For many mailings (paper and electronic), the Find Groups query in Veracross meets the need for preconfigured dynamic distribution lists. Groups in Veracross represent a category of people collected together by a shared classification of some sort (e.g., role, profile code, class enrollment, first year enrolled, etc.).
However, in some cases, these groups may not be quite targeted enough to send to a particular constituent group. In these cases, it may be necessary to combine groups together, or perhaps exclude a small group from a larger set of combined groups. Advanced reports are designed to serve this exact purpose.
Accessing Advanced Reports
The primary location to access or build new advanced reports is on the Reporting homepage in Axiom. This homepage is a centralized location for accessing all available advanced reports, including those created by the admissions and/or development offices. However, advanced reports are also available on the Admissions homepage (called “Admissions Reports”) or the Development homepage (called “Constituent Reports”). In all cases, the function of the reports remains the same, although Development security is required to view a giving output for constituents included in the report cards. Learn more about building Development Constituent Reports here. To find a full list of all existing advanced reports, use the Find Reports query on the Reporting homepage. This article will assume the user is building reports from the Reporting homepage, since it will be the most widely used by multiple departments.
Creating a New Advanced Report
A basic advanced report can be created in three steps:
- Set up basic parameters
- Include groups of people
- Exclude groups of people
Begin creating a report by clicking the “Create Report” link on the Reporting homepage. The initial configuration of various basic settings is done on the General tab of the report detail screen. On this screen, there are three sections that must be updated:
- Description: the name of the report
- Report Type: indicates how the report will be used
- Use the flags in this section to include or exclude constituents based on information tied to their records (i.e. Do Not Mail, Do Not Solicit). Take note of the “Target Minor (Child) Instead of Parents” flag. By default, even reports that contain child-specific groups with have email distribution lists that go to the children’s parents, so this flag changes the default so that the distribution list targets children.
- Category: reports with the Development category will appear in the Development Constituent Reports query on the Development homepage, and reports with the Admissions or Enrollment category will appear in the Admissions Reports query on the Admissions homepage. All other reports can be accessed on the Reporting homepage.
- Auto Refresh: checking this flag means that eventual report membership will update in the overnight processes. Veracross recommends checking this flag only for reports that will be used frequently. Otherwise, report membership updates when the Update button is clicked (on an as-needed basis).
After the basic parameters are configured, click the green “Add Report” button at the top of the screen to both save the changes made and also enable the rest of the tabs for further setup.
Include Groups of People
The second step in creating a report is to select a wide group of people that covers all the types of constituents that will be involved in the output. The aim here is to extract smaller subset groups from the full list, so this second step of including people should be thought of as creating the widest net of people possible in order to capture every involved constituent group.
For example, if the report should end up as a list of all alumni, former students, parents of alumni, and parents of former students who are not current staff and faculty members, the second step (including groups of people) means that the alumni, former student, parents of alumni, and parents of former students groups should be included. Use the Include Groups of People tab on the report to select the groups of constituents, and make sure to click the green Update button at the top of the screen to save all changes.
Note: if two or more groups of constituents are included and the desired effect is that people included should be in ALL of the included groups, use the Take Intersection of Groups flag on the General tab of the report to only include those constituents who have membership in every included group.
Exclude Groups of People
The third step in creating a report is to exclude groups of constituents who should not be involved in the output. This step is optional if there are no exclusions necessary, but it provides the option to narrow the results and make the report much more targeted.
In the example listed in step two, the report should include alums, former students, parents of alums, and parents of former students who are not current staff/faculty members. In order to ensure that no current staff or faculty members are included, those two groups (All Staff and All Faculty) can be removed from the wide net of included groups (alums, former students, parents of alums, and parents of former students) using the Exclude Groups of People tab on the report detail screen. Again, make sure to click the green Update button at the top of the screen to save all changes.
Additional Filtering Options
There are a number of additional features available on an advanced report that can help make the list of constituents even more targeted. These features are found on the Advanced, Include Organizations, and Append Other Reports tabs on the report detail screen.
This tab offers four different types of functions:
- Limiting report membership based on past individual events
- Geographical radius (US only)
- Alum graduation year min/max
- Creation of individual event and group event attendance records
The Filter by Individual Events section of this tab allows the user to limit the number of constituents in the report by looking at the included and excluded groups, and then adding additional criteria about whether those constituents either have or don’t have an individual event with a certain event type, perhaps between specific start and end dates. For example, this report is looking for non-staff/faculty alums, former students, parents of alums, and parents of former students. If it were utilizing the Filter by Individual Event function, it could have further limits on those constituents (i.e. those that did not receive a phone call between August 1 and September 30th).
The second filter available is the radius filter, which allows the user to essentially draw a geographical circle around a US city and limit constituents as a result. For example, in this report, there could be a limit the non-staff/faculty alums, former students, parents of alums, and parents of former students who live within a 50-mile radius of Boston, MA. All three radius fields (Filter By Radius (i.e. number of miles), Radius from City, and Radius from State) must be populated in order for this function to work.
The third filter available is the Filter by Graduation Year feature. For alumni who are included in the report, the function allows the user to input a minimum and maximum graduation year limit on the constituents in this report.
The Tracking section on the Advanced tab allows integration with Veracross individual and/or group event functionality. Under the Create Individual Events header, the user can fill in the three available fields to apply an individual event record with an event type, date, and notes to every constituent included in the report. Alternatively, under the Create Group Event Invitations header, the user can associate the “group” created by the report to a pre-existing group event record, thereby allowing the group event manager to track attendance to the event for constituents included in the report.
Include Organizations Tab
By default, advanced reports work with groups of people. However, there may be situations – particularly when doing paper mailings – that the constituents included also need to involve organizations. In the event that organizations do need to be included, use the Include Organizations tab to select the type of organization that the situation requires.
Append Other Reports Tab
If other advanced reports have been created in the past, this tab allows the user to add a full constituent list from another advanced report to the current advanced report. This function is especially useful if the other filtering options from the current report don’t fully cover the specific needs of the mailing list. If a second report is append to the current report, the filters on the current report will not apply to the second report, ensuring that the full constituent list from the secondary report is included.
Once the report includes the correct list of constituents, it can be used to create mailings. There are two types of mailings that are possible from an advanced report: paper mail and email.
Paper Mailing Options
If the report has a Report Type of Paper Mail, the user will have access to the Paper – Format 1 and Paper – Format 2 tabs. These two tabs display two different sets of fields that are often most useful in creating mail merges, including household and individual salutations as well as mailing addresses. Information on these tabs can be expanded into query format by clicking the Open Query button on the right hand side of the screen and exporting to Excel for mail merging.
Regardless of the Report Type setting, advanced reports automatically have an associated Veracross distribution list. This distribution list functions like all other groups’ distribution lists, complete with all email tracking features. Read more about Veracross email distribution list functionality. To access the distribution list for the report, click on the link in the Email Alias field on the General tab of the report detail screen.
Alternatively, start a Composer draft to the included constituents using the link in the New Composer Draft field on the General tab of the report detail screen (just below the Email Alias field). Read more about creating Composer emails.
Finally, if the Report Type is set to Email, the Email tab on the left side of the advanced report detail screen will show a full list of all of the email recipients (i.e. those constituents who have email addresses) included in the report. While this list can be expanded into query format and exported, its most useful function is that it allows the user to see who exactly is included in the email distribution list available on the General tab. Please note that this tab will not display any information if the Report Type field is set to Paper Mail, since the system will assume that the report is not being used for any form of electronic communication.