Students at Bishop McDevitt HSwww.mcdevitths.org

After their expensive and complicated donor management software crashed, Bishop McDevitt High School decided they needed another solution. They decided to switch to FundRaiser Professional. "The President of the school was familiar with FundRaiser and was comfortable with the usability and economics,” says Kate Hagarty, Director of Institutional Advancement.

After adopting FundRaiser, the school used it happily for two years in the installed version. Then the online version of FundRaiser became available, and they decided to make the move to FundRaiser Hosted. Bishop McDevitt High School serves the educational needs of Catholic families in the Philadelphia area. They are FundRaiser Hosted users.

Access to the data everywhere

“The switch is going very well,” says Kate. “The online capabilities give me access to the data everywhere. I was just on maternity leave, and I was able to continue to keep my hand in the loop from home, checking out donations and contacting donors.”

In addition to Kate, three other people access FundRaiser. “We all like the online access,” she says. "We use it it if we meet a donor while we're out of the office. The president and I also used it recently at a conference of other schools we were at. We just hooked into FundRaiser online and were able to easily compare data with other schools. We could compare giving in different age groups and things like that. Everything is mobile and you get used to that, so having access when you are out feels natural.”

Multiple users, multiple locations works smoothly

To keep the database clean and accurate, the school has set up data entry guidelines. Kate does all the gift updating. During a mailing, the school may receive anywhere from twenty to forty gifts per week. “The acknowledgment process is good in FundRaiser. The Quick gift entry is helpful, when you have one campaign out and every one has the same attribution,” says Kate.

Other tasks are done with the help of two other people, the director of Alumni Relations and Director of Public Relations. “The online features are great. We love them,” says Kate.

Finding your most generous alumni classes

As with many schools, alumni support is important. Tracking donors by graduation class helps Kate see which classes of alumni are most generous. By marking donor records with a code that indicates year of graduation, it is easy to generate reports that compare one class year’s giving to another. “Creating codes is nice and easy to do. It’s a logical process,” says Kate.

For Bishop McDevitt School, the most generous alumni classes are 1960’s – 1970’s. Tracking has also shown that classes 2004 – 2009 are giving in higher amounts. Kate has cultivated online giving as a way to engage the newer graduates. “People are more aware of philanthropy now, and they like to give online and to receive notices online.”

Good strategies to increase online giving

Kate is using some very successful strategies to increase online giving.“Our online giving is up this year, to 7% of total donations. That is compared to last year, when it was at 5% and to 6 years ago when no donations were coming in online. We’ve also added a recurring donations option with online giving. The income is steady and it’s starting to increase,” says Kate.

“We tried something new in last year’s annual fund drive that helped increase online giving. In the written materials, we included just the first paragraph of student testimonials, and said ‘for an extended version see online’. We had dozens and dozens of amazing testimonials from the students, which answered questions like, ‘what do donations mean to you?’ This got people to go to the website and once there, then it is an easier jump to give online.”

“We also did a special email reminder at the end of the year. We sent out a last chance appeal email and linked it to our online giving and it was fantastic. We sent it out in June this year, and received at least $1000 just from that mailing, and more donations that we believe were inspired by the mailing but didn't come in online. The link to the online giving form was right there in the email. A lot of people just hadn’t thought about making a donation, and all they needed was a reminder. We now have a link to the online giving page in every version of our email, and all our email newsletters.”

Creating a culture of giving

“We are trying to create a culture of giving, and to make our students aware of where their tuition assistance is coming from so someday they might be able to do the same,” explains Kate.

“We have mandatory fundraisers for the students. We also have mandatory volunteer work. Students help out in our phonathon. They receive extensive training for the phone fundraising. We explain that this is a good skill to have going into college or university, where they also want students to help out in phonathons.”

“Another thing we do here is to have them make a senior pledge, which is the amount of their graduating class, like $20.11. It helps them become aware of annual giving and also helps us track where they are in that difficult stage between their graduation and the first job.

Good tracking of memorial funds

Kate is also responsible for keeping track of the amount of money in specially designated memorial funds that have been established over the years. “These funds are more like grants. Each memorial fund has certain bylaws that we have to follow. Any money disbursed from a particular fund is dependant on how much is in the fund that year. These funds cover a lot of different needs. We depend on them, not just for tuition assistance, but also for other needs like sports activities. One fund even provides for defibrillators to be available in the school.” 

The tracking is quite complex, and FundRaiser helps by making it easy to label sections of the pot clearly. “In FundRaiser, I can clearly designate gifts going into a fund and I know how much is in each fund. Any money disbursed from a particular fund is dependant on how much is in the fund that year. Someone else does the accounting, but my job is to know how much of the larger pot belongs to the smaller sections,” says Kate.

Help when you need it

To new users, Kate says, “FundRaiser is very user friendly. Just dive in and try the different functions. If you need it, customer support is very helpful. Any question I had at the beginning was a phone call or email away. I know how much FundRaiser support can help, because we depended on it at the beginning. The person who was filling in on the job before I got here had never used fundraising software before. Customer support helped her through all of that.”

Resources

Alumni Tracking in FundRaiser Software by Larry Weaver

FundRaiser Online and/or Hosted by Larry Weaver

The Right Tool for the Job: training options for FundRaiser by Larry Weaver

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