WOO-WHO!! I made @omatic_software #bbcon list!!! #blkbre


OMBlogDon’t let the order of this list fool you- I’m only last  on the list because it’s chronological, and I’m presenting in the last time slot. I guess Blackbaud put me last to make sure everyone will stay until the end of the conference 😉

Thanks so much to Mark at Omatic for highlighting  my session. I’m truly flattered.

If you’d like to end your conference with a session that will leave you 

Inspired…educated…..motivated…….and entertained…….

then join me Wednesday at 11!

I hope to see you in Nashville!


LESSons from LESS:Batch categories


With the release of the Raiser’s Edge 7.93, Blackbaud introduced categories in Batch! We already had the Categories tool in Query and Export (thank you, Blackbaud!). How cool is that they’ve added it to Batch? 🙂

I have had several clients ask me recently about how they can or should use them. First of all, there really is no “should” here, in my mind- no best practices per se’. They’re just there for your viewing pleasure to help you stay organized and find things more easily. Like the Delete Multiple Queries tool, they can also be handy when it comes to keeping the database neat and tidy.

Some examples of how you could use them? To categorize and group Batches by:

  • Month
  • User
  • Pay method (Checks, Credit cards,Recurring, All other)
  • Event registrations, Direct Mail, Online Gifts, Memberships
  • Lower school, Middle  school, Upper school

It just depends on what makes it easier for you based on how your organization raises money and enters gifts.

Are you using them yet? I’d love to hear  how!

Keeping you on the Leading Edge,


Blackbaud Certified Raiser’s Edge Professional

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

LESSons from LESS:Export Grid to Excel #blkbre


As I mentioned in an earlier post, in many places in the Raiser’s Edge, especially on the Constituent record, what you’re actually looking at is a list of 2nd level records attached to that record, like on the Gift tab or the Relationship tab. In this post, let’s build on that concept even further by learning to think of that list as a grid….with no grid lines.

We all work with and/or for people who rely heavily on us to get information out of the Raiser’s Edge for them, usually to view in Excel. That’s a good thing in a way-job security and all that, but wouldn’t it be nice to empower them with a simple tool to let them export what they’re looking at for themselves?

The first step is to teach them how to customize what fields they want to see, based on my earlier post about columns. Then, we can teach them to export that “grid” to Excel with a simple right click! You heard me right:

From any top level record in the Raiser’s Edge, you can export what you’re looking at with a

right click, Export grid to Excel

You can export grids to Excel from top level records including:

  • Constituent (Individual and Organization, excluding Bio1/Org1)
  • Campaign (excluding General tab)
  • Fund (excluding General tab)
  • Appeal (excluding General tab)
  • Memberships (excluding Membership tab)
  • Jobs (excluding General tab)
  • Event (excluding General tab)

(The option to Export the grid is also available in limited areas on Gift and Action records.)


So, for people who are not experts like us,  we can help them feed their Excel obsession to their heart’s content 🙂

Of course, as experts, we know that:

a)      they can’t hurt anything because now they’re in Excel

b)      they can’t bring any changes they make in Excel back into the Raiser’s Edge because, of course, they likely don’t have any of the needed record identifiers like Import ID or Constituent ID (which can be added as a column if needed)

Still, we can easily quench their seemingly undying thirst to see things in Excel. How neat is that?

I’m all bout empowering people by sharing my knowledge and making things easier for them; how about you?

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

1.866.463.3575 Tollfree