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Using Custom Fields to Personalize Communications and Drive Donations
Using Custom Fields to Personalize Communications and Drive Donations

Improve your reporting, personalize your system, and target your donor's more efficiently!

AJ Alexander (they/them) avatar
Written by AJ Alexander (they/them)
Updated over a week ago


A good deal of data driven Communications and segmentation often revolve around the numbers – size of gift, lifetime giving amount, number of gifts, or last gift date. But there is a danger in reducing the donor to numbers. 

Tracking only the numbers leaves us without meaningful information regarding what motivated the gift, what program elements most interest the donor, and how the donor became a member of the community in the first place.

Custom Fields can provide a gold mine for personalizing and segmenting donor communications, if used effectively.

Cause or Program Affiliation

An organization working in environmental issues, for example, may encompass water, air and solar programs. Creating a custom field indicating this affiliation can help to segment communications according to area of interest, thus allowing for personalization and focus of content rather than covering all aspects of organizational programming in every communication – or risking boring/turning off donors who are laser focused on a cause dear to their hearts. 

Children’s program organizations may have donors interested in sports, music, academic enrichment – but not all three. 

An organization serving the homeless may have an advocacy arm in addition to programming. Some donors get fired up about advocacy while others might get turned off. 

Relationship Affiliation

Was a particular donor or prospect introduced to the organization through a board member, a specific event, participation in a program, audience of a presentation, or as a volunteer? Knowing these details can be very useful down the road when the staff or volunteers who knew all these important details is no longer with the organization. 

Chapter or membership affiliation can also be a key identifier if you have more than one location but streamline to a single database. 

Timeframe Affiliation

A custom field can be a quick and effective method to track program attendance or entrance date and/or graduation years. This allows for communication with a group 

Donor Custom Fields

While money is tracked and filtered by gift amount and date, it can sometimes be helpful to know more specific information. If you have sponsorship levels or constituency groups related to a campaign, noting this in custom fields provides an instant data point when you want to communicate with that group, particularly if some sponsors have more complex giving histories than others. 

Important Note: Donor Custom Field is attached to a specific donation within a Contact profile. This means that you can only filter for it in the Giving section of the Dashboard, not in the Contact Custom Field section.

Setting Up Custom Fields

When you’ve decided to create custom fields to further personalize communications and donor information within their profile, you have several options for how to integrate this information into your database. 

  • Require/not require: You can decide which specific information you need from every contact in your database, If you choose ‘required’, think red asterisk (*). A contact will not be able to be saved if this item isn’t completed.

  • Enable Merge Fields: If you choose to, you can make the custom field information available for merging in emails blasts and other communications. 

  • Variety of data input: When creating a custom field, you can choose from a variety of formatting. For example: checkbox, text, email, phone number, select option, radio button, etc. 

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