How to Use Reusable Fields

Updated by Alexis Salcedo

Overview of Custom and Reusable Fields

In Switchboard, we make it easy to customize your texts for every audience! With our existing ability to insert custom fields into text, every text you write can use unique data specific to the recipient. This data is pulled from the list you attached to a broadcast, we call this a LIST FIELD. All phone lists in Switchboard have LIST FIELDS. Let’s say I uploaded the below CSV into Switchboard, every column header is a LIST FIELD I can use as a custom field to customize my texts!

Every time you upload a list, the LIST FIELD might be called something different, making data for the same recipient a little complicated across lists, especially when you are combining lists in Switchboard.

Switchboard also has something called a REUSABLE FIELD. A REUSABLE FIELD looks like this: {{sb_first_name}} or {{sb_last_name}} and allows Switchboard to keep track of data for a recipient across multiple lists regardless of the title of the LIST FIELD! Essentially, Switchboard helps you keep track of data across all types of lists without you having to put in the work to standardize naming systems.

Why are Reusable Fields Helpful?

Keeping track of naming conventions for custom fields across different lists and list types can be tough. Depending on the integration you are using or the CSV you are uploading from, data might be named completely different things; for example, first name data for a recipient could be marked in your list with the header as {{firstname}} or {{FirstName}} or even {{first_Name}}.

When you are combining and suppressing lists, this makes adding customizations to texts complicated. You may end up needing to use a complicated custom field formula in order to capture all the available data for your recipients.

For example to add a first name to a text you may need to use a custom field that looks like this: {{firstname or first_name or FirstName or ‘Friend’}}

With REUSABLE FIELDS, every time you upload a list you will be prompted to set your fields and match your data from your list with our REUSABLE FIELDS in order to save the data for future use! So instead of having to type out {{firstname or First or FirstName or ‘Friend’}} and worry you are missing data for some recipients, you can just say {{sb_first_name}}.

How Do I Set Reusable Fields Across Different Types of Lists?

Some list types automatically update reusable fields, others require you to set the fields that update. Check out the different ways you can update reusable fields based on the list you upload/import:


When you upload a list via CSV you will see the following options:

This is called Setting Fields. You can see all the available fields on the left, and match your column headers to the appropriate field. When you create the list, we will save the associated data per recipient for future use!

Custom Reusable Fields allow you to track the recipient’s source or external ID. You can ONLY set these via CSV upload.

Every time you set fields for a list, it will update the data for the reusable field for that recipient, so only set these if you want to update data for your entire list! This is a good habit to start doing to ensure you have complete coverage over all of your phone numbers.


When you import a list from NGP, it will automatically update all related fields, no action is needed on your end (other than importing the list in the first place)!

The relevant fields for NGPVAN are:







We do not support donation data via our NGP integration. So any donation related reusables will not automatically update with NGP donation information.


ActBlue will automatically update all related fields, no action is needed on your end! For ActBlue we ingest both demographic information like name and zip code, but also relevant donation data.

The relevant personal fields for ActBlue are:





The relevant donation related fields for ActBlue are:

{{sb_has_donated_mobile}} {{sb_has_donated_recurring}} {{sb_total_amount_donated}} {{sb_total_donations}} {{sb_average_amount_donated}} {{sb_max_amount_donated}} {{sb_most_recent_donation_date}} {{sb_most_recent_donation_amount}} {{sb_most_recent_donation_is_mobile}} {{sb_most_recent_zip_code}} {{sb_most_recent_donation_form_name}} {{sb_most_recent_donation_is_recurring}}

Manually Update a Reusable Field for an Existing Recipient:

You can update a reusable field manually by going into the recipient’s information here:

For example, if your lists have a dead name or the name of a family member mismatched with the recipient's phone number, you can go in and manually update this in Switchboard without having to re-upload the entire list.

This change is permanent. If you manually update a recipient’s reusable field, no matter how many other lists you import/upload with different field data, the manual edit will always be the data the reusable field pulls in.

Overview of List Types

What Reusable Fields Are There?

You can have Switchboard keep track and save of the following information about your recipients for future use in custom fields:

Custom Reusable Fields (i.e. custom_source and custom_id) are only able to be updated vis CSV upload. NGPVAN and ActBlue integrations do not impact either of these fields.
How can I set fields for already uploaded/imported lists?

On All List Types:

You can set Demographic Reusable Fields on already uploaded/imported lists by clicking here:

When you click this you will be prompted to match the REUSABLE FIELDS with your preferred order of data to pull in. For example, you can pull in any existing REUSABLE FIELD data we might have for the phone numbers on this list, and then it can save any LIST FIELDS we have for that recipient in the list!

In the example below, for {{sb_first_name}} - the First Name REUSABLE FIELD - I want it to pull in any existing data we have saved in the REUSABLE FIELD for that phone number, and if there isn’t anything, pull in {{first_name}} LIST FIELD data.

Important: you cannot set Donation Reusable Fields on CSV upload.

Our recommendation is to do one of the following:

  1. Set fields for your most trusted lists last! The most recent data you save as a set field will be what populates when you use the REUSABLE FIELD in a custom field. We save data based on the most recent list you set fields for, so the last list you set fields for will be the data that gets pulled in to your text. To ensure coverage, we recommend setting fields in as many previously uploaded lists as possible.
  2. Create an “All Phones” list and then set fields on creation to ensure 100% coverage of your phone numbers in your account.


If you are primarily using NGPVAN lists, you can set lists like we mention above or we recommend importing your list or universe again in order to automatically set the reusable fields.


The ActBlue integration is an automatic process and requires no action on your part to set fields.


When you click into your lists that you have already uploaded you will see a button that says “Set Reusable Fields”. Once you do this, it will save the data for those recipients moving forward!

Other FAQs:

What is the difference between a reusable field and a list field?

A list field is data that comes from a specific list! So if your CSV has a column titled “First_Name” the list field is {{First_Name}} and when you use a custom field in a text you will use that list field of {{First_Name}}

If your list has specific data to a text you want to send out, you can always pull in LIST FIELDS as needed! For example, if you had a CSV with event details specific to the text you want to send out, you can always use your specific LIST FIELDS in your text, it just won’t be something you can use across all lists in the future!

A reusable field is data that is saved by Switchboard across multiple lists. So you may upload multiple lists with different list fields, but because you can save list field data when uploading/importing new lists

How can I tell how much coverage my reusable fields have for the list I am trying to send to?

You can check your custom fields for your phonelist, and see the coverage of both your LIST FIELDS and your REUSABLE FIELDS for your entire list.

For donation specific reusable fields, can I sync NGP donations in addition to ActBlue?

Unfortunately no, we do not sync NGP related donation data with Switchboard. However, if you do have high dollar related work in NGP, you can always manually update the specific fields as described above to make sure you keep track of important donation data like maxed out, highest previous contribution, etc.

Can I manually update donation related reusable fields in addition to demographic related ones?

Yes! You can do it the exact same way.

How do I know what data is saved in a reusable field for a recipient?

You can click into any phone number and check the associated data for reusable fields. See below:

Can I add additional reusable fields if I want to track something other than the fields provided?

Right now these are the only reusable fields we offer, but we love feedback! If there is a particularly complicated list field that makes drafting custom messages tough in Switchboard, let us know and we can try our best to be helpful!

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