Archive for the ‘Apsona for Nonprofits’ Category

Fundraising Reporting with Apsona Multi-step Reporting

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Constituent reporting on individual donors and their giving histories is invaluable information for a non-profit organization. One such report requirement was posted on the Power Of Us Hub where the user wanted to find the increase or decrease in donation amounts by their donors. Here is the question:

  • My fundraising team wants to know how many donors increased their donation size from the last donation to the current one. I told them I could do Total Gifts This Year vs Total Gifts Last Year, but not Current Gift vs Previous Gift. Can you all think of a way to measure an increase (or decrease) in donation amount from one to the next?

Reading the responses it became obvious that this report is not possible to create with the native Salesforce reporting. However, with Apsona Multi-step Reporting, this report can be built in a few minutes. This report will require two query steps and one calculated step. Let’s take a look at how to build out such a report.

For the query steps, you first get the donors and filter them by campaign name or opportunity close date depending on the required criteria. Next, retrieve the opportunities to the donors, filter by close date and Role. Multi-step has the ability to get ranked data, which will need to be applied when querying for the opportunities. Limiting the 2 donations in descending order will give you the last two donation amounts to each donor. The steps will be woven together with the contact ID.

As there is no direct link between the Contacts (donors) and Opportunities (Donations), data for the two query steps will come from the Opportunity Contact Role (OCR) object. This object is best suited for this task, since it is treated as a stand-alone object in Apsona, and is also the junction between Donors and Donations. Therefore, you retrieve fields from the Donor (Contacts) as well as Donation objects (Opportunities) as they are both have lookup relationships from the OCR. Thus, you can retrieve the contact ID in both the steps and weave them together. Unlike in Salesforce reporting, you can use the same object more than once in Apsona Multi-step with different filter criteria and is ideal for this use case.

Now that you have the donors and their last two donations, you will need to find the difference between the amounts. For this you use a calculated step and add a formula as follows – {!Last 2 Donations 1.Amount} – {!Last 2 Donations 2.Amount}. Once you save and run the report will see the donor information, the last 2 donations amounts to the donor and the difference between the donation amounts.

When you run the report, you will also want to see the two donation amounts to each donor in a single row to make the comparison.

In a multi-step report, you have the option to display the output of a step as a sequence of blocks of columns instead of the usual row layout. Below is an image of the final report.

2amts

Donor Adam Dunn has donated $250,000 and $ 300, 000. You also see the difference in the Amount column as $50,000. The reason the amount is showing in parentheses is because the formula in the calculated steps is set to subtract Donation 1 from donation 2.

This shows how you can combine two important operations – transposing rows to columns, and using calculated values – to produce the result you want.

We hope you found this blog useful and try out Apsona Multi-step Reporting.

How To Generate Documents and Emails with Apsona

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Apsona’s new merge tool allows you to quickly generate Word, Excel and email directly from your Salesforce org. You can generate end-of-year tax summaries and thank-you letters to your donors, or a proposal or quote to your customer, as a Word document. You can choose to send donors an email via a HTML template if you want to go paperless. And you can also render your pledged and posted donations into a multi-sheet Excel report, complete with charts and pivot tables. All of this functionality is included in one package – Apsona Document and Mail Merge.

Here are some of the key benefits of the Apsona merge add-on.

  • Entirely browser-based:  The merge process works entirely within your browser, and has no interaction with any external services. So your data never leaves your browser. This is unlike many competing products, which typically ferry your data over to the vendor’s server and carry out the merge process there.
  • Flexible field naming in templates: Template building is quick and easy: you don’t need to adhere to any particular naming convention of Salesforce field names. When you create the template, you simply make up any field names you want, and Apsona will discover those names and let you match them with data fields.
  • Compatible with existing templates: If you have already created document templates for competing products, Apsona’s merge tool can usually use them directly with no change.
  • Powerful data retrieval ability: You can leverage Apsona’s powerful reporting capabilities as the data source for the merges. Data can be retrieved directly from a Salesforce object, or from any Apsona report – single step or multi-step. Thus you can combine fields from multiple objects into one template. You can even include calculated (aggregate) fields such as total donation amount in the last six months, or the most recent gift date last year – calculations that might not be available through roll-up fields. Filters can be added to an existing merge on the fly.
  • Integrated with Salesforce buttons: The merge add-on integrates into Salesforce detail pages via custom buttons. Setting up a button is simple: Generate the code for the button from within Apsona and paste the code into the button’s JavaScript area. No need to mess with template IDs, query IDs or URLs, unlike competing products.

Example: Sending a thank-you letter. A thank-you letter typically includes merge fields from the Contact object, such as the name and address. It might also include merge fields for sub-lists, e.g., a list of donations by that contact, containing the date, amount and campaign of each donation. To create such a merge:

  • To include a list of donations by the contact, you can build a table in the document template. The rows of the table might contain Donation merge fields, such as amount, payment method and donation date. As with other similar products, the leftmost cell in the table should include the TableStart field, which specifies a record group name following a colon. The rightmost cell in the table should similarly include the TableEnd field. These two markers indicate the region of the document that must be replicated, once for each Donation.
  • The data source for a template can be obtained from pre-built Apsona reports, or directly from an object. For example, the Contact information can come from the Contact object, and the list of donations can be obtained from a Donation report. Before running a pre-built merge template, you can also apply additional filter terms that are not specified in the Donation report.

You can also generate customized emails using email templates stored in your Salesforce Communication Templates. As with documents, the tool can recognize merge fields in the email template and generate customized emails from the corresponding data. It can even attach a generated Word document with a generated email before sending it off. It can also handle email templates made with letterheads.

A system administrator can set up merge actions using templates and their data sources, and all that the end user has to do is run an existing merge action whenever the need arises. The administrator can also manage merge actions, e.g., identify unused ones and delete them.

You can try out the Document merge, Excel merge, Email merge and Email and Document merge when you download the Apsona for Salesforce app from the AppExchange. For more details, please visit our website or email us at support@apsona.com.

We would like to thank Idealist Consulting for hosting this blog entry.

Managing file storage in your Salesforce Org

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Apsona for Salesforce now supports Attachments, Notes, Tasks and Events for all objects of Salesforce, native and custom. You can now import, export, update and delete data into these objects. So, why is this functionality different, when it is already supported for the existing native and custom objects? Apsona treats Attachments, Notes, Tasks and Events as linked to specific Salesforce objects. For example, the Contacts object in Apsona, has its own Contact Notes, Contact Attachments, Contact tasks and Contact Events objects. Similarly, any object that has associated Task records in Salesforce has its own “surrogate” Task object in Apsona. This is extremely handy as when you import notes or tasks to a contact – it is automatically linked to the contact. All you need to provide is the Contact ID or Full name during the import. Similarly, you can manage the Task records associated with any object simply by using its associated surrogate Task object in Apsona.

With this functionality, the Apsona app is very useful to users for managing the organization’s file storage. Storage in Salesforce can be of two types – file and data. File storage includes files in attachments, the Documents tab, the Files tab, the File field, Salesforce CRM Content, Chatter (including user photos). The file storage limits for a Professional edition user is 612 MB, and for the Enterprise user, it is 2 GB. From what we have seen, Tasks and Attachments use up the storage limit rapidly. You might choose to treat this data as obsolete after a few years, and wish to delete it. The System Administrator can take stock of all the attachments, documents and archived tasks as they all count against storage. With the surrogate objects in Apsona, searching and filtering data to be deleted can be achieved with a few clicks. For example, let’s say you want to delete Contact tasks which are 3 years or older. Isolating such data from the Activities table in Salesforce – a single table which has all the tasks of all the objects in Salesforce can be very tedious. With Apsona, this task is simple, easy and quick. Here is how you would go about it:

  • Go to Settings – Configurations, and bring the Contact Tasks object to the menu bar as described here.
  • Create a filter by created date and user.
  • Click Tools – Delete All
  • Done!

You can now comb through each object for their Notes, Attachments, Tasks and Events, and free up a lot of used storage place, thus cutting down your costs.

Similarly you can manage your Documents too. A common use case with Documents is when a user leaves the organization and you want to transfer ownership to another user. You can do this with easily with Apsona. Get the Documents to the menu bar. Run a filter by author name. Click Tools – Update All. When you choose the Author field all the users in the org will dropdown as values. Select the user and click Update All. All the Documents will now have the new owner as the author.

These are just a few use cases we have covered in this blog. We hope you find this functionality useful and we would love to hear about your use cases. If you have not installed Apsona for Salesforce, do download it from the AppExchange and try it out.

Apps for Good Webinar Series

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Our friends at Cloud for Good have been hosting the Apps for Good webinar series for the last several months now. They have had presentations by many of the best-known names in the Salesforce world, beginning with Cirrus Insight, Form Assembly and Click and Pledge, and most recently with GeoPointe.

We are very pleased to have been selected to present Apsona for Salesforce and related add-ons as part of  the series.  We have had the pleasure of working with Cloud for Good for a few years now, having co-developed Over the Edge, a tool for easy data migration from Raiser’s Edge to Salesforce. The team at Cloud for Good have been a huge support to us an numerous ways, helping us improve our products and services, and we hope that we have been of some use to them as well. We are truly grateful to them for the relationship.

If you are non-profit organization that uses Salesforce, you should definitely check out Cloud for Good and their offerings. Please register for the webinars, attend and give us your feedback. We look forward to the opportunity to present Apsona add-ons.

Thank-you Letters with Apsona’s Document Merge

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Thank-you appreciation letters by snail mail are the lifeblood of  nonprofit organizations. The donor needs to be convinced that he/she has made a  right investment and the donation will be used wisely. Appreciation letters need to be sent not only after every donation, but also once or twice a year. Personalizing the letters is key to a positive experience, but when this has to be repeated to hundreds of users, it is a major challenge to small/medium non profit organizations. The cost and effort of producing such personalized letters several times a year can be rather daunting.

Apsona’s Document Merge add-on for Apsona for Salesforce is exactly what is needed in these cases.  Users can build flexible templates that can contain multiple fields drawn from multiple objects – Contact, Donations and so on. Aggregate fields and sub lists can also be included in the template.  Fields names in the template and in the tables can be adhoc and need not be exact matches to the field names in Salesforce or in the reports. What Apsona brings is the utter simplicity and flexibility of the entire process for the template builder. Apsona’s  DocMerge will produce  a single or batch of .docx document files from a .docx template and the results can be downloaded either as a.zip file  or as a single .docx file with many pages, one for each record and print them.

Here is the simple step by step process.

  1. A thank you letter will typically have top level merge fields from the Contacts object like the name and address. When creating this letter template in Microsoft Word, create merge fields with the usual Quick parts – Field – merge field. You can also Apsona’s macro to build quick merge fields, and that is definitely a time saver and less tedious (our humble opinion).
  2. Next, if you need to include a list of donations to the contact, you build tables. Tables are very easily created. The leftmost cell in the table should include the TableStart field, which specifies a record group name following a colon. For example, for the tag TableStart:Donation, the suffix Donation will be the name of the record group for the table. This name is just a mnemonic indicating the kind of list being produced. You can make up any name you want, as long as it does not conflict with any other merge field name in the document. The rightmost cell in the table should similarly include the TableEnd field. These two markers indicate the region of the document that must be replicated, once for each Donation.

  3. The data source for a template can be obtained from pre-built Apsona reports, or directly from an object. For example, in a single template data for a list of donations can be obtained from a Donation report and data for a list of  in-kind donations can be got directly from the Assets object. Before running a pre-built merge template, you can also apply additional filter terms on the fly if required.

That’s it — system administrators can set up templates and its data sources, and all that the end user has to do is run an existing merge action whenever the need arises.

Apsona’s merge tool also supports Excel merge and email merge. For a more details on these features please visit our product description page.

Filters in Apsona – Part 1

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Searching or querying of data is a very common need for Salesforce users. The required data that drives the filtering frequently does not reside in just one object, but rather in several related objects. For example, you might want to find Contact records whose Accounts are in a particular city, so that even though the data sought is Contact data, the filtering condition is on the related Account. And once you have figured out all the filtering conditions you want to apply, and retrieved the data you want, you would want to save the search, so that you can reuse it later.  Apsona for Salesforce offers powerful search and filter capabilities for all Salesforce objects, both native and custom, out of the box. All searches can be “cross-object” in the sense that you can look for records of one type based on conditions enforced by records of a related type.

A query/filter can be built in two ways from the Apsona user interface.

The first one is by clicking Search and More options, and the second is by clicking the filter dropdown and selecting New filter as seen in the screen shot above.

The same filter editor opens up with both options, and here is where you will specify the search terms. When you click the drop-down to specify search terms, you will see a list of panels, one for each object. Each panel is labeled with the object name, and contains the fields for that object. The object at the top of the list is the one from which you are running the filter, with all its fields. Below that panel will appear all its related objects (and all their fields) which are one step away – basically the children and parents of that object. Note that one panel appears not just for each related object, but rather for each relationship. For instance, in the screen shot above, the Account object contains two lookup fields, Master Record and Parent Account, both referring to the Account object, so you see a panel corresponding to each.

If the current object is the parent in the relationship, you will see an asterisk next to the name. In the above screen shot, the Contact or Lead panels both have asterisks shown, since the Account object is a parent of each of those objects. But if the current object is a child in the relationship (as in the case of the Master Record and Parent  Account relationships), no asterisk is shown.

When running a filter in a one to many relationship, you can run a Quantified search. In this search, you look for records of one type such that all related records of a related type meet a certain condition, e.g., contact records for which all related tasks have a “completed” status. This search is called quantified because it uses the quantifiers all or none for related records. Let’s take an example where we want to find Accounts whose contacts have the salutation of Dr. (Doctor). We run a search from the Accounts object. For the search terms, we select the field “Salutation” from the Contacts table. Since the field is a picklist we get the option of choosing is among as one of the field operators. For the quantifier, let us choose the option for all records. Click search. We now get all the Accounts whose contacts have the salutation Dr. Notice that the returned list might include Accounts which have NO contacts in them. This is because an Account with no contacts satisfies – albeit vacuously – the requirement that all its contacts have a salutation of Dr.  Since we selected the quantifier as “all records”, Accounts with no contacts are also entitled to qualify.

This is just one option of the 3 options available in the quantified search. The” no records” and the “atleast for one record” are equally powerful and will be touched upon in the coming blogs.

You can try out these searches and more by downloading Apsona for Salesforce from the AppExchange.

Batch Gift Entry – A new add-on to Apsona for Salesforce

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

If you are a non-profit organization that receives periodic gift checks that you need to enter into your Salesforce database, you know that the process can be a bit tedious. With each gift check, you will need  to navigate through quite a number of pages to search, to create or update data. Each gift in turn needs to be linked to the right Opportunity, Account, Contact, Contact Role and Payment objects. If the Opportunity and Contact records do not exist in the Salesforce database, they will need to be created and the corresponding gifts need to be linked to them.

To help with this situation, we at Apsona have created a new add-on, Batch Gift Entry (BGE), intended for non-profit organizations who use the Salesforce Foundation’s Non-profit Starter Pack (NPSP).  This add-on takes care of the both the scenarios – creating new records as well as updating existing ones. You can enter gifts in batches, where each batch contains a list of gift items to be committed, Once you have entered a batch and committed it, all the items in the batch are copied into the appropriate fields in the Payment and Donation records. New Donation, Payment, or Donation Contact Role records are created as necessary and are automatically linked together to maintain consistency with the NPSP data model. The user interface is designed to offer a keyboard-friendly process for the batch gift entry user and to make the entire data entry sequence as quick and painless as possible.

The Batch Entry interface works just like most other aspects of Apsona, showing a searchable list of batches you have created. You can create a batch whose items contain any subset of fields from your Opportunity and Payment objects. You can also clone existing batches, so that you don’t have to recreate any of the logic from previous batches. The batch entry screen includes the usual search, sort and in-place edit features for manipulating the batch items in uncommitted batches.

When you have finished entering all the gifts and click the Commit button, a cross check is made to ensure that the number of items and amount match the numbers when the batch template was created. Any mismatches will keep the batch from being committed.

You can also run filters and reports on the batches needed for reconciliation with Apsona’s Multi-step Reports. For example, you can run a report for Batch Name, Commitment Date, First Name, Last Name, Donation Name, Amount, Payment Type, Check Number and Check Date.

Most of our enhancements to the Apsona apps are user requests and feedback. So we look forward to all your valuable feedback and comments. Do keep them coming! Please visit our website page for more details. You might also enjoy reading Judi Sohn’s blog where she comprehensively covers Apsona’s Batch Gift Entry.

And grateful thanks to our friends at KELL Partners for initiating this project and for all their input and support. Please make sure to read our product page for Batch Gift Entry, watch a video, and try it out!

Document and Mail merge for Salesforce

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Apsona is happy to announce a new add-on Mail and Document merge. Version 1.0 of the merging tool caters to three common situations:

  • Email merge: Produce a batch of email messages from an email template, and send off the email messages.
  • Document merge: Produce a batch of .docx document files from a .docx template, and download the results as a .zip file.
  • Email and document merge: Use a specified email template and a specified document template to produce a batch of email messages and documents, attach each resulting document to the corresponding email, and send off the emails.

In all of these cases, the data to be merged into the template can be obtained either from an Apsona report, including cross-object reports, or from the records in any of the Salesforce objects via Apsona’s console or tabular views.
For email templates, the merging tool can use any of the templates stored in your salesforce org, i.e., the ones accessible via Setup – Communication Templates – Email Templates. For document templates, the merging tool can use any .docx files available in your Salesforce Documents object.
Below is a brief comparison of Apsona’s Merge/mail with other competing products:

  • You don’t need special names for merge fields. This is unlike many other products. When creating a template, you can make up any field names you want, and the merge tool discovers and matches those names with your data fields on-the-fly.
  • You can mix-and-match templates used with reports. Since merge field names are not linked to (i.e., don’t have to be the same as) either data field names or report field names, you can use the same report with multiple templates. For example, you can create an Apsona report of your top opportunities from last month, filter it once for the gold partners and send using the “gold” template, and then filter it for the “bronze” partners to send using the bronze template. The two templates to not have to use the same field names.
  • It can use any of your existing document and email templates — no need to rewrite any of them.
  • It works with cross-object reports. So you can (for example) create a report including contact fields and total value of opportunities/donations, and send the results via email.

In the coming versions Apsona’s Mail and Document merge will support merging of lists, PDF and Excel options. If you would like to try out this feature, please click the Feedback link in the Apsona app and send us a License request.

Data analysis with Apsona reporting

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

At Apsona, we interact with awesome people from non-profit organizations (NPO) who work for some very noble causes. There are over 800 non-profit organizations (NPO) using the Apsona apps. Like for any organization, the most important thing for a NPO is data – the quality and quantity of their donor database. Quality means the donor’s contact information, addresses, email and phone. Direct mail is also widely used for soliciting and for acknowledging donor gifts and contributions. Apsona for Salesforce helps NPOs to maintain the quality by checking for duplicates while importing data, mass-updating filtered data, mass-adding members to a campaign, and so on.

The quantity aspect in a non-profit organization’s database refers to running reports and analyzing data. The Apsona apps help the non-profit users run reports and get information and pattern trends of donors – for example, who are the top donors, how often do they donate, and how much do they donate. Such information is invaluable, especially when a fundraiser is being organised. Let us see how we can build a common use case report with Apsona Multi-step Reporting.

Use case – To generate a report for a fundraiser to analyze giving patterns of donors. Data to be retrieved are high/top donors in the last 3 years. The donors who qualify should have given at least $1000 since the year 2010. The final report should be visualized with the donors to show up in the rows and the year in columns. This way we will be able to see each donors by year- if they donate every year, just for one year, etc.

Step 1:
  • Step info – Select the Donation Contact Role object.
  • Fields – Contact lookup field from the Donation Contact Role object, Donation Name, Donation Amount and close date from the Donation object, contact Full name from the Contact object.
  • Filter terms – Opportunity Amount at least 1000 and Opportunity close date on on after 1/1/2010.
  • Range & Sort – All matching records. Specify a number if you have one for the number of records to be retrieved.
  • Linkages – No linkages in step 1.

Click Save.

Step 2:
  • Step info – Select the Contacts object.
  • Fields – Contact ID and Contact Full name field.
  • Filter terms – None
  • Range & Sort – All matching records.
  • Linkages – Choose Contact ID matches Donations:Contact

Click Save and Run.

Let us visualize the data by clicking on the Visualization tab and selecting visualize.

  • Select the Matrix(Pivoting) option.
  • Rows grouped by Contact Name.
  • Columns grouped by – Date field – Donation close date in groups by year.
  • In each cell select Donation Amount: Sum.
Click Ok. You will now see each donor by year.

Apsona Apps – simple, reliable, effective.

Updating Data With Inline Edit

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Apsona’s inline edit feature is gaining a lot of interest from large enterprises. A key reason is that  it  helps the sales rep to be more productive. A sales rep’s primary goal is, of course, to close deals. Whilst the sales rep spends a lot of time talking to customers, listening to their needs and tailoring the sale, he also needs to document and update all his interactions.  Apsona makes this data updating quick and easy.
If you have used Salesforce for any length of time, you know that if an object has record types associated with it, you cannot use inline edit on any of its views. So if you are a sales rep who needs to update a bunch of opportunities, you have to first find them in a view, click each of them in turn, edit and save them, and reopen the view. So each update needs four page refreshes, not counting the actual clicks for editing.
In Apsona, you can just select the Opportunities tabular view. The tabular view resembles an excel worksheet where all records are laid out in rows. Each field value is in a cell which he can click and edit. You can work on several fields in the same opportunity or in different opportunities, and when done, click save. You can invoke pre-built filters at any time to narrow down the list, and then make changes and save the records. You can also build cross object filters on the fly, search for certain data records and make changes without losing context. For example, when working with opportunities, you can select not only Opportunity fields but also fields from any other object related via a lookup or master-detail relationship in either direction (parent or child).
Large enterprises use Apsona tabular views as top level pages. Salesforce admins build Opportunities tabular views with just the fields the sales rep requires to see.  Filters are also pre-built for the reps. So now, the rep need only select a filter, make changes to the records and click save. Thus he ends up saving a lot of valuable time.
This is just one example of how inline editing is being used. This feature works across all Salesforce objects, native and custom, in Apsona for Salesforce. If you have not tried out Apsona, please get our free trial from the Salesforce AppExchange.