When it comes to using codes in FundRaiser, MaineShare (this month's Case Study organization) has as good a handle on the process as any user, and better than most. And they are using codes to their advantage in a rather intricate pattern of donations to keep everything straight in their records and aboveboard in their dealings with donors.
The whole idea of codes is that we can uniquely identify things with codes, and each code can represent something a lot larger than itself. There are codes that are applied to the donor record and codes that are applied to each gift record. So this means that we can uniquely identify both gifts and donors through codes. The number of gift codes are limited, and many of them are pretty limited in their application, such as the gift Mode code, which represents a method of payment (cash, charge, check, inkind, etc.). There isn't a lot of leeway in the use of this particular code field. But then there is the Motivation code, to tell us WHY a person gave, the Fund code to tell us WHERE we put that money, and the Purpose code, to say HOW we are going to use that money (restricted or designated funds). With Professional, there are a couple of extra gift codes, for even more ways to break out gift reports.
Remember that all codes can be used to limit reports, or to create groupings of name records, so that you can see just those people or gifts that fall into the various patterns you want to view. Maybe you want just those gifts given to the Spring Walkathon, but for all years. Or just this year. Or all gifts that were given specifically for the building fund, or to a particular mission group, or for buying educational material, or whatever it is that you keep separate from your regular operating budget.
If you have the Pledge module, you can set up a pledge to automatically fill in the Motivation, Fund, and Purpose codes for each subsequent pledge payment. For example, we might code a Pledge using a Motivation code such as "PD1206", which we created to represent the "Pledge Drive of June 2012". We can put the Fund code right on the Pledge, too, to make sure the payments are directed to the right bank account, and the Purpose code to note that each payment is for the same designated use. In the future, we will be able to quickly do reports that show all the people that made a pledge during that particular drive, and exactly what payments have been made to fulfill those pledges. Even with no Pledge module, we can still code gifts in a way that ties them to a particular event, or source, and that code can, over the course of time, be shown to be responsible for X amount of giving. That event can then be easily compared to other events, again based on Motivation code.
And the Donation or Deposit SUMMARY report is the one report that can show a range of gifts, broken down by all the different codes that you use in your system. It can be an invaluable tool to show exactly what events brought money in, and what people are donating to support, and a host of aspects about giving for the time period you want to specify.
Codes can be your friend, but you need to manage them, too. Remember the Windows | Codes menu, which leads to the Codes Maintenance Window. Here you can mark old codes that no longer need to be assigned as INACTIVE, which will remove them from the dropdown menus for code assignment, making those dropdowns shorter, and keeping them hidden so that they aren't accidentally assigned in the future. Here, too, you can look at the figures for any particular code you want, like how many gifts have a particular code, and what those gifts represent in dollar amounts (just make sure you "Recalculate" for the code you want, to get the latest tally).
If you're not using codes, or would like to know more about them, remember the Coding & Spare fields video in the Customer Portal section of the website, and don't hesitate to call or email me in training or give the folks in tech support a call. We're all here to help you use FundRaiser to your advantage.