Reports: Build, customize, and schedule reports
In this article:
- What’s in a report?
- Important note about customization
- Working with reports and exports
- Scheduled reports
- Schedule a pre-built report
- Permanent Links
- Removing email notifications from a scheduled report
- Setting an end date for a scheduled report
- Archived reports
- Archiving exports
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could build a report once and be able to re-run it with a couple of clicks whenever you want an update of the data? Or even better, have Little Green Light run it for you on a schedule and email you the results (daily, weekly, or monthly)?
You can do just that with LGL's reporting feature, accessible from the Reports page or from any search results page in LGL. Almost immediately, you'll get access to either a PDF or CSV report you can use to see what's happening with your data or share with others.
What’s in a report?
Each report in LGL has two main ingredients:
- The search that defines the records to export
- The template that defines the report's format (or the fields you will see when you look at the report)
Building a brand-new report is a four-step process, which LGL's report builder walks you through. Here is a description of each step:
- Define your search criteria (which records will go into your report)
- Customize your report output (which bits of data you will get for each record)
- Preview the report
- Save and/or export the results
1. Define your search criteria
Search for records to pull into your report using the standard Advanced Search functionality from either the Constituents or the Fundraising tab. Or you can start from the Reports page using one of the canned reports automatically available in your account (see the Working with reports and exports section later in this article).
2. Customize your report output
This is where you can tell LGL what fields, or data points, to put in your report. You can choose one of the CSV report templates from the Report Template drop-down menu and either use it as is or update it based on your preferences.
You can also choose a PDF report template from the Report Template dropdown menu (but keep in mind that PDF reports are not customizable).
Or you can start fresh from the Customize screen of the report builder, make your selection of fields, and customize them to your needs. CSV reports are fully customizable—you can add fields, remove fields, rearrange the order of fields, customize field labels, specify a primary or secondary address, choose gift type, and numerous other options.
If you click on the Customize link next to a field, such as Total Giving (this fiscal), for example, this is where you further refine what type of information will be presented in the Total Giving column in your report.
Important note about customization
When you create a constituent search to pull together the records your report will contain, the giving-related criteria from your search can be passed through into the customization options for the Total Giving fields you select. You will see the notification below when you click the "Export results" button. Select "Yes" to preserve your gift-related search criteria in your gift field's custom options.
It is also a good idea to make sure any customizable fields you want to use for your report columns are set to pull the correct data. For example, you can restrict on a number of different categories, attributes, or gift and payment types, and you can specify the size of a single gift amount, for example, as shown below:
For the Gifts field, which pulls data for individual gifts into your report, the example below shows how you can add columns for the individual gifts into your constituent report, choosing which gift fields you want (i.e., date, amount, etc.) and how many gifts to include. Remember to increase the gift count if you want to see more than one gift per constituent:
3. Preview the report
For CSV exports (remember that PDF reports are not previewable), you can preview the first 100 rows of the results either via the Quick Preview button (useful for seeing a snapshot of what your report will look like if you are in the midst of customization) or in the Preview step of the report builder:
4. Save and/or export the results
When you are happy with the report, you can save it as a new canned or reusable report or you can export the results (right away, or on a schedule).
Working with reports and exports
Most of your report management takes place on the Reports tab, where you can review and manage reports and exports for Constituent, Gift & Pledge, Goal, Contact Report, Task, Volunteering, and Note information.
All of your canned or saved reports for a given type of record are listed on the Reports tab. To generate an export from one of these, click on the Export button, then on Save Export, and a new export will be generated using that report. You can also edit reports, copy them and make changes, and/or archive reports you don’t intend to keep using. By default, we have included several canned reports for each record type, which correspond to all of the export types that were previously available in LGL:
To schedule your report, please follow these instructions:
- In the 4th step of the report builder, the Save Export screen, select one of the available options from the Export Generation Schedule dropdown menu. NOTE: Scheduling options include monthly (you can choose the day of the month, up to 28 days), every Monday, weekdays Monday through Friday, and every day.
- Make sure you complete the fields tracking other data about your report, such as name, description, and team member roles for those who should have access to the report.
- Click the Save Export button to save your export as a scheduled report. Any reports you have saved as scheduled for automatic generation and email delivery will now be listed in the Scheduled reports tab, available from the Reports page.
Schedule a pre-built report
It's possible to schedule a pre-built report. You can do this by finding the report in your Reports list and clicking the Export button. Then you'll be able to set a recurring generation schedule (in step 4 of the report builder), as shown below:
Scheduled reports can also be set to create a "permanent link," which generates a data file at a fixed URL location.
Once you have created a permanent link, it will be available in the Scheduled reports tab:
The permanent link provides a fixed URL where the data from this report will be stored as a data file. When your report updates every weekday, week, or month, you can pull in that new data very easily, and the location of the data (the permanent link URL) will stay the same.
- Read how you can use Permanent Links to pull report data into other software services
Removing email notifications from a scheduled report
If a scheduled report is sending notifications that you no longer want, it's possible to remove them by editing the scheduled report:
Navigate to the Save Export step, and check the Disable email notifications box:
Uncheck the names of those team members who no longer want or need to receive notifications when this report is automatically generated, and click Save.
Setting an end date for a scheduled report
When you want to use a scheduled report for a limited period of time, you can set an end date as you are building it, in the "Save Export" step shown below:
You can archive reports that you no longer want to use. This is a good way to get them out of the way but also keep them around in case you ever want to refer to them. For instance, if you don’t need or use some of the default Little Green Light reports, you can archive them to remove them from your main list of reports:
All of your exports are available for review and download. You can also take any previously run export and either re-run it or convert it into either a scheduled report or a saved, canned report.
If a report exists in your Exports list that is no longer needed, you can move it into the Archived exports tab by setting it to "Archived":
You have the option to delete the archived export by going into the Archived exports tab and clicking the Delete button next to the export:
It's also possible to automatically delete archived versions of scheduled exports that you no longer need. For example, if your account runs a daily scheduled report, after a year you'd have 365 reports. You can set this option as you're saving the scheduled report. If you want to keep only the most recent copies, any number from 2 to 30, you can set that option as shown: