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Blackbaud CRM™ General Ledger Tips & Tricks

One of the areas of Blackbaud CRM™ that many find most complex is the General Ledger. This is partly due to the fact that it involves accounting, which is often mysterious to most mere mortals. It is also, however, due to the fact that there are many pieces and parts to the general ledger in Blackbaud CRM™, and if you find accounting mysterious, all the choices in the general ledger can be overwhelming.

Although a full explanation of all the nuances of Blackbaud CRM’s™ general ledger would be far many to cover here, this an initial list of configuration items and options to be considered when implementing Blackbaud CRM™ GL.

In the words of Vanilla Ice, "Stop, Collaborate and Listen." The first thing to do when designing the GL is to take a step back and make sure you have all the right parties in the room. You can't design and build the GL without your accounting team, gifts and records staff, key decision makers and any other team members with information about how information will post from Blackbaud CRM™ to you accounting system.

One of the biggest mistakes I see if one department/team trying to design the GL isolation or by making assumptions. The second mistake is not starting the GL design right away - I can't stress this one enough - it's never to early to look at the GL. In fact, you should discuss the GL design BEFORE you purchase software so you understand your requirements and what customizations maybe required in the Blackbaud CRM™ to accommodate your requirements.

The first step in defining your GL design is to understand each of your account segments. Unlike The Raiser's Edge or some other off-the-shelf software, the Blackbaud CRM™ GL is driven by data. Each segment is created by one, or more, elements from within the system. For example, if the first segment represents the restriction type, that will inform your design. If the second segment represents the method by which the money was raised, that will inform your design.

This is what Blackbaud CRM™ refers to as "Define Account Structure" within configuration. Here you define the pieces and parts of your “gl account string”. Common parts of the gl account string are restriction type (endowed, currently restricted, unrestricted), project, department, method of fundraising (mail, web, etc...) transaction type (credit card, cash, etc.) and so forth.

What if the pieces and parts don't provide what you need? You can configure composite segments (each distinct part of the gl account string is a segment) that link a segment to two or more values to determine the segment value, for example: designation/membership or designation/event is a combination some organizations use.

There are two required fields in the gl account structure that you must configure: Account and Account Code. Beyond that, you can structure the design in manner that will satisfy your requirements.

Tip: There is a field in the GL account table called Account Alias. So far, we've said the configuration of the GL is driven by data however, sometimes there are exceptions and the Account Alias allows you to override a data driven value by adding free text values. This ensures that the output will provide what you need in the format you need it.

Other Configuration Options

Unmapped Transactions- the system gives you some choices when it comes to posting revenue where the account codes are not mapped.

Option 1 is to prevent transactions from being entered if there is no value in the GL Account table that matches “the rules”.

Option 2 allows you to enter transactions even if they have not been appropriately mapped in the GL and will assign a temporary or “holding” set of gl account values until the correct values can be entered.

Option 1 works for organizations that have low volumes of transactions or those that can quickly add configurations to the system. Option 2 works better for many organizations that have a high volume of transactions or complex administration policies that would prevent quickly adding new values/configurations.

In closing

Keep an open mind when it comes to configuring the GL and ensure you have the right people around the table. If you’d like to talk about the GL or review your general ledger setup and options, contact us and we'd be more than happy to discuss your specific questions.


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