5 key CiviCRM fundraising tools to boost your donor management capabilities

When you are a development director you know have to count on your Custom Relationship Management (CRM) system on a daily basis to cultivate, retain and deepen the bonds your donors have to your organization. And within it, you expect to have usable data that is clean, consistent, normalized and covers all the important aspects of your donor profiles and activities for CiviCRM fundraising. There’s some out of the box configuration you will always want to have covered and then there are add-ons that depending on your organization, can be rolled out. We’ll be focusing on the latter in this post.

Configure CiviCRM for Fundraising

To start out, you should have various CiviCRM entities setup to properly track your donors. Some of these will include:

  • Financial types Segmentation: Member Dues, Donations and Event Fee come out of the box but in all likelihood you probably want to fine tune this more. Have a Legal fund, merchandise or event sponsorship? These all make sense to have as new financial types. By separating these out, you can effectively report and see how individual donors’ preferences are for each financial type and the overall performance for each. In addition, you’ll be able to do various calculations such as the average amount, number of donations and the maximum they’ve given per financial type.
  • CiviCampaigns: CiviCampaigns are the perfect tool to cover each “appeal” or campaign you roll out to solicit funding. These are usually fixed-duration campaigns.
  • Relationship types: Add important positions and keep this data up to date. Also, collect employer and occupation as these are useful fields for fundraising segmentation.
  • Activities: Add custom activity types and logging call, emails and phone interactions.
  • Group segmentation: Create groups to communicate to specific audiences. This can be for various interest groups around issues, events, fundraising, membership, etc. 

So, if you’re an organization that has already made it to this stage and want to take your donor management to the next level, here’s some tools to arm your CiviCRM with.

Referral Source Extension

The referral source extension is a simple, yet elegant way to track where donations are coming from. As any fundraiser knows, connecting a given effort with the associated results will greatly improve the strategy of a fundraising team over time. You’re fundraising team will see the ROI on certain mediums and types of messaging. What resonates more? What type of people respond to various ways of outreach? Armed with this information, you’re team will be able to re-evaluate your fundraising plan on a per campaign basis.

How does it work? From the extension overview:

“This extension allows modifying the contribution Source field based on the ‘source’ query string parameter, if such is provided in the URL for a contribution page. For any contribution page, append &source=X to the URL. This will cause ‘X’ to be appended to the resulting contribution Source field value.”

Additionally, you can tie campaigns with this with the Campaign Tools extension, which passes the campaign in the URL.

The use case covers both individuals sources and various mediums. While Personal Campaign Pages (PCP’s) could be used, there is a signup process involved and you may not want the overhead of creating or approving all those PCP’s. This is especially true if the referral sources do not need to create any unique content or appeal that is different that the organic contribution itself. If it’s a purely functional way to track referrals, this extension will make it a breeze. Additionally, PCP’s aren’t the right tool to track contribution sources like whether a donation came from say a mailer, FaceBook ad or a link on a website.

Say I wanted to track my efforts on a membership page, I would use the URL: example.org/membership?source=AndyBurns

If it’s for an environmental campaign concerning plastic pollution with an email, SMS and Mail medium you can use the following links where campaign ID 1 is “Plastic Pollution Legislation”

  • example.org/donate?source=Email&campaign=1
  • example.org/donate?source=SMS&campaign=1
  • example.org/donate?source=Mail&campaign=1

You can now search the contribution source field for these referral sources more effectively and see the total fundraising from your given campaigns. For instance, you can analyze campaigns against each other or within a given campaign, the performance of the mediums you used to solicit funding. Now you can take this reporting a step further by using ReportPlus or Search Kit to get summary data on your campaigns. More on that next.

Visual Reporting with ReportPlus

The ReportPlus extension makes it easy to visualize your donor data. You can build line, bar and pie charts against contribution financial types, data ranges, contribution sources and more.

The key to using this extension is knowing what template to start with and a few key settings. In the example below, it is is the Contribution Matrix template. Within the report, you’ll use the “Grouping” tab and set the row as financial type and the column to Date Received. Finally, choose a frequency that fits the desired date range. For instance, if I I am looking at the last 2 fiscal years, I would only group by a frequency of year or quarter. Below is an example using group by year:

Comparing financial types year over year on a horizontal bar chart can show where your funding may have room for improvement and what buckets of fundraising your donations come from.

Reportplus horizontal bar chart for civicrm fundraising analysis

Additionally, a top campaigns chart that tracks CiviCampaigns or contribution source (remember the referral source extension) will inform your fundraising team on what kind of campaigns are working, and work to find “similar campaigns” that have the opportunity to have the same effect.

On a per contact front, you can put these visual charts on their contact summary screen, for a quick overview of a given donor’s trend or preferences. In the example below, we highlight giving over time based on financial types.

Civicrm contact summary screen visual reporting

In the end, the possibilities are numerous and this is a just sampling. Play around with it and if you need help, please get in touch and we’ll point you in the right direction.

Summary Statistics with the Synopsis Extension

The Synopsis extension we’ve developed provides exactly that, a synopsis of various contribution data fields. These are automatically calculated in a highly performant way using MySQL queries so there is no reduction in performance. Here’s the fields:

  • Total Lifetime Contributions
  • Total Contributions in the Last 12 Months
  • Total Contributions this Fiscal Year
  • Total Deductible Contributions this Fiscal Year
  • Total Contributions last Fiscal Year
  • Total Deductible Contributions last Fiscal Year
  • Total Contributions Fiscal Year Before Last
  • Total Deductible Contributions Fiscal Year Before Last
  • Amount of first contribution
  • Date of First Contribution
  • Campaign of first contribution
  • Amount of last contribution
  • Date of Last Contribution
  • Campaign of last contribution
  • Largest Contribution
  • Total count of contributions
  • Count of contributions this year
  • Count of contributions last year
  • Count of contributions year before last year
  • Average of total Contributions
  • Average Annual (Calendar Year) Contribution
  • Campaign of largest contribution
  • Date of Last Membership payment
  • Amount of last Membership payment

You can now create smart groups along any of these fields to segment your donors into various groups. For instance, “Total Contributions in the Last 12 Months” greater than $1,000 could be in your Major Donors group.

Wealth Data with the Donor Search Extension

When you don’t have “wealth data” on your constituents, you’ll have 2 options: do a data append from an external vendor and import back into CiviCRM or integrate with a service like Donor Search, that creates and populates fields from the API lookup via the Donor Search CiviCRM extension. This returns their wealth rating and a whole host of giving data seen here that is particularly useful for large donor cultivation.

Contribution Thermometer via Progress Bar Extension

Running a campaign that has a definitive goal and date to accomplish it by? This is the perfect time to make use of a “thermometer” or sometimes called a “progress bar” that automatically updates each time  a donation is made.

Simply go to the “Widgets” tab on a contribution page and enable the widget. You can set the colors of it there. From our experience, it’s a much more attractive thermometer than what CiviCRM has out of the box. Plus, there is no additional setup, it will automatically show on the contribution page. Another common approach is to embed this on the home page or throughout a set of pages on your site. That will be dependent on your CMS but you’ll be able to embed the code from the widgets tab and let your CMS do additional styling to wrap the progress bar element.

Summary of using CiviCRM Fundraising Tools

As you can see, CiviCRM has several tools available that come out of the box and with extensions. We’ve not covered them all; there’s other like the Campaign Manager and our RFM extension that we’ve previously written about. The ones highlighted are some of the favorites with the organizations we work with.

As with any CRM or technology, the tool is one one piece of the equation. You still need a Fundraising Team that will develop campaigns that resonate with your audience and make the CRM part of their daily work. Have questions on making these extensions do what you want? Contact us and we’ll evaluate your current setup and which of these tools will be most impactful for advancing your fundraising strategy.

Insights and our Work

Schedule a discovery call today!

Scroll to Top