The FundRaiser Software Blog is an excellent resource for nonprofit organizations looking to learn more about fundraising, donor management, membership management, and much more.
This time of year, most of us "resolve" to make changes: in our lives; in our work habits; in our approach to life in general, etc. And many of those resolutions fall by the wayside as the year develops, either because they seem too difficult, or they weren't that important, or (fill in the blank with your last unfulfilled resolution reason). I'd like to suggest a resolution that will help you all through 2017, and will almost certainly repay your efforts many times over: learn how to better use your FundRaiser software to do what needs doing for your organization. While learning the program doesn't sound nearly so important as changing lifestyle choices, or gaining virtues, or shedding bad habits, it can, for your non-profit organization, be the catalyst for many changes, like donor retention, increased donations, better communications, and less effort expended for all of it.
FundRaiser offers several different training formats, to fit your individual and organizational efforts, from self-help using the program's built-in Help manual and training videos on our website, to scheduled live webinars, to on-site training at your facilities, and you always have the option to call or email the training office, or tech support, for help. Each method of learning has it's pros and cons, of course, but the choices are available to you, and in this blog I'll try to give you some tips on how to approach them. And at the end of this, I'll let you know how all this can benefit you at the end of the year.
In all versions of FundRaiser software, the manual is built into the Help section. You can go to the Help Menu, then to Help Contents, and see many different sections of information available. How you approach this is up to you, whether you want to browse various sections, or just use it when you have a particular task to accomplish, but the information is there, and often shows up under multiple headings. For instance, importing information from other programs is covered under the "How To" section, as well as under "Importing Data", "FundRaiser Menus" (File Menu), and "Managing Donors". We do it this way so that you can find things more easily, no matter how you approach it. For many tasks, you'll find step-by-step instructions, for others, an outline of how to complete it. The obvious advantage of the built-in manual is that it's at your fingertips, so to speak.
Many of the classes that are taught in live webinar sessions are available as video recordings by signing into the Customer Portal section of our website. You can sign in easily through the Help menu of your copy of FundRaiser, did you know? And once there, you'll have access to both video classes, based on the live webinar sessions, as well as documentation covering a lot of commonly asked questions, put together over the years by various staff members. There is a wealth of information available, and it's fairly easy to find the subject that interests you. The big advantage to these videos and documentation is that they are always there, 24/7, so long as you have internet access.
Many of you have attended live webinars, either before you purchased, when doing a "tour" of the software, or since purchasing, like the Overview session. For those who have not, I urge you to try to fit one into your busy schedule, and if you're new to the program, the Overview is perfect, for two reasons: it will help you determine what other classes will be most beneficial to you (whether "live" or in video format), and there is no charge for it. The big advantage is that you have a live instructor with whom to interact, so your questions can be answered immediately, and any confusion can be addressed and cleared up right away.
This option can be very beneficial for those organizations that need to train multiple people at the same time, or that have special considerations that need to be taken into account, or that need help getting a feel for how they can best use the program for their unique situations. This training is tailored to your organization, with the first priority being that the trainer understand your organization and what you are trying to accomplish in more than usual detail. It is the most costly, of course, since it requires a trainer to travel, lodge, etc., but it can be well worth it to minimize the learning curve and get a good understanding of the overall use of the program in a matter of a day or two, rather than stretching training sessions out over weeks or even months.
If you train early in this year, with perhaps a refresher video or two during the year, you'll find that, with your better understanding of the program, it will benefit you with: less time entering data, but with more data; better communication with donors and prospects; better reporting and easier segmentation of your donor base for targeted mailings, and, as the old saying goes, "much, much more". The whole idea of training is to get to a point where the program is working harder for YOU, rather than making your work harder, so that you get more versatility for less effort. This article is revised and republished from the original written by Larry Weaver.
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