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Introduction to custom fields

Custom fields support the collection of key data points not available in standard NationBuilder fields.

Updated over a week ago

📌 Note: Custom fields are available as add-ons. For more information on adding new features please see the add-ons page in your nation.

Table of Contents

Where to start

Custom fields support key data points that are not included in standard NationBuilder fields. Typically, this means there are a finite number of responses expected for each field to collect your data and you can create them in your Custom field settings.

For example, graduation year and major would be good custom fields (2020, Film), whereas meal preference for a particular event would be good tags connected to a signup page (for example, ‘2020 Holiday Party - Vegan’).

📌 Note: Before you start, the documentation for custom fields will walk you through how to ‘call’ or ‘request’ a custom field to a page. This simply means creating a way for someone to submit that custom field response on that particular page.

We do mention next that it’s relatively complex, not to discourage you but to encourage you to read through all the documentation before you start.

Relatively complex implementation

Implementing custom fields is relatively difficult compared to using standard features in NationBuilder. If you are gathering information that will probably be different for every person submitting the form, asking a survey question with open text answers is a better option. If you have a small number of discrete attributes to track, creating a signup page with optional tags is recommended. 

Custom fields may be the right option for importing historical information. If your database includes single-word or phrase-length descriptions without punctuation, you should consider importing that information as tags.

Custom people fields vs. custom donation fields

There are two types of custom fields available: custom people fields and custom donation fields. Every person and organization in your database has a profile. People fields are directly connected to this profile.

Each time a financial transaction is recorded, a separate record is created in your database. For example, this allows a donation made in 2014 to have a different billing address from a donation made in 2015. A transaction record is associated with a particular person's record using a unique identifier.

The majority of custom fields created are people custom fields. Custom donation fields are useful for information that is unique to a particular donation (e.g. allowing a donation to be made in memory of an individual or complying with campaign finance laws).

Create custom fields in the Settings section

All custom fields are created in Settings > Defaults > Custom fields. Once created, they can be imported. For data integrity reasons, the slug and field type cannot be changed later. Custom fields will display within a person's profile and within a donation record. They can also be included in filters. 

Displaying custom people fields on webpages requires editing page templates

While custom donation fields will display automatically on donation pages, custom people fields will never be automatically included in action pages. Adding custom people fields to an action page requires editing the page template and inserting HTML and Liquid. More detailed information is available on how to display or request custom fields on your website.

If you are not comfortable editing page templates, please contact a NationBuilder Architect for help. These certified design consultants are well-versed in creating websites that take advantage of the full range of functionality available through NationBuilder. Please be aware that NationBuilder Support does not edit page templates to support custom fields. Depending on availability, the NationBuilder Professional Services team may be able to help implement custom fields on your website at an additional charge.

HQ nation and networked nation custom field settings

Customers on the Network plan are able to create networked nations to their primary, HQ nation. An admin of the HQ nation can choose to share custom field settings with networked nations.

When custom field settings are shared, new custom fields can only be created within the HQ nation. The fields will be visible in networked nations at Settings > Defaults > Custom fields. Custom people fields will be visible within profiles in the networked nation and data can be stored in the fields. Similarly, custom donation fields will be visible within donation records in the networked nation and data can be stored in the fields. 

Tag sharing allows the HQ nation to coordinate the data within custom fields with its networked nations. No other types of nations can share custom field data using tag sharing.

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