Use permanent links to access scheduled report data

In this article:


"Permanent Links" are a way of saving exports to a cloud-based location from a scheduled report in your Little Green Light account. This lets you access the report data from a scheduled report, but through another software service. The source data that's getting pulled in will automatically update every time the scheduled report runs in your LGL account. For example, if you set up a report to run on the first of every month, the data in that permanent link file is automatically updated on the first of every month and any other service you use to pull in that data can then access the updated data.

Flow of data from LGL report to third-party software

NOTE ABOUT SECURITY: The permanent link uses a 36-character alphanumeric filename, but it does not necessarily require your LGL login to access the file. It is an option to require an LGL password, but that can reduce the usefulness of a file you're trying to access from another software service (which can't log in).

Example 1: Use Google Sheets to track and share data

In this example, we use Google Sheets to pull in data from our LGL account and then summarize that data and present it in a chart. 

We're pulling in the donations raised year to date by our board members. In LGL, we've used a custom gift field named "Solicitor" to track this information. We are using this Google Sheet approach because we give our board members access to the Google Sheet, but we don't give them direct access to our LGL account.

Chart in Google Sheets, based on a permanent link file from our LGL account

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Create a scheduled report in LGL
    1. In this example, we would start building this report in the Fundraising > Giving area, searching for gifts with a gift date of "this year", and only search for gifts where the solicitor is "not blank". Once we have clicked Search, we click the Export results button.
    2. In the Customize step, we select the columns we want in our report, including "Gift Amount" and our custom field, "Gift: Solicitor".
    3. When saving the export, we need to 1) set the export type as "CSV" (rather than "Excel"), 2) make it a scheduled report (monthly, for example), and 3) check the box to create a permanent link.
  2.  Pull the data from the scheduled report into the Google Sheet
    1. After the report runs the first time, it will show a URL for the permanent link in the Scheduled reports tab. Copy the URL, as shown here:
    2. In your Google Sheet, use a function named importdata. The syntax is "=importdata("URL")".

      30 second video: copying/pasting a permanent link into a Google Sheet

  3. Once the data is in your Google Sheet, you can create a pivot table and then add a chart based on the pivot table data. We won't go into the details about how to do those steps (you can easily find them by Googling).
    1. TIP: In your Google Sheet, if you need to force the =importdata function to reach out to get the latest data, you can add some meaningless content at the end of your URL, such as "?x=y". This makes Google think there's a new URL (but any characters following the "?" will be meaningless in this context).

Example 2: Publish a PDF membership directory on your website

In this example, we are publishing our membership directory on our website so that our members can download a copy at any time, and we want this directory to stay up to date automatically. We're using the built-in "Directory (PDF)" report from our LGL account. If our website has a password-protected area, we might choose to place this directory in that secure area ( NOTE: Creating a password-protected area on your website is not something Little Green Light can help with; whoever helps you with your website should be able to point you in the right direction).

Example web page where we link to our Membership Directory (an HTML hyperlink to the permanent link for our PDF report)

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Create a scheduled report in your LGL account
    1. We'll start in the Constituents tab by 1) filtering on "Membership Status" is "Active". With the search results displaying, we'll 2) click Export results:
    2. On the Customize step, select the report template called "Directory". 
    3. When saving the export, 1) make it a scheduled report and 2) check the box to create a permanent link.
  2. On your website, add a link to the directory
    1.  After the report runs the first time, it will show a URL for the permanent link in your Scheduled reports list. Copy that URL.
    2. Set that URL as the target in an HTML hyperlink (i.e., <a href="URL">Membership Directory</a>).

      Screenshot showing the webpage editor, with the hyperlink pointing to the permanent link location

In summary

The examples above show how you could use permanent links to access a spreadsheet (in the first example) or a PDF file (in the second example) without even going into your LGL account. This lets you give people who are not team members in your LGL account access to selected portions of the data in your LGL account. In the case of the spreadsheet, it can also let you set up processes that transform the data (such as a pivot table and a chart), so that you don't have to go through those steps each time you pull the report.