By Trish Perkins

Most of us think of a campaign either in old-fashioned military terms, an assault on a target with specific objectives in mind, or in marketing terms where a campaign is a way to reach out to constituents to create awareness of who you are and what you do and to convince them to support you in those efforts. Most of what is written about Salesforce campaigns sounds very much like the latter, marketing or fund-raising campaigns. Years of messing about in Salesforce have convinced me that our campaigns can be re-purposed for more creative pursuits. Let’s take a look:

It’s useful to see the Campaign as a People List, first and foremost. You can’t put organizatons in there, only the people from the orgs. So a campaign is a PEOPLE LIST to which you can, if you like, attach donations. I usually create three record types for my campaigns: Fundraising, Events, and Mailing Lists. Of course, since a campaign is a people list, every list of campaign members is a de facto mailing list.

You use a fundraising campaign to track the effectiveness of your fundraising effort. This is the “traditional” use of the campaign. You send requests for money to people (“Sent”) and if they send you back envelopes with money in them, you log the donation’s “Primary Campaign Source” field with that campaign and mark the donor as “Responded.” The basic campaign fields will do the rest for telling you what your ROI is:

  • Total Contacts – the number of people in your outreach already known to you
  • Total Leads – the number of people in your outreach that are still just prospects
  • Total Converted Leads – the number of people this campaign has brought into the fold
  • Total Responses – the number of people you’ve marked as “responded,” whatever your org means by that
  • Total Value and Number of Won Donations – Here’s where you can see just what your campaign has brought in as money and as numbers of donations.

You’ll also be able to track how these numbers stack up across a hierarchy of campaigns—read on for details of how to do that. Plenty of information here for the most statistic-obsessed development team!

But that is just the surface of the power of the Salesforce campaign.

You can use campaigns instead of Contact Types for all your lists of people, especially the shifting types like board members, advisory boards, etc. In a campaign, you can label them (using the wonderful Campaign Member Status!) Past, Current, Prospective, Officer, President, etc. You can’t do that with a Contact Type. I tell my clients that only the types of people that don’t change at all– Vendors, for example– should be on the contact record. Everybody else, media included, should be a campaign people list. (It’s true that you can’t put WXYY into a campaign, but when you want to reach them, you call a PERSON, right? Add your main contact to the campaign.)

I suggest that my clients put the folks they are hoping to convert to donors to a particular fundraising effort in a campaign, called something like “Fall Appeal Major Donor Prospects.” Then they track the progress of getting the prospect to the point where they can log the deal as an opportunity. This is a pre-donation donation-tracking device!

For the full expression of the power of the campaign, I look to events. Because you can set the campaign member status to ANYTHING in a campaign, you can put everybody who has any role whatsoever into your campaign. Here’s how to think about it:

1. Set up your Campaign Member statuses right at the beginning. Campaign > Advanced Setup > Edit

2. Put in every role that anybody is playing in the event– Planning Committee, Planning Chair, Volunteer (unless you are using Volunteers for Salesforce, in which case THAT campaign would be a child of this one), Staff Lead, Vendor (or you can get specific and put in the Lighting, Stage Setup, Cleanup Crew, Napkin Furnisher), Registered, Paid, Attended, No Show, Participant/Veg Lunch, Participant/College Credit– WHATEVER!

3. Mark as “Responded” only the participants or attendees, so you get the count of the people who came that way.

4. Log the registration fees with this as the Primary Campaign Source.

You can customize your page layout for the events with fields like Location (with a lookup to orgs so you can pull in hotels, conference centers, even rooms in your own museum.) You can put different date/time fields there for Setup Time, Start Time, etc.

Voila– event management!

The other great thing about campaigns is their ability to be nested together in hierarchies, as I mentioned above, and for some of the numbers to roll up to the parent campaigns. So say you’re running a Fall Appeal that consists of an email drip campaign with four blasts, a snail mailing to your major donors, and a gala banquet. All those can be different campaigns nested as children under your Fall Appeal 2013 campaign and there you can see the aggregate of the money you’ve raised while keeping the money raised by the individual children campaigns on those campaigns so you can come up with a comparison.

Salesforce makes it especially convenient to add people to various campaigns.

  • List views. On the Contact Home page, create a list view of contacts and put one of your recent campaigns into the Filter by Campaign box. Up comes a list of everybody in THAT campaign, and you can check off all the people you want to add to a new campaign. Save the view, and there is an Add to Campaign button right at the top of your list. Add the old list to the new campaign and you’ve got a head start on peopling your campaign.
  • Reports. Reports that have Contacts or Leads at their heart will also have an Add to Campaign button on them. In reports, you can get very specific about segmenting your list. Donors who gave above one amount but below another, for example. Or use the cool bucketing functionality to slice out different categories – regions, donation totals, lifetime donation totals, household size…whatever! Then add them to a campaign.
  • Old-Fashioned Bulk Upload. Fire up your favorite bulk upload tool and add contacts and leads alike to campaigns. Some people use this method to get a de-duplicated list. The campaign in Salesforce won’t take duplicates, so this is one way to make sure you are only sending to each individual once.

Actually the hardest part about using campaigns as donation-tracking people lists or for complex event management is expanding our concept of the name: Campaigns.  Sometimes, though, you just have to “think in Salesforce.” It sounds like English, but we need to shift the definitions a little to get to the magic!

Trish Perkins

Trish Perkins

32 responses to “The Magic of Salesforce Campaigns

  1. Thanks so much for this! I’m just starting to use Volunteers for Salesforce for our small nonprofit, and migrate all our data. I was just facing the issue that you can’t track contributions in a Volunteer campaign.

    Can you please expand on how nesting a Volunteer campaign under a normal campaign works? So far it looks like the child (Volunteer) campaign and the parent (default) campaign don’t talk to each other. Do they need to? Or should I put everyone who signed up or gave us money at an event in the parent campaign, and keep all the volunteers completely separate?

    Thanks for the advice, especially as I’m still learning to navigate Salesforce help.

  2. Of course you can track contributions in a Volunteer Campaign. You list the volunteer campaign as the Primary Campaign Source for your donations. You need to make sure that the Donations related list is on the page layout, of course: Setup > Customize > Campaign > Page Layouts > Edit on the Volunteer Campaigns page layout > Click the Related lists button to see all the related lists available > Pull the Donations related list down to the page layout.

    Rollup summaries from child campaigns will show up on the parent record but it is a little tricky to SEE them. Go to the page layouts again and create a section called Hierarchy Statistics. Then pull every field that has the word “Hierarchy” in to that section. THEN go to the campaigns FIELDS and, one by one, edit the Field Level Security so that they are all VISIBLE.

    Children will roll up to Parents, Parents will roll up to Grandparents.

    I would suggest, however, that you keep the money attached to the main campaign, since the donations weren’t to the volunteer campaign, they were to whatever appeal you ran.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Aha! Thanks so much! I might actually keep some of our contributions and new member signup associated with our volunteer campaigns, since they’re a direct result of us having volunteers show up at a public event. I’ll mull this over a bit more, but it’s great to know that we have the choice about how to track all this.

    FYI, for other readers who are trying to figure this out, in Trish’s first paragraph of her previous comment, look for Contributions (not Donations) in the Related Lists.

      1. Good to know. Very likely that someone else could have changed this in our early setup days.

  4. Trish, can you elaborate a little on how to add a number of people to the campaign for event management? We are planning for our large fall fundraising appeal, which is a formal dinner. We sell tickets online via FormSite which can integrate with Salesforce, but I have yet to determine how to add each guest to a campaign within Salesforce as they sign up. Any help?

    1. Hi Laurie,
      Though I haven’t used FormSite, most of the forms software I am familiar with allow you to create a field on the form (it could be hidden from the public) called “Campaign” or “Campaign Source” which can be filled in with the campaign you want to assign this group of invitees to. Then you map that field to the Campaign in Salesforce. Your mileage, however, may vary. I’d love to know whether that software will work the way ClickTools or FormAssembly do.

  5. Thanks for the helpful and informative post. Would you clarify what you are referring to when you write “you can’t put WXYY” in a campaign?

    1. Hi Chuck, what I’m saying here is that the campaign object is a PEOPLE LIST, first and foremost, to which you can attach Donations/ Opportunities/ Payments (i.e., money.) You cannot make an organization a member of a campaign. If you want to put, for instance, the radio station WXYY in as a member, you’ll have to put your CONTACT at the radio station in the campaign as a campaign member. Keep in mind, though, that you can attach FUNDING from WXYY, since you can attach Donations and donations can easily be organizations.

      Simply put:
      Campaign members must be individual people.
      Donations attached to campaigns can be from individuals OR organizations.

      1. Got it! Didn’t understand that you were referring to a radio station, i.e. a company/org.


        1. So whats the way to create a fundraising compaign to companies?

          Adding the companies into SalesForce
          Adding the CEOs as contacts and create a affiliation
          Adding the CEOs to a campaign
          Export the addresses via a report (Contacts & Accounts with affiliations? Right?)
          Sent the letters
          A company is answering
          Set the checkbox from the companys CEO to response
          Add a donation (opportunity) to the company and attach it to the campaign (how I add the donation? manually via opening the company? Via the CEO and just change the account name?)

          Thank you!

  6. Hi Trish,

    I stumbled upon your post in an effort to determine how best to set up campaigns in the small charity I work with.
    I don’t know if there’s a right way to go about doing it but I’d be grateful to hear what your experience would suggest.
    Are we better off to create separate fundraising campaigns by FY? ie Parent Campaign would be Unrestricted Income 13-14 – children would be Spring Direct Mail 13-14, Autumn Direct Mail 13-14, Annual Xmas Appeal 13-14 or are we over complicating things and should we just have Unrectricted Income as the parent and Spring Direct Mail, Autumn Direct Mail, Annual Xmas Appeal knowing that we can genrerate a report by date anyway?
    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      Both of your ideas are viable. The critical question is how you want to see your information when you click on your campaign records. It’s true that you can create reports that are filtered by date, and if you rely on reports for this information, then Option 2 would work fine. What you’ll get with that are campaigns that essentially total your all-time income in those categories.

      What you get with Option 1- Where you set up nested campaigns for each fiscal year, is a way to compare how well your various appeals did this year, while summarizing, in the “Unrestricted Income 13-14” campaign, ALL the donations this fiscal year.

      I like Option 1, but it will require a few minutes of set-up at the start of each fiscal year.

  7. Hi,

    What is the difference between Num Total Donations and Num Won Donations. Often in our campaigns, those numbers are different. For example for one campaign, Num Total Donations is 20 and Num Won Donations is 15. What does that mean?


    1. Hi Sandra,

      Num Won Donations is a calculated field for number of closed/won donations associated with the campaign.
      Num Total Donations is calculated field for number of donations associated with the campaign regardless if they were won or lost.


  8. You say that all contacts,ideally, are members of campaigns. How would I go about making this so, given that my contacts are already in Salesforce.

  9. e welina ~

    Our nonprofit operates 14 different programs.
    In addition to fundraising for the nonprofit organization, we fundraise for each program.

    I’d like to use the campaign feature of SF as suggested here, to manage my people lists for cultivation, marketing, events, and mailing lists.

    If I do not specify a start and end date for a campaign, can I run a campaign report for a specified time period?

    Parent Campaign FOF
    start campaign not specified
    end campaign not specified

    Child Campaign TH
    start campaign not specified
    end campaign not specified

    Child Campaign1 TH FYE2015 Letter Appeal
    start campaign 07/01/2014
    end campaign 06/30/2014

    Child Campaign2 Major Donors
    start campaign 07/01/2014
    end campaign 06/30/2014

    Parent Campaign FOF FYE2015
    start campaign 07/01/2014
    end campaign 06/30/2014

    Child Campaign TH FYE 2015
    start campaign not specified
    end campaign not specified

    Child Campaign1 TH FYE2015 Letter Appeal
    start campaign 07/01/2014
    end campaign 06/30/2014

    Child Campaign2 Major Donors
    start campaign 07/01/2014
    end campaign 06/30/2014


  10. Campaigns will not allow duplication of individuals and only accepts individuals.
    How can I use campaigns to make my life easier doing a mailing that would include individuals from the same household. i.e. I’d like to include both individuals as contacted through the mailing, mail only one letter. When a donation is reecieved I will assign donation to one individual, assign a contact role to the other householder. How does that impact campaign reporting, function etc.

    1. The nonprofit starter pack has a button on the Campaign to dedupe contacts by households. Can you see it? If not, you might need to add it to the page layout.

  11. Hi Trish,
    I work at medium sized NGO and we use campaigns to track calling initiatives for collecting supplies, reaching out to volunteers and raising donations. Our reps use an appexchange app called CampaignCaller for our outbound campaign initiatives. We also use the member status heavily customizing for each campaign as you mentioned in your article. Do you have any further recommendations on setting up campaign member status values?

  12. Hi Trish, very helpful post. I’ve been using Campaigns this way already, but I’ve run into a problem. My organization now wants to track for each committee member their committee meeting attendance record. This is important for governance committees where maintaining a certain participation level is a requirement. I can’t figure out where to track that. Any ideas?

    I appreciate whatever advice you can provide!

  13. Wonderful article! However, I’m running into a problem. I’m the administrator, have added the campaign member statuses, but they are showing read only. When I go in to remove the read only, I don’t have rights! Something is awry. Any suggestions?

      1. Thank you! I was going way too deep…into customizing the campaign fields for members. Thank you for pointing that out…very easy! Awesome.

  14. It’s our first year running our major end of year fundraising appeal through Salesforce. Is it recommended best practice to use member status within the appeal campaign to denote “major donor prospect” “e-appeal” “letter” etc or is it better to set up the appeal as the parent campaign with the different communication tactics as child campaigns? Are their major pluses or downsides to either?

    1. Hi Laura,

      I would go with the second option and set up the appeal is a parent campaign. The opportunity related to the donor should indicate if s/he is a major donor not their campaign status.


  15. 1. Traverse Area Community Sailing is in the process of setting up our Sailing Program registration in Campaigns. Is it beneficial to add Program Registration as a Campaign Record Type instead of using Default? The Parent Campaign will be 2016 Program Registration and there will be a Child Campaign for each of the program sessions. The Program Director will use a “People List” report for an attendance list including the sailor’s Emergency Contact Information.

    2. We are also looking for an App that will integrate the online registration data, and fundraising event management with Salesforce. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Thank you

    1. Hey Martha, thanks for the comment.
      1. I am not sure that a record type is needed. Record types are normally used if you need to manage multiple page layouts. Are you collecting different information about these campaigns?
      2. There are many apps that collect registrations in campaigns including Eventbrite, Click and Pledge, and Cvent.

Comments are closed.