Once a quarter, we hold a Focus Series webinar on Raiser’s Edge. We cover relevant topics to help you maximize your software investment. You can view previous webinars in our video library and learn about upcoming webinars here.
This particular webinar covers the Events module in Raiser’s Edge (RE) and is hosted by our own Andy Thorson and Alyson Watts.
The Events module is an optional module for the Raiser’s Edge software. It is not a standard out-of-the-box option. But even if you don’t have Events installed on your RE version, there are some things for you later in the post.
Other optional RE modules include:
- Alum (or Schools)
- EFT – allows you to process recurring transactions
- Event – we’ll go over in detail below
- Member – for museums, aquariums, and member-oriented organizations
- Queue – lets you schedule long running processes after hours
- Search (Prospect) – for cultivating and tracking ratings and wealth information on donors or potential donors
- Tribute – for honors and memorials
- Volunteer – for tracking interest, hours worked, interests, assignments, and more
- Planned Giving – for bequests, insurance, and annuities
We plan to talk about these other optional modules in future webinars, so stay tuned!
The Events Module in Raiser’s Edge
So what does the Events module do? It allows you to track invitations, responses and attendance for events.
And more than just a yes or no RSVP. You can track that yes, they were invited and RSVP’d; yes, they’ve registered and paid an attendance fee; and yes, they actually show up and attend. You can track across these stages using the Events module.
You can also:
- Link registrants (or constituents in your database) and their guests (even if they aren’t in your database) to the event
- Assign registrants to groups, like a corporate sponsor, or awards and tables/seats
- Track registration fees and tax-deductible contributions
- Link event fees/contributions to the gift page/tab of an individual’s record
- Fulfill prizes or benefits to donors
- Track coordinators, speaker, and volunteers
- Track expenses and see net income
- Create event lists, rosters, unpaid fee lists, and more
You can use the events module for all kinds of events, like dinners, galas, sporting events like golf tournaments or 5k runs, seminars and classes, an annual meeting or weekly after school art classes for kids. Any kind of event, even if they are one-time or recurring over days, weeks, or every year.
All of this information you can keep in the event module.
Events That Aren’t Really Special Events
But there are other places that you might want to keep information that looks like events, but it’s not really events or fundraising events. For example, let’s say you have a mass event, like an opening reception at a museum or a class reunion and it’s not necessarily tied to anything where you need to track who shows up.
So if it’s just like, hey, we’re doing this, come by, then that might be easier to track as an appeal. Appeals are ideal for solicitations requests that you make to have donors give money. So those aren’t events at all. And then any kind of request where the response is simple; it’s a yes or no, to give or not to give. It doesn’t have those steps and stages that we mentioned earlier where you might track invitation, RSVP response, guests, prizes, or awards.
Actions might be the best place to show participation in a meeting as with your board or committees of the board or other planning groups or cultivation meetings. These are for anything that is more informational in nature as opposed to a fundraising kind of eventor a mass market kind of event.
Actions are designed innately to capture interactions that you have with your constituency, whether they’re all unrelated to events, conversations, phone calls, emails, anything to do with the relationship building process that you take with your constituents.
Then finally attributes which are those custom fields that you can create in your Raiser’s Edge that are unique to your organization. These are great for tracking membership or participation in a group that’s not an event, like a society legacy society or giving club or any kind of an opt-in group that you wanna keep track of but it’s not really an event that happens in a place in a location at a place in time.
That being said, if you have a question on your website or in your newsletter for constituents to express interest in your events, then an attribute would be a great place to capture that.
- Yes, I’d like to know about your gala when it rolls around, or
- I’m interested in the kinds of special events you put on as an organization
Keep me in the loop!
Committee service or volunteer service that doesn’t have to do with events is also best kept in attributes.
Events Without the Events Module
Like we mentioned earlier, if you do not have the events module then you certainly can track events very capably with the native fields. And that would be a combination of appeals that we just talked about, plus relationships.
So you would keep the invitations and the responses (they would have to be simpler responses) in appeals then look at the performance of your event. You might compare the number invited versus number donated and average gift, that kind of thing. You can track expenses on appeals. So it would be a calculation, but at least you could see expenses in one place.
The events module will determine will calculate net income for you, but it can be done with a few extra clicks without the events module.
Committee service on the event team could be an attributes without the events module. Guests could be relationships without the events module. And you could use actions to show that you sent a prize out after the event.
When might you want to think about getting the events module?
- If you have a number of special events throughout the year
- If your events are large and complex
- If your events have a feeding, award, or prize component to them
- If there are a lot of participants who aren’t in your database to start with
If your events relate to any of the bullet points above, then the events module is probably worth the investment and spending time figuring out how to best use it.
Deeper Look into the Events Module
Let’s move on to looking at the parts of the events module itself.
First of all, when you’re looking at a constituent record, you’ll see a tab for Events that you wouldn’t see without the module. And then when you go to that tab, what you see is that one individual, in the webinar example, Oleg Gancer’s participation history So he’s been to one event, which is the 50th Reunion Welcome Back reception. And you can see a few details there. And if you click on that row, then you can see more information about his participation with that singular event.
At the same time, you can look at the events record itself. So when you register someone for an event or indicate that they’re participating in an event in Raiser’s Edge, you’re linking the person’s record to the event record, the 50th reunion record in this case. So if you navigate to Events and then open a particular event, you can see all the participants to that event. So you can come at it from either direction, from the individual or from the overall event. It’s nice to look at the event itself because you see everyone in one place, all the participants in one place, and you can still drill through and get back to that one individual participation, whether you start from the event or from the person itself.
We like working from the Event because everything is there for you in one place.
So that’s kind of what it looks like, but how do we get there? How do we create these event records to connect to individual or organization records?
So back to that navigation screen, we’ll click on Records and Events and create a new event. We’ll come to the General tab, the first tab, to fill in all the pertinent details: the name, it’s category (and we mentioned earlier that you can have golf tournaments here or classes or seminars or other kinds of meetings that have an invitation, response and attendance). That category radio button is what determines that.
You’ll also want to group the records for events together. So let’s say that we have a reunion weekend and this 50th reunion Welcome Back Reception is just a part of that. Then the group would be for the entire weekend’s activities. You’ll also want to add start date and time and end date and time, who’s the coordinator, what the location is. And we’ll come back to seeding later on, but you can set up your room so to speak, whether it’s a dining room or a theater or a conference room or a presentation type format. You can set a capacity for your event, a number of participants that you don’t want to exceed.
And by the way, if you have a tool like online express, you can publish this event to your website and have people register there. Then the registrations come down into Raiser’s Edge and the capacity if it’s exceeded or it can’t be exceeded through those online registrations. So that’s sort of a safety valve to keep you at capacity or under.
And then just working through the various tabs of the event record, you can make all the necessary settings and limitations or opportunities that you need.
For example, if there are opportunities to buy different kinds of tickets or levels of tickets, those are all units that you set up in the prices that you see in the first screenshot. That could be sponsorship levels, it can be individual and couple, it could be member and non member, or bronze, silver, gold, or any variation of layers and levels of participation in terms of price that you have, you can set up there. And then assign those to people as they register.
You can also track expenses on the expenses tab, which will help you keep in line with your budget. This will help you know what has been expanded and what is still coming up, what the budget to-actual is, if there’s any variants there. And all the expenses calculate into the net income. So you can be keeping track of actual dollars raised after event expenses.
And there are other tabs that I didn’t pull a screenshot for:
- Actions on an event are mainly for the event manager. So you might set yourself an action for when you want the save the date card to drop or your deadline for securing a golf course. So actions for yourself as the event manager or for the planning committee to keep on track and to keep reminders happening for this.
- Media is a place you might wanna keep the logo for this event that goes on all the printed materials, or for sponsor logos, or for photographs of people having a great time at your event last year that you’ll use to put up on your website or something like that. Media is what you’re familiar with on constituent records.
Getting People Registered for Your Event
So we’re not going to go through those other tabs in detail, but let’s talk about getting individuals, companies, and organizations registered for your event. So again, what I’m about to talk through, you could do from a constituent record, from an individual’s record, but we’re gonna look at it from the event itself, but it’s the same process.
So you would go to the Participants tab and click on New registrants. You can choose whether it’s a registrant, someone who’s paying for the fee, someone who’s in your database already or a guest of another registrant of this event, or a sponsor of this event who’s paying for a group of people to attend.
Registering an Individual Registrant
And then we’re going to look through the example of just an individual registrant. So once you choose that first drop down of new registrant, you’ll see a screen that allows you to choose an individual or friend, Name Ganter.
And on the general tab of his unique participation, you can give him a participation status and a type. He is just an attendee, he’s not a VIP or a special award recipient or a staff or or volunteer. He is just someone who’s showing up and having a good time. You can see when he was invited when he responded, if he’s registered or not, and when and so on. So this is the cover page for his participation.
We move on to the registration fees. You can pull into this grid, the right ticket price or level from that set up grid that we saw before. So he’s participating at the individual level, and then you can link a registration fee to a gift itself. So from that view gifts or link gifts, if they aren’t connected yet, then the new gifts here that you see would say link gifts, but they’re already been connected. And so when I click on that View gifts button, I see that cash gift from July of 2014, and then I click on that row to open up details about the gift. And I can see all of the details there, what fund it went into, it was an appeal for the welcome reception b. And that gift is linked to that registration and that registration is going to show as paid down the line when I’m looking for people who’ve said they’re coming, but haven’t yet paid their fees, Olin will be excluded because we know he’s already paid.
So back on to that general tab, if Olin is bringing someone with him, (he just bought an individual ticket so in this case he’s not) but that guest spot on in the bottom right hand corner is where you can attach people to a registrant to say they’re bringing their spouse or they’re bringing three other individuals, and the registrant has paid the ticket price, the fee for those other guests. But here, you can have them associated together and guests can be constituents in the database or not. So again, if you don’t have address information, you don’t have email information, and all you know about this person is that they’re friends with Olin and he brought them to your event then you don’t have to take up space in your database with a shell record that doesn’t have good or complete information.
So that’s how you might enter enter registrants for an event, one person at a time.
Registering People That Have Attended An Event in the Past
Let’s say that you created a query of everyone who attended your event last year and you want to invite all those same people again this year. Instead of adding them individually, you want to add them to the event record at once as having been invited. That’s certainly desirable not have to add 30 or 50 or more individuals to the event one at a time. You can do that by going to admin and then “global add.”
You might be familiar with global add for adding appeals, globally adding actions, or globally adding solicitors. But the data set that we’re adding here is event registrants, and then you can pull in a query. My query is Milwaukee alumni, since they’re the people who are this event is for. So we’re inviting all Milwaukee alumni to the Welcome Back Reception.
And then when you click on the registrant information button or command, then you get that registrant screen with all the details about participation and status. But since we’re at the front end of our event, we’re just sending out the invitations or we’re just trying to load in all the people who are eligible to come to the event into Raiser’s Edge. I don’t know a lot of details about those registrations yet, so I’ll just fill it that the participation type is “attendee” and that they have been invited. And then you would click “add now”, and however many records were in that Milwaukee alumni query would get a registration or a participation to the Welcome Back Reception.
Adding Other Participants
If you’re adding a type of participant other than registrant, you would choose a different item from the drop down. You can choose “sponsor” to add a company, underwriter, or individual that is sponsoring someone at the event. In that red highlighted box, you see that I could indicate that Olin was sponsored by his company, and then he would be with everyone who was sponsored by that company. Every individual participant would be able to be grouped together, whether that’s for seeding, recognition, or for payment purposes.
When you look at an individual’s participant information, you can see where he has been assigned to sit. When this event was first set up, a table or banquet-style format was chosen. As you can see on that right hand side of the window of the screen under seats, it gives you the ability to have a number of tables that you designate, a number of seats at each table, and then you can name those seats and assign them to individuals. From the left hand side where you see all of your participants, you can drag or double click and assign a seat. If an individual is in a group or part of a sponsor group, then you can assign that group all at once so they can fill up two tables automatically without you having to assign 20 individuals separately.
This works for any type of seating. You can choose and assign the seats as appropriate and this is flexible. Sometimes people move, people change who they’re coming with, or a company might change who they’re bringing as part of their sponsor seats. You can reverse a seating assignment by pulling the individual back over to the left or dragging and dropping them to a different seat than the one that they currently have. It can be fluid right up to the day of your event.
And I just wanted to give you this view, this is what the NXT web view looks like. If any of you who are attending out there have NXT version of Raiser’s Edge, you can’t yet manage events in NXT web view, but you can see the information so you can see what’s on that events tab for an individual. If you try to click on any of those rows, you’re not gonna go anywhere to live data. It’s not a live link and you can’t enter new registrations in the web view yet, but that’s coming.
Viewer question: Will we be able to globally add invited using a complex query the same way we globally add action items?
Yes, absolutely. It’s exactly the same concept, but the data set that you’re at adding is registrant information or participant information instead of that action. So it’s the same process: you have a query of the people who are being invited to the event and you use that query to have the event invitations sent, and then you use that same query to come back and add all those individuals as potential attendees to the event. Then once the invitations start to trickle back in with checks paying for tickets or whatever the case may be, you can go into that person one at a time and change their invited status to RSVP or registered or whatever is appropriate. But yes, that initial loading in of all the people who might attend to your event can be done globally.
Viewing and Managing Event Reports
Event Management Reports and Summary Reports
If you have the events module, you will have noticed that in the reports area navigation area of Raiser’s Edge, you have a category called “event management reports.” Also on the event record itself, you have the option to run a summary report, and this is similar to a summary report that you can get from a fund or a constituent. It’s that Sigma character that you see up in the toolbar highlighted in red.
If you’re in an event record and you click on the Sigma character, you see this financial summary. This is where you can quickly and easily see your net income for the event to date. In that drop down for “view,” we’re looking at the financial summary actual, but there’s also a financial summary projected. If all the people who are registered for your event actually show up and buy tickets, then you can look at the projected income for the event. You also have in the second part of that summary screen, a breakdown of income versus kinds of income. So if you have in your event early bird registration versus regular registrations, or if you offer for people to make a contribution in lieu of attending an event, and that’s a different kind of income, you can see all that broken down there on the screen.
What I really like about this summary is that it’s so handy. It’s right there in the event record itself and it’s just one click to get to the summary and one click to finish it and run it.
More Complex Event Management Reports
If you need more information than that or you’re looking at other kinds of information than just in common expenses, then there are more robust reports in the events management area. Navigate to “reports,” then “events management”, and then this particular example is for event lists. So you can choose which event you’re reporting on in the teal field. I’ve chosen our reunion Welcome Back Reception. The kind of list I’m looking for is a participant list and those are the results that you see there in the screenshot in the foreground that lists each individual’s name, the kind of participant they are, whether they’ve paid or not, and whether they’ve attended or not. Then you get totals at the bottom of the report.
And if you look at the screenshot in the background that controls the printed page, you can see that I have included all participants, but if you only want to look at registered participants or attendees, then those are simply check boxes that you can enable.
Seating Arrangements Report
To get your seating grid for the day of your event, you can run the seating arrangements report again. Choose which event you’re looking for, the kinds of participants you want to include or not include, and then on the format tab of this report under “detail,” you can choose if you want to see the report in alphabetical order, or if you want to see the report in the order of your room.
It’s a good idea to have several copies of your seating chart to give to your volunteers to compare side by side. If a volunteer is standing at the front door, I want them to be able to look up participants by their name, so they can point them to the right area of the room. And then if you have a volunteer standing by a table, they would want to look at the seating arrangement by table and seat, because then they can add a glance who’s supposed to be at that table. In the background, there is by alpha, by name order, and in the foreground is by table, just showing one table, but you can see all of the seats.
Other Ways to Search: Constituent Queries and Participant Queries
There are nice reports in Raiser’s Edge, and sometimes they give you exactly what you need, but sometimes you have to go beyond the reports because there’s some detail you want on the printed page that’s not provided for you out of the box. You can query on any of the information that’s on the event record or on the record of the individual invited to or attending that event. You can create queries of either a constituent type or a participant type and there’s no right or wrong query. Sometimes it’s just a matter of trial and error, which query type would be best for you, depending on the kind of information you’re trying to output.
The constituent query is broad. You have all areas of the constituent record to query on to: relationships, gifts, etc. There’s more information to choose from so you have to drill in a little bit more into that directory, that long list of potential fields to use. So for a constituent query, you go to the participant area of the list of the directory and then within that, choose “events.” And then within that, you can pull out the event name in this case, our 50th reunion Welcome Back Reception.
The participant query is a little bit more specific. The way to perform a participant query is similar, but it is little bit quicker because the query knows that you’re looking at participant information to start with. You’ll go right to “events,” and then within that list, choose “event name,” and then select your reunion Welcome Back Reception.
Exporting Data from Raiser’s Edge
When exporting data, you have the types to choose from and constituent and participant both work very well for exporting event related data into Excel or another application. And again, I don’t have a magic answer or a litmus test to tell you which is going to give you the better export. It really just depends on the purpose that you’re exporting data for, and sometimes one works better than another.
Final Thoughts and Viewer Questions
So that’s a little bit of an overview of the capabilities of the events module. A little bit of insight into the tasks you would take to set up an event and track individuals as they register and attend your events, as well as how to manage the information and manipulate the information through reports once the event is in process, and then even after the event is over. And if that is whets your appetite for more, we can help you with some more in depth training on using the events module to the best of its ability for your particular organization and your kinds of special events.
If you’re just getting the events module or you don’t have it yet and you think it would be perfect for your organization, we can help you with configuring that and maybe moving information from your existing program into Raiser’s Edge. And if you have a unique issue with some special kind of event that we really wouldn’t have the time to address in a webinar like this, let us know and we can see how we can help with that.
Also if you feel like the reports that are available to you are falling short somehow, and it’s not a training or an experience issue, it’s a shortcoming of the standard reports, we can help with a custom report, especially if it’s an event that is larger or critical to your organization’s fundraising or outreach and a lot of staff hours are being put into workarounds. We can definitely make that a lot more streamlined with a custom report or a custom registration form or whatever the case may be.
And then finally, if you feel like this model is not right for you or it’s not in the budget, we can also help with some strategies for making your database work the best for you as it’s configured now.
Is it possible to customize or add columns under event?
I’m not sure if you mean in reports or in the events grid itself. In the events participation grid within an event record, if you right click in the area where all the names are listed, then you can see what columns are available for you to show there. This is also true for an individual record on the events tab. So yes, you can change the columns that you see in some of these windows and some of these grids. If you’re asking about a report, then some of the reports have a tab for changing fields that are on the output on the printed page. Sometimes that format tab at the end, the far right tab at the end of the report set up. For example, tab number four will give you the opportunity to show or not show information so you can change the columns of your report in that way. But in both cases, you’re limited to what they offer so if you’re looking for unlimited opportunities for output, that would be an export.
Is it possible to add options for response?
Yes. On a participant record itself, you have “invited,” “response,” and “registration,” so those are only three, but within that you have participation type so you could use that to build in more areas for response. You could use status to build in more values into the table for a kind of response. You can also use appeal in connection with an event, and you might do that for invitations. In addition to putting someone in as being invited to an event, there’s a dropdown for appeals for response. Usually it’s “gave” because appeals are usually set up for solicitations and not events. Any time you have a table in Raiser’s Edge, you can add to the values that are listed in that table. So for an event, I would suggest using one of the drop downs to add in other response types if you need more than just “invited,” “responded,” and “registered.”
We use Greater Giving now and are moving into this module. Is it worth it to move our most recent fiscal year events into the Raider’s Edge events module?
That’s a complex question that depends on your budget and the timing. I’m an archivist, I’m a historian, and I always wanna have more information. I just feel like that’s helpful to cultivation of your donors, building relationships, and housing information so that when the current staff move on to other areas in the organization or other organizations, you have that history for their predecessors. I would always answer yes, I think it’s worth it, but that’s something you’d have to evaluate and weigh.
Can options such as cards or tags be renamed?
Yes, in admin rename fields. I’m not sure if you can rename the title on that button in the bottom right hand corner, but once you open it up, the fields that you see on that button could be renamed. I’m not sure that I would recommend that because when you rename a field, it renames it for all events. So I would be cautious about it. And keep in mind that when you change the category of an event, you get different options under those command buttons. So if you change the category to a sporting event, then some of the options that you have under those buttons are “handicap” and “t-shirt size.” Maybe just changing the category would give you the fields that you need without having to rename them.
Also, you can always set up an attribute for an event where you can capture other information and these are separate attributes than what you might see elsewhere on the overall constituent record. So this attribute just relates to participation, and that might be a great place to capture a field that you don’t see naturally.
For events with tables, is there a way that table captains can enter their guests directly into Raiser’s Edge so staff doesn’t have to enter each record?
Not that I’m aware of, but you can group those individuals together under their captain and then assign them as a group so you don’t have to do all 20 separately.
That’s it for our Focus Series webinar on Raiser’s Edge! We appreciate everybody sitting in on the webinar with the great questions that came over. Look out for another webinar in about a three months. Visit the events page on our website to see when the next live webinars are popping up.