Beacon basics

Updated a year ago

Beacon is a jargon-free CRM (yes, we see the irony of using an acronym here), which means that you can wave goodbye to trying to remember and decipher abbreviations and codes - it can all be stored as full words.


Don't worry about 'touching base' or 'reinventing the wheel' - we want to avoid confusing business jargon and use terms that are straightforward for all of our users.

But, like anything new, there may be some things in Beacon that it'll be handy for you to have definitions for, and we've explained these below. And if there's still any wording you don't understand, get in touch!

link Like a spreadsheet but better!

It can be helpful to think of a spreadsheet when thinking about how your data will be stored in a database.

If you look at the example pictured here, you can see that there are rows and columns. The rows reflect individual records, the columns represent the fields, and the cells represent the data in those fields.


Let's take a look at what this data would look like in beacon. Let's start with the rows first - we want each of those rows to be a different individual. Once imported, it looks like this:

Spreadsheet rows

You can already see what's happened with the data in our columns but let's look at an example of a record to see that in action

Spreadsheet columns

link Beacon terms

Dictionary Icon

link CRM

Traditionally this stands for Customer Relationship Management but in the charity sector the 'C' can also stand for Contact. It's a database (a place where you store data) about anything your charity does. You can track:

  • donors
  • donations
  • events
  • campaigns
  • volunteers
  • cases
  • grants
  • legacies
  • much much more

The customisability of Beacon means that you can store just about anything. Your CRM should also be able to allow you to track progress and report on the data you have so that your data is working for you, not the other way around.

link Records

Records are your data. The types of Record you can have are entirely up to you, but the most commonly used ones are 'People' records, 'Payment' records, and 'Organisation' records. Records are the backbone of your Beacon account, and it's important to remember to store information on the right kind of record.

So, if somebody from an organisation made a payment, you would store their personal data on their Person record, their Organisational data on their Organisation record, and their Payment data on a Payment record. This may sound confusing - but all these things tie together nicely and allow you to see the information you need at all times. Find out more on Records here.

help_outline Remember: these are like our spreadsheet rows.

link Fields

Fields are the different areas where information can be stored on a record. Again, these are likely to be custom for your charity, and will cover any types of information you want to store.

For instance, you can have fields for 'Name', 'Email', 'Phone', 'URL' as standard, but then add in fields for very specific information you want to capture - 'Pet Name', 'Favourite Flavour of Jelly' etc.

You can set up fields in different ways to suit the data you want to store in them. For example:

  • 'Number' fields for Membership numbers
  • 'Currency' fields for Payments
  • 'Email' fields for emails
  • etc.

You can go through these in more detail here.

help_outline Remember: these are like our spreadsheet columns.

link Columns

When you click on a record type (like 'People' for instance), you'll be taken to a page where you can see all of the records of that particular type. The information you can see on this page will depend on what Columns you choose to show - essentially, you're saying which fields you would like to view on this particular page.

link Filters

Our search functionality is great, and you'll no doubt find it useful to identify a specific person, but you'd like to segment your data or find a specific group of people, filters are your friend.

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How records relate to each other
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