What are Projects?
Projects in Virtuous are often analogous to "funds" in other CRM systems. These are projects, programs, or initiatives that are part of your organization's mission, and which your givers are funding. At the most basic level, any program for which a giver could make a restricted gift should be a Project.
Projects can be arranged in a hierarchy, with top-level, or parent, Projects and then related SubProjects. Multiple Projects and SubProjects may also be grouped together by either Type or Location, providing reporting flexibility.
For example, let's say you are a nonprofit that works on providing education to under-served youth in several communities around the US. In particular, we'll focus on Detroit, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, where you have a few initiatives:
- Funding construction of a new charter school
- Providing after-school tutoring in STEM subjects
- Facilitating curriculum-planning workshops for teachers
- Providing scholarships for select high school students
First off, that sounds like some great work! Your nonprofit is awesome. Now let's set up these Projects in Virtuous.
Managing Project Settings
First, we'll want to configure your Project Settings. Navigate to the Settings menu, click “Data Customization”, then “Project Settings”.
Here, you'll have the ability to set organization-specific list values for certain Project fields.
- Inventory statuses: For some nonprofits, these may not apply. The inventory status fields are particularly used by sponsorship organizations, or any time projects are designed to be funded only by a single giver. In these instances, it's necessary to track which Projects are sponsored and which are available to be sponsored. On the Project Settings page, you'll have the option to create separate lists of "Available Project Inventory Statuses" and "Unavailable Project Inventory Statuses." These values will all be combined into the single "Inventory Status" drop-down on the Project Edit screen.
- Available Project Inventory Statuses: Values in this group will all denote some type of availability.
- Unavailable Project Inventory Statuses: Values in this group indicate a project is unavailable for sponsorship.
- Project Types: Project Types provide a way to combine multiple Projects and SubProjects under one umbrella, typically for reporting purposes. If you're not certain whether something should be a Type or a SubProject, consider whether you are dealing with an initiative that is common to multiple areas of focus for your organization, or unique to a specific area or Project. Common initiatives make sense as Types since they can include multiple Projects and SubProjects.
- Project Locations: Since these are user-defined, Locations may be states, cities, regions, countries, or even continents - whichever makes the most sense for your organizational setup.
In our example above, we have a few different cities with active Projects. Perhaps our hypothetical nonprofit is set up with multiple geographic regions that each administer programs in five cities. If we want to report on activity by region, these would be my Locations. For Types, we can take the four program types we have in each of the three sample cities and use these as a basis for our Types. This will make it easy to run reports for all Charter School Construction projects nationwide, or any other Type. So our Project Settings will look like this:
Creating New Projects
OK, our Project Settings look good. It's time to start creating our Projects. Navigate to the Projects and Designations screen from the main menu.
There, click on the blue add button in the upper right to bring up the new Project form.
Here, you can fill in the information for your new Project:
- Name: Give your Project a name that is clear and easily identified for ease of gift entry.
- Project Code: This code may be the GL code for the Project in your accounting software, or an internal code used to identify a particular Project. This Project Code can be used during gift entry to identify the Project designation for a gift. Project codes must be unique - even if a Project or SubProject is Inactive, its code cannot be re-used.
- External Accounting Code: Use this field to include any additional codes that may be required by your external accounting package.
- Description: Use this space to enter a brief explanation of the Project. What would your internal staff need to know about a particular Project?
- Duration Type: New Projects are set to "Ongoing" duration by default. You may switch this to "Fixed Duration" if your Project is short-term. Doing so means that you must also specify start and end dates.
- Financial Need Amount: What is the financial goal for your Project?
- Financial Need Type: By default, "Fixed Goal Amount Only" is selected. For ongoing Projects with monthly or other recurring budget needs, select "Ongoing Need" and then specify a frequency.
- Restrict Gifts to Valid Amounts: When checked, only specified gift amounts may be received for this Project. This feature is often used by sponsorship organizations.
- Associated Projects: You may specify other Projects, regardless of their Parent Project, Type, or Location, to be linked to this Project.
- Project Owners: You may choose to assign one or more users from your organization as Project Owners. Assigning a user as an Owner allows that user to be restricted to seeing ONLY gifts made to Projects they own if their Permission Group profile includes the "Restrict by Owner" option for Gifts.
- Settings: These checkboxes are largely for internal staff information only, with the exception of the "Set as Default" option. Your Virtuous database will include a single Project named "Default Project" which is designed to be your General Fund. You may choose an alternate default Project, but there can be only one.
We've already covered the Project Designation Type, Current Status in Inventory, and Location fields.
Per our example, we will set up each city as a Project, which would look like this. After clicking Save, we'll be taken to the Project screen. You may click the edit icon next to the Project Name or anywhere else on the screen to edit the Project information.
Creating New SubProjects
Click on the SubProjects tab to create new SubProjects, or view them for existing Projects. Click on the Add SubProject button in the upper right to bring up a form similar to the new Project form and fill in the information for your new SubProject. Click Save Project and you'll be taken to the SubProject page. On the left side of the blue page header, you'll see the Parent Project name. Click the name to be taken back to the Parent Project page and then enter any remaining SubProjects.
Additional Project Tabs
The Media tab for Projects provides a space to store or link to image files related to your Project. These may include photos of construction progress or individuals helped by your program, which can be used in progress updates to givers. Progress updates are a great way to say thank you and keep your givers engaged.
The Impact tab provides a space for Impact Updates. This space allows field staff to communicate successes, milestones, and other news about a project. These updates can be shared with project givers to help keep them engaged. Just type in your note text. Notes are automatically added using the current date -- use the "Date" field if you'd like to select an alternative date. Click the drop-down for Update Type and you'll see there are four choices:
- General Update: Used for most field updates
- Payroll: Used to communicate pay information with field staff who are raising their own support
- Update from giver: Used to store letters from givers, primarily for sponsorship organizations
- Update for giver: Used to store letters from a sponsored individual to their sponsor
For these last two options, a search box will appear to connect the update with a specific giver.
Below the Note field, you'll also see a search field that allows an update to be tied to a specific Project Goal. Just start typing to search for a specific Goal. And finally, you'll see a space to attach PDFs or other files. Especially for sponsorship organizations, you may have physical notes to attach to giver updates.
The Goals tab is where you can set Goals for your Project. Goals are distinct from SubProjects in that they represent Project milestones that have internal significance for you and your team but are not initiatives that a giver may give to exclusively. For example, to build one of our hypothetical charter schools, we may know that our total Project budget includes a number of smaller costs. We can use Goals to track these costs and see when we have received enough money to check them off our list.
To add a Goal, click on the blue add button in the upper right of the Goals box. On the new Goal form, you'll have the option to create one of two kinds of Goals: Numeric or Descriptive.
Numeric Goals have a stated count of objects or milestones to be met. Examples might include "Dig 25 new wells" or "Provide 50 meals for the homeless." For our charter school, one of the goals may be "Purchase 300 new student desks."
Descriptive goals are more esoteric, like "Improve the lives of inner-city students" or "World Peace." To be measurable, these goals must still have a monetary cost to achieve them. For example, a descriptive goal for our Philadelphia Teachers' Workshops might simply be "Empowering Teachers."
As gifts are received and credited to a project, the Goal progress will be automatically updated.
The Gifts tab lists all of the gifts, pledges, and recurring gifts that have been credited to your Project.
The Expenses tab allows you to log all expenses on a project. There are a couple of reasons why you might want to do this:
- You have staff that primarily only interact with projects within Virtuous. This is a good place to have them store their expenses for that project. So, for example, if you have someone that is running an afterschool program and needs to buy paper for that program, they could log that expense in this tab.
- You want to add greater visibility to the expenses for a project. Typically, only the folks involved in the finance team see the expenses related to a project- which may make people wonder why they don't have as much to spend. This would allow your team to show expenses to those with permission on the project.
A note about the expenses tab- there are separate permissions available for just the expenses- you may only want users to view but not edit expenses, or maybe they don't need to see them at all. You are able to control that through permissions.
The Statement tab allows users to view and even print a detailed statement of all gifts and expenses logged within a given month or other specified timeframe. This is especially useful for missionary organizations and other nonprofits where field staff may be raising their own support.
The Grants tab lists all the grants (incoming or outgoing) linked to a project.
Once you've created your Projects and SubProjects, you'll be ready to start tracking progress on your fundraising initiatives.