Transactions vs. Activities

In running reports, it is helpful to understand the underlying structure of how information is stored in your Flipcause Database.

Just like your Flipcause Campaigns serve as containers in which your supporters can take various actions, your Transactions in Flipcause are the containers in which the records of those actions are stored. The records of those actions are called Activities. This means that “transactions” and “activities” are on different hierarchical levels and have different kinds of information attached to them.

The different kind of Activities that can be taken on Flipcause are: Payments (donations), Registrations (event RSVPS/ticket purchases), Volunteer signups, Online Store (item) orders, Sponsorship (rewards) orders, and Mailing List Sign Ups. If you’re wondering what mailing list signups is, this Activity usually happens automatically in every Transaction - there’s a checkbox in the checkout screen where someone opts in to your mailing list. This allows you to download subscription lists specifically for import into your Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or other email marketing platform

Each Transaction has one or more Activities in it.

Example 1:  A $25 cash donation.

  • Some information attached to the Transaction: 
    • the transaction amount;
    • payment method used;
    • the name, email, address of the person who made the Transaction.
  • Now, this Transaction happens to have just one Activity: it was a $25 donation. Some information attached to the Donation Activity:
    • the donation amount;
    • the title for the $25 giving level;
    • tribute information; and
    • the name of the person who made the donation and their email and address.

You can see that in this particular example, the person’s name and contact for both the Donation Activity and the Transaction happen to be the same, so they seem interchangeable, but they won't be the information in all cases. If Sue is using her husband Bob's credit card to make a Donation, the donor might be Bob, but the person making the Transaction might be Sue. This very rarely happens but is an important illustration of the difference between the Transaction level info and the Activity level info. You'll also notice that the $25 is also the same amount for both the Transaction and the Donation, but if a processing fee was paid, then the transaction amount would be different from the donation amount. Things like tribute information and donation level title are not related to the Transaction at all, they are only related to the Donation Activity specifically. You can think of the Transaction as the blanket charge and exchange that takes place, which is done for a specific Activity or combination of Activities.

Example 2:  A purchase of 4 event tickets totaling $200.

  • Some information attached to the Transaction: 
    • the transaction amount;
    • payment method used;
    • the name, email, address of the person making the Transaction. 
  • This Transaction includes different Activity: a purchase of 4 discounted tickets at $50 each to an event. Some information that is attached to the Activity:
    • the price paid for each ticket,
    • discount code used,
    • the names of participants (each of the ticket holders),
    • what seating assignments were chosen, etc.

Notice that the information on the Transaction level of this is identical to the Transaction level of Example 1. However, the activity data, since it is a totally different type of Activity, is entirely different than that which is applicable to Donations/Payments Activity.

Also, in this example, the difference between the Transaction and the Activity is a lot clearer. In this case, the person making the Transaction might have been one of the ticket holders, but not necessarily. Maybe Mike bought 4 tickets for his friends. Mike would be the name on the Transaction, while his friends and their seating assignments will be the information on the Registration Activity but not the Transaction.

There will also be other Transactions where a person did multiple things - perhaps they made a donation (Payment), bought a tee shirt (Online Store Order), and registered for a free event (Registration) all in one Transaction.

Knowing the difference between Transactions and Activities will be instrumental in knowing what type of report to generate. For example, to get a headcount of everyone coming to your event, you’ll want to use the Registration Activity report type, not the Transaction report type. If you want to know how much money you’ve raised, you’ll want to pull a Transaction report, not a Donation report - since only the full Transaction Report will indicate how much money was received.

The last option under Report Type is Refunded Payments. This is like a transaction report, but only for refunds. You can refund directly from your Flipcause Dashboard, and every refund creates a new transaction, which you'll find in the Refunded Payments report type.