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.

Mary Lenker

Mary Lenker

I believe that when we join together to do good in our own ways that there’s no limit to what we can achieve, which makes my work at FundRaiser that much more special because I love helping so many organizations reach their goals.

There are three main reports within FundRaiser for viewing donor or donation data: Master, Donor, and Donation. Each of these reports contains separate pieces of information, though there is some overlap between the reports. Each report has a unique use.

The Master Report is one of the few reports where you can see information for non-donors in your database. The variations allow you to look at donor codes, donor addresses, or donor information including gifts.

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There are times when you are looking to see the names and addresses for your donors, and FundRaiser supports multiple ways of retrieving this information. If you need a list to use as a print out, for example, then the Master Report has a variation which only prints names and addresses. You can access this through Reports > Master Report.

If you need to export those names and addresses to send to a vendor for printing mailings or to import into another system, the most efficient way to obtain this information is to follow a 2-step process.
  1. First, create a grouping of the individuals whom you wish to include in the mailing list. 
  2. Then, go to File > Export, select your grouping, and export the names and addresses directly into a CSV (Excel-compatible) file. You can export additional fields such as total giving or last gift as well if you'd like.
By choosing one of these methods you'll be able to export names and addresses in a format that will work for your organization and in an easy to transfer manner.

To learn more on this and related topics, sign up for one of our live webinar training classes or contact support at 800-543-4131 or Support@FundRaiserSoftware.com 
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When you upgrade to a new version, such as the recent new release of FundRaiser, it is good to familiarize yourself with the new features. A great way to do that is to read the update notes, which are easily available through the Help menu after you update the software.

Just click on Help and look for the selection that says “Read Update Notes”. Click on that to bring up the document. The Update Notes are a snapshot of the changes that were made to FundRaiser since the last update. Focus on the column marked “New.” These are the new features for this release. If you don’t understand a feature or how to use it, please contact support. We’ll be happy to help you.

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What would you do with 22 more minutes each day? According to a survey by IT staffing firm Robert Half Technologies, most workers lose approximately 22 minutes every day due to technical issues. That’s 4 hours and 24 minutes per 5-day work week. Or to put it in another context, its 228 hours and 48 minutes, or roughly 5 ¾ weeks out of your year! Of course, this could be anything from a slow computer to printer issues; however, when it comes to your FundRaising software, you don’t have to lose any time at all!

The support team at FundRaiser is always available to answer questions. From a quick how-to question or a more intensive technical issue, our talented and friendly support technicians want to help. Part of that 22 minutes each day also comes from trying to learn about the programs that we use and how these work. Here, too, FundRaiser Software has our customers covered. In addition to our support team, we offer on-demand training videos as well as a full schedule of training classes.

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If you are going to use last year's letter, it is good to review the letter in FundRaiser’s Word Processor, if the letter was used in FundRaiser previously. One of the common problems we see in Tech Support regarding Tax Summary letters is when people would like to use the letter from last year, and it isn't showing the right gift amounts. That’s easily solved. 

With the letter open in FundRaiser, click on the Gift List or Gift Total Function code and make sure that the date range is in the right year. You can also remove the merge function for the total giving or gift list and reenter it, and that will allow you the opportunity to reenter the date range. 

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One of the most frustrating experiences as a nonprofit is to send out a carefully crafted appeal letter only to have several envelopes be returned as unable to be delivered by the post office. Not only have you spent postage and used paper and time to send the letters, but your message won’t reach your donors. How do you prevent this from happening?

NCOA, or National Change of Address, is a United States Post Office program designed to prevent non-deliverable mail. The USPS maintains a database of all permanent address changes within the past three years by people who have completed change of address cards. When you export your database and use a USPS licensed processor, they will run your donors’ addresses through this program and provide you with information such as a changed address, the complete ZIP+4 zip code, which helps with mail processing, and which addresses are not valid without any further information. When you merge the received data back into your database, it will be updated and your donors coded appropriately to help you better manage your mailings.

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Groupings are a useful way to work with a large number of donor records, such as printing a report or sending correspondence. However, depending on your criteria, you may not need to create a grouping. When you click Customize on the report preview screen, you are brought to a new window with four tabs, and one of these says “Advanced”. On both reports and correspondence, you can use the Advanced tab to set the criteria you wish to use in running the report. (For example, people who gave in the last twelve months or gave over a certain dollar amount.)

For correspondence, using the Advanced tab is helpful for year-end letters. Instead of creating a grouping, you can use the Advanced tab to limit your letters to individuals who gave during the calendar year.

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FundRaiser Software provides many tools for managing event participation and donation. Users of FundRaiser Pro have access to the Campaigns and Events Module, which will track participation, donations, sponsorships, and provides detailed reporting. If you’re interested in the Campaigns and Events Module, you’re encouraged to sign up for the next training class.

However, even without the Campaigns and Events Module, you can keep track of campaign participation several ways. The Motivation Code records what motivated someone to give, and that’s usually because they attended an event or received a mailer. Using a unique motivation code will allow you to run reports as well as create groupings based off of event donations.

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Different people and organizations will have different backup needs. To set up a schedule that works for you, consider the following questions

  • How much data loss would you consider 'allowable loss"- fairly simple to recreate
  • How often do you enter data?
  • How much of your data would be difficult or impossible to recreate?

These questions will give you the answer for how often you need to back up.  If your computer crashes and you lose all your data, how recent was your last back up? Does it cover the data which would be difficult or impossible to recreate? If you enter a lot of information regularly, you may want to back up weekly. 

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Going back and cultivating your database will give you additional opportunities to reach out. Run periodic reports to find your lapsed donors, for example people who haven’t donated in the last 6 months. Use those reports for additional donor outreach.

Both the Donor and the Donation Report are good to use. For instance, you might want to usee

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Campaigns are generally recorded in FundRaiser through the Motivation code, which is a gift code. The Motivation Code tells what motivated the donor to give to your organization. These codes usually correspond to the campaign that an organization is running when the donation is made.

In FundRaiser Professional there are some additional gift code options- Period and Miscellaneous. These are good ways to get more detail on a campaign. Period codes are usually used when you do multiple mailings are done on the same campaign. For instance, if you do 4 mailings on a campaign, the Period Code shows which season each of the mailings was sent it, and allows you to see the differences in response according to the time period.

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Don’t be afraid to compose your fundraising letters in the FundRaiser word processor. It has many of the same features, such as bold, italics, or bullet points, as other word processing programs like Microsoft Word.

Using it will make letter merging easier than if you write your letter in another program and paste it into the FundRaiser word processor. This is  because there is often hidden code in other word processors that will affect how your letter will look. This is especially true with bullet points and paragraph formatting. When you write letters directly in the FundRaiser word processor, they will appear true to the formatting that you apply.

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My family is big on writing letters, and I think there’s no more powerful form of written communication than a letter in the mail. It shows that someone took the time to write, print, sign, and mail a letter. The organization (or the individual) cared enough to use a stamp and make sure the letter got to the carrier or the post office. It’s a personal way to communicate.

FundRaiser has many features for helping you with this fine mode of communication. One feature that I'd like to highlight here is that of being able to mark letters active or inactive as necessary. This comes in very handy for events which occur on a regular basis. How does this work?

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 In Tony's blog post, Financial vs. Development, he discusses two different possibilities on pledges-- are they a firm commitment, or are they more a promise to make a contribution in the future. This might seem like semantics, but when it comes to financial tracking, you would want to handle them differently. Here's an article from previous FundRaiser lead trainer, Larry Weaver, that helps you decide how you might want to handle these two different situations. 

1.  Divide and Conquer:  Pledge or Promise?

First, it's good to know whether your pledges are better tracked through FundRaiser's Pledge Module (optional in Select, included in Professional) or not.  That will depend on the make-up of the pledge itself.  

If a person (or organization) promises to give you a particular gift in the future, and will be giving it to you in one payment, then you don't need to use the Pledge Module, necessarily.  The determining factor, in this case, might be whether you need to track promised payments as "accounts receivable" for accounting purposes.  If so, you'll probably want to use the Pledge Module, as it makes it easier to do.  If not, then you may just need to use the Gift Type Code "Later - Promise to Pay", to record a pledged amount.  

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Now that January is coming to a close and end of year letters have been printed and mailed, it’s time to think about other ways in which you can prepare for the upcoming year. Performing some general maintenance tasks will help keep your FundRaiser running smoothly and your donor management process easy.

First, think about the letters you send. With the change in the calendar, you can update the accomplishments or perhaps highlight special stories from the previous year that would resonate with your donors. Updating the letters with new codes will help staff and volunteers alike use the correct letter. And don’t forget to mark your old letters inactive to keep them from being repeated.

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For organizations with annual events or campaigns, there are many ways to track the donations that come in each year. From fund and motivation codes to more general category codes, there are a multitude of ways to make sure you know exactly how and why your donors gave to your organization.

Keeping your coding system understandable plays a big role in the effective use of your donor management software. Therefore, when it comes to your annual events, think about using one main code and append then year to it. For example, a gala would be GALA14, GALA15, and so on. This way you would know that all codes that start with “GALA” would be for your annual event. (Or whatever prefix you choose to use for your event.)

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To build on the blogs recently posted about greetings and letters, I wanted to share a bit about FundRaiser’s word processing capabilities. FundRaiser Software comes with several pre-loaded letter templates. These templates have places for you to list your organization’s accomplishments and goals. So, it’s always good to review the letter templates before sending your first mailing.

When you open FundRaiser Software, you’ll notice a menu item marked Communications. Here you’ll find everything you need to send letters as well as update them. The Letter Templates menu option allows you to see all your letter templates, review their content, and even determine if you want to make them active or not. (We’ll talk more about active/inactive letters next week.) If you see a letter you need to personalize, for example a “Thank you” letter that has a place marked to put in accomplishments for your organization, then click on Edit Letter to go straight to the built-in word processor.

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Here at FundRaiser our technical support team is here to help you. Whether it’s a simple how-to question or a detailed technical issue, you can reach our support team by phone or email. In fact, unlimited support is included in your Annual Maintenance Plan.

However there are our times when calling support can save you time and remove the worry from complex tasks.

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When many people think about alternate addresses, second homes or vacation homes come to mind. And FundRaiser Software has the capability to not just hold unlimited alternate addresses, but also code them based on the type of address. Depending on the choices selected (date range or specific code) FundRaiser will then send to the alternate address instead of the main address on the record.

However, alternate addresses are great for more than just vacation, offices, or secondary homes. Here are some additional uses for alternate addresses.

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A common question that I receive in support is how to see a list of donors who gave in subsequent years. Along with the question, they also want to know who gave multiple times in a year, or even in multiple years. It’s easy to find out the answers to those questions, and more, when you begin with a grouping.

When creating a grouping, on the “common patterns” tab, there are multiple options for different types of donors. The LYBUNT or SYBUNT categories capture your donors who gave last year, but not this year, or some year, but not this year. However, how do you capture those donors who have given in multiple years?

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