Life Radio Ministries website
Life Radio Ministries needed to update their donor management software. “We were using something that had served us well enough over the years, but it was becoming extremely expensive to maintain, as well as being outdated. We decided to look for something that was more reasonably priced and which had stayed up with technology,” says Joe Emert, General Manager of Life Radio Ministries.
Life Radio Ministries operates a network of non-profit, non-commercial educational Christian radio stations. They use FundRaiser Professional.
A colleague knew about Joe’s search for software and picked up a packet of information at the National Religious Broadcaster’s convention (NRB ). He passed the information about FundRaiser Software along to Joe. “I was at same convention,” says Joe, “but I didn’t see the information.”
Joe looked over the packet and after thoroughly researching other options, settled on FundRaiser. He was looking for features that allow him to create a personal, ‘high touch’ connection with donors and FundRaiser had the tools he needed. “I am so happy that we found FundRaiser. After doing the research and looking at various companies, I am glad that we chose it,” he says.
Moving donor data from an old program into the new
Getting data out of an old program and into new software can be a major challenge. Getting data into FundRaiser went wonderfully according to Joe. “I’ve spent years working with data and doing donor management. I know how hard data migration can be. The FundRaiser staff did a fantastic job with my data migration.”
Giving communications a human touch
“The most important way FundRaiser has helped us be successful is just being able to give our communications a more human touch,” says Joe. “Donors share personal things in letters when they send donations. For instance they might say that they recently lost a loved one. I want to be able to use my software to respond to that person, to create ‘high touch’ communication, and even to become friend.”
Joe makes it part of his mission to interact with donors as people. He also knows that a good relationship to a donor can have a positive impact on giving. “I don’t just do things to help me get another donation and yet I know that if I meet the needs of a donor not just on the radio but also by responding appropriately to an inquiry or something that is said in a letter, that creates a better relationship. I want to be more than a Christian broadcaster. I also want to be someone who cares about the person who is writing this letter. They are people to me and I want them to know that,” says Joe.
Achieving ‘high touch’ donor management
Features that make segmentation easy have been particularly helpful to Joe in achieving high touch donor management. In FundRaiser, the feature that is most important for segmentation is called Groupings. “FundRaiser helps me to easily set up groups, and to create segments of our donors who have things in common. Then I can send out special letters or invitations based on their interests. That is so easy in the Grouping process.”
“By learning how to understand how grouping ‘thinks’, how I can pull my data together, I’ve been able to be in better touch with my donors based on categories they fit. It helps me be more personal with my donors. When you have as many donors as we have in the system, there are limits to what you can remember. FundRaiser helps me remember things about them, so that the relationship can still have a personal feeling to it,” says Joe.
“The secret is to properly code people according to their interests. As with any technology, it’s still garbage in, garbage out. We are learning to better code things so that we can pull things out properly,” advises Joe.
Making daily mail processing easy
“FundRaiser makes processing daily mail so easy, too,” says Joe. “When we answer mail, we can stay completely within FundRaiser. We don’t export out to Word. I know you can also export out to Word with FundRaiser, but it works for us to do the word processing within the program and eliminate that need to merge out to another program.
Adding a personal P.S. to letters
“As we work with the software, we also continue to learn that there are even more ways that FundRaiser can help us with ‘high touch’ communication,” says Joe. One way is through a feature that makes adding a personal note to a donor letter easy. “I love the fact that if the donor asks something in a letter or makes a comment, I can easily comment back. That way, they know that I have read the letter and am paying attention.”
He makes sure that he responds to specific comments in letters through a simple feature in the word processing portion of the program. This feature lets you record a note that will automatically merge into your donor thank you letter. “I can do this easily while entering gifts. I may be going through a batch of 100 donations where a few of them have included a personal comment or question. When I see that, I go into the Notes tab and enter in a ‘letter note’. That automatically merges in as a P.S. when I print out my thank you letters.”
Pledge tracking made easier
Life Radio Ministries processes a high volume pledges and Joe says FundRaiser helps greatly with pledge tracking. “When I enter a person’s donation, the software recognizes if the donor has an active pledge. I don’t have to look that up. If there is an active pledge, the donation entry defaults to pledge payment,” says Joe.
“We have an annual fund drive coming up Thursday at one of our network stations. A week and a half later, we’ll be doing another four day fund drive at another station. We’ll be entering hundreds, maybe thousands of pledges. Later, throughout the year, as people pay on their pledges, FundRaiser will automatically keep the pledge balance current. When people call and ask what is left on their pledges, we can tell them,” says Joe.
‘High Touch’ tech support at FundRaiser
‘I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the staff at FundRaiser. When I call support, and we are on the phone together, maybe waiting on a download or upload, we tend to chat. For instance, I know that the staff eats lasagna and pizza made with goat cheese.” Sherry in tech support makes the cheese herself. “I know that Larry Weaver in training works at another site. I worked closely with Joe Salrin while doing the data migration. I guess if two guys both have the same name, then they are just bound to get along well,” Joe Emert says with a smile in his voice.
“At NRB, I met Autumn and Josh, who run the company. It was fun meeting and talking there. I was able to ask some support questions and Josh was able to walk me through some things I was wondering about,” says Joe.
Input into developing features for FundRaiser
“When I talked to Autumn and Josh at NRB, I also gave them some suggestions on the software. One of the things that I asked for was a highlight bar for the Master list of donors. That was implemented. Whatever name I am looking at now is highlighted across all data columns. That is great because it helps my eyes track along so I stay on the same line.,”
“I use the software pretty extensively. It was nice to see that FundRaiser knows that we end users are the first line of defense on making the software better. We certainly know what we need to work more easily. I understand I am using the software that has to work for many kinds of nonprofits, and that I won’t need everything in it. Still, it has the things we need, and for the most part it is perfect for our uses,” says Joe.
Tech Tip: Making your own "high-touch" connections using FundRaiser with GiftToolby Larry Weaver