New Features for Managing Donors in CiviCRM

2013-04-12 16:37
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Progressive Technology Project (PTP) runs PowerBase, a fully hosted and supported version of CiviCRM for community organizing groups in the United States. PTP has been deeply involved in CiviCRM's expanding functionality through CiviEngage and CiviCampaign and now has commenced a project to improve CiviContribute to strengthen it for grassroots fundraising. While CiviContribute has the basic parts necessary for fundraising, it lacks some of the higher reporting pieces that dedicated fundraising applications have. 

Our team has been working with a grassroots fundraising expert and together we identified that the first step would be to provide more dashboard charts for CiviContribute that will allow new users to leverage reporting intelligence with minimal training. 

There are several new reports designed to identify the renewal rate of donors or members over time; the lapsed and recovered donors for comparative time periods; and the new donors over comparative time periods. Each will have the capacity to drill down to identify the individuals in the totals. We’re also working up a summary table that shows the current number of donors, total amount raised during the year, the average donation, Individuals who increased donations, number of sustainers and new contacts in the database and the change in these indicators from the prior year.

The idea is that these dashboard items will lift up key indicators for the development staff to monitor. Many of the people charged with development in small non-profits in the U.S. have minimal training on what to look for when managing their progress. The existence of these metrics should show them what to monitor.

There are other new reports planned. You can see the details on the CiviCRM wiki:

We’ve also encountered problems segmenting the donor base so we’re adding an optional custom field group we’re calling “Summary Fields”. Making these items available as calculated fields means that they can be searched in Advanced Search and used as a basis for a smart group as well as for tokens in email and print communications. The basic field set includes:

  • Total Lifetime Contributions
  • Total Contributions this Year
  • Total Contributions last Year
  • Amount of last contribution
  • Date of Last Contribution
  • Date of First Contribution
  • Largest Contribution
  • Count of Contributions
  • Average Annual (Calendar Year) Contribution
  • Date of Last Membership Payment
  • Amount of Last Membership Payment
  • Name of the last attended event
  • Date of the last attended event

There is a user interface to allow the organization to pick which fields of the custom field set to implement and which contribution types (financial types) to include in these totals. The fiscal year end setting in CiviCRM is supported as well. After the initial set up, these fields are updated via SQL triggers.

All of these enhancements will be available as extensions when they are completed in the next couple of months.  We welcome the community's input via the wiki site.



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Thanks for working on these important improvements! 

As you do your planning I would encourage doing a better job on fewer things rather than a partial job on more functionality, and aiming to support organizations that don't need everything you are creating. In practical terms this means making sure that users can install, explore and then uninstall extensions without leaving cruft behind like extra fields. True, the time and expense involved in creating and testing uninstall routines could be put into more functionality. But personally I don't think that is a wise approach. Similarly, I think it would be good to have small discrete improvements that are separately installable rather than bundling lots of stuff into a few big extensions. 


I love that the new summary fields will allow us to pick which contribution types (financial types) to include in the totals.  So helpful!


- This will for sure be for the public version of CiviCRM, not just for PowerBase, correct?

- Will the new reports (renewal rate, lapsed/new donors, total raised for the year, etc.) also allow us to pick which contribution types to include?  Please please please?  That would be extremely helpful to us!