FundRaiser Blog

The FundRaiser Software Blog is an excellent resource for nonprofit organizations looking to learn more about fundraising, donor management, membership management, and much more.

Art-Based Non-Profits Bring Hope to Disaster Recovery Work

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As the recovery continues from the Spring 2017 floods in southern Missouri, non-profits are involved in helping on every level. One key way in my home town of Doniphan, Missouri, has been through the work of two art-focused non-profits-- Radical Joy for Hard Times and the Riverside Art Guild. They have both stepped forward to focus attention on hope. Their projects have taken almost no resources at a time when resources are even more scarce than usual.

It all happened in an almost coincidental way. A project to paint a mural in honor of Earth Day was already scheduled when the rain started to fall at the end of April last year. Due to the weather, the Earth Day mural painting was postponed. The rain continued into May and by the time it stopped, the Southern Ozarks were looking at a daunting and long-term flood recovery

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Learning from experience makes you richer, wiser, & more hopeful

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In this space between the end of the Christmas holidays and the New Year, there's an opportunity to contemplate what has been and what we hope will be. It's a rare person who feels that everything has come to pass that you hoped for... (and if you are one of those people and this is one of those years, Congratulations!)

More often what we experience in the flow of life is a rich mix of events that can be difficult to categorize; whatever they have been, they have given us the opportunity to learn. Looking for what we've learned not only helps build on success, but also can take some of the pain out of events that have not gone as hoped. It lets us turn judgments of 'good vs. bad' or 'success vs. failure' into a much richer experience, an experience that contributes to the total forward momentum and appreciation of life.

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Case Study: Parkesburg Point Surges to Success with #GivingTuesday Crowdfunding Campaign

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Parkesburg Point is going for it this year for #GivingTuesday. Although it isn’t even Tuesday yet, they have already succeeded at reaching their goal. Now they are moving with confidence into their total year-end fundraising. “We were involved with GivingTuesday last year, but didn’t have an effective strategy in place,” says Debbie Shupp, development director for The POINT. “We really wanted a strategic approach this year and Sarah has successfully done that. Sarah created a full strategy and social media campaign.” Parkesburg Point offers extensive services to youth in the area with the help of volunteers, many drawn from local churches. They are FundRaiser Select users. 

Sarah Daniels, the new grants and communications manager who joined The POINT in May, says that the most important aspects of this success were:

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Case Study: Local CASA 'Eclipse Child Abuse' Campaign Succeeds

Case Study: Local CASA 'Eclipse Child Abuse' Campaign Succeeds
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  Although the total Eclipse in August is a thing of the past, funds and volunteers that the 37th Judicial CASA group raised are even now fueling forward  progress. The group exceeded their campaign goal by $5,000 raising a total of $25,000. Perhaps equally important is that a large amount of the money was raised from  new major donors who have a higher likelihood of becoming repeat donors. 

The "Eclipse Child Abuse campaign" had two parts:

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Case Study: Interest in the Total Eclipse Boosts CASA Major Donor Campaign

Case Study:  Interest in the Total Eclipse Boosts CASA Major Donor Campaign
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For this month's total eclipse, Missouri is one of the prime viewing spots. Local media are in love with the eclipse, and one nonprofit group is using that to boost their fundraising campaign. The 37th Judicial CASA, who are FundRaiser Select users, have created an entire campaign around the eclipse, called Eclipse Child Abuse with Child Advocacy.

The campaign has three efforts tied to it:

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What We Plan To Do Today to Celebrate Happiness Happens Day

What We Plan To Do Today to Celebrate Happiness Happens Day

Every year for more than 2 decades, FundRaiser staff get a day off at the beginning of August to celebrate Happiness Happens Day. In the tradition of the founders of FundRaiser, Gene and Marcy Weinbeck, at least once a month, the company has a three-day holiday weekend. In August, when the US has no official holiday, Happiness Happens Day creates that 3-day weekend. The week before Happiness Happens Day, it was fun to speculate about what each one of us might do to celebrate. Here's what we intend... 

Autumn Shirley, CEO- I'm going to visit Crystal Bridges Art Museum. I was there last month and I want to go again. I loved the Chihuly Glass Exhibit. 

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Fundraising Project as a Resilient Recovery Response to Local Disaster

Fundraising Project as a Resilient Recovery Response to Local Disaster

Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks, part 3

Since experiencing the massive flooding in Southern Missouri, I've run into the concept of 'resilience' linked to disaster recovery. It's a great concept. It easily applies to good recovery on the part of  any individual or organization that experiences stress, especially stress that is game-changing. I'd guess that many if not most of the organizations that FundRaiser works with can relate directly to the concept of resilience at this time of great change in our society.In the case of Autumn Shirley, CEO of FundRaiser, fundraising has been a part of her resilient response to the extraordinary experience she and her husband Joshua Shirley, who is CFO of FundRaiser, and other members of the Shirley family went through. Their dramatic story was publicized widely when they survived the flood that unexpectedly forced them to the roof of their river house. 

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Three Key Lessons I Learned About Volunteering When Disaster Struck

Three Key Lessons I Learned About Volunteering When Disaster Struck

Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks, part 2

I usually report about nonprofit activity from the sidelines, but earlier this month massive flooding hit the area where I live. Over a period of 2 weeks, I experienced what it is like to live in a community affected by out-of-control weather.  Due to the efforts of compassionate and resourceful people in my community, a relief effort began immediately. I was fortunate to experience only minor direct effects from the flooding and so was free to volunteer. Now, three weeks later, I've learned many precious lessons about the blessings offered by rolling up your sleeves to volunteer where you can. I know that many of our FundRaiser customers are the front line in making this possible for people all over the world. Here are some key experiences things I learned that I'm grateful for: 

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Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks

Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks

The water has swept on from the floods that raged through this region less than 2 weeks ago. It took with it all that it had the power to carry away. It left behind not just confusion and debris, but also an opportunity for communities to rise higher than the water ever did, and they are doing so. All members of the FundRaiser staff were touched directly by the impact of the floods which spread over the entire region where the FundRaiser office is located. Each responded with energy and courage as matched their situation, and all have been left with a deeper understanding for customers involved in disaster relief.  

Tamara Lovan of Technical Support went right to work volunteering. "Heading to Carmichael Field to assist with sorting flood debris starting at noon. This evening we will be helping gather donations at the Civic Center," she wrote us after being one of the first to track down where the volunteers were gathering. 

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Spring Brings New Growth- Facebook flash sales and more

Spring Brings New Growth- Facebook flash sales and more

With Spring, the Ozarks come truly alive. It's one of the most gorgeous places on Earth, with lots of rain, vibrant green grass, and sweet tiny flowers. It's impossible to remain untouched by all the beauty and growth, and we have been touched! As the first shrubs began blooming a few weeks ago, Autumn Shirley, CEO of FundRaiser and I sat down and brainstormed ideas to make our Facebook page more of a resource for you. We came up with some great ideas-- some brand new and a few tweaks to old standards.

Brand new are the weekly Facebook-only Flash Sales, which include things like discounts on modules, donor portal set up, NCOA processing, training credits, additional user licenses and more. These are only available on Facebook, so be sure to check our page each week to stay in the know.

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FundRaiser Founder Reflects on the New FundRaiser Leadership

FundRaiser Founder Reflects on the New FundRaiser Leadership

"What does it feel like to watch FundRaiser move into a new phase?" I asked FundRaiser founder Gene Weinbeck, who retired last year after a gradual turn over of leadership to Autumn and Joshua Shirley. He stopped by the FundRaiser office  last week to join in the fun of celebrating birthdays for several staff members who, like himself, were born in January. 

After a thoughtful pause, he shared these reflections on the past, present and future of FundRaiser... 

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The Who, What, and When of Tax Summary Letters

The Who, What, and When of Tax Summary Letters

What is an End of Year letter? Usually it is one of two things:

a letter which contains a summary of all donations that a donor has made to your organization in the past year. This is sent in January, to help donors with their taxes.an appeal letter which is sent in November and December to solicit donations.

This article will go more in depth about tax summary letters. You might be surprised at the return you get from this simple and helpful correspondence.

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Raymond Carson Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff

Raymond Carson Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff
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Raymond, on left, enjoys watermelon with Josh Shirley, right, at the FundRaiser staff party

Raymond started working in FundRaiser Technical Support in a smooth transition when former FundRaiser Support Technician Lee Johnson moved to another job. Lee asked Raymond if he might be interested in working at FundRaiser.

Raymond followed up on the suggestion and both he and FundRaiser staff felt it was a great fit. “I like it here. It’s a good place,” says Raymond. “I’m cheerful, and I try to have a positive influence. It’s great to work in a place like FundRaiser that values happiness, too, and wants people to be happy at work while they are helping others.”

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Tamara Lovan Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff

Tamara Lovan Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff
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Eye image by Tamara Lovan

Tamara Lovan is the newest FundRaiser Support Technician. You may hear her voice and enjoy her pleasant, easy-going style of helping people use their software now if you call in to FundRaiser Technical Support.

She is enthusiastic about joining the FundRaiser staff and working in an area where her personal interest lies. Her computer involvement in the past has been with coding related to website and game development, and computer art, such as animation and 3D modeling. The graphic images in this blog post, including the header are Tamara's work. “I enjoy the educational aspect of it all.”

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Successful Closure to My First Fundraising Campaign

Successful Closure to My First Fundraising Campaign

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, I tried my own hand this year at fundraising for an organization I support. From creating my first fundraising campaign, to doing a little extra donor outreach with FundRaiser to reach our campaign goal, I enjoyed the experience and look forward to more. 

One of the very satisfying things was not just reaching the fundraising goal, but also an additional and important side benefit that I had not foreseen:  Based in part on the work our fundraising committee did, we had a wonderful turn out for the event in spite of some challenges that hit just before the event took place. Here's what happened...

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How A Little Bit of Donor Outreach Created Campaign Success

How A Little Bit of Donor Outreach Created Campaign Success

In June, I tried my hand at my first fundraising campaign. I started with a basic mailing to loyal donors. You can read about my beginning efforts in my blog post here.   

After I sent the letters out, I didn’t have to wait long before our first donations came in. Loyal donors replied rapidly, and it was great fun to open the envelopes and see their notes and checks. 

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10 Ways to Find, Enjoy, or Spread a Little Happiness

10 Ways to Find, Enjoy, or Spread a Little Happiness

Monday is Happiness Happens Day, and FundRaiser has a long tradition of celebrating the day, established by the company founders. In anticipation of the day, staff spent a little time contemplating happiness - what makes them happy on the job, off the job... and their favorite recommendations for increasing your level of happiness. Here's their list in honor of the day of... 

 FundRaiser staff, left to right: Autumn Shirley, Jonathan Smith, Joshua Shirley, Sasha Daucus, & Lee Johnson. Photo by Mary Lenker. 10 Ways to Find, Enjoy or Spread a Little Happiness:Writing a thank you noteDoing a Random Act of Kindness, like paying for the hamburger of the person in the car behind you at the drive-through window. Going out to a rock, or other safe, beautiful place, and meditating.ExercisingTaking a  walk and keeping an eye out for the things that are really interesting to you, even just little details.  Calling a friend and noticing the things you most like and admire about them. Hanging out with kitties Have a good honest talk with someone about what it really going on with you.  Getting some fresh airTaking some time off, even if it feels like you have a lot to do! What Makes Us Happy on the Job

On the job, staff find enjoyment in the pleasure of working with people we admire and appreciate; and we find enjoyment in the challenges of the job. "I love the people I work with and like helping people do good works," says Jonathan Smith, support technician. His teammate, Lee Johnson loves the opportunity to solve problems.

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5 Simple Ways to Publicize Your Memorial Giving Program to Donors

5 Simple Ways to Publicize Your Memorial Giving Program to Donors
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Example of reply envelope text. This is the First Witness reply envelope, and the text is on the back under the flap. It has generated much of their memorial gift donations.

Memorial giving feels good. A donor is able to give to an organization they or a loved one values, and at the same time express a positive connection to someone important to them. Because of the all-around 'feel good' of memorial giving, organizations who successfully promote this kind of donation reap the benefits not only of the gifts, but also the extra good feelings associated with the gifts.

Letting your donors know that they can give to your organization in honor of someone can be very simple and straightforward. Becky Lindberg of First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center and a FundRaiser Select user says, "it is such an easy painless way to keep people connected to your program."

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Creating My First Fundraising Mailing

Creating My First Fundraising Mailing

At FundRaiser Software, staff members are experts in helping nonprofit organizations use our software. We have learned a lot about the how-to's of fundraising from our customers... but very few of us do it ourselves. For me, over the years, I've become eager to try my own hand at it. Yesterday, my wish came true as I mailed out my own first fundraising campaign. The experience was both fun and humbling, giving me a new and deeper appreciation of the work that our customers do daily! 

Let me say at the start, that the organization I volunteer for has done well for more than 35 years tracking donors by spreadsheet and memory. It's understandable that when I suggested using a FundRaiser program they were wary. This year, however, the other volunteers at the organization agreed to let me have a go at it... as long as I was the one working with FundRaiser.   

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How to figure Retention and Attrition Rate in FundRaiser

How to figure Retention and Attrition Rate in FundRaiser

In Kim Klein's article on stopping a subtle decline in donations, she mentions the importance knowing your donor retention and attrition rates. You can figure donor retention (how many you have kept) and atttrition (how many you lost) easily using Fundraiser. 

Both are calculated by taking all the donors you had in the previous calendar year and comparing which of those donors gave in the most current complete calendar year. In other words, which of the people who gave in 2014 also gave in 2015? Expressing that number as a percentage of loss gives you your attrition rate; expressed as a percentage of renewal gives you your retention rate.

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