Generating custom reports from the Constituents or Fundraising tab
In this article:
- What is an LGL report?
- Customizing your report (choosing the fields you want to include)
- Why start your report by searching in the Constituents or Fundraising tab?
- Common caveats in report field customization
- Sample report: Total giving from 3 fiscal years ago to the present
What is an LGL report?
A report in LGL is a combination of two key elements:
- Your search query, which tells LGL which records to include, and
- The columns in your report (constituent names and addresses, plus gifts that fall into a gift date range and size, for example).
Customizing your report (choosing the fields you want to include)
When you customize your report, you tell LGL which pieces of information you want about the records you just pulled—in other words, what columns or fields will appear in the report and what data will be included in them.
Once you’ve defined these two steps, you’ll be able to:
- Preview your report (the first 100 rows)
- Save and export the report
Why start your report by searching in the Constituents or Fundraising tab?
When you search for the data you want to report on before you build your report, you see your report’s building blocks before you create it, which can save you the hassle of building a report that is not useful to you.
If you begin in the Constituents tab, your report will yield a list of constituents and whatever information (including gift information) you’ve selected to view for each.
If you begin in the Fundraising tab, your report will yield a list of gifts and whatever information about each gift you have selected to view.
1. Define your search criteria
You can begin a report by running a search in either the Constituents tab or the Fundraising tab.
Let’s assume that you want to generate a list of constituents who gave to your organization last year but have not yet made a gift this year. To start, select the “Last gift date” criteria in the Advanced Search box on the All constituents page:
Click the Search button. You will see the search results on your screen. Then click the Export results button in the top right corner of the page, and you will be taken to the Customize screen in the report builder.
2. Customize your report output
Your next step is to customize the fields you want to include in your report.
You can choose a pre-defined set of fields by selecting a report template from the Report Template drop-down menu, or you can select your own set of fields by choosing the default “Custom” report template and handpicking the fields you want to use by checking the boxes next to the field name/s of your choice.
Most CSV-formatted report templates allow you to add, remove, and re-order fields, in addition to customizing field labels, selecting date ranges and number of gifts to display, and much more. You can customize these fields by clicking Customize from the appropriate field in your list of fields.
NOTE: We recommend including the “Sort Name” field in any custom report because it gives you more sorting options when you’re working in Excel. (Sort name is “Last, First” name for individual records or “Organization name” for organization records.)
An important point about customization
The ability to customize your report fields expands your options for how you can view your data. For example, if you click on the Customize link next to a field such as Total Giving, you can further refine what type of information will be presented in that column—for example, total giving for a particular fund, appeal, or event. This is a wonderful way to see summary data in your report for the exact types of gifts you need.
So keep in mind that your search query is not the only step in creating your report, and read the example below to understand what this means for building your own custom report.
NOTE: You can easily save a customized report template to use over and over again. For a quick tutorial, view this video:
The search criteria that start your report process tell LGL which records to include in the report. They might specify that there should be 80 records in the report (if you had 80 constituents who meet a certain set of criteria, for example). This is all that is happening when you click Search to run your query.
It is in the second step, customizing your report, where you define which data points you want about those people. Maybe you want their giving from last year, but maybe you want something else, for example, their lifetime giving or their largest gift.
All this is to say that once you’ve created your overall search query, you need to make sure your customizable fields are also set to pull the data you want to see in your report.
If you feel well-versed in the two steps of report building, continue on to “Step 3, Preview the report” below. If additional examples would be useful, read the “Common caveats in report field customization” section next.
Common caveats in report field customization
Say you want a report on constituents with total giving amounts of more than $1,000 for the past two years. When you export Total Giving, you will see the constituents’ lifetime giving unless you tell LGL to limit the Total Giving output field to display only gifts during a specific time period.
Here's an example of how the date range for gifts in a total giving report during a specific period need to be customized to pull the expected data:
NOTE: Total Giving includes all gifts, pledges, in-kind giving, matching, and soft credits. Installments and “Other Income” are not included. If you want to exclude certain gift types, you can do so here by selecting the “Gift Types” option.
Another caveat involves customizing your report’s gift field/s.
Say you want to do some analysis on your donors over the past few years, including gift information for a specific time frame. You can easily query on the time range using the “Advanced Search” box at the top of the Constituents tab, but that alone won’t yield the data you’re after. You will need to tell LGL which gift information you want, which requires defining your gift total fields, as shown below.
A safeguard is also built into reporting that allows you to pass gift restrictions from your search criteria through to the custom options in your giving columns. It works as follows.
Say you began your constituent report as a simple search that includes giving fields, such as "Events (giving)":
If you are using a simple search and then you select a "Total giving (custom)" field in your report, you'll be asked if you want to apply your search criteria to the custom options for that field in this popup dialog:
When you select "Yes", this means that if you searched on a gift attribute such as "Events (giving)" and selected the "Fall 2019 Gala", that restriction will be added to your "Total giving (custom)" field as well, as shown here:
3. Preview the report
For CSV exports, you can preview the results either via the Quick Preview button (useful if you are in the midst of customizing a report) or in the Preview step.
4. Save and/or export the results
When you are happy with your report, you can save it as a new report template. Or you can simply export the results (either immediately or on a schedule).
Sample report: Total giving from 3 fiscal years ago to the present
Total giving reports are widely used and can be created easily in LGL.
Say you want to create a report that shows you information about donors who gave last year versus this year. Follow the steps below to create the report.
- Determine the constituents who should be in the report by starting in Constituents > All constituents. If you are comparing all donors last year with all donors this year, you can build a search for all constituents who gave a "Gift" type gift from "last fiscal" to "this fiscal".
- Once you’re happy with the search results, click Export results and build a report with the total giving information that you need. i. Select any name and contact info fields you need/want in the report (see “Step 2. Customize your report output” earlier in this article) ii. Click on "Gift/Pledge/Goal Fields", choose the "Total Giving" field, and then customize it as appropriate (see “Step 2. Customize your report output” earlier in this article and the “Common challenges in report field customization” section for examples)
- Export the data and slice/dice in Excel as appropriate/desired (see “Step 3. Preview the report” and “Step 4. Save and/or export the results” above)
If you want to compare donors from the past three fiscal years, you might try all constituents who gave a "Gift" type gift from "2 fiscals ago" to "this fiscal".
If you are comparing results from your spring appeal for this year versus your spring appeal for last year, for example, you could create a query like this one (in this case, dates may not matter since the date is included in the appeal name).
To see more examples of how to generate commonly used reports, see Common reports and how to generate them.