When Erika Zimmerman was hired as director of development for the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Kansas, her first responsibility was get the donor records into better shape.
The Club had been using FundRaiser Basic for nine years. Back then, when they’d purchased Basic, they had fewer donors, fewer events, and less time to spend on records. FundRaiser Basic served them well during this early period. The organization thrived.
Now, everything has grown: more donors, more events, and Erika was hired to give the database the time it needed. Evaluating it in light of where the organization is now, Erika found some important things she couldn’t do in Basic.
"One of the biggest issues is tracking event sponsors. Some of our donors support several of the fundraisers. In Basic we could not find a way to link each of our sponsors to all their events. Because of that, it was hard to make sure that all the donors were notified when we sent out a letter about an event they had sponsored in the past. For instance, if we had them linked to one fundraiser, then they wouldn’t be linked to the Run."
Another problem is the limited number of codes. "We could not put in all of the information about the donors that we wanted into Basic," says Erika.
Erika decided that FundRaiser Select had what she needed, and upgraded.
The move from Basic to Select
"It was about my third month on the job, and I was scared to death of loosing information when moved it from Basic to Select. I read the instructions 3 or 4 times. It recommended that you set aside at least an hour to make the move. Then, it was so simple. It took me about 20 minutes. It was amazing," says Erika.
"The only thing that was difficult was that I had changed some of the codes. I went back and had to edit those by hand, but that went very easily. I thought it would be a lot harder, but it was very very easy."
More reports, better accounting, more donations
Erika has been happy with Select. "I think it is great. It has helped. We have been a lot better able to keep track of our fundraising numbers and compare them to our accounting numbers. I run a report every month and compare that with the one our financial director does."
"We were also able to pull up our lapsed donors [with the lapsed donor report]. We got letters out to them and we’ve had a high percentage of response. I tracked all the people who donated, and specifically the people that had given in 2003 and not any time since. We had a high response rate from people who haven’t given in 4 -5 years. Now we definitely have them back. We’re sending them newsletters and invitations to things. They said, ‘Oh, I’m glad you contacted me! We thought you had forgotten about us.’ "
"We are facing some challenges with state budget cuts and local budget cuts. The lapsed donor report has helped. I also really like the Master list and how you can glance at the colors and see who has donated and not donated. We’ve sent some letters based on that and gotten some donations. Compared to last year, we are, surprisingly, about even. We were expecting a low year, but we are going to break even," says Erika.