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The Basics of Fundraising

First, there are many types of fundraising - grants, product sales, special events, phonathons, etc, etc. But, more money is raised every year through direct individual donations (85% of all money raised in the US) than from all other sources combined. That 85% consists of large donations and small. It's true that a single large donation can make a huge impact on a small organization, but it's the steady stream of small donations that keep most nonprofits afloat. Both are essential to the well-being of nonprofits, but for small organizations the small donations are the hard ones to track and maintain. And that's where a donor management program, even our entry-level FundRaiser Basic, shines.

Fundraising is all about relationships. It's about getting your donors interested and emotionally involved in what your organization does. You do that by telling stories primarily about who you have helped, but also about the obstacles overcome (by your clients and by you), about the successes achieved, and sometimes about the failures.
You do this in letters and in newsletters.

It's about getting your donors and prospective donors as excited as you are, and then finding ways to let them express that excitement in a manner that is convenient and affordable for them, and that is rewarding.
With each story, remind them that this success is only possible through the continued support of good friends like them, and then provide a pre-addressed envelope (it doesn't have to be stamped) to make it easy to send in a donation.

It's also about maintaining their involvement over time, which requires ongoing contact on your part, and this is where you rely on FundRaiser even more.
First and foremost, you send a thank you letter for each and every donation. There is a fundraising slogan, "Thank before you bank." which means that you should mail the thank you letter before you deposit the check.
"Ongoing contact" means sending a newsletter or personal letter (use FundRaiser to print these) at least twice a year (preferably quarterly) to everyone who has given in the past 2 years. Mail once a year to everyone who has given within the past 4 years. If it's been more than 4 years, mail to them rarely if ever. With FundRaiser, it's easy to keep up with this if you enter each and every donation into FundRaiser on a timely basis (at least once a week).

There are lots of techniques that build on this very basic concept of building and maintaining a relationship with your donors. First read the article on Getting Started. You'll also find most fundraising practices explained and discussed in the FundClass archives.

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