Getting Started: Gifts, Projects and Premiums

Virtuous CRM is designed to provide an alternative to the transactional focus of databases built for corporations, with features to help users deepen their relationships with their givers. But no matter what, you still need to track gifts and send thank-yous. Virtuous provides tools to track the entire life cycle of giving, making it easy to see why and how gifts come to you, receive and recognize gifts, and track the projects and initiatives your givers are funding.

The first part of this life cycle is can be tracked using the features in Virtuous Campaigns. You can click here to learn more by reading our Getting Started article on Campaigns, Communications and Segments.

Before starting to enter gifts, you'll want to have a few other things in place: Projects and Premiums.


What are Projects?

Projects in Virtuous are often analogous to "funds" in other CRM systems. These are projects, programs, or initiatives which are part of your organization's mission, and which your givers are funding. At the most basic level, any program for which a giver could make a restricted gift should be a Project.

Projects can be arranged in a hierarchy, with top-level, or parent, Projects and then related SubProjects. Multiple Projects and SubProjects may also be grouped together by either Type or Location, providing reporting flexibility.

For example, let's say you are a nonprofit that works on providing education to under-served youth in several communities around the US. In particular, we'll focus on Detroit, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, where you have a few initiatives:

  • Funding construction of a new charter school
  • Providing after school tutoring in STEM subjects
  • Facilitating curriculum-planning workshops for teachers
  • Providing scholarships for select high school students

First off, that sounds like some great work! Your nonprofit is awesome. Now let's set up these Projects in Virtuous.


Managing Project Settings

First, we'll want to configure your Project Settings. Navigate to the System Configuration menu and select "Manage Project Settings."

Here, you'll have the ability to set organization-specific list values for certain Project fields.


  • Inventory Status: For some nonprofits this may not apply. The Inventory Status field is particularly used by sponsorship organizations, or any time projects are designed to be funded only by a single giver. In these instances it's necessary to track which Projects are sponsored and which are available to be sponsored. On the Project Settings page, you'll have the option to create separate lists of "Available Statuses" and "Unavailable Statuses." These values will all be combined into the single "Inventory Status" drop-down on the Project Edit screen. Values in the first group will all denote some type of availability, while those in the second group indicate a project is unavailable for sponsorship.
  • Types: Types provide a way to combine multiple Projects and SubProjects under one umbrella, typically for reporting purposes. If you're not certain whether something should be a Type or a SubProject, consider whether you are dealing with an initiative that is common to multiple areas of focus for your organization, or unique to a specific area or Project. Common initiatives make sense as Types since they can include multiple Projects and SubProjects.
  • Locations: Since these are user-defined, Locations may be states, cities, regions, countries, even continents - whichever makes the most sense for your organizational setup.

In our example above, we have a few different cities with active Projects. Perhaps our hypothetical nonprofit is set up with multiple geographic regions that each administer programs in five cities. If so, I'd want to report on activity by region, so these would be my Locations. For Types, we can take the four program types we have in each of the three sample cities and use these as a basis for our Types. This will make it easy to run reports for all Charter School Construction projects nationwide, or any other Type. So our Project Settings will look like this:


Creating New Projects

OK, our Project Settings look good. It's time to start creating our Projects. Navigate to the Projects and Designations screen from the main menu.

There, click on the blue add button in the upper right to bring up the new Project form.

Here, you can fill in the information for your new Project:

  • Name: Give your Project a name that is clear and easily identified for ease of gift entry.
  • Revenue Accounting Code: This code may be the GL code for the Project in your accounting software, or and internal code used to identify a particular Project. This Project Code can be used during gift entry to identify the Project designation for a gift.
  • Description: Use this space to enter a brief explanation of the Project. What would your internal staff need to know about a particular Project?
  • Duration Type: New Projects are set to "Ongoing" duration by default. You may switch this to "Fixed Duration" if your Project is short-term. Doing so means that you must also specify start and end dates.
  • Financial Need Amount: What is the financial goal for your Project?
  • Financial Need Type: By default, "Fixed Goal Amount Only" is selected. For ongoing Projects with monthly or other recurring budget needs, select "Ongoing Need" and then specify a frequency.
  • Restrict Gifts to Valid Amounts: When checked, only specified gift amounts may be received for this Project. This feature is often used by sponsorship organizations.
  • Associated Projects: You may specify other Projects, regardless of their Parent Project, Type, or Location, to be linked to this Project.
  • Project Owners: You may select one or more users to be Project Owners. Project Owners who have the Restrict By Project option select in their user permissions are limited to seeing only gift data for their assigned Projects.
  • Settings: These checkboxes are largely for internal staff information only, with the exception of the "Set as Default" option. Your Virtuous database will include a single Project named "Default Project" which is designed to be your General Fund. You may choose an alternate default Project, but there can be only one.

We've already covered the Project Designation Type, Current Status in Inventory, and Location fields.

Per our example, we will set up each city as a Project, which would look like this. After clicking Save, we'll be taken to the Project screen. You may click the edit icon next to the Project Name or anywhere else on the screen to edit the Project information.


Creating New SubProjects

Click on the SubProjects tab to create new SubProjects, or view them for existing Projects. Click on the blue add button in the upper right to bring up a form similar to the new Project form and fill in the information for your new SubProject. Click SAVE and you'll be taken to the SubProject page. On the left side of the blue page header, you'll see the Parent Project name. Click the name to be taken back to the Parent Project page and then enter any remaining SubProjects.


Additional Project Tabs

The Media tab for Projects provides a space to store or link to image files related to your Project. These may include photos of construction progress or individuals helped by your program, which can be used in progress updates to givers. Progress updates are a great way to say thank you and keep your givers engaged.

The Impact tab is divided into two sections. In the top half of the screen, you can set Goals for your Project. Goals are distinct from SubProjects in that they represent  Project milestones that have internal significance for you and your team, but are not initiatives that a giver may give to exclusively. For example, to build one of our hypothetical charter schools, we may know that our total Project budget includes a number of smaller costs. We can use Goals to track these costs and see when we have received enough money to check them off our list.

To add a Goal, click on the blue add button in the upper right of the Goals box. One the new Goal form, you'll have the option to create one of two kinds of Goals: Numeric or Descriptive.

Numeric Goals have a stated count of objects or milestones to be met. Examples might include "Dig 25 new wells" or "provide 50 meals for the homeless." For our charter school, one of the goals may be "Purchase 300 new student desks."


Descriptive goals are more esoteric, like "Improve the lives of inner-city students" or "World Peace." To be measurable, these goals must still have a monetary cost to achieve them. For example, a descriptive goal for our Philadelphia Teachers' Workshops might simply be "Empowering Teachers."


As gifts are received and credited to a project, the Goal progress will be automatically updated.


 The lower section of the Impact tab provides a space for Impact Updates. This space allows field staff to communicate successes, milestones, and other news about a project. These updates can be shared with project givers to help keep them engaged. Just type in your note text. Notes are automatically added using the current date -- use the "Override Note Date" field if you'd like to select an alternative date. Click the drop-down below and you'll see there are three choices:

  • General Update - Used for most field updates
  • Update from giver - Used to store letters from givers, primarily for sponsorship organizations
  • Update for giver - Used to store letters from a sponsored individual to their sponsor

For these last two options, a search box will appear to connect the update with a specific giver.

Below the Type drop-down, you'll see a search field that allows an update to be tied to a specific Project Goal. Just start typing to search for a specific Goal. And finally you'll see a space to attach PDFs or other files.  Especially for sponsorship organizations, you may have physical notes to attach to giver updates.



The last Project Tab, Givers, lists all of the gifts and pledges that have been credited to your Project.


Once you've created your Projects and SubProjects, you're almost ready to start entering gifts! But first, you'll likely need to set up one or more Premiums.


What Are Premiums?

Primarily designed for US organizations, Premiums in Virtuous are used to track non-tax-deductible benefits that givers receive in return for their contributions, which reduce the tax-deductible amount of a charitable gift. If you've ever received a tote bag for pledging to your local PBS station, you've been the recipient of a Premium. The most common scenario for nonprofits of all types and sizes involves gala dinners or other large events; the fair market value of an attendee's food and drinks must be subtracted from the tax-deductible amount of an attendee's ticket cost. So if a ticket to attend your spring gala costs $250, but the fair market value of an individual's meal is $100, then that giver should receive a receipt showing that they gave $250, of which $150 is tax-deductible.


Creating New Premiums

To create new Premiums, navigate to the System Configuration menu and select "Manage Premiums."

On the Premiums screen, click on the blue add button in the upper right to bring up the New Premium form. There's you'll be able to enter information for your new Premium:

  • Name: Give your Premium a clear, unique name to make gift entry easier
  • Code: Each Premium must have a unique code to be used for bulk gift entry
  • Description: An option field to store an explanation of this Premium for internal staff
  • Price: The gift amount required for givers to receive this Premium
  • Fair Market Value: The amount by which the tax-deductible value of a gift will be reduced


Once your Premiums have been created, with your Projects and Campaigns in place, you'll be ready to begin entering gifts.


Virtuous Gift Types

Before starting to enter gifts, it's helpful to understand the various types of gifts that can be tracked in Virtuous. All of these can be seen from the Giving tab in a Virtuous Contact record.

Financial Gifts

Financial Gifts are the most basic type of gift in Virtuous, which includes the most common entries. From the Giving tab in a Contact record, you can click on the blue add button in the upper right of the Financial Gifts section to add a new gift, though this is not the most common method for entering new gifts. Gift entry is primarily done via the Gift and Contact Import, which is covered in more detail later in this article.

Several fields on the New Gift form are optional; only the most basic gift data is required, which can be found in the first three fields:

  • Gift Type: All Financial Gifts must fall into one of seven categories: Cash, Check, Credit, EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer), Stock, Non-Cash (this includes donation of items and in-kind giving), or Other
  • Gift Date: When did you receive the gift?
  • Gift Amount: How much did you receive?

When selecting a Gift Type, you may see additional fields appear. These are only relevant to specific gift types; for example, only check gifts will have a check number.

When adding a Project designation to a new gift, it is possible to "split" a gift among two or more Projects. For this reason, you must specific a designation amount for each Project entered, even if the entire gift is being allocated to a single Project, and you must click the "ADD" button for each Project. This same rule applies to entering Premiums. Once you've entered all the relevant gift data, click "SAVE" to add the gift.

Passthrough Gifts

One of the fields on the New Gift Form is "Passthrough Giver." A Passthrough Giver is an individual who should receive credit for a particular gift, even though the gift in question technically comes from another entity. Common examples might include business owners who give corporate gifts through their company instead of giving privately, or givers whose gifts come from a donor-advised fund. In these cases, while your nonprofit would receive checks from a company or community foundation, the intent to give actually originated with an individual.

When viewing the Giving tab in a Contact record, you'll notice that there is no add button for Passthrough gifts. Passthroughs cannot be entered directly or by themselves; a Passthrough is an element of an actual gift.

In some cases, you may want to split a single gift among multiple Passthrough Givers. For example, this is a common necessity for organizations who receive CFC gifts via the United Way. Since the Passthrough amount is always equal to the gift amount, for these situations, the best option is to split the gift into multiple gifts, entering a separate Passthrough for each gift.

Gift Asks

For many organizations, a critical part of major gift fundraising involves tracking solicitations. Gift Asks provide a way to do just that. As with Financial Gifts, click on the blue add button to bring up the New Gift Ask form and enter a new Ask. In addition to basic information, such as the ask amount and date, you'll have the option to enter an Expected Fulfillment Date, which is the date on which you expect to receive this gift, and enter any notes relevant to the Ask. Be sure to specify the correct Ask Type; you can either solicit recurring support, in which case you'll need to specify the frequency, or solicit a one-time gift, which would be a "Fixed Ask." You can type to search for Projects and for users in the Team Member field to track who made the Ask. Use the "Declined to Give" checkbox to track which solicitations are unsuccessful.


When entering a Financial Gift, you will see a Gift Ask field. This is a drop-down list of open Asks for a giver, allowing you to connect a gift to an Ask and track the success of your solicitors.

Pledges and Recurring Gifts

While Pledges and Recurring Gifts are technically different types of gifts, they are similar enough to occupy the same space in Virtuous. Typically, Pledges represent a commitment to give a set amount of money over a certain, pre-determined period of time, whether a few months or a few years. Recurring Gifts provide ongoing support, either on a monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, or annual basis, with a fixed gift amount for each payment. Recurring Gifts may be changed or cancelled at any time, so the total giving amount or the total duration is unknown.

To enter a new Pledge, click on the blue add button in the Pledges and Recurring Gifts section and enter your Pledge information. If entering a lump-sum pledge to be paid out over a certain period of time, select "Once" for the Frequency, enter the total amount pledged for the Pledge Amount, and use the "Expected Fulfillment Date" to set the end date for the pledge.


For Recurring Gifts, select the recurring frequency for your gift and enter the recurring payment amount for the Pledge Amount. For example, if someone makes a monthly gift of $75 per month, select "Monthly" and enter "75" for the Pledge Amount.



At the bottom of the pledge form are two checkboxes, both of which are checked by default:

  • Automated Payments: If checked, this denotes that recurring payments have been scheduled to pay via credit card, automated bank withdrawal, or some other means that does not require any action on the part of the giver. If a giver offers to send a check each month, for example, then uncheck this option.
  • Track Payments: If checked, Virtuous will generate a schedule of expected future payments for this pledge, which can be used to track the pledge balance and identify late or missed payments. The expected payments data is used in generating the Pledge Payment and Pledge Aging reports available on the Dashboard.

When entering a Financial Gift, the New Gift Form includes a Pledge field, which provides a drop-down of all open Pledges for the selected giver and lists any expected payments. Under each Pledge, you may select an expected payment to apply a gift to that payment. If making a payment that falls outside the parameters of an expected payment, simply select "New Payment" to ensure that the gift is reflected in the list of Pledge Payments. Clicking the "Edit" link for any Pledge will display all received payments, expected payments, and the total Pledge balance.

Planned Gifts

Planned Gifts, sometimes called estate gifts, typically mean that a giver has provided for your organization as part of their estate planning. To enter a new Planned Gift, click on the blue add button in the upper-right of the Planned Gifts section. On the New Planned Gift form, select the Planned Gift Type and enter in as much information as possible. In some cases, it may not be possible to complete all of the fields, but try to gather as much information as you can prior to entering a Planned Gift. If a giver informs you that they have made provisions for your organization in their estate planning, they are obviously committed to the success of your organization -- don't be afraid to ask them about some of the particulars of their Planned Gift.



When entering a Financial Gift, you will see a Planned Gift field, which lists all Planned Gifts made by the selected giver. If the gift being entered is in fulfillment of a planned giving commitment, select the appropriate Planned Gift to associate the two in Virtuous.


Bulk Gift Entry

As noted above, it is possible to enter a gift when viewing a Contact's record. However, entering multiple gifts in this way can be time-consuming. In most cases, it's best to use the Gift and Contact Import.

First, navigate to the Gift and Contact Import screen from the main menu.



On the left side of the screen, there are links to download import templates. If you will be importing gifts from an existing spreadsheet, you can download the Gift Template and either copy and paste your data into the template or transfer the template headers to your file. Field order is not important, but the column headers must match exactly with those in the template.

If you do not have your gifts in a spreadsheet, or do not have enough gifts to warrant creating one, you may enter your gifts directly into the Virtuous gift tool instead.

Once your file is ready to import, or you are ready to begin entering gifts. click on the blue add button in the upper right of the "Import Transactions" box. Select "Gift Transaction" for the Import Type to see additional options. If you will be uploading a spreadsheet, make sure the "Upload Csv" radio button is selected, then browse to find your import file on your computer. If all gifts in the file share the same type (i.e., you are importing a file of all credit card gifts) you may select the Gift Type; if your file contains a mix of Gift Types, simple leave that field blank. It is advised that you enter a batch number for tracking purposes -- if you do not already have some sort of batch numbering convention, you may use some variation of the date.


Finally, you have the option of entering a total for your batch. Entering a value means that your file MUST reconcile to that value, or else no gifts may be imported. If you prefer, you may omit the total. A running total for your import will be displayed in the import tool. Click SAVE to upload your file, which will then begin processing. Once your file has been processed, you will receive an email notification. Simply navigate back to the Gift and Contact Import screen and click on the Import link to begin reconciling your gift file.

To hand-key gifts, select the "Enter Manually" radio button. You will then have the option to enter a batch number and a batch total. Clicking SAVE will bring you to the same reconciliation screen. There, click on the blue add button in the upper right to bring up the gift form and begin entering gifts. You may use the search box to search for an existing contact, and if you cannot find the right contact, enter as much info as possible about the giver. Enter all gift information, and if necessary, you may check the "Create Pledge" box to enter information and create a new Pledge or Recurring Gift.

The Gift Reconciliation tool sorts incoming gifts into one of three "buckets:"

  • Records Needing a Match: These records cannot be matched to any existing Contacts. If desired, you may enter an existing Contact ID to "force' a match to an existing Contact, or click on "Create New" to create a new contact using the data included with the gift.
  • Records Needing Updates: These records have been positively matched to existing Contacts, but require further action before importing. This may be because the Contact data you entered or imported does not match exactly with the Contact record in Virtuous, or because one of the gift fields requires attention, or because a giver has multiple expected Pledge payments that match the amount of their gift. Items requiring attention will always be marked in red. Once you have taken the necessary action to update a record, click "Next Record" to move the Record to the last bucket.
  • Ready for Import: These records have matched to an existing Contact and require no further action before importing.

Once you have gone through your file and all records are in the Ready for Import bucket, the Import button will be visible. Click to import your gift records.



Once a gift import is complete, you may click on its Import link on the Gift and Contact Import page to view a summary of all gifts and Pledges.

Click on the Action button in the upper right to download a csv file that can be used to create a merge document for sending receipts /acknowledgements, then select "Mark All Receipted" to signify that receipts were sent on that date.

Users wishing to import gift to QuickBooks can use the "Export IIF" to generate an export file designed specifically for importing to QuickBooks.

Have more questions? Submit a request


Article is closed for comments.