BlackbaudU Tips: Optimize Your Soft Credits 9607

BlackbaudU Tips: Optimize Your Soft Credits


Does your organization truly understand the role of soft credits as a donor cultivation tool? Blackbaud University instructors, Marie Broek and Madeline Gere, offer perspective on the purpose of soft crediting and tips to optimize soft credit power.

Consider this: If we told you there is a donor in our database who gave $1,000 in the last 10 years, what are your initial perceptions of the donor? You might wonder, is this a recurring donor? Did they make one big gift but then disappear?

But wait, there’s more to the story. What if we told you the donor has over $100,000 in soft credited donations? Does this change your perception of their relationship with our organization? Yeah, us too.

Soft credits are one of our most illuminating data tools, but they are often misunderstood. At Blackbaud University, we flip the training narrative in our foundational gift classes helping organizations think critically about purpose before delving into the buttonology. While there is no one “right” definition for a soft credit, there is one ultimate goal: Soft credits should empower your team to cultivate stronger constituent relationships. In class, we love watching the light bulb go off when students see soft credits as a part of their constituents' stories rather than a set of confusing rules.

To optimize soft crediting in constituent relationships, you need to ensure your team has policies and procedures that reiterate first the why, then the what, followed by details on the when, where, and who of soft crediting. The super strength of soft credits is unlocked with a goal-oriented strategy paired with clear, consistent, accurate data entry.

Join us in Fundamentals: Gift Records / Raiser’s Edge for more foundational gift practices.

We compiled three favorite soft crediting tips to get you started.

  1. Make it visible. Your staff won't understand what they can’t see, so add an “SC” gift type suffix with the legend tool to help staff quickly and easily identify soft credits in constituent giving history.

  1. Don’t lose track of constituent soft credit preferences. Automate soft crediting in relationships, with one click on relationship records.

  1. Keep your constituent’s giving front and center, even with gifts from pass-through organizations. Gifts given through Donor Advised Funds, payroll deductions, and family foundations can be contextualized with soft credits for the behind-the-scenes donors.

What gift tips have you learned through a Blackbaud University session? Got any favorites? Tell us in the comments!

Tip #1 Breakdown: Use the Gift Legend settings to add a "SOFT" suffix with bold or color formatting to all soft credit gifts, making them easy to distinguish when viewing a constituent’s giving history. Gift legends can be designated by an organization and then standardized across individual users to ensure all gifts show up accurately and consistently in constituent giving history.


By setting up Soft Credit legends, your organization can turn a constituent’s giving history from ambiguous to illuminating!


Tip #2 Breakdown: In many situations, soft credits need to be designated on an ongoing basis. For spouses, business owners and other relationships, your organization can configure the option to automatically soft credit a constituent for all future gifts given by another constituent. Simply check the automatic soft credit option on the General 2 tab of the Relationship record between the two constituents. Additionally, when this box is checked, Raiser’s Edge will automatically reciprocate soft credits between the two constituents.


Tip #3 Breakdown: Often gifts are received through organization (i.e. “pass through” giving) but multiple people were involved in the giving of the original gift such as gifts from family foundations, Donor Advised Funds and payroll deductions. Soft credits capture the giving story in better detail. Create the original gift record for the organization that directly gave you the gift. Then share or split the soft credits for the actual donors by choosing "Distribute evenly," "Full amount to all," or even by typing in the amounts according to each constituent.




On the Giving tile of a constituent record in RENXT, we can view this soft credit data. The full narrative of a donor's giving is captured with direct gifts received, soft credits, and the summarized lifetime giving total.


Good luck as your organization strategizes with soft credits! Remember, before you get into how (procedures) for soft credits, always start your team with the why to optimize this tool's power.

News Blackbaud Raiser's Edge NXT® Blog 06/13/2024 10:00am EDT

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