CiviCRM

What You Need To Know

This chapter explains key ideas that are useful when planning your use of CiviReport. It should be read by system administrators before they start to configure CiviReport for daily use. It will also be useful for anyone who wants to better understand the thinking behind CiviReport. Skip this chapter if you just want to look at specific reports that have already been configured by your administrator.

CiviReport can be used as a management tool in organisational planning and as an analysis tool for membership or donor development. Tabular or graphical output can be produced and set up to email reports to specific people according to a schedule. 

The number of questions an organisation might want to ask about their data is pretty much unlimited. The CiviCRM approach to solving this problem is to aim to cater for 90% of the scenarios and allow the system to be easily extendable by administrators and developers to cover the last 10%. 

Key Concepts 

Report templates

A report template is the base for creating any number of reports. CiviCRM comes with a number of predefined report templates that can be used to create specific reports. For example, the Membership Report (Detail) template can be used to create a report that shows all student members that have joined your organisation within the past quarter or another that shows all cancelled memberships this year.

These templates are built to satisfy the basic needs of non-profits and organisations and future versions of CiviCRM are likely to include further report templates. You can create new templates to meet the specific requirements of your organisation and contribute these reports back to the CiviCRM community for others who have the same reporting needs. Writing a new report template requires some PHP and SQL skills. See the Developer Guide for details of how to do this.  

Report vs. Search

CiviCRM has inbuilt search functionality that covers most scenarios, so it's important to know when to use a report and when to search. CiviReport gives users the ability to easily display complex information about their data, and to display answers to questions about this information in accessible ways. It is useful when you need to repeatedly ask the same question, or a set of similar questions, about your data. 

The current report interface does not support most common batch actions such as Update via Batch Profile, Smart Group creation and so on. This means that if you want to perform any action against a result set, it is better to use search rather than report. 

However, in some cases reports are more flexible than searches, and each has its own set of features. For example, reports allow you to change the columns displayed and in summary reports you can order by whichever display results you choose.

Report options

  • Run the report: you can Print Report so it is viewable in browser or you can generate a PDF or Export to CSV. All of these run the report once when you hit the button and allow you work with it.

  • Dashlet: if you make a report Available for Dashboard, users with appropriate permissions can add this report to their dashboard. This is useful for information that you want to see on a regular basis, such as a list of new members, or donations this month, etc. In this case the report is run every time the dashboard is loaded.
  • Email: schedule a regular email of the report so that your finance office can receive a monthly email of all event fees received or your membership administrator gets a weekly email of overdue renewals.

Detail vs summary reports

Reports often come in pairs: one showing a summary and the other showing the detail. These reports can be linked, allowing users to see information at a glance with the option to drill down in a certain report for more detail.

Key Questions

  • Should you use CiviReport for a particular task, or could it be better achieved with a search?
  • What reports are available? The list is constantly growing; for a complete list of reports available in your version, along with an explanation how the reports can be used, look at the page Create reports from templates (in the Reports dropdown menu).
  • What questions do you want to ask about your data? For example, you may want to know how many new members you have in a certain period, or how much money was collected during a fundraising campaign.
  • What fields do you need to include?
  • Does the report provide enough options or will you need to analyse further in a spreadsheet?
  • Is it a one off report or will you need to run it regularly? Could you make a report template to streamline future reports?
  • Who needs to see this report? Will it provide sensitive information that should only be available to privileged users or does it give useful daily updates to all?

Details of available report templates and comparison with searches are provided for each component throughout the rest of this book; refer to the relevant section for more details about component-specific reports.