When you’ve used a database for any length of time it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of codes you have. The power of codes is that they’re what the system uses to show you data. Too many, and you won’t know what information you can obtain or how you’ve coded your donors to get it. Just like we do “spring cleaning” at home, it’s a good idea once or twice a year, usually spring and fall, to do a review of the codes in your database. These three tips can help.
1. Use the Code Listing Report (Reports > Code Listing) to see what you have
When running this report, check the box that says “show inactive codes” so you can see every code in your system. Then review the report to see what codes can be marked as inactive (or hidden) so that you don’t see them during day-to-day data input or if you have duplicate codes which need to be merged.
2. Create a coding system and involve everyone who uses the database on a regular basis
Make some decisions about how you’ll use codes within your database. For example, if you hold an annual event will you create a new motivation code each year, or use one code to note all donations which come in for the event over time. (The later will provide less codes, and you can use date ranges on the reports to see donations for individual years.) If you do create a new code every year will the year go first or last? How will you abbreviate your major fundraising events when you make your codes? These may seem like small questions, but they pack a big punch when it comes to keeping your codes organized.
3. Designate one person your “codes administrator”
Within your organization, the “codes administrator” is the person who will create codes, manage codes (for example merging or editing names) and will help keep your codes straightforward and easy to use. Ideally, this is someone who has worked with your organization for a while and may even be the primary person who uses the software.
These three tips can help keep coding from being confusing. By thinking about a “seasonal” update of your codes (May we suggest before your summer events and your winter appeals?), having a single point of contact for codes in your organization and using our codes report, you’ll go a long way toward making sure everyone who uses FundRaiser understands your organization’s coding structure and can get the most out of the software.
If you’d like to learn more about Codes, please sign up for our Coding & Spare Fields class. You'll find times and days when these live webinar training classes are held on our Training Calendar.