document. This process breaks down the report into its component parts.

Example: Run a report with email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers for all constituents in Spokane, WA.

With this example, you can pick out the pieces that pertain to the query and the pieces that pertain to the report.

  • “All constituents in Spokane, WA” is the query.
  • “Run a report with email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers” are the fields included in the report.

2. Use standard reports

Your eTapestry database comes with a number of pre-existing, pre-built reports. These reports are available in the “eTapestry Standard Reports” section of the “Reports” dropdown. Start with standard eTapestry reports before building custom reports.

Standard reports often contain custom formulas that either aren’t available in the eTapestry custom reporting features or would be challenging to replicate in Excel. The “Executive Benchmark” reports for example (included in some eTapestry licenses) provide information on acquisition, retention, loyalty, and pledge performance. These reports are perfect for analyzing fundraising and development progress.

I recommend checking the standard report lists before building custom eTapestry reports. Only in rare cases would standard reports never be used. Standard reports simplify the reporting process because the heavy lifting of building a report is done for you.

3. Add groups

Grouping data extends the capabilities of eTapestry’s custom reporting system. Groups organize data around a single variable in a report (like a PivotTable in Excel). Grouping data creates aggregate reports in eTapestry and minimizes the need for Excel formulas external to eTapestry. Add groups to any custom eTapestry report.

Example: Group all gifts in a date range from a single account into a single collapsed row of data.

Groups aggregate data and provide drill-down options for targeted data analysis. This also gives a report flexibility. The same report could be used for a board member and a development officer. While the development officer may want specific information (all gifts), the board member may only want the high-level details (total gifts).

4. Tag reports as favorites, private, and read only

Do you use some reports more frequently than others? Are you tired of other users constantly changing the variables in the reports you create, or do you have confidential reports? Do you want to give staff the ability to see reports you create, but not edit them?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then the favorites, private, and read-only options are for you.

  • Favorites – Selecting a report as a favorite places a link to the report on your home screen dashboard. Accessing the report on the dashboard reduces the number of clicks to run the report. This will save you time and increase the usability of the software. This is especially true if you use the report frequently.
  • Private – Private reports are only accessible to you. This is a great option for confidential reports, reports you don’t want others to edit, or reports that are for your eyes only.
  • Read-only – Read-only reports restrict users from editing the report. Users can run the report, but they are unable to modify fields or layout. If you have staff members that just need to run the report but don’t need editing privileges, mark reports as read-only.

These features don’t impact the presentation of data in a report, but are user experience options that make eTapestry easier to use.

5. Export reports to Excel and PDF

Export any report from eTapestry. You can generate an export on the “Run Report” screen or after a report is displayed to screen. My preference is to run most reports to screen, even if I need to export that report to PDF or Excel. Export options are available at the bottom of a report displayed to screen.

Export options are important if you need to manipulate data beyond eTapestry’s capabilities or if you need to present the report to someone who doesn’t have access to the software. You can also use exports to import data into other databases, to create charts in Excel, or to print a PDF for a meeting.

More eTapestry report tips

If you want to learn more about eTapestry reports check out this post from Blackbaud on troubleshooting query and report challenges.

You can also check out our post on the eTapestry home dashboard or how to use Excel to take eTapestry reports to the next level.

If you’re looking for query tips and best practices, read our five tips for eTapestry queries.

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