Bigfoot exists. Laugh at me all you want, but I’ve seen it. Actually, I have seen it just about every day for the past ten-plus years. Sure, at first I didn’t believe it existed but after years of hearing about its existence my curiosity peaked and I finally decided to find out more about the elusive beast. I’m glad I did.
You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about Bigfoot. Well, the beast I’m referring to is actually Crystal Reports. Think about it: for new (and even a good number of experienced) Raiser’s Edge users, Crystal Reports and Bigfoot have a lot in common:
- You’ve probably heard of it
- You might have seen a quick glimpse of it
- Others swear they have seen it and some even claim they know it well
- Even with all the sightings, a lot of people still have very little idea of what it really is
- If you came face to face with it you would probably be scared of it
- It would be very expensive and take some time to learn more about it
I think that last point is the main reason Crystal Reports remains a mystery for so many nonprofits, especially smaller organizations. Crystal Reports training can be expensive, anywhere between $1,000 to $2,500. Even a Crystal Reports book will set you back at least forty bucks. But who has time to go through a 1,000 page book, or even take two to four days away from work for a training class (assuming their organization can afford it in the first place)? Certainly not someone who is already overwhelmed with their daily responsibilities of entering gifts, managing the database, sending acknowledgement letters, exporting data to Excel, etc. Sound familiar?
I feel your pain. It frustrates me to no end to hear from colleagues at other organizations about their struggles with getting data and reports out of The Raiser’s Edge. They spend a ridiculous amount of time exporting to Excel and then formatting, sorting, deleting, adding, etc. Then they spend even more time exporting again and having to do the work in Excel all over again, and on and on every day, week, month, and/or year.
I’ve been there. I once spent two years repeatedly trying to get co-workers to let me build custom reports for them so they can be free from the Fifth Circle of Excel. I’ve seen what custom reports can do and how they can change a development department. It’s because of experiences like these that I have made it my mission to demystify
Bigfoot Crystal Reports for as many Raiser’s Edge users as possible.
As part of this mission I have given presentations on Crystal Reports at the Denver Raiser’s Edge Users Group and at the 2013 & 2014 Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits (BBCon). I’ll keep the momentum going from last month’s BBCon presentation and begin a series of posts about Crystal Reports and I won’t stop until every morsel of Crystal Reports knowledge that is in my pudding-esque noggin has made its way onto this site.
Read the next article in the Crystal Reports track: Canned Reports: The Level Before the Next Level or view the track listing here