The activity record type in Beacon is your way of tracking day-to-day activities as an organisation. These activities will typically relate to other records in Beacon, such as recording an email you sent to a supporter, making a note about a particular case, or logging a visit to your site from a VIP! It is from here that you will be able to record all the different ways by which you communicate and engage with the people that make your organisation a success.
An activity record stores all the crucial information you might need to know about individual activities (like who sent an email, when a phone call was made and what exactly was communicated). Activity records can relate to any other record type and are the most effective way of seeing interactive information in your database.
Fields on the activity record
This is where you can specify which other record in Beacon this activity relates to. You can point at any other record type in your database; rather than simply storing its name, this field creates a dynamic link to that record.
By default, you can indicate just one other record that this activity relates to. If you sent the same email to multiple people for example, it is much better to create separate activity records for these communications so you can record slightly different information (such as their reply) if necessary.
Although unlikely, if you create an activity record that does not relate to any other record in Beacon, it is okay to leave this field blank - this correctly identifies that you do not know (or are choosing not to record) what this particular activity relates to. This is better than creating an anonymous record that all unrelated activities relate to, as this could get very confusing!
This is where you can store top-level categorisation of what this activity is. We've started you off with some more common ones, such as ‘email’, ‘letter’, ‘note’ and ‘meeting’.
This is intended to give you a general classification, and shouldn’t be used to be hyper-specific.
Set an activity as ‘Meeting’ rather than ‘whole team meeting’ or ‘Zoom meeting’ - you can add fields to further categorise the type of meeting you had. It is better to have this top level information stored separately for reporting and filtering purposes. You can also add much more detail about the kind of meeting you had in the ‘content’ field.
As your organisation grows and you begin to run new types of meetings, adding each as an option to the ‘type’ field will soon make your list unwieldy!
As a rule, it is usually best to keep this field as general as possible as it makes it much easier to work with and keep accurate.
This field allows you to record the date, and even more specifically the time at which this activity happened.
Here you can specify which member of the team performed, or was responsible for, this particular activity. Whereas the related to field points to another record within Beacon, this field lets you select a user of Beacon to whom this activity relates.
Jane sent Mr Smith an email - the record that this activity is related to is Mr Smith’s person record, whereas the owner of this activity is Jane; Jane is the Beacon user that was in charge of sending this email.
This is particularly useful for filtering activities for communications made by specific members of your team.
For storing additional information and context about the subject of this activity. This could be the entire body of an email that was sent to a supporter, or perhaps the transcription of a meeting you had with someone. Here you would write about what happened or what that activity was about.
A general purpose field to store documents or images for this activity. They might be attachments included in an email, an invoice, or anything!
Do not store any attachments that would be better stored on the record that this activity relates to. This should only be used for storing attachments relevant to the activity specifically.
You send a donor a letter requesting a Gift Aid Declaration - on the activity record, store the PDF copy of the letter you sent them, not the Gift Aid declaration itself. The PDF attachment of the letter acts as proof of the correspondence; the declaration itself lives in the Gift Aid Declarations record type.
The ‘Email’ card
You may notice that when you go to log an activity and select ‘Email’ as the activity type, a new card appears. By default, this card becomes visible to you only when you are logging an email, because the additional fields it contains are relevant only to email correspondence. These fields closely mirror the formatting you might expect to see when sending an email from any regular email provider. Let’s take a look at some of these fields:
Just as you would give your email a subject when emailing supporters outside of Beacon, you can store the subject in its own field in Beacon
The email address that you sent this email to. Only properly formatted emails can be stored here.
Any additional email addresses this email was Cc’d to.
Note: if you Cc people in an email, a separate activity record will be created for each person Cc’d.
Any additional email addresses this email was Bcc’d to
Note: If you send an email from outside of Beacon and use the smart Bcc function to log this email as an activity, this is where you will see your account specific smart Bcc email address.
Checking this box will hide from view any of the fields on the ‘Email’ card for users other than the creator. Only the creator of this activity record will be able to adjust an email’s privacy.
For activity records created via the smart Bcc, the creator will be the person who sent the email, or the Beacon user registered with that email address. For a manually added activity, this will be the user who created it.
Note: the owner and the creator could be different people if the activity record has been manually created.
Note: making an email private will hide all of the default fields on the email card. Moving these fields to another card will not enable other users to see their content, just as additional custom fields added to this card will be visible to other users unless restricted in ‘roles and permissions’.
The ‘Mailchimp email’ card
As above, by default, this card becomes visible to you only when you are logging a ‘Mailchimp email’, because the additional fields it contains are relevant only to Mailchimp email campaigns. Let’s take a look at some of these fields:
The name of the person who sent this email via Mailchimp.
The name of the Mailchimp campaign that this activity relates to. This is different to fields in other record types that point to Campaign records in Beacon.
When a campaign is sent via an external provider such as Mailchimp, Beacon will collect some additional information that relates to the internal campaign ID. It is likely you won’t need to use the information stored here!
Report URL, Campaign URL, Preview URL
A selection of links to various areas of Mailchimp that relate to this email. If manually inputting this information, only properly formatted URLs can be stored in these fields.
Adding new activities
Activity records can be added from several different places. Many will be automatic (a lighter workload; hooray!), and some will need to be created manually.
Automatically added activity records
Most of your activity records will come from automated sources, such as:
Sending emails from your email provider using the smart Bcc function
Sending single emails directly from Beacon
Sending emails via external providers such as Mailchimp
People submitting Beacon-powered forms
Beacon’s many app integrations such as Mailchimp and Sendgrid, make it easy to automatically log email correspondence with people!
Manually added activity records
Activity records can be manually created individually, or imported in bulk.
To add individual activities:
There are a number of places from which you can add activity records:
The Activities record type, using the ‘Add activity’ button
The 'timeline' of any other record. You will see the same 'Add activity' button as above. Once you add an activity record from the timeline, this activity will also be referenced on that record timeline. It will appear with the activities icon so you can tell the difference between timeline entries and activity records.
A related record card in any other record type that shows activities! Simply click the ‘+’ in the top right hand corner. This will automatically point the activity to this record.
Tip: you might need to go ahead and add related record cards to any record type you want to see activities for
You can fill in as much or as little information as you need. Click either the ‘create’ button to add a single activity, or ‘create and new’ to quickly add a few. Activity created!
To add activities in bulk with an import:
When you have a lot of activities to enter, it can be much quicker to import them from a spreadsheet.
Use your CSV file to create an import template, selecting Activities as your record type).
You can then run your import and create the activities all at once.
To add activities in bulk; create related records:
When you have multiple records you want to log the same activity for, it can be much quicker to create related activity records for the given records in bulk.
You want to log a meeting as an activity for each of the 20 people that attended.
Simply head to the record type you want to create the related activities for, select the relevant records and create related records!