Getting Started: 5 Tips for New eTapestry Users

Category: Database Admin

Blackbaud® eTapestry® holds important information about your donors. It can be intimidating to deal with such sensitive data, especially when you’re new to the software. But don’t shy away, dive in! Follow these tips to build your confidence and get started with this key fundraising tool.

1. Build confidence with basic navigation and functionality

Learning a new system takes time and curiosity. Set aside time to dig into eTapestry and explore.

Start with these basic features:

  • Search for an account
  • Create a new account
  • Modify an existing account
  • Create a new gift, pledge, and pledge payment
  • Add a new journal contact and journal note (identify the difference between the two)
  • Find an existing journal contact, note, and transaction in the Journal

If you are a visual or auditory learner, invest in either self-paced or guided training. Use each training session as a chance to study and learn eTapestry best practices.

If you are a kinesthetic learner, use trial and error to figure out how to navigate eTapestry. While you may still want some introductory training, exploring on your own will help you identify the tools that live in each tab and what each link does on each page (click on a navigation link–see where it takes you!).

Avoid saving anything during these early steps as a new user, and you’ll leave the data as safe as you found it!

2. Review your organization’s data entry procedures and policies

Before you start entering and modifying data, consider this: data you get out of eTapestry in reports is only as clean as the data you put in. Data consistency is key to a healthy database.

Clean and consistent data entry saves an astounding amount of time when reporting on fundraising success to leadership, generating a clean list for communicating with donors, and searching for donor information when a donor calls the office.

As a new eTapestry user, you play an important role in keeping your organization’s data clean and accurate.

We recommend every organization document their data entry and management policies and procedures. Users can reference this documentation when learning the database for the first time and contribute to this documentation when, or if, they establish new procedures.

Talk to your database administrator for access to any data entry procedures or policies your organization has on hand. Review them before you get started, and reference them as you add new data to your database.

Don’t have any documentation to reference, or are your user guides incomplete?

Take a look at existing records to see how your organization has recorded similar data in the past. Look at one record, and then confirm that other records mirror the standards demonstrated in the record you’re reviewing.

Use this type of comparison as a basis for how to create similar records in the future. If you uncover a data entry standard, document what you learn by drafting user guides for your organization!

3. Practice, practice, practice

Once you have a basic grasp of eTapestry and your organization’s data entry procedures, start practicing!

Check to see if you can help your administrator with an eTapestry data entry, reporting, or data management project. Either shadow your eTapestry administrator or ask if you can try the project yourself.

Set up queries and reports for journal entries and accounts that you create or modify. Review these reports with your eTapestry administrator to see how you did. Your administrator can even schedule these reports to run every month for a two or three month time period. If errors are found or you have questions, schedule a time to sit down with your administrator to resolve outstanding issues.

Using the system is critical to learning. You won’t know everything at first, but you’ll gain confidence as you go.

4. Fix your mistakes, but don’t delete existing data

Your role as an eTapestry user is to add new data and keep existing data up to date. Since maintaining accurate data can sometimes require deleting data, it’s good to know what you should and shouldn’t do before editing, modifying, or deleting data in your database.

Review these best practices and check with your eTapestry database administrator to confirm your organization’s process for altering existing data.

Fix your mistakes and modify data to make it current.

  • Did you create a test account or gift entry while practicing? Delete it to keep your data healthy.
  • Did you create a gift and then realize you added it to the wrong account? Delete it and add it to the correct account.
  • Do you update data to make it current if the new data is known and validated? Yes. Keeping data up to date is important. It is best that all users remove and update incorrect data when they know it.
  • Do you delete incorrect data, even when you don’t know the correct data? Yes. If it is incorrect, don’t keep it in your database.

Be cautious when deleting existing account and journal entry records.

  • Typically gifts, contacts, and accounts should not be removed from your database unless they are incorrect or unnecessary. It is best to consult your administrator to make a decision about any accounts or journal records that you think might need to be deleted.

Tip: Check with your eTapestry administrator or reference your organization’s user guides to see if incorrect data that was once correct (such as an old address) should be saved historically in a journal note or contact after it is removed from a persona. This can be a good way to track old account data that you may want to reference in the future but that you don’t want to pull into reports.

5. Don’t be afraid of the system, but use caution with “mass impact” features

Mistakes can be fixed. You cannot do anything that will break your database, and it is incredibly challenging to lose or mess up all of your data.

Even so, it’s always good to be cautious about features that will have a wide impact in your eTapestry database, such as mass email, mass updates, and imports.

Mass impact features like the ones mentioned above allow a user to add or modify large amounts of data at a time, which means a lot of data clean up if you accidentally make a mistake.

You may stumble across these features as a new eTapestry user. Check with your eTapestry administrator before using them.

With those cautions in mind, you’ll have nothing to fear if you:

  • Save all of your changes;
  • Double check the accuracy of the data you enter into the system; and
  • Follow the above tips on data consistency and deletion.

Don’t be afraid of eTapestry

Be intentional in your first steps and focus on learning the software. Simple data entry of accounts and journal entries as well as running queries and reports are features new eTapestry users can use without impacting the health and stability of the database. Use the tips in this post to get started on the right foot.

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