Contact Roles and Soft Credits
Contact Roles and Soft Credits are ways in NPSP that credit can be given to someone who had some involvement in a donation.
In NPSP, a Contact Role can be assigned to a contact indicating their role on a particular Donation (opportunity). Contact Roles can indicate things like if the person was an Influencer, Soft Credit, Household Member, Decision Maker, etc. These roles can be customized to suit your organizations needs.
Depending on how the system is configured these Contact Roles can create Soft Credits for contacts who have a Contact Roles or the system can be configured to not give soft credit. That decision is up to you and your business processes and can be indicated by the role.
Soft Credits are credits for a donation that a contact did not make but was involved in or influenced. A good example of this is a matching gift. If an organization donates money, they get a hard credit for that gift. Their employee can get a soft credit for that matching gift. The employee did not actually donate the money but influenced the donation.
Another good example of a soft credit that NPSP does well is a Household Soft Credit. When a member of a Household donates, every other member of that household gets a soft credit for that donation. This is built in NPSP functionality.
One thing to note is that NPSP processes all soft credit rollups in a batch that is run every night. This means that changes in rollup fields will not be seen immediately unless you manually rollup the donations in the NPSP Settings.
With Contact Roles, you have the ability to indicate whether or not you want the opportunity records to be associated as a soft credit or not. These can be done in NPSP settings and will allow the Contact Role Type to determine if that soft credit is applied system wide.