Blackbaud CRM™ Recognition Credits Part 1: The Basics


If you’ve been in fundraising or have ever used a gift management system to record charitable donations, you are no doubt familiar with the concept of “hard credit” and “soft credit” for donors. The “hard credit” is the amount on the constituent’s record where the gift actually lives; it’s for the donor who actually gave the money. The “soft credit” is the amount on the record of anyone else who should be recognized for the gift, but they didn’t make the gift.

Most gift management systems apply soft credit to additional constituents besides the donor making the gift. In Blackbaud CRM (™) the donor also gets recognition credit, as well as anyone else the user chooses to grant recognition credit to. That means if I make a gift, the gift goes on my record (hard credit) and I get recognition credit for it (soft credit). To many people seeing this for the first time, this appears to be double-counting credit for the gift. But that, as Inigo Montoya, might say, is because recognition credit does not mean what you think it means. Or at least it doesn’t work how you probably think it does.

Where other systems have a hard and soft method of counting and recognizing donors, Blackbaud CRM (™) has two parallel systems of counting gifts, and you use one or the other, but not both, depending on what you are doing. In most gift management systems, if you are running a financial fundraising report, you run it based on hard credits only, and if you are running an honor roll report or a report for a donor wall, you run it based on hard and soft credits. This works differently in Blackbaud CRM (™) . The fundraising report is based on the actual gifts, the hard credits. Honor roll reports, donor wall reports, etc. are run strictly based on recognition credits. There is no reason to mix hard and soft credits, and you are just making your life more difficult if you do so.

Here is an illustration comparing typical gift management systems’ hard and soft credits with the recognition credits system of counting in Blackbaud CRM (™).

In most gift management systems, if Westley and his lovely wife Buttercup make gifts to an organization, and according to the charity’s policies it happens that sometimes the gifts are recorded on Westley’s record and sometimes on Buttercup’s, their records will look like this.

Westley Buttercup

$25 hard credit $25 soft credit

$10 hard credit $10 soft credit

$50 soft credit $50 hard credit

$20 hard credit $20 soft credit

If we are running a financial report, we would only count the hard credits. If we wanted to know the actual total dollars given by Westley and Buttercup jointly, we would count hard credits to get $105. On Westley’s record, the actual amount represented by hard credits is $55. On Buttercup’s record, the actual amount represented by hard credits is $50. If we want to know how much they are each recognized for, we arrive at that figure by adding the hard and soft credits on each of their records. We can look at either Westley’s or Buttercup’s record and tell that they are recognized as $105 donors.

This is what the same scenario would look like in Blackbaud CRM (™).

On the revenue history tab we see this.

Westley Buttercup

$25 gift $50 gift

$10 gift

$20 gift

On the recognition history tab we see this.

Westley Buttercup

$25 gift Self credit $25 gift Spouse credit

$10 gift Self credit $10 gift Spouse credit

$50 gift Spouse credit $50 gift Self credit

$20 gift Self credit $20 gift Spouse credit

There is far more information gained more readily in Blackbaud CRM (™) . If we just want to see straight, hard dollars, the revenue tab is the place to go. This is where the gift processing staff typically goes to find a transaction on someone’s record. If we want to get an overall picture of someone’s giving, or find a transaction that we know someone was a part of and we aren’t as concerned who the “hard credit” donor was, the recognition tab is the place to go. Fundraisers tend to use this tab.

What Blackbaud CRM (™) also has that most other gift management systems don’t is the ability to give recognition credits types or names. Donors always get recognized for their own gifts, and it is easy to tell which these are, because they have their own type. Users can call these whatever they like at a system level; it can be “Self”, “Donor”, “Hard Credit”, “Super-Awesome Giver”, whatever. The other recognition credits that are applied to a gift can also be defined by the users (again, at a system level). They should be broad categories for filtering and reporting purposes (the whys and wherefores to be covered in another post). Examples are “Spouse”, “Third-Party”, and, yes, “Does Not Count” (and you’ll have to read the next recognition credits post to find out why anyone would do that).

But back to Westley and Buttercup. If we want to know how much Westley should be recognized for, we look at his recognition credits, add them all up, and get $105. And we can go to Buttercup’s record and do the same thing. But let’s say that their recognition history tabs actually look like this.

Westley Buttercup

$25 gift Self credit $100 gift Self credit

$25 gift Self credit $25 gift Spouse credit

$10 gift Self credit $10 gift Spouse credit

$50 gift Spouse credit $50 gift Self credit

$20 gift Self credit $20 gift Spouse credit

Those recognition credits now are not the same. There is not an opposite Spouse credit for each of the other’s Self credit. Maybe Westley and Buttercup each made a gift before they got married, so no one else got recognition credit on their first gifts. Now if I add up all the credits on Westley’s record, I get $140 for Westley’s lifetime giving, and if I add up all the credits on Buttercup’s record I get $205 for Buttercup’s lifetime giving.

If the question is, “How much actual money have Westley and Buttercup given us jointly?” if we go to the recognition credit history tab and filter on just the Self credits for both of them we will have $80 for Westley, $150 for Buttercup. That means $230 that they both have given. And you’re still thinking, “Uh, so what? That is still the same thing I could have gotten with hard credits and soft credits!”

But here’s where we can really make recognition credits work for us when we are talking about recognition and “fundraising”, not strictly an accounting and legal whose-money-was-it perspective. Let’s throw in one more thing. Westley got credit for a gift, pre-Buttercup, made by the Dread Pirate Roberts Clothing Emporium, which Westley owns. Here are their recognition history tabs.

Westley Buttercup

$1,000 Third-Party Credit $100 gift Self credit

$25 gift Self credit $25 gift Spouse credit

$25 gift Self credit $10 gift Spouse credit

$10 gift Self credit $50 gift Self credit

$50 gift Spouse credit $20 gift Spouse credit

$20 gift Self credit

Westley’s lifetime giving, on a recognition basis, is $1,130. Buttercup’s lifetime giving, on a recognition basis, is $205. Together, if we are recognizing them jointly they should be recognized for $1,230.

One more scenario. the Dread Pirate Roberts Clothing Emporium gives again, but Westley’s married to Buttercup this time, and their recognition history tab looks like this.

Westley Buttercup

$1,000 gift Third-Party Credit $100 gift Self credit

$25 gift Self credit $25 gift Spouse credit

$25 gift Self credit $10 gift Spouse credit

$10 gift Self credit $50 gift Self credit

$50 gift Spouse credit $20 gift Spouse credit

$20 gift Self credit $1,000 gift Spouse Third-Party Credit

$1,000 gift Third-Party Credit

Westley’s lifetime recognition total, for just him, is $2,130. Buttercup’s lifetime recognition total, based solely on her recognition history, is $1,205. Together, their lifetime recognition total is $2,230. In other words, the two of them are responsible for either giving themselves, or through their business, $2,230.

In a hard credit/soft credit world, we would have done one of two things. We would have soft credits for both Westley and Buttercup for the second Dread Pirate Roberts Clothing emporium gift, and we wouldn’t be able to tell that those two soft credits were pointing to the same gift and that we shouldn’t count them from both of their records. The other alternative would be to only have a soft credit on Westley’s record, and Buttercup’s giving total, on her record alone, would make it look like she had no part of the gift and her total would not be $1,205 in recognition credit but $205.

The benefit of this recognition credit system over the hard credit/soft credit method is we don’t have to mix where we are pulling information from in Blackbaud CRM ™ , particularly when writing queries or reports. All the data can be pulled from the Recognition Credit area and all we have to do is filter on credit types to include or exclude the transactions we want to count. We can always tell that a Spouse credit is a duplicate of a Self credit, so we can exclude the Spouse credits from totals when looking at Westley’s and Buttercup’s joint giving. Same goes for Spouse Third-Party and Third-Party. Spouse Third-Party credits are already noted on the other spouse’s record, so they can be filtered away when we are trying to get joint giving totals. But we want them on Buttercup’s record so we can see them when we are looking solely at her, or we are pulling a prospect list of “women who have given $1,000 or more”, or “people whose names start with ‘B’ who have given $1,000 or more”, for whatever reason.

We can’t get that kind of detail from the revenue history tab. We can’t get that kind of detail from regular old hard credits/soft credits, because we can’t filter by type with those and we can’t get rid of duplicates between spouses and see which credits should only be counted once when gathering joint giving numbers. And we lose valuable information potentially, if we leave credits off Westley’s or Buttercup’s records. And that would be inconceivable!

#RecognitionCredit #Revenue

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