Export definitions are useful tools in Blackbaud CRM™ that allow you to set up mail and other types of file layouts that will be used on a recurring basis. They are also great for those times when you have an ad-hoc query export that is producing duplicate rows, when what you really want is one row per constituent, or one row per pledge, etc. In this scenario, an export definition helps you group your fields such that unique data points like multiple phone numbers, or multiple payment details show up in different columns as opposed to different query rows.
Once you have the hang of them, they are one of the most helpful tools in your data output arsenal. But at the outset, there are a few things that can cause confusion. Read on for some handy tips to make the most of your exports.
Choose the right type: Blackbaud CRM™ has two main types of export definitions, marketing and non-marketing. Non-marketing export definitions are used for things like reports, data dumps, various constituent, revenue, event and other lists and can be set up in Administration. Marketing export definitions are specifically tied to the system’s marketing functionality and can be used within marketing efforts and other processes to prepare files for mail houses, internal teams and other vendors. There is nothing worse than setting up a new definition only to realize you can’t select it for use where you need it. So be sure to start in the right place!
Work from left to right: Pick the top-level fields you wish to include in the far left-hand column, then select the field itself from the middle column by dragging it over to the far right.
Number to export:
When you select a field that may have multiple types or records, you will be asked how many to export. Once you select a number, follow it up with a deliberate order and filter to prevent the chaos of some rows showing one type in the first column, and other rows showing a different type in the same column. An example, if I select phone number, want to export two numbers, but only care about cell and home, I will filter by selected phones (where phone type = cell or home), and order by type to prevent the system from outputting whatever the first two arbitrary numbers on the record happen to be. This keeps the columns consistent among records and ensures I only see numbers of the chosen type(s).
If you want to go back and add additional fields at a later date, click on the top node of the section you’re adding to (in the selected fields list) before pulling a sub-field over. This will prevent you from getting caught in a loop where the system keeps asking you “how many” over and over again.
Always include your IDS: It is best practice to always include the ID fields for any record type included in your export. Even if you have no plans to actively use the ID, they are essential for data validation, and may come in handy if you end up needing to import a selection based off of your file, or reference across systems at a later date. When in doubt, include it in your far right column and ignore until needed so that it’s there when necessary!
Rename Fields: You will quickly see that Blackbaud CRM™ includes the full path as the column headers. While helpful when building your exports, so that you know where you’ve pulled your fields from and what you’re looking at, chances are you’ll want to change that column name to something more user friendly once you’re familiar with its content. To do so, just right click the field in the “Selected Fields” grid and type in a value for “Change Column Header”. You can do this for the top level nodes as well to keep your column headers short and sweet.