Nonprofits and Data

last person joined: 5 days ago 

This group is for those interested in learning and sharing about all things data-related for nonprofits. The Nonprofits and Data group is for people using data to serve a mission, either directly or by improving nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. That includes everything from collecting data and managing databases to analytics, data visualization and data mining. Here are some examples of topics we discuss: using data to improve organizational effectiveness, measuring impact, using data for storytelling, tools for data management and analysis, figuring out the “right” data to collect, and learning skills to help us use data better.

"Soft Credits" for Network for Good

  • 1.  "Soft Credits" for Network for Good

    Posted Jun 12, 2018 08:32

    Dear Community,

    I'm not a data manager, but I hope those of you in this community who are can help me/my organization.  I am the Director for Donor Relations for a non-profit which has just switched from Raiser's Edge to Donor Perfect.  Our data manager, who does not have a background in Computer Science, but is a former DDR who really like databasing.

    We just made the switch and our Data Manager is still in the learning mode.

    However, when I was checking my revenue totals, $3,000 + is missing!  I drilled down into the totals, experimented running the report with several filters, and discovered that the donations which our division received from our Network for Good End of Year Appeal were not included, because they are "soft credits."

    I can understand the "best practices" rationale for entering the revenue as a "hard credit" for Network for Good and a "soft credit" for our division.  However, do any of you have a suggestion how to filter to allow just this soft credit to be included in the division totals?  - These are the only soft credit donations I would like to include.

    I know my counterparts in other divisions would be happy to know this too.

    At the urging of our Data Manager, I spoke with Donor Perfect's Help Tech yesterday, who did the best he could in developing a filter for us.  However, he explained that I (we DDRs) did not have enough "rights" to access the data.

    Since I'm not a Data Manager, I would appreciate your input here.  I also would appreciate in understanding how to word my request about having this access, if I'm not expressing it accurately.

    What I (my peers) want is to have filter developed in Donor Perfect which allows our Network for Good "soft credit" donations to be included in our fiscal year totals - especially since this online campaign was being pushed hard by our Consultant/new Social Media Coordinator.


    Constance Anderson
    Director for Donor Relations, Southeast Louisiana Division
    Evergreen Life Services
    Ponchatoula, LA
    Tech Accelerate

  • 2.  RE: "Soft Credits" for Network for Good

    Posted Jun 19, 2018 15:36
    It has been an extremely long time (at least in computer software years) since I have used DPO so I'll just speak generally.  What counts towards what and is credited to whom has been contentious everywhere I've worked.  Hard credit should be given to the entity or individual who would be receiving the tax receipt (i.e. whoever can actually claim it as a deduction).  Soft credit can be given to anyone your organization wishes to recognize for the gift.

    It sounds like there are a few things going on here...
    • Lack of clarity around hard credit vs. soft credit (and consistency of how and when soft credit is applied)
    • Lack of clarity around what is included in which totals and on which reports (could simply be making a list)
    • Soft credit, while useful for other reasons, might not be what you need to use to track your Network for Good Appeal - not sure how you are using campaigns, solicitations, and appeal codes, but it's worth looking at as a filter based on one of those may make more sense.  Even if Network for Good is the hard credited donor, that $3,000 should at least be showing up under them, though perhaps you need this data per individual donor to be thanked, which is a different type of reporting need.
    • Permission levels may need to be reevaluated - if you are in donor relations, it seems odd that you wouldn't have access to soft credit data, but I don't know what else this may be tied to or if it has to do with how the data was entered or how much control your data manager has
    For example, where I work, we have different types of giving summaries and you can select to view a particular type of giving summary for a fiscal year.  Let's say you only wish to see cash received for 2018, you would select that type of giving summary and it's pre-filtered to only count outright gifts and pledge payments (no pledges), and hard credit only.  You could also opt to see a combined total (hard and soft credit) but you would need to be aware that gifts will show up twice (under the hard credit donor and the soft credit donor)--which may be okay if you're inviting donors to a thank you event and don't want to miss anyone, but not as useful for figuring out how much money you've raised this year.

    It's worth looking ahead to this year and next year to see what type of data will be helpful to you in informing your fundraising and reevaluating how you are coding things and whether it supports what types of reports you'd like to see.  It sounds like you and your colleagues may need to have a larger conversation about the types of data captured, how it's tracked currently, and how it needs to be tracked so that you can run a report that shows the breakdowns that would be useful to you based on what you need to be able to do.

    Janice Chan
    Co-Organizer, NTEN Nonprofits and Data group
    Writer, Wethos
    Technical Training Specialist, Development and Alumni Relations, Johns Hopkins Institutions
    Baltimore, MD
    Twitter: @curiositybone

    Tech Accelerate

  • 3.  RE: "Soft Credits" for Network for Good

    Posted Jun 20, 2018 12:05
    The hard credit vs soft credit issue continues to be challenging, and it's really a data architecture issue. A basic rule of data is that each field should capture only one piece of data. However, hard credit and soft credit have multiple meanings. We can say 'hard credit' means 'credit to the entity that get the tax receipt.' But usually, what we really want a hard credit to align with is 'credit to the person who made the decision to give'. Why? Because most of our reporting pulls from hard credit data and we'll have inaccurate reports that omit substantial donors simply b/c they give out of a donor-advised fund or the like. And as to soft credits, they might mean a million things. Orgs assign soft credits to lay people who host salons, to outsource fundraisers or platforms like Network 4 Good, to board members who drive ticket sales at galas, to internal staff, to grant writers... soft credits can mean so many things and there's no way to disentangle which means what from inside the DB.

    In some cases we can deal with these issues with tags, custom fields and the like. In other cases we have to build workaround processes. But first and foremost, we have to map the data. What do we want to track? What tracking assests do we have by way of fields and tags? What reports can be built off of those fields? Who needs to see which data which ways? And this really does need to be done comprehensively, because any change you make may have spillover effects on others.

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

    Tech Accelerate