Giving USA: $328.38 billion donated in 2014

by Mark Panger16. June 2015 15:30

Giving USA has released it's annual report on nonprofit giving for 2014.



A free summary of the report can be found here.  The full report can be purchased here.



Send Thank You Emails using Mass Email

by Mark Panger27. April 2015 11:01

I've learned that many of our customers are not aware you can use Trail Blazer to send thank you's en masse by email.  You can thank your donor for their most recent donation.

Some of your donors may have a preference for NOT receiving a paper thank you, but instead an email thank you.  The video below will show you how to do this.



Gateway search, fixes to the new financial system, search for allocation funds has been added to the contribution panels.

by Mark Panger27. April 2015 09:06


As more and more of you are relying on recurring donations initiated on your donation page (customers using or Vanco only), a means was needed for tracing the transactions back to the merchant gateway.

These column can be added to your format from the contribution list:



The new search panel is shown here:


The get-next-check button is now working again in the financial system.

Printing of mailing labels from the contribution list has been corrected to work the INCLUDE column.

Searches for Allocation funds can be done from the contribution search panels.




Want to accept checks on your donation page?

by Mark Panger23. April 2015 11:09

If you use or Vanco as your merchant gateway on your donation page, you now have the option of adding payment by check (aka ACH) to your donation page.


If Vanco is your merchant gateway, you will need to complete a new application ensuring you only check mark the eCheck option:




Once completed you open your Payment Gateway configuration... the ACH eCheck checkbox and Save and Close.


Next you will refresh your website by opening the Website Configuration...


 ...and click the link to refresh your web pages.


Update to Invoices and Payments today

by Mark Panger13. April 2015 09:36

We have been working on a an update to the invoice and payment system for some time.  Our intention was to roll this out over time as customers needed it.  However, over the weekend we found an issue with the existing system that forced us to switch EVERYONE over to the new Invoice and Payment style.  We apologize for the abrupt switch.  The video below shows the new process:



FEC fixes were implemented today (yawn)

by Mark Panger8. April 2015 09:31

A correction to the bank reconciliation report was released today as well as FEC fixes. 


Wondering where this menu item went?

by Mark Panger6. April 2015 12:55


See the last blog post below titled: DEFAULT FORMATS Yippee!!!!  (4/2/2015)

They are now here:



by Mark Panger2. April 2015 10:23

I asked, I begged, I cried..

 ...and I finally got default formats.  

Now when you want a custom Format to be your default format, you can set it right from the Format button.

The new Format button looks like this when you click it:

<System Default Format> As it sounds.  This is the name of the format currently being displayed and is the system format.

Columns...  This is where you pick and choose your columns just as you did before.

Select pre-defined...  If you have saved formats in the past, you can load them from here.  Newly saved formats will also show here.

Save If you have a pre-defined report currently displayed and you make changes to it, this will save to the same format.

Save As... Select this to save to a new name an existing pre-defined report or the system default.

Assign as default... This is the really good stuff.  



A selected format can be set as your own personal default or the default for everyone.


This new feature is available EVERYWHERE the Format button is displayed, including from within a person's card (record). 




Also in today's release you can now check for duplicate email addresses. 


On the Search tool strip, you can find this in the File drop down menu.  It under Utilities->Find possible duplicates...



Note, this works ONLY on the primary email address column.


Are you still on the OLD style of our donation page?

by Mark Panger6. March 2015 14:10

If your donation page looks something like this...



...then you are missing out on the new version:



You will need to add 6 letters to your existing donation page iframe.  

Example.  My old donation page iframe code looks like this:

<iframe id="tbzframe" src="" style="width:500px;height:1200px" frameborder="0" scrolling="yes" onload="scroll(0,0)"></iframe>


To utilize the new version you would add the colored text to your existing iframe:

<iframe id="tbzframe" src="" style="width:1050px;height:1600px" frameborder="0" scrolling="yes" onload="scroll(0,0)"></iframe>



One benefit if the new style is we can color match to YOUR web page.  In the example below, the block headings have been matched to the page banner color.



If you would like your donation page color matched to your site, first, be sure you are using ?Ver=2 version of the donation iframe, second, email us your donation page URL and we can match the coloring for you.




Log Searches Have Been Enhanced

by Mark Panger25. February 2015 10:26

Until our most recent version (yesterday), a search of log notes based on multiple log types meant a series of OR query panels to select the multiple log types.  You may now do this with checkboxes on a single panel.


Mobile Base Camp (Canvassing) Has Been Enhanced

by Mark Panger15. February 2015 12:10



Numerous people have been asking to be able to enter comments from the mobile canvassing tool.  Now you can:




Numerous people have been asking for a way to update a voter's phone numbers and email addresses from the canvassing tool.  Now you can:





Numerous people have been asking for a way to copy the answers from one voter in the house to all the members of the household.  Now you can:







Federal Election Contribution Limit Raised...

by Mark Panger5. February 2015 15:29

... to $2,700 for individuals and $5,400 for married couples.

See this article for more information.


Do you take recurring donations online?

by Mark Panger12. January 2015 09:20

Do you ever wonder if somebody has dropped off by reason of expired credit card or change of credit card?

The query below when pasted into the SQL tab on the contribution list will produce a list of those people who have given a recurring donation in the last 90 days but have not made one in the last 30 days. It will provide a means for you to determine those folks who may have dropped off for one of the reasons above that you may need to make further inquiries about.




The list may not contain unique donors, but should be what we are looking for



-- who had a recurring contribution in the last 90 days...

(((TB010611.CL010568>=  Convert(datetime, Convert(int, GetDate()))-90   )) AND CL047343 IN (49220,49230,49221,49227,49222,49228,49223,49229,49224,49226))


-- that was on a credit card...


) AND (

-- where the donor has NOT contributed in the last 90 days

(NOT (EXISTS (SELECT CL010562 FROM TB010611 WHERE ((CL010595=TB008485.CL005500) AND (((CL010568>=  Convert(datetime, Convert(int, GetDate()))-30  )) AND ((CL010568<   Convert(datetime, Convert(int, GetDate()))  )))))))






In my database, I found 3 people that meet this criteria and I need to check with the donor to see about getting updated credit card information:



Would you like a way to EXCLUDE certain contributions from your "real" donations?

by Mark Panger30. December 2014 10:13

 Want to know more?  Click the play button below to see a video.



Pivots on Contributor Type

by Mark Panger29. December 2014 10:41

If you have ever tried to run a pivot report of contributions by contributor type, you would find that instead of the contributor type being spelled out, you got a numeric value.  If you add the ContributorTypeName (below) column to your list, your results will be more readable:



In my sample database my 2014 contributions are summarized by type:


Customers in France will have more flexibility in phone numbers

by Mark Panger29. December 2014 10:39

If you use Trail Blazer in France, your phone numbers are now free-formatted freeing you from the U.S. format of (xxx)-xxx-xxxx.


FEC updates today

by Mark Panger29. December 2014 10:37

Added functionality to add FEC memo notes to loans.  

Added functionality to forgive loans to the campaign by using memo entries.


You Can Now Resize Your Images for Email Inside of Trail Blazer

by Mark Panger20. November 2014 16:45

We have rolled out to a few customers the new email editor.  It has a much improved image management system.

The video below is an 18 minute education in creating and sending an eblast from Trail Blazer.

(RDC users will need to copy and paste this URL into your host machine's web browser:   )


If you are not currently using the new editor and would like to be converted, send an email to requesting the change.  Be sure to include your customer name in the email.


The election is over and I've finally gotten back on my feet.

by Mark Panger6. November 2014 14:56


(Nonprofits, you can ignore this one) 94% Win Rate!

by Mark Panger6. November 2014 09:41

The results are in.  For our customers running in the general election this year, 94% of you won!


Does this ever happen to you?

by Mark Panger27. October 2014 11:47

I was working in the kitchen when I knocked over a small bottle of hand soap into the sink which then bumped a precariously balanced large mixing bowl full of water which then tipped away from the sink and onto floor which then got my socks wet which caused me to slip, but I managed to catch myself before hitting the floor, but in so doing I knocked a pan off the stove (not hot) that landed on my foot (ouch) and in my attempt to reach for my foot, I didn't notice the open drawer that my head then bounced off of and when I put my hand to head I forgot I had been working with hot pepper sauce (which is why I was reaching for the soap dispenser) which was then transferred to my eye.

It felt a bit Rube Goldberg’ish (rubenesque?)

Well that’s what happened with the mail merge template system.  While making improvements to one area of the program, it negatively affected other parts of the program.  

So if you opened a template and your letters lost all their margins...

...then today's version fixes that.


Our Limited Release Email Editor Has Had Some Updates

by Mark Panger27. September 2014 07:38

Email Campaigns and Templates are now saved allowing previous versions to be viewed or restored.  This means you can return to an earlier iteration if you manage to totally mess up your design.

Template SaveAs function will now NOT allow an overwrite of an existing template.  An existing template must now first be deleted.


The 'subject' line has been removed from the SaveAs template dialog.  The value saved for subject will now always be the subject of the originating campaign, template, or email message.


The new email editor now provides an auto-save option for generating the text version.  When this flag is set on, the text version is always generated during a save operation.  The auto-save option is on by default for new campaigns, templates, and messages.


We fixed an error that occurred when a displayed hyperlink exceeded 255 characters.





Got International Addresses?

by Mark Panger26. September 2014 10:43

You can now display more than just the nation code:


Use the Format button to add this column:



An update to the Email Editor is in Limited Release

by Mark Panger2. September 2014 13:25

We have replaced the existing email editor with a new editor that better handles tables and corrects a few of the issues with the prior editor.

It's currently in limited release and you can get an update ahead of the general release by emailing and requesting it.


Current version (or legacy if you have already been upgraded): 


 New version:

Some of the enhancements include:

  • Publish your email on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and/or Twitter

  • A preview button
  • A working Undo button (YEAH!!)
  • Search and Replace and Spell Check
  • Better formatted and thus more easily read source code


What's New Today

by Mark Panger15. August 2014 12:11

Contributions - Added virtual field to contribution table to compute the non-monetary rate by dividing the Amount/nonmonetaryItemQty.  This new column is available in Format and is named NonMonetaryRate.

Enhancements to pre-import check.

FEC corrections - The deposit process was setting the FEC type id incorrectly in the contribution records.

Committee or Organization card - Combined the tabs for Notes, Options, and Filter into a single Settings tab.

Contribution Query Panel - Election/Cycle combination box replaced with Checkbox.  This allows for multiple cycle selections.


Payee card - fixed inability to create new invoice immediately after creating (and saving) a new Payee.

Candidate can now be specified.

You can now link directly from the Payments list to the Payment card.

The invoice number column within the Payments list is now linkable.

Numerous other changes...


Deposits - the deposit process was setting the FEC type id incorrectly in the contribution records.  Fixed.

Fixed issue with financial disbursements by time report - payee names were not aligned with the date and amount. 


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