Activities in Spektrix represent the day-to-day tasks you carry out on a regular basis. Whether you're a part of a large development team or a solo fundraiser at your organisation, Activities will help you effectively manage your workflow, track important moments in your relationships with donors and prospects, and stay on top of your applications and reporting to funders.
In this article we’re going to explore what Activities are in more detail, as well as what they’re used for and how they can be created, managed and configured. Click on the links below to head straight to any of the following sections:
- What are Activities?
- Activity Types.
- Creating new Activities.
- Attaching customers and Opportunities to Activities.
- Adding multiple Activities.
- Editing and deleting Activities.
- Completing Activities.
- Keeping track of Activities.
- Bcc emails to Activities.
Activities in the Opportunities Interface are a customisable means of allowing you to proactively plan, record, and monitor your ongoing daily fundraising workflow across your team. These could be day-to-day tasks, meetings, milestones or other notable steps in your donors’ journeys. When used effectively, Activities are especially useful for closely managing multiple prospects with varying degrees of priority across various members of your development team.
What are Activities for?
You can use Activities in all sorts of ways, but here are a few common examples:
- Overall management of your own - or your team’s - workflow.
- Documenting an important moment in a funding relationship (e.g. grant awarded, funding report submitted, or expression of wishes provided for a legacy).
- Managing your moves/enacting your cultivation plan in advance.
- Keeping yourself and your team accountable for prospects.
- Reminders about stewarding existing donors.
- Tracking time and money spent on cultivating gifts, to inform and drive efficiency and help reach targets more quickly.
NOTE: you can also upload files to Activities as attachments, to support the work that's gone into each Activity.
Activities are really useful when it comes to examining a donor’s past history with your organisation. Because they can be so detailed, they’ll help provide an accurate picture of that donor’s touchpoints with you when it comes time to solicit them for a new gift (especially if someone leaves your organisation and the stewardship gets passed to someone else).
How do Activities work?
Activities are designed with life cycles in mind, meaning you should always actively mark them as completed and close them off as you go along. Here’s a quick example of that, based on using Activities to track phone calls made as part of an ongoing relationship with a donor:
- Create a new Activity to flag that you’re going to make a phone call.
- Edit the Activity to log that the call has been made, and add notes regarding what was discussed.
- Mark the Activity as completed, to demonstrate that it’s done.
- Schedule a follow-up call as a new Activity, and repeat.
Using Activities this way helps with filtering and monitoring your day-to-day tasks and lets you see a timeline of what you and your team are working on regarding your prospects.
NOTE: you can also create Activities to reflect interactions which have already happened, such as unplanned conversations which you want to record as having happened but don’t want to appear like outstanding to-dos. Simply add these Activities and then immediately mark them as completed (see the Completing Activities section for more information on this).
There are various places in the Opportunities Interface where you can see Activities, the main two being the Activities Dashboard and the Activities Pinboard.
The Activities Dashboard
You can see an overview of all of your organisation’s Activities in the Activities Dashboard, which you can find by clicking on the tick-box icon in the left-hand menu.
The Activities Dashboard looks like this:
From here you can see each Activity along with various pieces of information, including its priority, who it’s linked to, its Activity Type, and its due date. Have a read of this article for a bit more information, including how to filter this dashboard and how to save your regular searches so that you don't have to recreate them each time.
The Activities Pinboard
When you click on an Activity, you’ll see all of its details displayed in the Activity Editor within the Activities Pinboard section on the right-hand side:
From here you can also edit an Activity - see the section on Editing and deleting Activities for more information on that.
When you don’t have a particular Activity selected, the Activities Pinboard will instead display useful details of recently completed, upcoming and recently viewed Activities:
This information is specific to your login, so will look different for each person who logs into Spektrix.
See the section below on Keeping track of Activities for more information about where Activities display in the system.
We'll explain how to create Activities (including how to attach them to customers and Opportunities) a little later on, but first we're going to look at a key element of Activities - Activity Types.
Each Activity needs to have an Activity Type, which demonstrate the kind of task they represent - for example, Email or Meeting. Assigning appropriate Activity Types allows you to broadly track your most common and effective ways of working.
The Opportunities Interface has four Activity Types already in place by default:
- Phone call
You can, however, edit and delete these pre-existing Activity Types if you like, as well as adding as many other additional Activity Types as required. Some further examples you might want to create could be:
- Application submission
- Report to funder
- Spot research
- Recirculate back into the pipeline
- Write proposal
Things to consider before creating an Activity Type
You can have as many Activity Types as you like, but it’s worth trying to create as concise a list as possible and sticking to just what you think you will use regularly. Keeping your list of Activity Types streamlined and standardised is useful when it comes to reporting as well as for consistency across your team.
It’s good practice to plan ahead and establish a list which will be most beneficial for your organisational needs. Some key considerations to factor beforehand would be:
- What types of activity do you and your team use to fundraise?
- Which do you do most frequently?
- How specific and granular is it useful to be?
The balance to strike is between being clear and specific, and grouping things together to give a clear overview of what’s happening. Broadly speaking, the more frequently you do an Activity, the more likely it is to need its own Activity Type.
If you think you might use something a little less regularly, consider whether it needs a specific Activity Type of its own or whether you could just use a more generic Type and add a description to each Activity with more specific details.
As an example of this, consider two sets of possible Activity Types - one featuring various types of communication, and one featuring several food and drink-related actions.
- Phone call
While all of these actions involve communicating with people in one way or another, they’re sufficiently different (in terms of what they are and how you would use them) that it’s worth having an Activity Type for each, rather than bundling them together.
Food and drink:
- Formal meal
In terms of food and drink, these are quite similar and you’re likely to use them in comparable ways, so you’re probably better off creating a single Activity Type called Food and Drink to cover all of them. Each time you create a new Activity you can add in a quick description to explain exactly what’s happening.
Editing and creating new Activity Types
You can create and edit Activity Types in the Admin Dashboard - the cog icon in the left-hand menu - under the Activity Types tab.
If you want to edit an existing Activity Type, click on its name in the left-hand side of the screen and you’ll see it displayed in the main part of the screen. If you hover the cursor over it, you’ll then see a blue border appear with a small pencil icon.
Click anywhere in this main section to make a change to the Activity Type.
If you want to change the name of the Activity Type then just replace the existing name and click the Save button. Alternatively, if you’d like to delete the Activity Type, just click the Delete button.
NOTE: deleting an Activity Type simply means that it won't be available from that point onwards. Any existing Activities with this Type will still retain it, despite the Type being deleted.
To create a new Activity Type, click the New activity type button at the bottom-left of the screen - you’ll see a new field open up in the main part of the Dashboard, displaying New activity type.
Fill in the name of your new Activity Type here, and click the Save button to create it. You’ll now see it in the list of Activity Types on the left-hand side of this screen.
You can create Activities from any of the Dashboards - just click the New Activity icon (the + sign) on the Activities Pinboard on the right-hand side.
This will then open the Activity Editor, which gives you a range of fields to fill in.
The more information you input at the time of creation the better, especially when it comes to filtering your Activities Dashboard and reporting.
- Subject: enter the specific name of the Activity (e.g. Informal lunch meeting with X).
- Notes: there’s an empty white space beneath the Subject field, which allows you to enter notes to provide specific details for the Activity - such as a brief agenda, discussion points, or helpful context.
- Date: enter the Activity’s due date (or, if recording an Activity that’s already occurred, the date it took place). This is key for prioritising and filtering your Activities. Once an Activity has passed its due date, it will be flagged in red in the Activities Dashboard. If it’s past due and assigned to you, you will also see it in red underneath your Incomplete Activities in the Activities Pinboard.
- Type: choose an Activity Type from the dropdown list. This will include the standard options and any new Activity Types you’ve added.
- Priority: the default priority is medium, but you can choose to set it to low, medium or high priority as defined by the red, green and yellow symbols that you’ll see in the Activities Dashboard.
- Assignee: choose who in your team should take ownership of the Activity. This helps with task delegation as well as filtering in the Activities Dashboard and creating custom tabs.
- Completed: used when the task has been completed. Again, useful when filtering the Activities Dashboard to view Activities by their status.
- Time spent: click the + symbol to display optional fields for Time Spent (in hours) and Cost to help measure return on investment (ROI).
There’s also the option to upload any additional documents (such as funding applications) for further context if needed. These are added as attachments to the Activity - the maximum file size is 20MB, but if the attachment you want to add is too big, you can always store the attachment in your organisation’s shared network and include its location in the Activity Notes.
When you’ve completed all the fields you can finish by clicking either the Save or Save & Close buttons. If you want to immediately work on your newly created Activity, it’s best to click Save as that retains the Activity in the Activities Pinboard, meaning you can start adding Opportunities and/or customers straight away. Otherwise, click Save & Close.
Attaching customers and Opportunities to Activities
After you’ve got an Activity set up, you can attach one or more customers and/or Opportunities to it, so that you can record who’s being contacted and how the Activity supports your cultivation of this prospect.
Adding either of these elements to an Activity is easy - it works on a drag and drop basis. Make sure you’ve got an Activity selected in the Activities Pinboard (i.e. the Activity Editor is open) then just click on whatever it is you want to attach (from the relevant Dashboard - either Opportunities or People), and drag it over to the Activities Pinboard.
When you drag either a customer or an Opportunity over to the Activity Editor, you’ll see a black dotted line appear around the whole Activities Pinboard section as soon as you move your cursor over it.
If you add a customer to the Activity, you’ll see a Select Opportunity popup asking you to choose which of their Opportunities to use, or create a new Opportunity.
It’s not a requirement to have an Opportunity at this point, so you can choose the Do not select an Opportunity option if you want. Similarly, if the customer doesn’t have any Opportunities associated with them, you can either choose to create a new Opportunity or add them to the Activity without an Opportunity.
Having added one or more customers or Opportunities, you’ll see them displayed against the Activity in the Activity Editor.
You can add as many Opportunities or customers as needed at this stage before saving your change. You can also edit what’s been attached, by either clicking on the red X next to a customer’s name or clicking the Change Opportunity button, or completely cancel all changes by clicking the Cancel button.
There might be times when you want to create several identical Activities at once and attach an Opportunity to each, e.g. if you need to send a form letter out to multiple people. Rather than repeating a routine task for each Opportunity, you can instead do this in bulk by clicking the Add Multiple Activities button within the Opportunities dashboard.
The first step is to select your Opportunities from the list presented:
Once that’s done, click the Next button and fill in the usual details for your Activities as outlined in previous steps:
When you click the Finish button, the system will create an Activity for each of the Opportunities that you’ve selected. You can then add more Opportunities/Customer Records to the Activity as needed by just dragging and dropping as mentioned above.
You can only bulk apply Activities to customers who have Opportunities. If you have a group of customers who currently don’t have Opportunities, however, don’t worry! It’s a simple process to bulk apply an Opportunity to everyone on a Customer List - have a read of this article for more information on how to do that.
As an example, you might be prospecting your database, and decide you want to add a number of customers to the Research stage of your pipeline. You could bulk open an Opportunity attached to a ‘New Donors’ campaign, and once that’s done, bulk apply an Activity called ‘New Donor Research’ to remind yourself to follow up on these prospects.
Editing and deleting Activities
After an Activity has been created you can go back and edit it whenever you need. To do this, first select the Activity and make sure it’s displaying in the Activities Pinboard on the right-hand side.
NOTE: you can select an Activity from lots of different parts of the Opportunities Interface, including the Activities Dashboard, the Next Activity column in either the Opportunities Dashboard or People Dashboard, and the Timeline in the Customer Record.
From there, just click the Edit button - you can then amend any of the Activity’s fields.
Once you’ve edited whatever needed changing, just click either the Save or Save & Close button exactly as you did when you created the Activity.
If you want to delete an Activity just follow the same process, but instead of amending fields and saving the Activity, click the Delete button. Deleting an Activity will remove it entirely – including from the customer’s Timeline – so only do this if you’re certain it’s what you intend to do.
When an Activity has been finished, it’s best practice to mark it as having been completed to keep track of your current workflow. At this stage you can also add some additional information into the Notes field about what happened during the Activity, and update the Time Spent and Cost fields to help calculate Return On Investment.
To do so, just edit the Activity (as per this section of the article), check the Completed box, fill in any notes and the Time Spent and Cost fields, and click the Save button.
If you want you can filter your Activities Dashboard to only display completed Activities, just select Complete from the Completed: drop down menu when searching.
To increase the granularity of your search you could even filter down to Assignee to see either your own completed Activities or those completed by members of your team (or a combination of both).
As mentioned earlier, there are various places in the Opportunities Interface where you can see Activities, with each one serving a slightly different purpose. We’ve already looked at the Activities Dashboard and Activities Pinboard, but here we’re going to show a few more options which should help you keep track of your Activities.
Custom tabs in the Activities Dashboard
You can create custom tabs on your Activities Dashboard, which are easily accessible and have all of your search field preferences pre-populated - great for keeping regular searches to hand and avoiding having to complete each field every time you log in to the Opportunities Interface.
To create a new tab, first enter your search terms and click Search as normal. Once the results appear, enter a name in the Tab Name field on the right and then click the green plus sign next to your new tab name.
Here’s an example based on a search for all incomplete Activities with the Application Submission Activity Type which are assigned to user Alex:
Any tabs you create will be visible only to you, and so can be specific to the Campaigns, Activities or Opportunities which you’re directly responsible for. For example you could set up one tab per month looking at all of your incomplete Activities, giving you a personalised at-a-glance view of what you need to be doing each month.
The Opportunities Dashboard
You can also also see the next planned Activity for each Opportunity in the Opportunities Dashboard, which looks like this:
Clicking on any Activity in the Next Activity column will display it in the Activities Pinboard on the right-hand side.
The Customer Record
When linked to a customer, Activities are recorded on the timeline in the Customer Record.
You can use this to see the history of your contact with each donor alongside their other activity with your organisation.
Reporting on Activities
There are two standard Spektrix reports to help you track and manage your Activities:
- Activities Report (detailed)
- Activities Timeline with User Breakdown
Both will save your team time, help you share accountability for deadlines and track all touchpoints with prospective or current funders. We’ll go through how you can use both of these reports one by one.
The Activities Report (detailed) report
This report gives you and your team a detailed list of upcoming Activities, grouped by the month they are due and whether or not they are complete. Here’s an example:
This is a great tool to use at team meetings, as it helps everyone to stay up to speed on what the team’s doing and encourages shared accountability. In much the same way that you can filter your Activities Dashboard, you can run this report based on various criteria including:
- Activity due date
- Associated Campaign (for Activities with Opportunities attached)
- Activity Type
- Complete/incomplete status
This report comes in handy when you want to delegate tasks to a colleague who doesn’t regularly use Spektrix, as you can set up a Report Schedule to send them their actions on a recurring basis.
The Activities Timeline with User Breakdown report
This report is styled like a Gantt chart (so should be run in the formatted Excel format) and will provide you with a long-term overview of your team’s Activities by Type. Here’s an example of what it can look like:
This is especially helpful for allocating team resources (e.g. towards preparing important applications and proposals) because it allows you to see which weeks are already busy with certain types of tasks. It also includes supporting sheets which break down each of the weeks’ Activities by assigned User.
You can run this report based on Activity due date, complete/incomplete status, or by Campaign, so it’s easy to make sure you’re seeing the information that’s most relevant for you.
For example, you could use this report to see the team’s application and reporting deadlines throughout the upcoming financial year, as well as each funder they pertain to, so that you can plan your work flow accordingly.
We know that Activities can be very specific to your organisation, so you may find that you need more information than you can get in Standard Reports.You might, for example, want to report on the return on investment of your Activities (provided you’ve assigned costs and time spent to your Activities) against a particular Opportunity or donor.
If you’re looking to report on anything like this regarding your Activities, please get in touch with the Spektrix Support team and let us know what you need, so that we can help identify a suitable report for you.
It’s possible to automatically create completed Activities through emails you send by Bcc’ing them to your Spektrix system. When you email someone from your own email account and Bcc your unique Spektrix Bcc email code, an Activity will be logged in the Opportunities Interface against your username (which must be associated with the email address you are sending from), and will include the body of the email in the Activity’s Notes.
This is particularly handy for keeping track of email correspondence with prospects, donors and funders without having to retrospectively create an Activity to say you’ve been in touch with them. We recommend generating your unique Bcc code using the instructions linked to below, then saving it to your email address book so you can easily add it to the Bcc line of your emails moving forward.
Have a read of this article for more information on how to set this up.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Spektrix Support team if you’ve got questions about any of what’s been covered here, or would like to talk in more detail about anything fundraising-related.