When Kendra Cotton began using FundRaiser Professional, she was happy… except for one thing. She wanted more flexibility on designing reports. “I wanted to report in a certain way that wasn’t available in FundRaiser,” says Kendra. She is the Director of Development and Institutional Advancement at the Land Trust for Tennessee. The Land Trust for Tennessee works with communities and individuals to protect Tennessee's natural and historic landscapes.
To help Kendra meet her reporting needs, FundRaiser Technical Support suggested she integrate FundRaiser with Crystal Reports®, a report generator.
What is a “Report Generator”?
Some software is specifically designed to pull information from your database and format it as a report. This kind of software is referred to as a ‘report generator’. Crystal Reports is the most widely used report generator. It allows great flexibility in what data is used in a report, and how that data is formatted.
More sophisticated reports
In FundRaiser, reports are pre-designed and included as templates. “From a programmer’s perspective, I use a report generator such as Crystal to build reports in FundRaiser,” says Gene Weinbeck, founder and root programmer of FundRaiser Software. “I then include the report into FundRaiser. I build some flexibility into the report template. It contains some options, but fewer than if the user directly used a report generator themselves.”
“Kendra needed to produce more sophisticated reports,” says a FundRaiser Customer Support representative. “Crystal operates with FundRaiser as a plug-in. Using Crystal Reports and FundRaiser data gives you great flexibility. You can display the data in exactly the way you want it.”
“Our Board members like the report”
Using Crystal Reports and FundRaiser data, Kendra does a special report based on motivation codes. “We send it out to our board members. They like the report,” she says.
“The report groups gifts together based on motivation codes. It gives us a total amount within a certain time frame. It gives a fuller picture of our fundraising initiative. It shows more of what each solicitor has brought in and who has responded to the fundraising tactics,” explains Kendra.
“As a result, some of our board members have picked up on donations made by people they know, and been able to thank them personally. It’s easy to browse through the report because it is alphabetical and organized based on motivation.”
What it takes to make the integration work
FundRaiser technical support helped to implement the integration of FundRaiser with Crystal Reports. “When two applications talk to each other, there will be some issues to work out,” says Kendra. “FundRaiser technical support has been able to help with whatever has come up. They’ve been amazing.”
Kendra advises other organizations interested in using Crystal that, “it takes an investment in time upfront. You will need to set some time aside to talk to FundRaiser staff. We needed a few calls. I had some special desires about how I wanted the report to print. I needed to communicate that specifically to the FundRaiser technical support staff.
“We also needed some training from Crystal. Crystal offered training inexpensively, through TechSoup, and I did that. It was very affordable,” says Kendra.
Gene of Fundraiser agrees. “With Crystal Reports, there is more flexibility, but a bigger learning curve,” he says.Brian Satterfield, staff writer at TechSoup, says that Crystal Reports is best if you have some good resources already in place. “Because the various Crystal Reports applications can be complex and require your organization to have a database solution in place, they are most appropriate for nonprofits that need to routinely prepare very detailed reports and have access to knowledgeable IT staffers, volunteers, or consultants,” he says.
Kendra thinks you can do it with less, if you have the need and desire. “It helps to be comfortable with working with a database before you try to do the integration,” says Kendra. “I was comfortable because I had a little Access experience, and had worked in other databases. I knew that you can get out the information you need. It’s not flat data. I wasn’t afraid to learn.”
Acquiring Crystal Reports
“I was able to purchase Crystal Reports inexpensively through TechSoup ,” says Kendra. TechSoup is a nonprofit technology site which offers discounted software and advice on technology to nonprofits.