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Custom Email Alerts in Blackbaud CRM™

By Selena Fowler, Principal Consultant

Are you keeping your users abreast of the latest changes in your data? Are you taking advantage of the email alert tool within Blackbaud CRM™?

There are a number of built-in alerts that you may already be using. You can, for example, set the system to notify your Gift Processors when a batch has been created, or your Fundraisers when a new prospect has been assigned to them; but have you thought to create your own custom email alerts? These alerts could include a recently deceased donor list, or details of recent revenue from a VIP, or perhaps a business process failure.

You will, of course, have to speak to your system administrator as Email Services need to be configured before any of this is possible, but once that has been done, you can then look at pulling the data you need.

The first step in creating a custom email alert is to create an ad-hoc query and data list. Be sure to choose the fields that you want to see output as merge fields in the email. Make sure you include a date field that shows the change in data, for example, if your data list is to notify users of a change in constituent or revenue data include a “date changed” or a “date added” field.

When you have finished building the ad-hoc query, choose the option to create a data list. Set the visibility of fields you want as merge fields, and then make sure you go to the Alert options tab and check the box to “Allow this datalist to be used for feed alerts”, select the date that will trigger the alert, and save.

The next step in the process is to set up the alert itself. This comprises two parts, the actual email message, and the list of users assigned to receive the alerts. This is done in the Administration functional area; click on the Email Alerts option, and then select the Custom email alert tab. When you add a new alert, it requires a name and the data list you have created. Then you can build the body of the alert from the merge fields in your data list. Add an email subject line, and then type the body of the email inserting merge fields as required.

The next question is who is the alert going to be sent to? This is managed by creating an instance and adding users to it. Users can be added via a selection or individually. Users, of course, must have an email address in the system (this is an easy step to forget).

Finally, start the process; the system will check for any changes or additions to the data in your data list and create an alert from it. You’ll want to schedule it to run on a regular basis when you’re satisfied with the data. Adding it to a nightly schedule will allow users to receive email updates on any day that a change in data occurs.

Your users are now well informed and kept up-to-date.


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