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Customising records & fields

Top tips on creating and editing new cards and fields, understanding card types, setting alerts and developing structure

Updated over a week ago

Heads up! This is a guide for admins. If you're not an admin yet, ask your Beacon admin to promote you so you can start managing fields.

Beacon comes pre-loaded with a default set of fields for each standard record type, however this is just the start. We've found that every nonprofit is different, so we built Beacon to be super flexible to fit your needs. You can add fields to existing record types (this article) or you can create entirely new record types.

Enabling customisation mode

Customisation mode is a special mode that you can enable while viewing any record in Beacon and lets you customise a record. (If you're an admin)

With customisation mode enabled, you can:

  • Create, modify and remove fields

  • Change field layouts (by modifying "cards", more info below)

  • Add lists of related records

To enable customisation mode, click the cog in the top right of any record page:

Don't see the cog? Then you're not an admin - ask your admin to promote you.

Warning: Any changes you make in customisation mode will affect all records of that type (not just the single record you're viewing).

An introduction to "Cards"

Cards take care of how records of each type are displayed in Beacon. They help structure your data in a way that's easy to view and edit.

There are a few different types of cards:

To add a new card, click Add card at the bottom of your existing cards, whilst in customisation mode.

List of fields

The List of fields card is the most common kind of card in Beacon. This is how you to view and edit data about records. Usually you'll want to include fields in logical groups, like so:

Screenshot 2019-12-05 at 19.19.38

More details: Card: List of fields

The List of related records card allows you to show a list of records that are related to the type of record you're viewing. For example:

  • The donations someone has made

  • The people attending an event

Up to three related records are shown. To view all records, click view all.

These cards usually go best on the right side of your records, where it's easy to see what the record is related to at a glance.

Summary metric

The Summary metric card shows you a single number, of the sum or average of number fields, or the number of records.

For example:

The sum total of donations a person has made.

Total donations

You could just as easily show the average of the donations, or the number of donations.

More details: Card: Summary metric


The Chart card lets you visualise data related to a record in a chart.

For example, if you wanted to see supporters' donation history over time when viewing any person in Beacon, you would add the following chart:

More details: Card: chart

Editing a card

To edit an existing card's settings, just click the card when you're in customisation mode (but don't click an individual field).

You'll be presented with the below:

You can change the title and icon to anything you like. The Choose fields section allows you to define the fields that should belong in the card:

Additionally, you can create entirely new fields from this dialog. Learn more about the different field types.

Showing or hiding fields

  1. Open up a record in Beacon and enable customisation mode.

  2. Click the card where you'd like to change which fields are shown.

  3. Click the Choose fields dropdown menu.

  4. Select which fields you'd like to be visible on this card, or deselect those you don't. Other cards will have their own selections.

  5. Click Save.

Note: Hiding fields won't delete the data stored in them. If you make a field visible again it'll still be there!

Creating fields

If you have information about a record that doesn't make sense to live in one of the fields already available, you'll need to create a new field.

  1. Open up a record in Beacon and enable customisation mode.

  2. Click the card where you'd like to add the new field.

  3. Click Create new field on the right:

4. Give your new field a name, and choose the type of field that you'd like to create. Here's a full list of field types.

5. Click Create.

6. Click Save.

Editing fields

Changing details about a field is quick and easy. Add help text, rename a field, re-order drop-down list options, and more.

  1. Click the field you'd like to edit (directly on the field, not the card)

  2. Change any details you need

  3. Click Save

Warning: If you need to rename a dropdown list option (e.g. from 'Volunteer' to 'Active volunteer'), create the new option and use a bulk update to change them over to the new option before deleting the old option. See here for full details.

Note: You can't change the type of a field (e.g. from a drop down field to a checkbox) as Beacon won't know how to change any of the data already stored in the field. Simply create a new field!

Screenshot 2019-12-05 at 19.45.55

Deleting fields

If you have a field that you don't need to see, you can simply hide the field as above. If you know that you definitely don't need the field, or any data that might exist in that field on other records, you can permanently delete it.

  1. Open up a record in Beacon and enable customisation mode.

  2. Click the field you'd like to delete.

  3. Click Delete in the bottom left.

  4. Click Delete again to confirm.

Note: you will not be able to delete any Beacon core fields. These are the fields that already exist in Beacon when you first open your account, or default fields on custom record types. If the Delete button appears greyed out, it is likely you are trying to delete one of these core fields.

Re-ordering fields and cards

When in customisation mode, you can easily re-order fields (and cards) by drag-and-dropping them within the record. You can also drag fields between different cards!

Setting card visibility

By default, cards on your records show all of the time (unless you remove them).

However, if you have cards that are only relevant for particular types of record, you can use visibility settings to only show a card when relevant. Example:

You're mostly using the CRM for fundraising, but you're also managing volunteer information like skills, interests, and availability. These fields sit within a "Volunteering" card, and you'd like to only show the card for people who are volunteers.

This πŸ‘† is precisely what card visibility is for.

  1. Click a card (when in customisation mode) to edit it

  2. Click the visibility button at the bottom of the card dialog

3. Choose the conditions for when this card should show. For example:

Note: Card visibility can currently only be set for drop-down, checkbox, and short text fields.

4. Click Save.

Once you've set card visibility settings, they will automatically show/hide based on the conditions that you've set.

If you'd like to change a card's visibility settings on a card that's currently hidden, enable customisation mode, and you'll see the following, indicating that the card is hidden:

Click the card as normal to edit its visibility settings.

Note: You can set card visibility based on a field on the record you're viewing, or based on a field on one of the records that it points at. For example, if you wanted to show different fields on an event attendee's record based on the type of event, you could do that too.

Adding alerts

You can add alerts that show at the top of your records:

Screenshot 2020-06-25 at 12.12.57

There's a separate guide for this. Enjoy!

Best practices

Remove the fields that aren't relevant

When you first set up your shiny new Beacon account, you'll be greeted with some default cards and fields that you might expect to see. Not all of them will be relevant to your organisation - it's best to remove them to prevent any confusion! You can choose to either hide them or delete them.

[info] Hiding fields from your cards does not delete the fields (or the underlying data), it simply doesn't display them. Deleting a field will remove both the field and the underlying data.

Change the field labels and help to fit your language

Every organisation has their own terminology. For example, do you use the term "appeal" instead of "campaign"? If so - we strongly recommend that you change field labels to reflect this.

Additionally - it can be very helpful to add help text to clarify what specific fields mean:

Use different cards for different kinds of data

If you're like many organisations, you'll want to manage a wide variety of data in your CRM. For example, if you wanted to track volunteer-specific information (e.g. "Reasons for volunteering") separately from donor-specific information (e.g. "Project interests"), you could create separate sections for each.

We'd also recommend using card visibility to only show these cards when relevant.

Frequently asked questions

Can I see a list of all of my custom fields?


In your sidebar scroll to your Settings > Record types. Here, you will see a list of all of your different record types, including a column for the number of custom fields you've created for each one.

If you then click on each different record type, and scroll to the very bottom of the page, you'll see a list of your custom fields. This will include their name, field type, and any help text where relevant.

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