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The following is an outline of the logical order of events that most development offices go through. At most organizations there are three primary means of arranging development activities; these are: funds, campaigns and events.
In broad terms, a campaign and an event identify how a donation/pledge came in to an organization.
A fund identifies where that money will go in the organization. To put it another way, an organization will identify a particular fund for which it would like to raise money and then it will set up one or more campaigns to go about raising that money.
Within a particular campaign, there are likely events that happen to raise money for that campaign. Events could be something that a donor physically attends, such as an auction, banquet or a gala. However, events can also be used to indicate that communication or any other interaction between the development office and a donor has happened. For example, a mailed appeal, thank you letter or phone call would also be events that are tracked.
Here is a common example of how funds, campaigns and events are related. A school will probably have a fund called “Unrestricted Operating Fund”. Each year the school will have a campaign whose purpose is to raise money for that fund. The reason for creating separate campaigns for each year is to facilitate reporting for a single year as well as to compare the giving across years. For example, there might be two campaigns called “Annual Fund 2011-2012” and “Annual Fund 2012-2013.”
Within each campaign, the school will probably hold one or more events. In our example, there might be four large events over the course of the 2012-2013 Annual Fund campaign: 1) an initial mailing soliciting people who gave last year, 2) a formal banquet, 3) a golf tournament and 4) a phone-a-thon.