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Gnosis has three record types that either directly manage gifts or commitments to pay gifts:

  • Invoices
  • Subscriptions (Used for pledges and paid memberships)
  • Contributions

Each of these record types has a different purpose in Gnosis and this article provides an overview of when to use them.


Invoices in Gnosis are a means to record that a payment is due on or by a specific date in the near future.  For example, if someone promises to pay for something in the next month or two, raising an invoice is an excellent way to track if the promised payment has been received.  Certain other areas in Gnosis automatically generate invoices - such as event registrations for fundraisers.  In that case, the invoices are often raised and paid at the same time while some may be paid for at a later date.

Pledge/Subscription Records

If someone promises to pay an amount over a period of time, you could raise an invoice and add multiple line items with different dates on each line item, however, this does not offer the flexibility of scheduling automated payments and easily tracking when each installment is due.  For this purpose, we have the Subscription record type.

Subscription records exist for three purposes:

  • To manage the raising of invoices at scheduled intervals when promised payments are due
  • To easily track how much of a total committed has been received or how many of a number of committed installments have been received.
  • To manage the process of billing credit cards at agreed intervals

Fundamentally, the purpose of the subscription record is to manage the invoicing process and provide a single point of reference for how much of a single commitment over a period of time has been paid.

So, in summary, a Pledge/Subscription record by its-self is not a record of payment or request for payment, rather, it is an instrument for managing multiple invoices that represent the amount of a total commitment and progress on paying that commitment

When to Use Subscriptions or Just Invoices.

If you think that a specific promised amount will be trackable easily via a single invoice, then there is no need to raise a subscription to manage it.  If however the payment is to be paid over an extended period and will be paid in periodic installments of about the same amount, then a subscription may make the process of managing the commitment easier seeing it will raise invoices when each installment is due.


The term "Contributions" in Gnosis refers to gifts that are received without needing to be tracked as to whether a commitment to pay has been met.  If a commitment to pay is being tracked via an invoice (either raised manually or via a subscription) but the payment has been received and logged in as a contribution, you can easily apply that gift to an open invoice by choosing the "Convert to Invoice Payment" option available at the end of the contribution line on the contributions tab.

Contributions Tab and the Contribution Batch Entry Screen

On a person's Contributions Tab and in all queries and reporting, all Contribution Gifts and Invoice Gifts show up together in one place.  This is done for convenience so that you do not need to switch between the Contributions and Invoices areas to see all gift history.

The Contribution Batch Entry screen, however, deals with only entries of Contribution-type gifts, not with invoice-type gifts.  Gifts recorded on Invoices will show on the invoice tab, contributions tab, and in reports such as in the batch management center report, but invoices will not show up as line items in the Contribution Batch Entry screen.

Note: Open invoices and Subscriptions/Pledges/Memberships also show up on the Contribution Batch Entry Screen when you select a new person or organization to receive a gift. This is done so that you can see if a received payment should, in fact, be directed to pay a subscription or invoice instead of being receipted as a simple contribution.








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