This chapter discusses methods for fundraising using CiviCRM and its powerful contribution management component, CiviContribute. Throughout CiviCRM the term "contribution" is used to refer to any financial transaction or payment taking place in the system. This may include a donation, event fee payment, membership dues payment, or other similar transaction. This chapter assumes you have a working understanding of custom fields, contact matching rules, CiviCRM profiles, and the CiviMember and CiviMail components. The chapter also assumes you have already set up your payment processor, configured contribution types, and created any custom fields you want to use when tracking contributions.
One of the best parts of CiviCRM is its integration with your site's content management system. Once integrated with either Drupal or Joomla!, CiviCRM allows you to build an unlimited number of contribution pages that can be seamlessly accessed from your website. Contribution pages can be used to:
This section will walk through each of those three scenarios and point out some options and features that may be useful for you. Once you answer all the necessary questions and consider all the points mentioned in the chapter, you can build your contribution pages. Step-by-step documentation for doing that is available at http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/Manage+Contribution+Pages.
Before you configure a general contribution page, ask yourself:
Note: Whenever possible build the profile of fields that you will expose on the contribution form before you build your contribution page. A contribution page can include up to two profiles. If you do not create your profile before creating your contribution page, you can complete the process and return at a later time to adjust the configuration settings.
Once you have answered and resolved all of these questions, you can build your contribution page. Go to CiviContribute and click on Manage Contribution Pages » New Contribution Page. The options and settings should map pretty clearly to the choices you made for the questions listed in this section.
CiviContribute is closely integrated with CiviMember, the membership management component of CiviCRM. This means that your online contribution pages can allow people to join your organization at predefined membership levels. When people do, they create not only a membership record for themselves but a corresponding contribution record.
Note: You must create all of your membership types and status settings within CiviMember's administration tools before you build your online membership sign-up page.
Before building your membership sign-up page, you need to ask most of the questions listed in the previous section for the contribution page. A couple of additional questions include:
In addition to the questions in the previous sections about how the contribution page will be used and what information it will capture, CiviCRM includes some exciting features for campaign fundraising purposes:
Now that you've created your contribution page, it's time to bring people to the page so they can contribute! Naturally you will display a link to the page prominently on your website through a donate button or menu item. Here are some additional tips for the different CiviCRM versions:
TIP: CiviContribute contribution pages have "ugly" URLs. In other words, they are difficult to remember. An example is :
You may find it useful to create a URL redirect (take people from one URL of your website to another automatically) on your server to take people to a "pretty" URL like :
Pretty URLs are much easier to remember and use in your organization's outreach. Creating a redirect requires some technical skill and access to your web server.
For Drupal users, there is a helpful module called Path Redirect (http://drupal.org/project/path_redirect) where you can create URL redirects from the user interface without any technical skills. For Joomla! users who have Search Engine Friendly URLs enabled in Global Settings, creating a menu link to the contribution page will allow you to define the "pretty" url using the alias field.
Emailing your current membership is the other critical way to publicize the campaign. The CiviMail component of CiviCRM allows you to send targeted emails to any group of contacts in your database. Within a CiviMail message you can include links to the contribution form and use CiviMail's tracking capability to see how many people click on that link.
One time-tested way to increase contributions is to send each targeted constituent a personalized email with a link to the contribution form that has all of their contact information already filled in. This saves them the hassle of filling it out and raises the chances that they would ultimately donate. Using CiviMail, you can use this feature by creating a special link in the body of your CiviMail message that includes a checksum token. A checksum is a unique and pseudo-random number assigned to each recipient of the mailing that points back to their contact information that is securely stored in your database.
When people click on the special link, CiviCRM looks them up in the database and pre-fills any information on the contribution form (core fields or fields exposed via a profile) with the corresponding data if it exists in their record. To read more on how to do this and what the link path must be, visit: http://wiki.civicrm.org/confluence/display/CRMDOC/Mail-merge+Tokens+for+Contact+Data
Regardless of how donors get to your contribution page, CiviCRM automatically records their donations, freeing your staff from doing manual data entry. If they already exist in the database, CiviCRM adds the contribution to their existing record. If they don't exist, CiviCRM creates a new record for them.
To record contributions in the appropriate records, CiviCRM must identify the donor correctly by comparing the information they enter into the contribution page versus what exists in the database. By default, CiviCRM checks just the contributor's email address. In other words, if Judith Monroe has a contact record in CiviCRM with an email address of email@example.com and she puts in that email address when she contributes, but with the first name of Judy, the contribution will correctly go into her record. If she puts in another address, such as a Hotmail or Gmail account, a new record will be created and you may have to manually clean it up later. Note that this is only applicable for anonymous users (those not currently logged into your website). Once a user logs into the website, CiviCRM recognizes them in the system and will attribute any activity to their record.
We recommend that you configure CiviCRM to match contact information very strictly by changing the default duplicate matching rules. In our opinion, it is better to risk creating a new (duplicate) record for someone who is already in the database than to incorrectly credit their donation to someone else since it is not uncommon for multiple people to share an address such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We recommend you change the duplicate matching strict rule so that the first name, last name, and email must all match. This raises the bar on whether data is merged with an existing record or a new record is created. Using CiviMail's automatic fill-in feature (checksum token) will help avoid some of these issues. To configure your duplicate matching rules, go to Administer CiviCRM » Find and Merge Duplicate Contacts.
Organizations have plenty of offline opportunities to raise money. You may pick up donations at events or solicit donations via postal mailings. For money raised through any of these offline activities, your staff needs to enter the results manually.
There are three steps in offline fundraising: creating your lists, creating your mailings, and manually entering contributions.
This process is fairly straightforward if you are familiar with CiviCRM's search capabilities.
Once your spreadsheet is created you can do a mail merge using any popular word processing software (such as OpenOffice.org the Free Software Word Processor) that will insert any fields you want in the letter.
CiviCRM can also create mailing labels for you. Perform the same search you used in the previous section to create your list of recipients, but under the More Actions menu, choose Mailing Labels. Then select the mailing label number, determine whether you want to exclude people with "do not mail" checked in their privacy options (checked by default and recommended), and whether you want to merge two records that have the same mailing address into one label. This last option is very useful when you are mailing a household or organization and you don't want them to receive duplicate mailings. When the records are merged, each name at that address appears on its own line on the label. Once you click 'Make Mailing Labels," a PDF document will be created that you can print off.
Note: Many nonprofit organizations in the United States have to sort recipients of a mailing based on zip code for bulk mailing purposes. If this is true for your organization, it is recommended you do not create your mailing labels within CiviCRM and instead create them using word processor merge functions where you have control over the sort order. You can reuse the same spreadsheet for the mail merge you exported in step 1.
Hopefully your mailing is successful and contributions start pouring in! To manually enter a contribution for a record that is already in your database:
Note: If you have setup a payment processor that allows credit card transactions directly on your site you may select the "Submit Credit Card Contribution" option and process the payment immediately. The form is almost identical to the offline contribution form, with the exception of the payment related fields.
On this form you record the contribution type, amount, received date (the default is the current day), receipt date, and status (the default is Completed). Any custom fields for contributions will also appear on this form. The "Additional Details" section near the bottom offers many other options, including adding a note about the contribution and entering the date when the thank-you letter was sent. The last two drop-down lists cover whether the contribution you are entering was in honor of someone else and whether there is a premium associated with the contribution.
If the donor does not yet exist in the database you will need to manually create their record first. From the CiviCRM home page there are links to create new records called New Individual, New Organization, and New Household. Click on the appropriate link and fill out any information you have for this contact. Once the record is created, follow the same steps as above.
The Soft Credit To field is a powerful CiviCRM feature. As mentioned earlier, if a donor sets up a personal campaign page (PCP) and their friends and family use it to make donations to your organization, some of the credit goes to the donor who set up the PCP. The person giving the money receives a "hard" credit while the owner of the PCP receives a "soft" credit. When you enter a donation manually on the contributor form shown above, you can assign a soft credit.
Other uses of soft credits which can be managed using this form include credits to spouses, partners, or employers, enabling you to get a sense of how much money is coming from a relationship or providing a credit to employees if they urged their employers to donate.
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