What is the Difference Between a Campaign and an Appeal?

If you are looking at the best strategy to raise money for your organization, cause or event, you might have heard the terms “campaign” and “appeal” used seemingly interchangeably. However, there are some important differences between a campaign and appeal that you need to be aware of.

On a very broad level, a campaign is the reason why you are asking for or collecting money, while an appeal is how you asked for that money. For example, your organization might be asking for money so you can expand certain services you provide, or go on a mission trip. Whatever the reason is, that is at the root of your campaign. It is the ultimate goal or objective you have for your organization’s fundraising, and the vision that you are selling to your potential donors.

Most organizations have more than one method they use to attempt to raise the funds needed to complete their campaign. These methods are your “appeals.” Using different approaches for your appeals allows you to go back at the end of the year to analyze the effectiveness of your appeals and compare them to each other or appeals you made in previous years. If a campaign is a set of all the fundraising activities you perform to achieve a particular objective, your appeals are those individual fundraising activities.

For example, let’s say you have an annual fundraising event, a Summer Appeal letter and drive, and several other smaller appeals scheduled throughout your year. By analyzing these appeals and comparing them year-over-year, you can get a better sense of how much money you can expect to raise, or what types of tweaks you may need to perform to make your appeals more successful.

Additional Ways to Categorize Donations

Generally, most donor management systems allow you to assign various categories to each donation.  As we mentioned above you may want to use the Campaign and Appeal fields to help you run reports on your donations and compare from one year to the next.  You may also want to use categories codes for:

  • Donation Type (such as soft credit, in kind or regular donation)
  • Accounting Code (typically a fund code tied to your accounting records)
  • Payment Method (check/credit card/PayPal/etc.)

You may use any or all of these codes or none of them.  It depends on your organization and what you want to track.  For example, if your organization doesn’t record donations into different General Ledger accounts (something the accountants sometimes want) then there is no sense using the Accounting Code field.  Payment method can be used to reconcile deposits to your bank account from different sources (credit cards, PayPal, etc.).  Donation Type is especially useful if you want to track non-monetary donations (in kind).  It’s useful to know how much an individual or organization has contributed to your cause overall, but it’s important to know how much was in the form of money. This makes it clear what you can use for budgetary expenditures vs. material donations that are helpful in other ways.

DonorSnap provides all the aforementioned categories along with unlimited user defined fields. You are able to analyze and report on your contributions in any way that you need.  If you have specific questions on tracking donation information, contact a DonorSnap representative at   Sales@DonorSnap.com.

Author: Dennis Mueller

Dennis Mueller is the founder and managing partner of DonorSnap. Dennis and his wife Kellie founded Malaika Early Learning Center in Milwaukee before discovering the need for good, web-based donor management software. Long story short, DonorSnap was born. Dennis splits his time between DonorSnap, Malaika, and biking.

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