Custom Objects are a powerful tool used by software developers and consultants to augment the functionality of a NeonCRM database. Custom Objects have been used to build custom web applications as well as integrations with other software platforms.
At the most basic level, a Custom Object allows you to track a completely bespoke data record inside your CRM. Keep in mind that, by adding custom objects to your database, you are customizing it and making a data structure that is unique to your organization.
If you are interested in adding custom objects to your NeonCRM database, please contact our Client Success team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NeonCRM is a series of interconnected data tables. The main table contains Account Data. When you’re creating a new account, you might fill in gender, date of birth, and email address. If you were storing your data in a spreadsheet, you’d have columns for gender, date of birth, and email with one row per account.
However, sometimes there’s more than one record for a field value or you want to store the history of it. Donations have both of these characteristics: a donor could have more than one donation and we want to see the full history of each donation, so two fields on the account called “donation amount” and “donation date” aren’t going to cut it. We need a separate data table, with one row per donation.
Other tables exist by default in Neon: notes, events, mailing addresses, and activities, for example. In these places, you can store data that is linked to an Account but has multiple records or a history of record - multiple donations, several notes, history of activities, attendance at multiple events, etc.
Tracking Custom Data
If you want to track a piece of data that doesn’t fit into any of Neon’s standard tables or fields, there are two options:
1. Create one or more custom fields.
When you create custom fields, you’re adding extra columns to the Account data table, Donation data table, Event data table, or any of Neon’s existing data tables. For example, if you want to track a person’s position on the Board of Directors (President, Treasurer, etc) you could create an Account Custom Field and see that data on the “About” tab of each person’s account.
2. Create a Custom Object
The Custom Object tool in Neon allows you to create a new data table in the system. If you’d like to not only see the individual’s current position on the Board of Directors, but also know about their position during previous years - the full history of their board service - a Custom Object will allow you to create multiple records of board service attached to one individual account in the system.
To create a Custom Object, go to Global Settings > Developer Tools > Custom Objects.
Features of Custom Objects
In addition to creating a new data table in your CRM, Custom Objects have several useful features:
- The Custom Object can appear in your Navigation Menu and in a tab on linked accounts.
- Custom Objects can have a dedicated report in Reports > New Report.
- If you would like to accept submissions to the Custom Object from constituents, you can create front-end forms to accept data. These forms include the data fields you’ve created for the Custom Object table and they can accept uploaded documents.
- If you choose, logged-in constituents can view a list of their custom object records. For example, the Board Member could log in and see a list of their Board service history.
- Custom Objects are exposed to Neon’s Open API, and can be used in more complex custom projects.
- Activities can be linked to Custom Objects, similar to the way they can, by default, be linked to a Prospect or Grant record. For example, if you wanted to track attendance at board meetings as part of the Board Service record, you might add an activity for each meeting attended.
Limitations of Custom Objects
- Custom objects cannot process transactions.
- They have limited front-end forms. Not a lot of account data is available on front-end forms. For example, you cannot supply an address there.
- Unlike account standard & custom fields, logged-in constituents cannot edit their custom object data, only view past records or submit new records.
- Custom object data can only be included in Custom Object reports and All Accounts reports. It can not be referenced in other types of NeonCRM reports (email audience reports, stats report, transaction reports, etc.).