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Salsa Blog

4 Sneaky Ways to Get the Most From Salsa Reports

Get the Most From Salsa ReportsCustom report builders are not the easiest things to engineer: you're trying to present to the user an interface that's both intuitive and incredibly expansive, and effects a smooth transition from the nearly limitless arrangements of data that might be present in a user's mind to the very specific (and tedious) job of instructing a big dumb database exactly which data to find and exactly what to do with it.

Those that I've had to wrestle with in other databases in my nonprofit career have generally had me pinned within two rounds.

Which brings us to Salsa. The custom report builder in Salsa is incredibly powerful, but like many such, it can be a challenge if you're looking at it for the very first time. The fact that it's built to render a standard SQL query will be helpful to a minority of users, and utterly useless to most.

Regardless of whether your reporting needs run to supporter data, email, donations, all of the above, or other things entirely, there are several underappreciated features in the report builder worth outlining, that may help you get the most from all that precious data.

1. You Can Copy a System Report

See a report in the standard Salsa library that's almost exactly what you want? You can get a local copy of any system report in your custom reports library and tweak to your heart's content.

To copy a system report,

  1. Place the system report on one of your dashboard pages.
  2. Hit "Full Report" to run it.
  3. Click "Clone and edit this report" in the upper left-hand corner of the report results page.

Just navigate to your custom report list, and the copied report should be there for you to edit.


2. Reports Can Give Totals and Subtotals

In SQL land, this feature is called "rollup" -- and that's what it's named in the custom report builder. You can find rollup, perhaps unintuitively, under the "Filter" tab.

To get a subtotal,

  1. Click on the "Group By?" box for at least one field under Columns.
  2. Select a "function" (such as "Sum") for at least one field you're not grouping by.
  3. Select "Rollup" under the "Filter" tab

You may be thinking here, "I want to see individual gifts add up to a sum, not a sum for every line."

Perfectly possible! Try grouping by the Donation_KEY field (or for other kinds of reports, the _KEY field on the table you're reporting). Since KEY numbers are completely unique, their "sum" will always be only a sum of one value ... while the "rollup" will give you the total of all those individual gifts.



3. Reports Can Request Variable User Fields

So you've got a report that's just the right framework of columns and rows, and you're thinking ... dang, I have to rebuild this any time I want to see an updated set of numbers?

In fact, you do not have to rebuild it.

Reports can be built to request user input of variables every time they are run -- for instance, a date, or a date range. To do this,

  1. Under the "Conditions" tab, select the field you'll want to vary each time you run the report
  2. Select an operator -- "Equals" is the default, but you might want "Less Than," "Greater Than," or others.
  3. Leave the "Value" field empty.
  4. Change the "Value type" field to "User Variable."
  5. In "Variable Label", enter human-readable text that will prompt the person running report on what kind of information to enter. For instance, if the condition is built on the Transaction_Date field, the Variable label might be "Enter the date here".
  6. Use the (+) button and "Add OR condition" buttons to add as many different user-submitted condition entries as you like. These can be freely combined with fixed conditions.


4. Reports Can Be Set to Run on a Schedule

No matter how polished and buffed your report, it still needs a human being to run it ... and in any given busy week (to say nothing of those spent on the beach), that step can easily slip the mind.

No problem.

Salsa reports can not only be run by hand, but can be set to run automatically and email the results on a scheduled basis. To set one up,

  1. Place the system report on one of your dashboard pages.
  2. Hit "Full Report" to run it.
  3. Click "Export" in the lower right-hand corner of the report results page.
  4. Under "export to a file, or schedule an export," click "Export Options".
  5. Set the "run and export this report" field to "on a schedule".
  6. Select a start time for the first report to run.
  7. Select the run frequency from the "Run the report" menu.
  8. Select one or more (comma-delimited) email addresses to receive the reports.

The other fields on this page -- a custom header, optional include fields, compressed files -- are strictly optional.


Topics: Salsa