This chapter shows you how to set up CiviContribute and related components of CiviCRM to support fundraising. 

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 and created any custom fields you want to use when tracking contributions. If you have not done these things, please refer to the appropriate sections of this manual for more information.

General Configurations

You may need to configure the following fields before you begin setting up various methods for managing contributions.

Contribution Types and Accounting Codes

If you need to add contribution types or accounting codes, do this first. 

  1. Navigate to Administer > CiviContribute > Contribution Types, where you can edit one of the existing contribution types or create a new one by clicking Add Contribution Type
  2. Once you edit or add a contribution type, you can define an accounting code that corresponds to your accounting system (the accounting code will be exported along with the contribution data if you do an export), and indicate whether this type of contribution is tax-deductible. 

Be careful when editing core contribution types or adding new types, because CiviCRM has useful built-in functionality that depends on the core contribution types.


Configure premiums, such as T-shirts or subscriptions, that you want to offer on your contribution pages:

  1. Navigate to Administer > CiviContribute > Premiums (Thank-You Gifts)
  2. You can edit an existing premium or click Add Premium to add a new one.
  3. Once you edit or add a premium, you can then enter additional information: Name, Description, SKU (an optional product code), Premium Image (an optional image of the item), Minimum Contribution Amount to receive the premium, Market Value of the premium, Actual Cost, and Options (e.g., colors and sizes). 
  4. If you're offering a subscription or service, you can also click on the Subscription or Service Settings and define additional information here, such as Period type (e.g., Fixed or Rolling), the Fixed Period Start Day, the Duration, and the Frequency. 

Accepted Credit Cards

Navigate to Administer > CiviContribute > Accepted Credit Cards to edit existing acceptable credit cards or define a new option through Add Accept Creditcard

Payment Instruments

Navigate to Administer > CiviContribute > Payment Instruments to edit existing options that can be used for contributions or to add a new option through Add Payment Instruments.  The common options - credit card, cash, check, debit card, and EFT - are installed by default.

Creating Contribution Pages

To create a new contribution page: 

  1. Navigate to Contributions > Manage Contribution Pages and click on Add Contribution Page.
  2. Give the page title, select the contribution type (donation, campaign contribution, etc.), goal amount, introductory message and any other relevant information such as dates. You will be able to go back and modify all aspects of this page at any time after completing the setup wizard. Click Continue.
  3. The Execute real-time monetary transactions box is checked by default, to enable monetary donations. You would only uncheck this box if you are using this contribution page to solicit in-kind (non-monetary) donations.
  4. Select the Currency and Payment Processor (which you have previously configured).
  5. Check the Contribution Amounts Section Enabled box to allow various specific amounts to be presented. Leave this unchecked if, for example, you are using the page for membership sign-ups that have fixed amounts, which will show only the fixed membership amounts and not allow custom amounts to be entered. 
  6. Check the Pay Later box if you want to give users the option to submit payment offline (e.g. mail in a check, call in a credit card, etc.).
  7. Select a pre-defined Price Set, or enter up to 10 fixed contribution amounts in the table.
  8. Check the Pledges box to give users the opportunity to pledge future payments.
  9. Check Allow other amounts to give users the option to pay any amount they choose.
  10. Click Save and Done.

Include Profiles

If you want to collect information from contributors beyond what is required to make a contribution, such as volunteer availability and skills, you can include existing CiviCRM Profiles at the beginning or end of a contribution page. You can also create profile(s) specifically for use in contribution pages.

Profiles used in a contribution page can ONLY contain fields which belong to:

  • contact records
  • individual records
  • contribution records.

If you add fields that are associated with any other record types, you will get an error when you preview your contribution page.

  1. Navigate to Manage Contribution Pages then for the page you wish to configure, click on Configure > Include Profiles.
  2. Select a CiviCRM Profile from the dropdown menu to be included at the top of the contribution page (immediately after the introductory message) and/or at the bottom of the page.
  3. If you're building a new page, click <<Previous to save and return to the previous step, Continue>> to proceed or Cancel to cancel the configuration wizard. Otherwise simply click Save.

Thank-you and Receipting

Once you have created your contribution page, you can customise the Thank-you and Receipt emails that are sent to contributors.

  1. Navigate to Administer > CiviContribute > Manage Contribution Pages.
  2. Use the Configure link at the right-hand side of a contribution page in the list to access and edit the page.
  3. Click on Thank-you and Receipting and enter the information that you wish to appear in the thank-you email. Donors usually expect a receipt as soon as their transaction is complete, so it is recommended to enable the automatic Email Receipt.
  4. Click Save and Done.

Publicizing your contribution page

Now that you've created your contribution page, it's time to bring people to the page so they can contribute. You will probably want to display a link to the page prominently on your website through a donate button or menu item. Here are some additional tips for promoting a contribution page in different CiviCRM configurations:

Menu item in Joomla!

The most direct way to expose your contribution page or membership signup/renewal page on the front of your web site is by creating a menu item. 

  1. Navigate to a menu and create a new CiviCRM item. 
  2. From the list of menu options, choose Contributions. 
  3. In the basic parameters section, select the contribution page you would like exposed from the dropdown menu. 
  4. Save the menu item and view the website to confirm the page's functionality.

Menu item in Drupal

From the contribution page listing, select Live Page to view the finished page. You can then copy the URL and include it in a content page or assign it to a menu item. 

"Pretty" URLs 

CiviContribute contribution pages have "ugly" URLs - in other words, they are difficult to remember. An example is :

On the other hand, "pretty" URLs are much easier to remember and use in your organization's outreach, for example:

A pretty URL is simply a URL redirect (autmoatically taking people from one page of your web site to another). Drupal provides a helpful module called Path Redirect ( that lets you can create URL redirects from the user interface without complicated web server configuration. Joomla! users also have a work-around if Search Engine Friendly URLs are enabled in Global Settings. You can then create a menu link to the contribution page and define the "pretty" URL using the alias field.

Personalised Email

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 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, securely stored in your database.

When people click on the special link, CiviCRM looks them up in the database and pre-fills fields on the contribution form (core fields or fields exposed via a profile) with any information in their contact record.  To read more on how to do this and what the link path must be, visit:

Automatic Contribution Recording

Regardless of how donors get to your contribution page, CiviCRM automatically records their donations, freeing your staff from doing manual data entry. If the donors 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.

In situations where people have multiple email addresses, or where more than one person shares an email address, it can be possible for contributions to be credited to the wrong contact. To mitigate the chance of this happening, you can adjust CiviCRM's default duplicate matching rules. For instructions on how to do this, see the chapter Merging and Deduping in the Basic Concepts section of this book.

Offline fundraising

Your organisation may collect donations at events, solicit donations via postal mailings and other offline methods. Any money raised through offline activities needs to be manually entered into CiviCRM in order to ensure that final reporting is accurate.

There are three steps within CiviCRM for offline fundraising: creating your lists, creating your mailings, and manually entering contributions.

Creating your lists

This process is fairly straightforward if you are familiar with CiviCRM's search capabilities.

  1. Go to Search > Find Contacts to create a list of records to receive your offline postal mail appeal (it could be your entire database).
  2. If you want to track the success of a mailing or who receives certain appeals, save the search results as a group. Use the check box to select all and choose the appropriate option from the "- actions -" dropdown menu (e.g. New Smart Group or Add Contacts to Group). Later, you can mark everyone in that group as recipients of that appeal using the Record Activity for Contacts option under the "- actions-" dropdown menu.
  3. , export the list as a CSV file. 
  4. Select all records or a subset using the checkboxes, and from the "- actions -" dropdown menu choose Export Contacts and click Go.
  5. Choose whether to Export PRIMARY fields or Select fields for export. If you elect to export primary fields, the CSV file will be immediately generated when you click Continue. If you opt to select which fields you want to export, click Continue and a list of dropdown options will appear.
  6. Select the required fields; if you wish to save the list of exported fields as an export mapping for future use, check the Save this field mapping box. 
  7. Click Export to generate the CSV file.
  8. Click Done when you have finished to return to the contact list.

Creating your mailings

Once your spreadsheet is created, you can do a mail merge using any word processing software (such as OpenOffice, 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, then:

  1. From the "- actions -" dropdown menu, select Mailing Labels
  2. 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. 
  3. Click Make Mailing Labels and a printable PDF document will be created.

Note that many non-profit 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, but 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 the previous section.