Create Campaigns and Campaign Hierarchies

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain how to organize campaigns with campaign hierarchies.
  • Create campaigns.
  • Create and view campaign hierarchies.

Michael, the Communications Intern at No More Homelessness (NMH), is ready to create campaigns in Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP). The team has a plan to promote and manage the communications for the upcoming advocacy training workshops and Michael has the right permissions in NPSP to manage it all in Salesforce. He confirmed the naming convention for campaign records, so they’re easy to find, as well as how individual campaigns relate to one another in the campaign hierarchy. 

Oh, yes. That’s right, the campaign hierarchy. 

Michael knows what a campaign is and he knows what a hierarchy is, but he wants to double check he understands how a campaign hierarchy works. Michael pings Gorav, the wonderful Salesforce admin at NMH, to see if he knows what he thinks he knows. 

Campaign Hierarchies Organize Your Campaigns

In Salesforce, a campaign hierarchy is a way to group campaigns. You can create what’s called a parent campaign, which sits at the top of the hierarchy, and beneath that, have child campaigns that relate to the parent. Campaigns in the middle of the hierarchy can be both a parent to a different set of campaigns and a child to a higher level campaign. 

One major benefit of campaign hierarchies is that they allow your team to view aggregate data, like the total amount of money raised, the number of people who responded, and other metrics for all campaigns in the hierarchy. There are different ways to use campaign hierarchies, but many nonprofits use a hierarchy to group campaigns by strategy or area of focus. 

How to Structure Campaign Hierarchies

NMH is using a hierarchy to organize all of their campaign efforts this calendar year. They group all their advocacy efforts under a top-level parent campaign called 2019 Advocacy Campaigns. The second level of parent campaigns represents the key issues they’ll be working to influence this year. Michael is focused on No More Hostile Architecture, which covers several outreach and communication campaigns, including upcoming training workshops. One level below this is campaigns for the specific tactics that help them raise money, drive awareness and petition the city to rethink this strategy. And the foundational level of the hierarchy is each campaign event, like the advocacy training workshop that Michael’s most concerned with. 

NMH’s campaign hierarchy, with a strategic focus at the top, a level of campaigns beneath that for organizing initiatives, and individual campaigns at the bottom.

With all of the NMH advocacy campaigns organized into a hierarchy, the team is able to see results for individual campaigns and whole sections of the hierarchy. Michael can dig into a specific event or email, but also see the overall results for the entire No Hostile Architecture campaign. These insights are exactly the kind of data that he needs to analyze their efforts and report back to the team with recommended next steps.

Using hierarchies for grouping campaigns by strategic focus is just one way to do it. Another way to use hierarchies is to group campaigns by time period. In this approach, the highest level groups activities for an entire year, the second level can be for each quarter, and the third level for individual campaigns within a quarter. At NMH, they sometimes group fundraising campaigns this way. 

Yet another way of using hierarchies is to use the highest level for a large event, like an annual conference. The second level can then be for supporting marketing and outreach efforts, like the event invitation, registration communications, and the third level for tracking attendance at individual sessions.

There’s no wrong way to create your campaign hierarchy structure, but we recommend keeping things as simple as possible. A campaign hierarchy can contain a maximum of five levels, but there is no reason to add levels you don’t need. 

Some third-party online donation and event registration tools might impose constraints on your hierarchy, so be sure you understand those restrictions before you create your structure. No matter what you do, the goal should be to find a system that works best for your organization. Taking some time to work out the options with all of your key stakeholders prior to setting up campaign hierarchies is well worth the effort. 

Gorav assures Michael that he really knows his stuff. It’s time to take action and create the campaigns and campaign hierarchy in NPSP. 

Create a Parent Campaign

The top two levels of parent campaigns NMH is using to organize their outreach efforts this year, 2019 Advocacy Campaigns and No More Hostile Architecture, have already been created (whew!). That’s great, but Michael still needs to create both a parent and multiple child campaigns for the training workshops. He’ll be calling the parent Advocacy Training Days and first of the planned workshops Event: Advocacy Training - Jan 2019.

Conceptually, the NMH hierarchy looks like this: 

NMH’s campaign hierarchy, focusing on the Advocacy Training Days section.

Let’s see how Michael adds his new campaigns, starting with the parent: 

  1. Log in to Salesforce and use the App Launcher ( The app launcher icon.) to find and select NPSP (if you’re not already there).
  2. Click the dropdown arrow on the Campaigns tab and click +New Campaign.
  3. In the New Campaigns form, select a record type. Michael needs to select one from a list on the New Campaign form, which was customized by the NMH admin. Michael chooses Event. Custom record types available on the New Campaign form.
  4. Enter the campaign information:
    1. Enter a Campaign Name. Remember to use a standardized name that everyone in your org will understand easily. For this parent campaign used to group key tactics, Michael enters Advocacy Training Days.
    2. Select a Type. Your Salesforce admin can customize these values and the values that appear for each record type. Michael selects Event.
    3. Select a Status.
    4. Click Active. This box controls which campaigns appear in lookups when you add Contacts and Leads. If you leave this box unchecked, the campaign is archived, meaning it still exists but you have to search for it to see it.
    5. Enter a Parent Campaign. Michael adds No More Hostile Architecture as the parent campaign.
    6. Enter a Start Date and End Date. This is a parent campaign for the entire year, so Michael enters January 1 for the Start Date and December 31 for the End Date.
    7. Enter a short description for the campaign.
      New Campaign: Event form.
  5. Click Save.

Create a Child Campaign

Now that he has the parent campaign set up, Michael’s going to create a child campaign for a specific training event NMH is holding in June. This is how he gets it done:

  1. From the navigation bar in NPSP, click the dropdown arrow on the Campaigns tab and click +New Campaign.
  2. In the New Campaign form, select a record type. Michael selects Event.
  3. Enter the campaign information. This is just like the section he filled out when creating the parent campaign. The only thing that is different this time is the specific information for the campaign.
    1. Enter a Campaign Name. Michael enters the campaign name based on the NMH naming convention - Event: June 2019 - Advocacy Training Day.
    2. Select a Type.
    3. Select a Status.
    4. Click Active.
    5. (Optional) Enter a Parent Campaign. Michael adds Advocacy Training Days.
    6. Enter a Start Date and End Date. Michael enters the date of the event, June 20.
    7. Enter a short description for the campaign.
  4. Complete the Event Info section, if available. The NMH admin created this section and the fields for the team, so you’ll only have this if your admin has done the same. Michael adds the event Location and the On Site Contact.
  5. Click Save.

This is what the new campaign record for the June training workshop looks like:

A new campaign record for an upcoming event.

While he’s at it, Michael wants to add all of the Advocacy Training Days planned for the rest of the fiscal year. The information for each campaign is identical; the only differences are the dates of the events and the name of the campaigns (which reflect the dates, of course). 

Michael is going to make a copy of the first campaign record and modify it slightly, only where he needs to. To do this, he clicks Clone at the top of the original record and then changes the name and date fields to save it as a new record.

Campaign record header, highlighting the Clone button.

View a Campaign Hierarchy

Now that Michael has the all campaign records for his Advocacy Training Days created and organized, he wants to make sure the campaign hierarchy is set up correctly under the No More Hostile Architecture parent campaign. 

He can get to the hierarchy by clicking on the View Campaign Hierarchy button next to the campaign name on a record:

Campaign record header, highlighting the view campaign hierarchy button.

And this is what the hierarchy looks like for the No More Hostile Architecture campaign:

The NMH campaign hierarchy for No More Hostile Architecture.

With all the campaign records in place, Michael is ready to invite constituents to his event. In the next unit, we will tag along as he creates a list for event invitees, runs the campaign, and tracks the responses.