Among the many options for customizing Virtuous, users can create custom fields to track specific specific data or capture mission-critical details. Some common uses of custom fields include capturing employer information for Individuals, the fulfillment status of Premiums at the Gift level, or additional accounting requirements on Projects. Whatever the reason, custom fields provide a clear way to track the data your organizations needs.
Before creating a custom field, there are a few considerations to take into account:
- Only users with Admin permissions can create custom fields. Not an admin? Then you'll need to check with your organization's Virtuous admin and ask them nicely to add a custom field for you. Offering them flowers or chocolate never hurts.
- Ask yourself if you really need this field. Many times, organizations create custom fields to track things that already have a home in Virtuous. Gift details may be something that would best be tracked using Campaigns or Projects. Contact data may be better suited to be tracked as a Tag. Talk to your Virtuous admin, or contact your Customer Success Coach for advice about the best way to track your data and take advantage of the existing features in Virtuous.
- Have a clear use case for your new field. How do you plan to track and use this data? Is it something that needs to be used in queries and segmentation? Or is the data in this field more informational, to be reviewed when looking at a single Contact record? Having a clear plan will make it easier to create your new field and select the right Data Type (more on that below) to meet your needs.
With these in mind, it's time to add a custom field. Click on "Settings" in the menu, then select "Data Customization."
Then select "Custom Fields and Collections."
If there are any custom fields already created for your organization, they will be listed on the screen. To create a new one, make sure you've selected the Custom Fields tab.
Then, click the Create Field button.
This will bring up a form where you will enter the settings for your new custom field.
Object: In other words, where should this field live in Virtuous? If this a field for Gifts records, or for Contacts? This will always default to Contact -- just click to select a different value. These Objects currently support custom fields:
- Contact Individual
- Event Attendee
- Gift Ask
- Media Outlet
- Planned Gift
- Recurring Gift
- Volunteer Opportunity
Name: The name for the new field. Each field must have a unique name in the system. Custom field names are limited to a maximum of 100 characters.
Display: This is the text that will display on forms. If you leave this blank, this will default to the Name. So, you might consider having a short Name and then having a question as the Display.
Group: If you want this Custom Field to be part of a group, select that Custom Field Group. (There will be more information on creating Custom Field Groups later in this article).
Data Type: This field is critical; it determines the type of field to be created, or more specifically, the type of data that can be stored in the new field. For capturing a wide variety of unstructured data, a text or paragraph field may be best; in other cases, a simple True/False flag may be ideal and allow for easy querying and segmentation. To help determine the correct Data Type, consider the use cases for this new field.
Once a custom field has been created, the Data Type cannot be changed.
Bear this in mind when planning for your new field. The available types, and recommendations for usage, are:
- Text: This option creates a general text field. Text fields are excellent for capturing data that could vary widely, but can be harder to query on than more structured data like that in list fields. Note that text values are limited to a maximum of 140 characters.
- Paragraph: Use these fields for open-ended survey questions in Virtuous Forms, or anywhere that you need to capture unstructured data that requires more than 140 characters. By nature, paragraph fields are not very valuable for queries and segmentation, but data stored here can be reviewed by development staff to gain insight into supporters and their motivations.
- List: Use this option to create a drop-down list. Selecting this option will display a new field below, where you can add a List Value. Enter a value and then click on the "plus" icon or hit the enter key to add additional values. List values can be modified and re-ordered once a field is created.
- Multiselect List: Similar to a List custom field, this data type allows for more than one value to be selected.
- Boolean: A basic True/False field, best used to create "flags" or indicators on a record. Use this in cases where a List field might be desired, but records may require more than one selection. Boolean fields also make it easy to add option checkboxes to Virtuous Forms.
- Date: Used for any fields that will be strictly for tracking dates. Using this option will allow for querying using date operators, like "Greater than" or "Before." Fields with this data type can only be used to store complete dates; partial date values (i.e., only month and year) cannot be saved using this format.
- Decimal: For fields that will only contain numerals. Again, this option will affect the query operators that can be used with a custom field.
- Link: This type allows for clickable URLs that can be used to connect to other web pages.
Once all the information for the new field has been entered, click SAVE to create the new field.
Confirm on the main Custom Fields screen that the new field is Enabled, and it will be ready to use.
Managing Custom Fields
Once you have created a custom field, you may need to edit it. For example, you may wish to add a value to a list field. To edit any existing custom field, just click on the edit icon to the right of that field when viewing the Manage Custom Fields screen.
You can rename any existing custom field, but you cannot change the Object or Data Type. If a field is no longer needed, you can click on the blue checkbox next to "Enabled" to disable it. Once you save, the field will show "No" under the "Enabled column on the main custom fields screen.
Fields associated with Contacts, Individuals, or Gifts will show an additional option, "Show on Import." This is checked by default, meaning that these fields will be visible in the Gift & Contact Import tool, and values can be added (or updated) via import. Click the blue checkbox if you do NOT want these fields to be accessible via the import tool. Note: If you do import a file that includes custom field values, and those custom fields are not set to Show on Import, then the values will be ignored by the import tool.
For list custom fields, you can add additional list values at any time by editing the field and then entering new values, much like you would when creating a list custom field.
Click on the edit icon to the right of any list value to set it as inactive. List values cannot be deleted, but inactive values can not be selected or added to records going forward. At any time, you may also choose to reactive an existing value. Additionally, you can click the three lines next to the edit icon and then drag that list value to reorder your list.
Custom Field Groups
When adding custom fields, you'll have the additional option to create custom field groups. These groups can be used as a way to arrange custom fields visually and keep fields that are related to a particular theme or topic together when viewing or editing records. To create a new group, click on the Custom Field Groups tab.
Then, click the Create Group button.
This will bring up a form where you can enter information for your new group.
As with custom fields, you will need to select an Object where your group will be visible and enter a name. Group names must be unique for each Object; for example, you may have two groups named "Donor Preferences," as long as one is associated with Contacts and the other is visible for Individuals.
Once you have created a group, you can edit a custom field and add it to your group. Just begin typing the name into the "Group" field when editing a custom field. Custom fields can be moved from one group to another at any time.
On your Manage Custom Field Groups screen, you'll see the preview (eyeball) icon and edit icon to the right of each group. Click on the preview icon to view the specifics for your custom field group, including which custom fields are currently associated with your group.
Click on the edit icon to the right of any group to edit the group name or delete the group.
Viewing Custom Field Data
Custom fields will not be displayed onscreen unless they contain data. For instance, creating a Text field called "Employer" for Individuals will display that field ONLY if there is employer data. Click on the edit icon on any record to see all available custom fields and edit field values as needed.