Look at This Stuff, Isn't it Neat?

Last month, we rolled out some improvements to custom fields. This month, we're taking things a step further with new Custom Collections.

Custom Collections allow you to create a — well, a collection of custom fields, and then enter multiple instances of that same set of fields on a single Contact or Individual record.

For instance, let's say you want to track students who are being tutored by mentors who volunteer with your organization. Each mentor may work with any number of students, so there's no way to know just how many student records you might need to track on any given Contact record. And for each student, there are a few different pieces of information that you'd like to track. Using Custom fields, this would be a tricky proposition. But by creating a Collection, you can easily track this data:

Custom Collections will always be visible on a record, even if there is no data yet, so they can be easily identified.

Just click on the "add" icon to add the first series of values.

You can learn even more about custom collections in this support article, and see how to get started with creating custom fields by directing your attention to this other article.

A Contact by Any Other Name...

As William Shakespeare (allegedly) wrote, "What's in a Name?" Well, the answer could be a significant donation.

But just getting someone's first and last name right isn't always enough. You probably want to ensure that you are using consistent formatting for Contact Names and Informal Names whenever you are sending communication, to maintain continuity in your ongoing conversations with your supporters.

Now, you can define those formats much more easily.

Use the Contact Name Settings feature to define your own business rules for generating Contact Names for Households, with specific rules for three different scenarios.You'll be able to insert merge tags and even type in text to provide maximum flexibility. Want to be more formal? Include prefixes and suffixes in your Contact names? Going for a more casual approach? Stick with just first and last names.

You'll also be able to define business rules for Informal Names using the same patterns.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

That's right! You'll also be able to set default placeholder values for first and last names, which you can use in cases where you don't have an Individual Name but you need to create a Contact record (like, for instance, a first gift from a new organization). These default values will be ignored when searching your database for potential duplicates, cutting down on a lot of extraneous clicking and Ignoring when reviewing and merging records.

Learn all about these new features by feasting thine eyes upon this support article.

Gotta Create 'Em All

Have you imported a large file of Contacts or Gifts that contained scores of new Contact records, only to regret it when you had to click "Create New" for each new Contact?

What if there was a better way?

Well, that's the question we asked. And we came up with a new feature that will allow users to bulk create new Contacts for all unmatched records in an import.

That sounds a heck of a lot easier!

This feature includes an Organizational setting, so admins will be able to choose whether to activate this feature at all for their organizations.

Once this setting is enabled, any time an import is processed — either a bundle from Virtuous Giving or another integrated giving partner, or a csv file import — and that file includes unmatched records, you'll be able to click on the Actions menu within the import tool and then select "Create New Contacts."

This will create new Contacts for all of the records where no possible matches were found in the database. Once the process is complete and all new Contacts have been created, you may still have records in the Match Needed group that need to be reviewed, because they do have possible matches identified, but this should be a smaller group to review manually.

Extra Mouse Clicks and Page Loads, BEGONE!

Speaking of streamlining things, we've also made it even easier to update Contact data. Now, you'll see "add" and "edit" icons for addresses on Contact records, making it easier to add or edit values without having to switch to "edit mode."

You'll also see the same options for all Contact Methods when viewing Individual data.

This way, you can spend less time clicking and updating data, and more time connecting with your supporters.

Developers' Corner

Last week, we sent out information on API changes for this release to everyone signed up for our Developer Digest emails.

This release includes some new character limits for certain fields, two brand-new endpoints, and additional functionality for some Event Invitation endpoints.

If you are a developer, or if you just like to stay in the know on all the high-tech goings-on around here, just reply to this email and let us know, or use the support messenger to contact us.

...And the Rest

As with every release, this month's update also includes a number of other fixes, tweaks, minor modifications, and assorted nudges. Among this month's assorted fixes:

  • We are still on a roll with Custom Fields, so in this release, we've added support for Custom Fields on Pledges and Recurring Gifts. Custom Fields all around! What's that behind you? It's a Custom Field! (No, not really. Well, maybe. We won't tell.)
  • We've added the ability to delete addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses directly from the Data Health screen. If you still want to visit the actual Contact records, we won't stand in your way, but now it won't be required.
  • Also on the Data Health screen, you'll see the ability to Ignore flagged records. It's worth noting that ignoring won't mark an address or phone number as "good," but it will clear it from the Data Health screen so you don't have to stare at it anymore.
  • By popular user demand, clicking on any Individual's avatar will now show an enlarged view of said avatar. Apparently, squinting is OUT this year.
  • Adding help text to a Gift Amount field in a Giving Form apparently did not cause help text to appear, making it less-than-helpful text. This text promises to be more helpful from now on.
  • In the Contact Activity feed, large entries will now be collapsed by default, with an option to "show more" in order to see...well, more. Other updates in larger text will now display in full instead of being truncated, meaning you will no longer have to play the "How Does This Sentence End?" guessing game when viewing these entries.
  • We've added support for querying for Individuals by Contact Method Type, so you can more easily see how many Individuals have, for example, a Mobile Phone Number, or a Twitter handle. No joke here, we just thought this would be handy.
  • Speaking of query updates, we've also added a new parameter, Contact Method URL, for querying on any Contact Method value containing a URL. As one does.
  • While we were at it, we also squashed a bug that prevented users from querying records based on Link-type Custom Fields. Yes, that's right: we've made it easier to find the missing link! (Sorry, we couldn't resist. We'll see ourselves out.)
  • Some records were not being flagged as potential duplicates, even with matching names and addresses, because of a bug affecting address matching in some cases, based on data format. We've made sure these records will be correctly identified in the future. Well, starting today. Meaning the present? Tenses are hard.
  • We've corrected an issue wherein email activity was not matching up with the Email Activity graph when reviewing sent emails. Now, the Email Activity will exist in carefully cultivated harmony.

And that's the list! As always, if you have any questions about these or other features, feel free to contact our team using the support widget in Virtuous, or drop us a line at support@virtuoussoftware.com.

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