eTapestry Event Management, How to Track Data for Special Events

If special events are a core fundraising strategy for your organization, you will want to track special event data in your Blackbaud® eTapestry® database.  Managing event data in eTapestry is a little tricky because eTapestry doesn’t have a standard, out-of-the-box event management system.  Your organization will need to build a custom system to track special event data in eTapestry that uses journal contacts, journal transactions, user-defined fields, DIY web forms, and potentially imports and mass updates.

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Every organization is different, so the design and setup of eTapestry event management will vary.  It is impossible to provide a perfect event management blueprint for every organization.  The goal of this post is to provide the principles of eTapestry event management so you can apply them to your specific situation and build your system to track special event data in a way that works for your organization.

Event Workflow Data

There are two event data elements in eTapestry.  You may use both elements depending on the type of event you are hosting.

  • 1. Actions

    Actions are non-financial steps in the event workflow.  Actions include invitations, RSVP statuses, and attendance.  If you need reports on non-financial steps in an event workflow like a list of attendees, you will track those steps using an action record.  Actions are tracked on the journal contact using a combination of system defined fields and user-defined fields (UDFs).

  • 2. Transactions

    Transactions are an exchange within the event workflow.  Transactions include tickets, sponsorships, in-event purchases, and in-kind contributions.  Transactions are tracked as gifts, pledges, pledge payments, and potentially soft credits and recurring gifts.  Transactions are tracked with the campaign and approach fields as well as UDFs.

Tracking Special Events in eTapestry

This post is conceptual, outlining the principles of eTapestry event management.  You will need to customize the concepts in this post to meet your organization’s specific event tracking needs.  There are two components that drive the design and setup of event data tracking in eTapestry.

  • Queries and reports (i.e. the data you want to get out of eTapestry)
  • Event workflow (i.e. the data entry procedures in eTapestry that correlate to event actions and transactions)

With these two components in mind, events occur in two primary phases: pre-event and in-event.  Pre-event includes all workflow steps that happen before the day of the event.  In-event includes all workflow steps that happen the day of the event and after the event is over as some transactions and actions occur shortly after the day of the event.

  • 1. Pre-Event Actions

    Pre-event actions happen before the day of the event.  Actions include invitations and responses from invitations (RSVPs).  Actions may also include registrations for events that don’t sell tickets.

    Pre-event actions are tracked on the journal contact.  Setup system defined field values for the contact method to track the status of the pre-event action.  Examples include “Event Invited” and “Event Accepted.”  You can also separate “Event Accepted” into “RSVP-Yes” and “RSVP-No.”  Then add a single-select UDF (drop down) called Event Name to the journal contact and add the name of your event as a value in that field.

    Enter all pre-event actions by selecting the appropriate contact method and event name value.  Use eTapestry queries to find event related journal contacts, and create a report to display the data.

  • 2. Pre-Event Transactions

    Pre-event transactions happen before the day of the event.  Transactions include ticket purchases, sponsorships, and general event donations.

    Pre-event transactions are most commonly tracked on a journal transaction as a gift/pledge record.  The type of transaction will be categorized by a campaign and approach value.  The campaign generally identifies the event itself and the approach identifies the categorization of the transaction as a ticket, sponsorship, or general event donation.  We recommend identifying the approach value as “[Event Name] – Tickets” or “[Event Name] – Sponsorship” so you can use the home screen dashboards to measure performance for each approach.  Additional UDFs may be added to journal transactions to track ticket quantity, guest names, sponsorship level, or other important information about the transaction.

    How you process transactions and collect registrations for your event will vary.  You may use DIY forms and the eTapestry event ticketing functionality, the eCart, manual data entry with segmented transactions, or a custom event registration form using eTapestry’s API.  You may also use a separate event management system that processes pre-event transactions, and then import those transactions into eTapestry.

  • 3. In-Event Transactions

    In-event transactions happen the day of the event.  Transactions include in-event purchases and in-event donations, such as silent auctions, pledge auctions, drink purchases, and general contributions.

    These transactions are tracked the same way as pre-event transactions but are coded and classified with different approach values.  The campaign most likely will remain the same for these transactions.  Flag in-event transactions with unique approach values so you can report on in-event and pre-event performance separately.

  • 4. In-Event Actions

    In-event actions happen the day of the event.  The most common in-event action is attendance.  You will want to track those people that attended your event so you can run reports on their attendance and connect with them post-event.

    Add “Event Attended” as a system defined field value for the contact method.  Add a journal contact to the account of the person that attended the event and select the event name UDF you used for the pre-event action records.  A simple query for all journal contacts that are flagged with the event name and the event attended contact method will produce the attendee list.

Getting Special Event Data In and Out of eTapestry

Event workflows aren’t always simple and straightforward.  You may be using external email marketing, web form, or event management software.  You may also send invitations through a mailing house.

The eTapestry database is set up for single record data entry.  Meaning, you enter a single event record for an account, save the record, and move to another record for a different account.  When dealing with events, it isn’t practical to enter a single journal contact or a single transaction record for every invitee, attendee, and ticket purchaser.  Entering data manually will be too time consuming and the workflows become increasingly complex.

Luckily, there are ways to streamline the eTapestry data entry workflows to save you time, energy, and effort.

  • 1. Actions

    Use eTapestry mass updates or imports to get pre-event and in-event actions into the database in batches.

    • If you generate your invites in eTapestry, use the Create a Journal Contact feature when you create new documents or a mass email.  Flag the journal contact with the appropriate pre-event action fields.  This process will create pre-event actions in the form of journal contacts for your entire invite list.
    • If you generate your invites externally from eTapestry by exporting to Excel and you don’t change any of the data in the Excel file (i.e. don’t delete or add any records), use the mass update feature for that query to add journal contacts in batch to all invited accounts.  This process will also create pre-event actions in the form of journal contacts for your entire invite list (based on the invite query).
    • If you generate your invites externally from eTapestry by exporting to Excel and you change the data in the Excel file (i.e. delete or add records), make sure to add the eTapestry account number to your Excel export and then reimport the data using the account number and single contact import template.  This process will create pre-event journal contact records for every account in your import file.
    • If you are tracking RSVPs, we recommend tracking them in Excel and then importing the data in batches every day, week, or by another schedule.  Use the invite list to match the eTapestry account number to the RSVP so you can import using the account number and single contact import template.
    • If you are tracking attendance, export the RSVP or registration list from eTapestry to Excel with the account number for each potential attendee.  Take the Excel sheet on a laptop to the event and flag each account that attends the event.  Import the data post-event to create an attendance record for each account that attended the event.
  • 2. Transactions

    Most pre-event steps can be streamlined with eTapestry DIY web forms, custom event forms, or the eCart.  Some events are more robust and require other event management software systems.  Blackbaud eTapestry imports and clearly defined import processes are the best way to get external data into your organization’s database.

    • If you are selling tickets for your event, review eTapestry DIY forms and the event ticketing features to see if they are a viable solution for your event.  If they aren’t, review the eCart functionality (if available in your eTapestry package).  If those two options aren’t robust enough, consider a custom event form (contact us for more information on custom event forms).
    • If you are capturing transactions in an external event management software, use imports to bring that data into eTapestry with address, phone number or email address as the import duplicate check.
    • If you collect transactions external to eTapestry during the event, consider pairing each account in your external system with an eTapestry account number so you can use the account number with single gift import template.  The eTapestry account number is a perfect duplicate check and streamlines the import process significantly.

Setup eTapestry for a Successful Event

The principles of eTapestry event management are the same for most organizations, but the details vary.  Develop a solid eTapestry event tracking system by thinking about the workflow of steps and the reports you hope to run both pre-event, in-event, and post-event.  Keeping a focus on workflow steps and reports will help you design a functional event data tracking system in Blackbaud eTapestry.

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