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Product Documentation

Soft Credits Overview

Soft Credits Versus Hard Credits

A soft credit is a credit for a donation that a contact or donor did not actually make, but may have somehow influenced. A common example of a soft credit is credit for a matching gift: Jane Smith gives $100 to your organization, and her company matches the $100, resulting in a $200 donation. In the Nonprofit Success Pack, you can track the first $100 as a hard credit (the actual money that came from Jane), and the matched $100 as a “soft” credit because Jane influenced, but did not literally donate, the money.

In the Nonprofit Success Pack, soft credits and soft credit rollups (that is, the aggregate totals of different categories of soft credits) are tracked on the Contact record. There are many of them that come out-of-box, and they look like the image below. If you're using Customizable Rollups, you can add more soft credit rollups, including rollups that aggregate soft credits for all Contacts in a Household and roll them up to the Household Account, as needed.

Soft credits on the Contact record

Soft credits are great because they give you a more complete picture of your donors and the activity they might be helping to generate for your organization. But how do you control soft credits? Who gets them, and when?

To understand how soft credits work, you must also understand another related concept: Opportunity Contact Roles . . .

Soft Credits and Opportunity Contact Roles

An Opportunity Contact Role (OCR) is basically just that—a role you assign to a Contact on a particular Opportunity (donation) record. For example, Contact A might be the Donor on an opportunity, while Contact B might have been an Influencer. You want to capture both of these contacts, and their different roles, on the Opportunity record because both contacts had something to do with the donation.

The Nonprofit Success Pack comes with the following Opportunity Contact Roles out-of-the-box:

  • Decision Maker
  • Donor
  • Household Member
  • Influencer
  • Soft Credit
  • Matched Donor

But you can create as many as you want. You might want a contact role for Foundation Officer, another for Office Staff, another for Alumni Parent, and so on. OCRs are completely customizable, and they exist to help you better organize your donors and donations.

But how do they relate to soft credits?

Well, they relate completely. Soft credits take their cue, as it were, from Opportunity Contact Roles, not from contacts. And this is where soft credit configuration gets a little tricky. In a nutshell, if you set an OCR to receive soft credit, then any Contact assigned that OCR receives a soft credit. If you don't set an OCR to receive soft credit, then any contact assigned that OCR does not receive soft credit.

Let's take a look at a real world scenario. Mr. Blue has donated $100 to your organization, and his company matches dollar for dollar. We want to make sure that Mr. Blue receives a soft credit for the $100 that his company donates, in addition to the $100 (hard credit) that he donated.

In the Nonprofit Success Pack, it goes something like this:

Workflow for a soft credit

Here's what it looks like in the Contact Role related list of the Opportunity record:

Contact Roles related list in an Opportunity record

And here's what everything looks like in the Soft Credit Total rollup section of Mr. Blue's Contact record:

Soft Credit Total section of a Contact record

In this particular case, making sure that the Influencer Contact Role is set to receive soft credit (in NPSP Settings if using out-of-box or User Defined Rollups; in the rollup itself if using Customizable Rollups) is very important. If it isn't, you wind up with no data in the soft credit fields.

If the Influencer Contact Role isn't set to receive soft credit, no data appears in the soft credit fields.

So why do we have to set all these options in the first place? Well it's true, in the above example, we wanted the NPSP to automatically assign soft credits to anyone with the Influencer Contact Role. But sometimes you might have a contact role for which you do not want to recognize soft credits. For example, you might have a contact role (Instructor, Colleague, or other constituent) for people you want to associate with donations, but who had nothing to do with raising the money. You need those contact roles to exist so that you can attach them to Opportunity records, but you also need to be able to specify whether that contact role gets a soft credit or not. The Nonprofit Success Pack lets you do all this.

Where you configure OCRs, and which ones should receive soft credits, depends on which type of rollups you're using. If you're using out-of-box rollups or User Defined Rollups, update them in NPSP Settings. If you're using Customizable Rollups, update which roles count as soft credits by editing the Customizable Rollups filter group for soft credits. In essence, remember these important points about soft credits:

  • The Nonprofit Success Pack bases soft credits on Opportunity Contact Roles, not Contacts.
  • You must set whether an OCR gets soft credited or not in NPSP Settings.

Household Member Soft Credits

There is yet another type of soft credit that's unique to NPSP—Household Member soft credits. This functionality is available to those using Nonprofit Success Pack and the Household Account model.

With Household Member soft credits, everyone in the Household receives a soft credit for a donation made by anyone else in the Household. The typical example is Spouse 2 receiving a soft credit for a donation made by Spouse 1, where Spouse 1 is specified as the Donor on the Opportunity, and Spouse 2 is specified as the Household Member.

Contact Roles list

The nice thing about Household Member Soft Credits in the NPSP is that they happen automatically—you don't have to set them. As long as you have Household Member Soft Credits turned on, and you've specified a contact role for household members (it's the Household Member Contact Role by default), all members of a Household automatically get soft credited anytime someone else in the Household makes a donation.

Household Contact Roles On checkbox

Additionally, you can specify an exclusionary Contact Record Type if you don't want a certain type of Contact to receive automatic Household soft credits (children, for instance) appearing on their Contact record. The Opportunity Contact Role record will still be created for all Household Members, but this setting allows you to exclude the values from the Contact summary data.

Automated Soft Credits

Many organizations get by just fine with only Household soft credits. But some organizations have scenarios that require a little more attention. Depending on the kind of organization you work for, you might have to accommodate donor advised funds, memorial gifts, planned giving, board members, major donor portfolios, giving circles, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, and much more. In many of these cases, you need to assign soft credits to one or more people, such as a board member, members of a family foundation, or simply relatives who don't live in the same household.

NPSP can create automated soft credits for a Contact when the Contact is a:

  • Member of a donor's Household
  • Primary Contact on an Organizational Opportunity
  • Honoree or Notification Contact on an Opportunity
  • Related Contact on a Relationship record with an Individual donor
  • Contact on an Affiliation record with an Organizational donor

Matching Gifts is an additional way that NPSP automatically assigns soft credits.

There's so much you can do with automated soft credits to support various donor recognition scenarios. In fact, you may have situations where more than one automated soft credit rule applies. Fortunately, NPSP applies an order of precedence to avoid creating duplicate Contact Roles.

Account Soft Credits

To get the most value out of Account Soft Credits, you'll want to enable Customizable Rollups so you can roll up the soft credit values to the Account records. At this time, you can't roll up Account soft credits to legacy NPSP rollups or User Defined Rollups.
An Account soft credit is a credit for a donation that the Account didn't actually make, but may have somehow influenced. For example, a Donor Advised Fund uses a bank to manage their money. When a donation comes from the Donor Advised Fund, the check is actually generated by the bank, so the bank gets the hard credit for the donation. Using Account soft credits, you can ensure that the Donor Advised Fund gets a soft credit for the donation.

Another use for Account soft credits is when companies use another company to manage corporate philanthropy and giving programs. Let's say there is a company called CorpMatch that ABC Corp. uses for its employee matching gift program. CorpMatch manages both the donations from the employees to the nonprofits (CorpMatch takes the money directly out of the employees' paychecks) and the matching donations from ABC Corp. Once a month, CorpMatch sends a single check, which includes both types of donations, to the nonprofit that employees want to donate to. Even though the actual funds for the donations are coming from ABC Corp. and its employees, the check is written by CorpMatch, so they get the hard credit. You can use Contact soft credits to ensure that each employee gets credit for their donation, and use Account soft credits to ensure that ABC Corp. gets a soft credit for its matching gifts.

For information on setting up Account soft credits, see Account Soft Credit Setup. For information on creating Account soft credits, see Create Account Soft Credits.

Account Contact Soft Credits

If you enable Customizable Rollups, you can create Contact Soft Credit rollup fields at the Account level. This is valuable if you want to be able to see the total giving, including soft credits, for an entire Household. For example, you may have Major Donors that give on an annual basis, but the money is coming from a Family Foundation (not their personal checkbook). When the Family Foundation writes the checks for the Opportunity (donation), one or more (depending on your settings) of the Household members receives a soft credit. But, currently, when you view the Household, you can't see the giving history. With Account Contact Soft Credits, it is now possible to see the total giving for all Household members. Additionally, Customizable Rollups performs deduplication of soft credits, so that it doesn't count a donation twice when multiple members of a Household have a soft credit to that donation.

A Customizable Rollup with the Rollup Type set to Opportunity > Account (Contact Soft Credit)

A Word About the Nightly Batch . . .

The Nonprofit Success Pack calculates soft credit rollups in its nightly batch, so you won't see an immediate change to a Contact's soft credit rollup fields right after you assign them a soft-credit-qualified Contact Role. If you want to see updates immediately, you can manually recalculate rollups.