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Custom data for events

You may want to collect extra information about events and their participants as part of the event management process. This chapter explains how you can easily do this with custom data. It describes the different ways to collect custom data for events and discusses where best to store each type of information. A general understanding of how custom data works in CiviCRM is needed to get the most out of this chapter. The chapter on Custom fields in Organising Your Data should give you that understanding.

The key question to ask when adding custom data for event management is where should this custom data go? There are three places that you typically want to add custom data

  • the participant record
  • the contact record
  • the event record.

It's important to add custom data in the right place. Adding it in the wrong place might cause you headaches further down the line. People often add custom data to the participant record, when they should probably add it to the contact record, and vice versa. A couple of examples might help to clarify.

  • dietary preference should be added to contacts since this is unlikely to change between events.
  • Session preference should be added to the participant record since it is only of interest in the context of the event.

Custom fields can also be added to events. For example, let's say an organisation holds a series of training workshops throughout the year and wants to create a custom field to track six common topics covered in workshops. You could create a checkbox style field with the list of topic options and add it as custom data for events of the type workshop. Then, when creating an event of type Workshop, this field will be available.

Note that you are not required to select a specific event type. Leaving the dropdown set to Any indicates the field is available to all events, regardless of the type.

Another common mistake that people make is adding custom data to the event record, when they should add it to the participant record. The event record should only be used to collect information about the event itself, not its participants.

There are a few different options when adding custom data to participants.

  • Participants: This will add the field to all participant records. Useful if you are interested in collecting information that applies to all participants.

  • Participants (Event Name): This is identical to the Participants type, with the exception that it allows you to assign a group of custom fields to a specific event. Useful for adding complex registration data for a single event without cluttering up all events.

  • Participants (Role): These fields will only be available for particular types of participants. Useful, for example, if you need to collect biographical profile details from your speakers and wish to record it with their event registration.

Adding custom data requires the administrator permission. To add custom data for participants, add new custom fields through Administer > Customize Data and Screens > Custom Data. To create custom fields for events, first add the custom field set on the appropriate record, and then add the fields themselves.

Alternatively, you can create custom fields on the fly during the event creation process - see chapter Creating an event.