As we come into the fall and winter giving seasons, it’s important to take a few moments to talk about giving levels. A giving level is a benchmark of giving that you’d like to have your donors reach, whether that’s through a one-time contribution or ongoing monthly contributions. For example, our local NPR station has the “Leadership Circle”, which means the person donated at least $1000 during the year. NPR makes this more manageable by encouraging people to make a recurring donations of between $80-100/month.
Giving levels don’t have to be something you share with your donor. While many organizations use them as suggested donation amounts or levels, others simply generate internal reports with them. When you use giving levels within FundRaiser software, you can track these levels regardless of whether they’re advertised to your donors as suggested donation amounts, or levels you use for internal reporting, but never share with the donors.
What's in a Name?
You can be creative in determining the names you'll assign to each membership giving category, but donors will be drawn immediately to "tags" specific to your organization and related to your mission. You can also employ familiar categories such as, Friends, Benefactors, Pacesetters, etc., or designations such as "Individual," "Family," "Associate," or "Sustaining.
I have recently been appointed a development director and I am looking forward to developing this new skill (which I don’t have right now). One of the first things I must do is establish “levels” of donations. We are a pediatric facility that is part of a large organization. Is it appropriate to designate levels of giving that are related to kid themes, or do you suggest sticking with tried-and-true levels such as platinum, silver, gold, President’s Circle, etc?
For many people, fund-raising is the stuff of myth and magic—a series of tasks rivaling the labors of Hercules and demanding the powers of a Merlin. Myth and magic, because they offer the balm of simple acceptance in place of the pain of comprehension, can be very comforting, and in no instance is this more true, than when the myth of fund-raising magic is used to excuse fund-raising failure.
“If,” goes the justification, “running a successful fund-raising campaign is an endeavor comparable to dredging the river Styx, and soliciting large gifts equivalent to pulling Excalibur from the stone, what mere mortal can be expected to succeed?” Given that attitude, let me add a corollary: “Why bother to develop a goal or start a campaign?” The answer to those questions is, because we have to, and because the myth of fund-raising doom can’t measure up to the basic truth that fund-raising success is simply hard work on the part of people who are thoroughly prepared.
It’s very likely you may have more than one person within your organization who can view or work in FundRaiser. During certain times of the year, volunteers may be entering in data and gifts or pledges. One of the useful features of FundRaiser Software is the ability to be able to control the information that someone can see, or even if they can edit or delete items from your database.
I have tried to follow the advice in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and from you, Andy Robinson, Stephanie Roth, and other grassroots fundraising experts. What you all say makes sense. Having said that, I hope you don’t find my question rude: where do you find the time to really implement all this advice? I am a relatively efficient person and I already work my 40 hours and then some every week. Being in touch with more donors, doing research on prospects, keeping our social media presence vibrant? Something is always not getting done. Any tips?
We are a 50-year-old social service agency mostly supported by government grants. We do have about 600 donors who help us every year and we do a reasonable job keeping in touch with them. We also have about 300 people who give us in-kind gifts and I have tried all kinds of solicitations to encourage them to give money as well as stuff, but I have had a really poor response. Someone said that you said in-kind donors often don’t become money donors. Is that true? Should I stop trying to convert them?
When you receive gifts of products, time and services, be aware that your organization can be held in even greater regard by donors of such In-Kind gifts, should you express your gratitude in a meaningful way—in a manner far and above how these contributions are usually acknowledged by non-profit organizations. This can be accomplished in strict keeping with the applicable IRS rules and regulations, which are especially explicit when it comes to In-Kind gifts and how non-profits handle them.
By law, non-profit organizations cannot provide a donor with the dollar value of an In-kind gift. Such valuations when applicable, relative to "fair market value" of In-Kind gifts, need to be professionally assessed and certified elsewhere—if they can be—and that is the responsibility of the donor. This certification subsequently needs to be resolved with the professionals and others who prepare the donor's tax forms—whose work in turn will need to be reconciled with IRS regulations. In instances where time and service are donated, no tax break whatsoever is allowed, as the IRS Publication 526 clearly states, "You cannot deduct the value of your time or services…"
Our church needs make a number of renovations. These are not cosmetic—the roof leaks, the basement floods and many of the pews are falling apart and have splinters. The congregation is small, but the church is historic and right downtown. Of course we would rather wait until the economy improves, but we simply can’t. We are in danger of being shut down for being unsafe. Everyone says you can’t launch a capital campaign right now, but what else can we do?
A capital campaign raises money that will be spent to acquire or improve a physical asset. The most common use of a capital campaign is for the purchase, construction, or renovation of a building (commonly referred to as “bricks and mortar”). However, an organization can conduct a capital campaign to purchase machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, or any physical asset that can be reflected on its balance sheet.
The purpose of a capital campaign differs from that of an endowment campaign in that the money raised will not be used to cover ongoing, operational expenses, or to fund special projects. Capital funds are spent on one-time or seldom recurring expenditures. The primary difference between capital and endowment funds is that capital funds are not retained and invested to yield income. However, capital and endowment campaigns are very similar in their planning and management.
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.
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:
When your organization takes in donations of good or services, how do you record that donation? On the Gifts tab, when you enter in a donation, the Gift Mode code reflects the form that the donation took—how the money was received or if it was an In Kind donation. When you choose “In Kind” for your gift mode, this tells the database that the donation was received not as a financial transaction, but rather a donation of goods or services. The amount field can be the approximate value of those donations, and you can use your motivation and purpose codes to further categorize the donation.
Feel like you need a refresher on the software? Do you have a new employee or volunteer who will be helping your organization with FundRaiser Software? Our FundRaiser Overview Class is the perfect resource for this - and it is offered every week.
So, how do you know from within an organization when and if you should hire a development director? The answer is simple, and it starts with knowing the costs of running the organization as it carries out its mission as set out in the its long-range strategic plan. It continues with the development of a fund-raising plan.
The short answer is sooner rather than later! If a non-profit organization is beginning to ask whether it needs a professional development director, it probably should have hired one months, even years ago.
The biggest mistake non-profits make in hiring their first development director is waiting until the board, executive director, and other key personnel have arrived at a consensus that one is needed NOW. An organization that waits until it is necessary to hire a development director has waited too long.