ABC’s of the Raisers Edge

ABCs of the Raiser’s Edge: Y is for Yes/No #blkbre #crystalreports


One of the data types that organizations can track as an attribute in the Raiser’s Edge is Yes/No. Examples might include:

  • Action Attribute with a category called Attended? with a description equal to Yes/No
  • Constituent Attribute called Society Member? with a description equal to Yes/No
  • Gift Attribute called Include in Annual Total Given? with a description equal to Yes/No

They are handy dandy tools inside the Raiser’s Edge because you can easily include or exclude records in all Reports and Mail functions based on Attributes. That seems pretty straightforward at first, but I’ll let you in on a little secret I learned the hard way. Outside of the Raiser’s Edge can be a different story, especially in Crystal Reports.

******Spoiler alert here********

I’m about to slip into a little Geek speak . If you want to skip it, cover your eyes and go straight to the bottom line below. In Geek speak, a Yes/No field is what is known as a Boolean value. I’m no code expert, but I do know enough to know that means it’s Pass/Fail, True/False kind of thing. In order for it to work the way you expect it to, it must be present on every record being considered. Why does that matter?

It matters if you’re going to write formulas against that field in Crystal Reports or use it with the Select Expert tool in Crystal. The Attribute Category must be populated on every record in the data file. Crystal Reports looks first for the Category to be present and THEN for the value you choose (i.e. Yes or No). What a PAIN!

So, here’s my secret: when I am setting-up  a Yes/No attribute for my clients, I set-up a Table with 2 entries: Yes and No. Then, I use an Attribute data type of Table, instead of Yes/No. It looks exactly the same to the end user and behaves the exact same way inside the Raiser’s Edge, but because it is not a true Boolean, it’s much friendlier outside of the Raiser’s Edge, especially in Crystal Reports.

Bottom line:

If you need a Yes/No attribute and there is even the slightest possibility that you may need to use it in a Crystal Report, use a data type of Table with a Yes/No Table.

Make sense? Check Yes or No 🙂

Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


Blackbaud Certified Raiser’s Edge Professional

ABCs of the Raiser’s Edge:X is for XOR #blkbre


In my humble opinion, one of the coolest tools in the Raiser’s Edge is the merge queries tool. Using that tool, you can take 2 existing queries and merge them, using 1 of 4 operators, to create a 3rd query. One of the coolest operators to use with this cool tool is XOR.

“Okay, Miss Sandy, you’ve always promised not to do Geek speak; that sounds like geek speak to me.”

Fear not, my dears, for you know I shall put it into words that make sense to you. 🙂

When you merge queries, think of it as taking 2 parent queries and creating a child! The query created as a result of the merge is the child of the 2 parents!

Why would I ever do that, you ask?

  • Well, sometimes you have 2 existing queries that you can merge to learn some new piece of information (who have we mailed to only once this year, using the queries from your 2 previous mailings as parents.).
  • Sometimes, your boss gives you so many conditions that should (or should not) be met that you’ll never wrap your head around it in one query! It would just easier to break it down into 2 smaller groups (parents), and then merge them to create your final group (child).

Sowhat will the cool child created look like using this cool XOR operator with my 2 existing cool parents ? In the previous example about not mailing to anyone we’ve already mailed to twice this year, the child (merged query) created with the XOR operator (using our previous mailing queries as parents) would include anyone we mailed to in either of the previous mailings, but no one we’ve mailed to twice. The child includes:

Any records in either parent (Blue or Yellow sections)


No records in both parents (Green section)

It’s the opposite of AND, which would include only the records in BOTH parents, or the people we’ve mailed to twice (Green section).

Got it?

You should know some important rules about merging queries, regardless of the operator you use:

  • Parent queries must be of the same type (Constituent to Constituent, Individual to Individual, Gift to Gift, etc.)
  • Parents may be of different formats (static to dynamic)
  • The child (merged) query is ALWAYS static
  • A static parent that needs to be refreshed must be refreshed before the child (a dynamic parent will refresh automatically when the child is refreshed)

I’m often asked if you can merge a merged query. Well, of course, you can! After all, having once been a child doesn’t preclude you from being a parent, does it? 😉

The other merge operators are equally as powerful, but those are a topic for another post. I chose XOR not only for its cool factor, but also because it is the least understood by most people.

I would LOVE to hear examples of how you do or could use XOR in your Raiser’s Edge database  🙂

Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


Blackbaud Certified Raiser’s Edge Professional

ABCs of the Raiser’s Edge: W is for wild cards #blkbre


One-eyed jacks and deuces are wild! I’m all in!!!

No, not those kinds of wild cards, silly! Wild cards in the Raiser’s Edge are special characters that you can use to replace characters when searching or querying on  information. There are 2 wild cards available when searching and querying:

  • A ? (question mark) replaces one character at a time (Last name Sm?th returns Smith or Smythe)
  • A # (pound/hash tag) replaces a series of characters (Last name Jo*son returns Johnson or Johnston)

Say what? Let’s look at an example from Query. Suppose we want query on ZIP codes that begin with “12”. We could query on:

ZIP Code is like 12???


ZIP Code is like 12*

If my ZIP code is 12345-6789, I will  meet the criteria in either case, right? WRONG! 

In the first case, I would not because my ZIP code is not 5 characters in length. The ? literally replaces one character at a time.

In the 2nd case, I would meet the criteria since my ZIP code begins with 12 and is  followed by a series of any number of characters (or NO characters). See the difference?

In addition, there is a 3rd wild card available in  Query that is not widely known. The [ ] (brackets) can be used in Query to group records based on a range of characters or specific values. I use this alot when I’m cleaning up a database to export smaller groups of records based on Last Names. I can query on Last Name begins with [K-O]. It can also be used with commas to isolate records based on multiple, singular values like Last Name begins with [S,W,T].  This will return a group containing records where the last name begins with S, W, or T.

The first 2 wild cards are widely available on record Search screens; the 3rd is only available in Query. It is also important to note that all not all Query operators will accept wild cards.

Wild cards are available in Query with the following operators:

  • Begins with
  • Contains
  • Does not begin with
  • Like
  • Not like

So, if you want to get wild in the Raiser’s Edge, now you know how 🙂

Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


BlackbaudCertified_Icon Blackbaud Certified Raiser’s Edge Professional

ABCs of the Raiser’s Edge: V is for Valid Address #blkbre


In all data extraction functions in the Raiser’s Edge (Mail, Reports, Export)  that can display address and/or phone information, you have options (Address Processing) to chose which address and/or phone information to use for that mailing, Report, or Export. Step 4 of any address processing set-up always says:

“Specify what to do if no address is found,” which begs the question:

What exactly does the Raiser’s Edge consider a “valid” address ?

Is it looking at the Has No Valid Address box on the Bio1?

Nope, that box is a Constituent level filter, controlling which Constituents are included. You update that field manually, as needed.

Address Processing is all about which Address should be used.

Is it checking for address accuracy, like proper spelling or ZIP code formatting?

No, you need additional optional services for that.

Is it filtering out blank addresses?


What IS a valid address in the Raiser’s Edge, Miss Sandy???

Quite simply, an address record in the Raiser’s Edge is considered valid if it meets two conditions:

The Send Mail to this Address box is checked


The Valid To Date is either blank or after today

It’s that simple!


Keep in mind that the Raiser’s Edge only checks for these conditions to be met on the addresses that meet the criteria (like types and attributes) you’ve established earlier in the process. Be mindful that unless these 2 conditions are met, it will not use or display that address-or any of the phone numbers associated with it-including emails (unless you override Address Processing in Step 4, which is not recommended).

So, if someone appears in your Mailing or Report with no address or phone number/email, even though the record “looks” fine, check the Address record for these 2 conditions to be met-first thing. It’s quite possible that some well-meaning, uninformed soul unchecked the Send Mail to this Address box or entered a Date To on the Preferred Address record, instead of marking the Has No Valid Address box, as they should have.

Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


ABCs of the Raiser’s Edge:U is for User Options #blkbre


I had only 4 weeks to learn the Raiser’s Edge before I had to teach it the first time. During that time, I was eating and sleeping the Raiser’s Edge 24/7. The possibility of being asked a question I couldn’t answer in front of a room full of clients struck mortal fear in my heart- yes, there was such a time! One of the concepts I most feared not having down cold was the answer to, “Is that a system wide setting or user specific?” I was constantly flipping between Config, Admin, and User Options, grilling myself on what lived where. In fact, it got so bad at one point that  I was talking in my sleep about it! My husband, who knows nothing about the Raiser’s Edge, asked me one morning,

“What is Tools, User Options?”

I replied, “It’s something in the Raiser’s Edge. Why?”

He said, “Last night, I kept trying to get you to roll over, so you’d quit snoring. You kept telling me to go to Tools, User Options!!!” 😀

Clients often ask me how I finally wrapped my head around which things are which. Here’s my answer:

  • Anything that impacts the database as a whole or system integrity is generally controlled in Config (or Admin)
  • Anything that is primarily for your viewing pleasure and can’t hurt anything (with 1 noted exception below) is a User Option (even my husband knows those are under Tools on the menu bar Wink).


Examples of User Options vs. System settings



Default landing page on log-in

Default settings for Soft Credits

Short vs. Long Description for table values

Constituent ID format

Gift type colors

When are Appeals added & updated


            It is important to note that depending on your security rights, you may not have access to User Options. Personally, I don’t understand limiting access to User Options, but some database administrators seem to have their reasons.


One very important caution regarding my statement above that

“you can’t hurt anything with User Options”:

On the Reports tab, under Gift Preferences, you will find a setting for whether to include anonymous gifts.

You have 3 options, if you chose to include them:

  • Asterisk at the end of the line
  • Leave name intact
  • Use “Anonymous”




(Personally, I think this should be a system setting, but what do I know?) 


            Often times, when a user will say, “Sandy, I wish the Raiser’s Edge would let me see “This” instead of “That”, I am able to point them to a User Option that will, in fact, allow them to see “This” instead of “That”. So while they may not make your spouse stop snoring, they do allow you to customize your Raiser’s Edge experience Smile.

Because so few people seem to know that they have options in the Raiser’s Edge, I am considering doing a series of screencasts detailing User Options and what they mean.




Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


ABCs of the Raiser’s Edge: T is for The #blkbre


 Over the years, I’ve had clients say, “Miss Sandy, we can’t use the standard reports (like the powerful Donor Category Report-a personal favorite of mine :wink:) in the Raiser’s Edge. We have foundation donors who are very insistent that we include the word “The” in their name (i.e. The Brady Bunch Foundation), but they want to be publicly listed under the B’s for Brady.  We can’t list them under the B’s in the Raiser’s Edge because the system puts them under the T’s for The, so we have to do it all manually in Excel.” ARRGGG!

View detailsTilting my head coyly and grinning mischievously, I take great pleasure in introducing them to the powerful little left leaning backslash(\). When used in place of a space in the Organization Name field, this little piece of punctuation packs some special powers!


The\Brady Bunch Foundation


Alphabetize by Brady Display in reports, mail, etc.
Search by Brady Display in Query results
Remove “The” from the Sort Key Print
Remove “The” from the Sort Name Export when exporting Organization Name

While you will see this powerful little fellow in other places in the  Raiser’s Edge, like Addressee\Salutation formulas, its job in those formulas is quite different-equally as powerful, but different. When you see a single backslash (\) in an Addressee\Salutation formula, it represents a conditional return. If that formula is used and the values will run off of the right hand edge of a label, for example, it will force whatever follows the backslash to the next line. When you see a double backslash (\\), it inserts a hard return and will always put what follows on the next line.

Its job in the Organization name field is strictly to give you more control over sorting and searching.  I like having control, don’t you?

Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


1.866.463.3575 Tollfree