New User Webinars

We are committed to not only providing you with technology, but also with the skills you need to use it to its fullest potential. To help you do that, we’re offering New User Training Webinars on an ongoing basis – so there’s always a convenient date and time just around the corner.

The training webinars are offered in two parts and include a presentation of relevant features, as well as an opportunity to ask relevant questions of Salsa staff. Find a date and time that works for you.



Zak Fowler April 24, 2013 4 Learn Salsa Basics / Supporter Management

Both groups and tags have many potential applications for sorting, segmenting, and searching through your supporters in Salsa. So, which one should you use? You should use both! Tags and groups can be used together to help you keep track of your supporters in efficient, powerful ways.

What’s the difference between groups and tags?

Groups are ways to group supporters into different subsets: donors, people in a particular state, people who signed on to a particular issue, newsletter subscribers, etc. Groups only work with supporters, that is, people in the Salsa database. Tags are also used to create subsets, but 1) they can be attached to nearly anything in Salsa, including individual supporters, signup sheets, donation forms, and events; and 2) they’re sticky: any supporter that touches something with a tag will be tagged accordingly. In other words, someone who signs up on a page tagged with "Blimp Owners' Rights" will get their supporter record tagged accordingly.

But—it sounds like I could just use groups for that! Or events!

And indeed you could, but here are three reasons to use tags:

  1. Tags have a slightly quicker user interface and easier visibility, especially if you ever have to do manual data editing in individual supporter records. Adding the tag Conference Call: May2012 to an individual record is a really fast way to make a quick event, since tags autocomplete as you start typing and you can also add this tag to signup pages. You can also quickly see what tags a supporter has.
    screenshot in Salsa 2.0 | screenshot in older Salsa interface

    Manually adding people to a group or event takes only slightly longer than adding tags, but if you're in a position where you have a lot of manual entry to do (say, VIPs calling in to register for a quick event at the last minute) you'll have an easier time of it using tags. You can always tag people manually, then later use a query to pull them into groups.
  2. As a cognitive and organizational task you’ll have an easier time thinking about two different sets of data segmentation when you go hunting for things: treating them as different data points makes it easier to paint the pictures you want when you run queries. You can also throw tags around as experimental data points to track actions, which is easier to query than making group counts. See our example below under the "So how does that help?" heading.
  3. Tags can go on nearly any Salsa object, and make searching quick. Need to see at a glance how many objects you've got in the Elect Keanu to Congress campaign? Click on the ElectKeanu tag, and get links to every page, email blast, supporter, or other object in Salsa with that tag ( Salsa 2.0 | previous Salsa interface). Or type Conspiracy Theorist in the search box and get a quick list of supporters with that tag--helpful when warning your staff about known antagonists among your supporters who might need special handling! (Admit it, we've all run into those. I used to tag those people as almonds – shorthand for "completely freakin' nuts.")

So how does that help?

Here are a couple of examples we gave from last week's webinar:

Say you've got three issues you're working on, and you want to know how the groups break down among your supporters. Does everyone support all your issues? Do people like one and not another? Are tons of people subscribed to newsletters on an issue, but only responding to certain calls for action or support?


Use groups and tags to explore these relationships with the search query by creating the following groups/tags (or adding to what you've got):

Groups: 1 for each issue (Blimp Ownership, Elect Keanu, Teach Kung Fu), 1 for All Donors

Tags: 2 each on actions: Action-taker and Petition/ Letter (type of action); 2 each on big events: Event-participant and Rally/ Protest/ Service Day (type of event). Participants in these actions or events will get tagged accordingly.

With these tags in place, after a certain amount of time and events have taken place, you can now run queries like: "Members of Blimp Ownership and Elect Keanu and tagged with Action-taker" (people who support both issues and have taken any kind of action) or "People in Minnesota and Members of Teach Kung Fu and Donors and not tagged with Event-participant" (people who support a certain issue and who donate, but didn't go to your 2011 Minneapolis March for Kung Fu).

Once you've segmented these groups, you can do research (why are so few people supporting more than one of your issues?) or plan special appeals (reach out to people who have taken action online but haven't donated or attended live events yet) or adjust your marketing (turns out nobody in Utah likes Keanu Reeves, so find a different message for the Beehive State).

Additionally, you can very quickly segment supporters based on their activity. While Salsa allows you to build complex queries based on whether a person participated in any individual activity or opened a particular email blast*, sometimes you just want to know really quickly how many people in California have donated and taken action at some point––and depending on how precise you want to get with your tags, you can define " superactivists" however you want based on their past behavior, then find people matching that description.

In the end, tags represent a shorthand way of doing similar segmentation tasks involving groups, Salsa packages, and queries. But that's the real beauty of tags, and perhaps the best reason to try them out: you can experiment with different ways of looking at and combining your supporters without changing your existing groups or workflows. Add a hundred tags to each supporter if you like, and see how the dots connect--you can always delete the tags, transition them to groups if you identify a new permanent segment you'd like to identify, or mix and match them to your heart's content. You may find that a simple tweak to a query or an appeal suddenly becomes more effective because it's reaching the right people, the people who want to do more for your cause and just need the right ask at the right time.

* Note : Putting a tag on an email blast doesn't automatically tag supporters who open or click on it, precisely because different organizations may have different definitions for what "deserves" the tag (Opening the email? Clicking on it? Clicking on one very important link? Opening three emails in a row? etc). Tagging an email blast will just make it so that it comes up in searches for that tag. But you can always run a query to find supporters who opened or clicked on a particular email blast, then add a tag to those people.

About the Author

Akash Jayaprakash

Akash has spent time in many different capacities at small non-profits, where he's been volunteering or working since college. He's seen things you wouldn't believe. He's even got 501(c)(3) tattooed on his bicep. (Not really.) He's used his unique blend of hi-tech savvy and low-tech problem solving to improve congressional advocacy, online fundraising, campaign communications, and volunteer organizing on issues ranging from environmental education to geriatric pharmacotherapy. He currently serves on the board of the Friends of the Cecil County (Maryland) Public Library and volunteers in his church's youth ministry.

Jake Patoski November 30, 2012 Learn Salsa Basics / Supporter Management


When to use it

Do you need to know who you most active supporters are?

The problem with "the most active supporters" is that each organization defines "the most active" in a different way. For some organizations, number of actions taken matters the most, but for others it's number of donations given. The Scoring Package allows you to array all of your supporters' actions on a single scale that you define - it gives you complete control over creating the definition of "most active" and then for querying and grouping supporters based on their activity level.

Supporter Scores take instances of different types of things your supporters might do (such as make a donation, register for an event, or join a group) and defines point values for them.


You can also create multiple scores to measure supporter involvement in different ways: for instance, organizers might be very interested in people proven to turn up to events, while fundraisers will prioritize donors. Maybe you want a Score to isolate people who are heavy online activists to see if you can upgrade them to donors. There's no limit on the number of different Scores your organization can create.

How to get there

Scoring is an optional package that can be added to your account for free. Contact your account manager if you'd like to add it. Once it's added to your account, you can find it in the Supporter Package.

Training Video

Want a quick overview of the scoring package? Watch this video. Full feature documentation is found below.

Scoring Step 1:  Create a Score

To create a new score, click on Add a Score in the Scoring section of the Supporter Package. To see a list of Scores in your account, click on Edit a Score.


When created a new or editing an existing score, you'll first edit the options on the Overview tab of the Score workflow. On the Overview tab, you can give the score a name, a short description, and set the status of the score to Active or Inactive.


You can create as many Scores as you'd like. What the fundraising team considers an "Active Supporter" may be slightly different from what your advocacy team considers an "Active Supporter." You can build separate scores for each group or purpose within your organization.


Scoring Step 2: Create Scoring Entries

Each Score is defined by one or more constituent Scoring Entries. Those entries are enumerated under the Scoring Entries tab.

You must have at least one Scoring Entry for your Score to generate any point values at all, but a Score can contain as few or as many Entries as you like -- there's no limit.


Scoring Entry:  Decide what data to report on

To build a new Scoring Entry with its own set of variables, just click the button.

Reference Name

The reference name is simply an internal name, such as donation or group membership that you'll use to identify the function of a particular Scoring Entry when you scan your Score's list of Entries in the future.

Scoring Category

You have two choices in the Scoring Category menu.

  • Normal:  Normal scoring entries treat all instances the same: for example, a donation of $10 and a donation of $10,000 are each a single instance on the donation table, and will therefore count the same.
  • Fixed:  Fixed scoring entries give different values to each entry based on some number in that entry. Possible uses for Fixed Scoring Categories include:
    • Scoring different donations according to the amount of the donation
    • Scoring on a lifetime total of emails clicked or opened

If you select the Scoring Category Fixed, you'll see a new field called "Optional Column". Enter the name of the database field you intend to use here. (For scoring the value of supporters' donations, enter amount.)



Select the name of the database table from which your Scoring Entry should pull data. The pull-down menu provides an exhaustive list of such tables; for more information about them, consult the database documentation.

Noted here are the tables likely to be the most useful for inclusion in a Score; bolded entries are especially recommended.

Table NameScoring Function
blog comment For placing a comment (when signed in) on one of your Salsa blogs.
chapter officer For being designated an officer of one of your chapters.
contact history If you use Salsa as a contact manager for tracking supporter "touches", contact history would include these.
donation Gives a score for every instance of a donation -- regardless of amount.
email Gives a score for every Salsa email blast sent to the supporter, regardless of whether opened or clicked.
event Not to be confused with supporter_event. Gives a score for any supporter registering through a Distributed Event action to host their own event.
listserve message If you use Salsa's group-based listserve functionality, this credits a subscriber every time s/he sends an email to the list.
pledge Gives a score for every instance of a pledge -- regardless of amount or fulfillment status.
recurring donation Gives a score to a supporter for submitting a recurring donation, regardless of amount or payment schedule. This is a one-time credit for making a recurring commitment; the individual payments generated by a recurring donation will be scored with thedonationtable.
supporter Gives an immediate value to every supporter for his or her initial signup.
supporter action Value for every action (write-your-rep, etc.) taken. If a single person takes action and contacts his or her two Senators and one House representative, supporter action target will countoneinstance.
supporter action target Value for every individual message sent as a result of an action. If a single person takes action and contacts his or her two Senators and one House representative, supporter action target will count three instances.
Same as supporter_action, but for the deprecated original write-your-rep tool aka "Campaigns". For scoring purposes, these tables are redundant with one another; use either one, but not both.
supporter chapter Gives a score to any supporter who is a member of a chapter.
supporter_email_statistics A table that keeps count of supporters' lifetime email messages received, opened, and clicked. This table can only be used with the Fixed scoring category ; because the supporter_email_statistics table lacks a date_created field, it will cause an error if set to Normal.
supporter event Gives a score for any supporter registering to attend an event (either your own, or a Salsa distributed event conducted by another supporter). Note that a paid event registration generates both a supporter_event entry and a donation entry.
supporter groups Credits supporter for every group membership. (The scoring tool does not differentiate between which groups are "important" and which not; it weighs all group memberships equally.)
supporter letter Credits supporter for every letter-to-the-editor (LTE) action taken.
supporter my donate page Gives a score to any supporter who has created a personal friend-to-friend fundraising page.
supporter my donate page donation Gives a score to any supporter who has donated through a friend's personal fundraising page. Score is in addition to the score they will also receive for "donation" above.
supporter petition Same as supporter_action, but for the deprecated original petition tool.
supporter picture If using an instance of Salsa that allows supporters to upload a personal profile picture, this table would give them a scoring credit for doing so.
supporter volunteer Credits with a score every supporter marked as a volunteer using the Salsa Volunteers tool.

Scoring Entry:  Decide how to report on the data

Point values are dynamic: they're worth the most immediately after the actions happen, and then they decline over time. How much each is worth originally, and how much it declines over time is up to you. As the campaign manager, you define the parameters Salsa employs to generate these scores using several variables. The principal ones are:

  • Multiplier: the initial point value of the scored instance
  • Expiration: the amount of time after which the scored instance will drop to the minimum value
  • Minimum Value: the "floor" of the lowest value (which might be zero) the scored instance will retain
  • Half-life: the speed at which the scored instance "decays" and loses value


Multiplies the initial point value of the instance by this figure. Differing multiplier values are the key thing differentiating the importance you place on various forms of engagement.

  • For Scoring Entries of category Normal, the initial value is always 1; therefore, the multiplier is the initial point value.
  • For Scoring entries of category Fixed Value, the initial value may vary widely; you might consider a decimal multiplier, such as .1 or .01, to scale the resulting score appropriately.

Example:  If a donation is worth twice as much as event attendance to your organization, the multiplier for your donation scoring entry might be 6 while the multiplier for your event attendance scoring entry might be 3 (because 6 is twice 3).


At a certain number of days after a scoring instance takes place, you can drop it from further consideration. To do so, enter in the Expiration field an integer representing the number of days. For instance, you might decide that after one year, donations are no longer worth considering. To set this behavior up, enter 365 in your Expiration field. If you leave the Expiration blank, scoring instances will be included in your supporters' score calculations no matter how old they might be.



Instead of suddenly expiring (via the value set in the Expiration field above), points may optionally "decay" over time via the value entered in the Half-life field.

The Half-life field defines the rate at which different types of actions decay. By the point the Half-life is reached, the value of the initial action will have been halved, and it will continue the same arc of decay going forward, continually halving itself.

For instance, if a donation is worth 6, and has a half-life of 180 days, then by the 180th day it will only count 3 towards the supporter's score. At the 360th day, it will only count 1.5 towards the supporter's score. If we've also set an expiration at 365 days, as described above, it will continue its incremental decline on days 361 through 364, then drop to exactly 1 on the 365th day and remain worth 1 point, permanently.

If you leave Half-life blank, all scoring instances will have stable, permanent values (unless you use an Expiration), meaning a donation yesterday will count the same as a donation three years ago.


Minimum Value

As supporters' actions decay (either via the Half-Life field or the Expiration field above), they will decline towards zero. The Minimum field allows you to set a "floor" insuring that certain types of actions will always have a point value, no matter how long ago they occurred.

For instance, you might decide that a donation at any point in the supporter's history is at least as valuable as taking the most recent online action and set a Minimum of 1. If you have also set an Expiration such as 365, the value will drop to 1 on the 365th day and remain there permanently (rather than dropping to 0).

If you leave the Minimum blank, Salsa will treat it as 0.


Threshold and Fixed Score

Available under the Scoring Entry's Advanced settings, a Threshold is a score below which regular score decay ceases and the scoring instance becomes worth either 0 (the default) or the Fixed Score value you define.

Threshold and Fixed Score are very similar to Expiration and Minimum, and both sets of values react to scores decaying over time using the Half-life setting. The difference is that:

  • Threshold is activated when the score drops to a specified level (e.g., below 1 point)
  • Expiration is activated at a specified time elapsed (e.g., 365 days since the scoring instance took place)


Sample Salsa Score

The following simple set of Scoring Entry settings might give you a starting point for your first Salsa Score. The settings in this table have no special authority, and you should feel free to vary them or exclude them as you experiment with your own Salsa Scores.

CategoryTable NameMultiplierHalf-lifeExpirationMinimum
Initial signup supporter 2 15 365 0
Online Activism supporter_action 1 60 180 .05
Letters to the Editor supporter_letter 1.5 60 180 .1
Event registration supporter_event 6 180 365 1.5
Donation donation 6 180 365 1
Conducting P2P Fundraising supporter_my_donate_page 12 365 730 2.5


What happens after I create a Score?

Scoring values don't compute instantaneously. A periodic script (generally executing twice per day) will generate a point value for every supporter as determined by every Salsa Score. Set up your score and check on it in 24 hours.

Query, target, or report. Once the script does populate values, you'll be able to run queries, target emails, and generate reports based on its numerical output.

Learn more about targeting and customizing your content based on scores in this helpful reference.

Jake Patoski November 30, 2012 2 Learn Salsa Basics / Supporter Management


When to Use It

Queries are a quick and flexible way to segment your supporter list using the trove of data that Salsa helps you collect about your supporters: location, activity history, group membership, and everything else.

Queries can be used simply, just to get a quick head count for reporting purposes.

But they're even more powerful when used to key mass targeting effects, such as:

  • Bulk updates to records
  • Targeting an email blast
  • Data export for mass-mailing

How to Get There

Just click the Query/Export navigation link in the Supporter tab to get started.

Once you're there, Queries only have two simple steps:

  1. Build the query by setting parameters that define some segment of your list to select
  2. Optionally, take some additional action (such as exporting or bulk-updating) with the selected segment.

Build a Query

Building a query is simply describing the characteristics of supporters you'd like to identify. Any actions you take on this step of the query workflow are simply identifying supporters - you're not making any changes to supporter data until you get to the Take Action tab of the workflow (so don't worry!).


Build a Single-Variable Query

To create a simple query with one variable:

  • Click the Condition Type dropdown menu for a list of some overarching query categories available.
  • Any selection you make from the first drop down menu will open secondary menus with the specific conditions available for that Condition Type. Select a Condition from this updated secondary menu.
  • For a specific description of any of the various available conditions, click here.


It is recommended that you select a segment of your list via the query tool when sending an email blast, but you can select your entire list by clicking (or by setting no query conditions) and hitting .

Add Additional Variables to Your Query

The query builder also helps you create complex queries embracing multiple variables ... such as supporters who both live in Arizona and have also donated.

You can build your multi-variable query that connects those variables using AND (logical conjunction), or using OR (logical disjunction).

  • To add a second query term using AND (meaning the query will only select supporters of whom both terms are true), click the plus-button.png button on the right side of the query builder
  • To add a second query term using OR (meaning the query will select supporters of whom either term is true), click 'add an OR condition' towards the bottom of the query builder

The Query tool can even mix and match AND and OR connectors in any combination you like, creating finely-attuned logic to identify the exact supporter segment you need.

  • Chain multiple colored boxes using the 'add an OR condition' button
  • Within those boxes, chain multiple AND conditions using the plus-button.png button
  • The query selects everyone who meets all the conditions of any one box


Salsa uses the MySQL query syntax for queries, which means that you can use an underscore('_') to match any one character, and a percent sign ('%') to match all characters. But be sure to use the 'like' operator when building a query for wildcards -- otherwise, Salsa will try to match those exact characters! Wildcards can be used for almost all fields. For example, to find anyone with a street address, you would choose: Street like _%. To find anyone with an email address at one specific domain, you would choose:

Saving a Query

Need to use this query again and again, or just save it for future reference?

Just enter a name -- any name will do -- in the Query Name text box at the top off the query builder, then click .

Any query so named and saved will appear in the future in the Select a Saved Query pull-down menu. The next time you need it, just pick the saved query and Salsa will fill in the saved query conditions.


Finding Deleted Supporters

At the very bottom of the query builder, just above the Save and Run button, you'll see a checkbox option to "Query Deleted Supporters":


Mass supporter deletions you accomplish through the query's bulk updater are actually only "soft" deletes. Such records can be recovered by ticking this box: when selecting the"Query Deleted Supporters" option, your query conditions will be applied not to your active supporter list but to the pool of soft-deleted supporters.

To identify all of your deleted supporters, check this box and run a query with no query conditions selected.

On the query Take Action tab (after clicking Save and run), the only option available is to Restore these supporters:


Click this button, and you have now raised the dead. Your restored supporters will all retain their previous history and data.

This feature applies only to supporters deleted from the date of release (September 2012) and on. Restored supporters will carry over their previous settings - i.e. a subscribed supporter will be restored as a subscribed supporter, an unsubscribed supporter will be restored as still unsubscribed. Additionally, a deleted supporter who takes action in your Salsa account - signs up again, donates, signs a petition, etc. - will not automatically be restored.

Take Action


Take Action is the second step of the query workflow. It's on this step that you can apply updates to the supporters who meet the conditions you set on step one. This is where you're changing your data so proceed carefully.

Once you've built your query and hit , you'll advance to the query's Take Action tab: a menu of actions you can take with the queried segment.

This tab looks pretty much the same regardless of what query conditions you've set in the first step.


The overall count of supporters who match the conditions appears at the top of the next page. If you scroll down, the bottom of the page displays up to 200 clickable supporter records who fall among these query matches. They're handy for spot-checking.

The remainder of the page consists of the various bulk operations you can take with your selected supporters. All bulk operations affect the entire selected segment -- not merely the 200-person spot-check sample.

Group Operations

Add to a group 
    You can add the supporters in your query set to a pre-existing group (you must create the group before you run the query).

Delete from a group 
    Allows you to remove the supporters in your query from a group that they are in. This does not remove the supporters from your supporter list, nor does it remove the group itself.



Tag supporters 
    This allows you to add a tag to all of the resulting supporters.

Remove the following tag from these supporters 
    Allows you to bulk de-tag the selected supporters.


Indicate that these supporters have signed a petition 
    Mark the queried supporters as signers of an existing Petition-style Action.

Indicate that these supporters have participated in an action 
    Mark the queried supporters as participants in an existing Targeted-style Action.

Indicate that these supporters have participated in an event 
    Set the queried supporters as attendee registrants for one of your Events.

Supporter Operations

Delete supporters 
    The button deletes your supporters from your list entirely. Bulk deletes are soft-deletions that are restorable via the Query; however, we always recommend exporting a local copy of the data to your own workstation before deleting.

Bulk Field Update 
This allows you to write a single value to any field for every queried supporter. You can choose one of two options:

  1. Update all instances of a field in the found set to a single value (e.g., all queried supporters' First Names become "Tom")
  2. Update all instances of one field in the found set to the value of another (e.g., all queried supporters' First Names become the value currently held in those records' Last Name field).


Add to a chapter 
    Mark the queried supporters as members of one of your account's Chapters..

    Remove the queried supporters from one of your account's Chapters.


Enables you to export the supporters in your query results of your query. Select an export data format (Tab delimited, Excel, or HTML) and, optionally, a subset of fields to include in the export. (Some large queries might lack these options. If they're not present, you'll only be able to export a tab delimited file consisting of all supporter fields.)

Click once you've selected your export parameters to generate your data file.


Although supplementary data like the actions supporters took or the donations they made, can be used as conditions to generate your query segment, the segment itself consists only of the core supporter data itself: the base supporter fields in Salsa, plus any custom fields you've created. To export a richer data set, such as supporters with their donations, you'll need to use a Report.

Exports also allow for a Scheduled Export options. This can be handy if you need to automatically generate the report at a future date, or even on a recurring future schedule. To utilize this option, click and then click the blue link on the next screen to expand your scheduled export options.

  1. Set the "run and export this report" field to either "immediately" (to generate right away) or "on a schedule" (for scheduled exports into the future)
  2. Select a start time for the first report to run.
  3. Select the run frequency from the "Run the report" menu.
  4. Select one or more (comma-delimited) email addresses to receive the reports.

The other fields on this page -- a custom header, optional include fields, compressed files -- are strictly optional.



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