What You Need To Know

This chapter provides information that you need to think about before configuring and using CiviContribute. CiviContribute allows you to:

  • accept donations and other financial contributions
  • process membership signups and renewals
  • run specific fundraising campaigns
  • batch enter contribution and membership payments using "batches"
  • report and evaluate fundraising results and trends

Throughout CiviCRM, the term contribution refers to any financial transaction or payment taking place in the system such as a donation, event fee payment or membership fee payment.

It is helpful to list out the types of contributions your organisation receives (or wants to receive), and identify which of those you want to track using CiviCRM. Then consider the following concepts and answer the key questions listed below before you begin to work with CiviContribute.

Key Concepts

Data needs and fields

CiviContribute has a set of predefined fields to track contribution information. If you need to track more information about contributions, you can do this by defining new custom data fields. Custom data might be useful to further categorize your contributions or track additional information.

Write down all the information you want to track about your contributions, including reports (described later in this chapter), then compare your data needs to CiviCRM's predefined fields. An easy way to do this is is to look at the screen for adding a new contribution. A lot of useful functionality is built in to the core contribution fields so there's no point in duplicating them with custom fields, but your organisation may have specific needs that require custom fields.

If you do need to create custom fields to meet your needs, see the chapter Creating Custom Fields in the Understanding Your Data section.

Types and accounting codes

CiviContribute categorises contributions by Financial Type. Examples of Financial Types include event fees, membership fees, donations and grants.

To aid integration with your accounting software, you can assign an Accounting Code to each Financial Type. This code is included when you export contributions for import into your accounting package.

Financial Accounts and Financial Types

New to the CiviContribute module in 4.3 is CiviAccounts which allows wider integration with accepted accounting principles and workflows typical to most organizations.

"Contribution Type Accounts" are now called "Financial Type Accounts". New to this administration page is a column named "Accounts" (see screen capture) which reflects the new Financial Account object associated with each type. Now, an organization may better manage and report in relation to both the income and expenses on a Financial Type.

For example, a fund raising dinner that charges $100/person may now allocate the true costs toward the relevant accounts i.e. $75 donation posted to the Income account named "Donations" and the $25 Cost of Sales account to "Event Fees".

As with the types, the list of associated preconfigured accounts will suit the needs of most organizations and may also be customized if your organization requires changes or additions.

You will want to check the list of Accounting Codes that are assigned to each account to ensure that they correspond with those used in your organization's chart of accounts.


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 recording and managing contributions.

Financial Types and Accounting Codes

If you need to add Financial Types or accounting codes, do this first.

  1. Navigate to Administer > CiviContribute > Financial Types, where you can edit one of the existing Financial Types or create a new one by clicking Add Financial Type.
  2. Once you edit or add a Financial 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 Financial Types or adding new types, because CiviCRM has useful built-in functionality that depends on the core Financial Types.

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.