In a standard version of the Raiser’s Edge, the only required field for a new Constituent record is the Last Name/Org Name, which is why they display in a different color (by default, it’s that nasty Microsoft Cyan; remember Windows 95??? You can change that in User Options). Generally speaking, that’s not enough information for a record to be considered “complete”. Most organizations have (and should if they don’t) policies regarding the minimum information required on a record to assure proper address entry and addressees/salutations, for example. The system can be customized for your organization to make the fields that are important to you required for all the record types in Raiser’s Edge and Financial Edge. In either product, in Configuration, Fields, additional fields can be set to Required to assure that those fields are populated for every new record.
My favorite additional fields to make required for Constituent records are:
- Constituent Code
- Primary Addressee
- Primary Salutation
Be careful going overboard on making too many fields required. If you have busy development officers entering data, they may become frustrated and just give up. We don’t want to discourage their using the system!
For example, I’ve seen well-meaning folks make all the name fields on the Bio1 required, so that people will be forced to enter them. Well, that has unintended consequences. Did you know that when you make them required on the Bio1, they also become required on the Spouse relationship record-UGH! That prevents us from being able to add Spouse information (Last name, Title 1) if we know someone is married, but we don’t know their Spouse’s first name. Why does that matter, you ask? What if we want to send a gala invitation addressed to Mr. and Mrs., but we don’t know our female board member’s husband’s name? Unless we mark an Add/Sal as Editable and add it “and Mr.” manually (don’t get me started on the evils of THAT practice), we don’t have it available in our formulas.
Likewise with address fields. What if someone just signed up for our enewsletter at an event? We likely didn’t get an address, or they maybe elected not to provide it.
Now, one of two things happens:
1. They don’t get the newsletter because we can’t enter them, which means we miss a critical opportunity to cultivate a new potential advocate, volunteer or donor, and we look unorganized/uncaring.
2. They get added to a spreadsheet of enewsletter emails outside of Raiser’s Edge. Really?? You have the premier fundraising database in the world, and you’re still using Excel to manage your newsletter lists???? Not only is that just wrong, it means you’re losing vital metrics about the effectiveness of first, your event, and second, your enewsletter.
So, as with all the powerful tools that Raiser’s Edge offers, be thoughtful and purposeful in how you use them. Don’t let the power go to your head.
Keeping you on the Leading Edge,