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.

Speak Your Truth & Create Space for Others to Speak Theirs, Too


February is full of passion and power with Black History Month, Valentines' Day, and Presidents' Day. One thing that both true love and true leadership have in common is that they thrive on truth and integrity... yet it can take real courage to live these virtues and to support others to have them as well.

A free society is dedicated to each person being given the right to Speak Their Truth. Even with this legal right, it can be dangerous to speak a minority opinion, as the stories told in Black History Month testify. One of the most important roles nonprofits play now in our society is acting as truth speakers for vulnerable populations.

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Short take: Tracking Tickets With Campaign Management



Within FundRaiser Professional, the Campaign Management module makes it easy to track responses and response rates to your campaigns and events. But did you know it can also track ticket sales? For an event, such as a raffle or a banquet where there isn’t assigned seating and you want to track how many paid versus complimentary tickets are sold, our Campaign Management module is a big help.

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Back-up Your Database... and other important files


It's a little boring to talk about... but it's not boring at all when something happens to your database records. It can happen in a moment... as I discovered when I accidentally dropped my external back-up drive last Friday. "No problem," I thought. "It was a short fall onto carpeting... and it's a well-built drive. Haven't I knocked it around a little before?" 

My drive experienced the event differently. When I plugged it in (so as to access all of the photos that I use in my work) it made little grunting sounds and disappeared from the computer explorer memory. If you've been there yourself, you  know what I did next... a series of restarts, re-plug-ins, and re-trys all gave me the same result. Yes, it was true, about 10 years worth of raw and edited photos were no longer accessible. 

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Small, local groups struggling to keep donors


Dear Kim,

I work in an arts program that serves very poor public schools in a very poor state. Without us, 2nd -5th graders in public schools in our area would have NO arts program at all. We have no government funding and little foundation funding. We have built a base of donors and we squeeze every nickel. This year I am so discouraged by the number of donors who have said they are cutting back their giving so they can give to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. For the record, I totally support those organizations and what they do, but how can I keep our donors? What we do is still important.

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


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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Short take: non-traditional uses for the alternate address field


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. Alternate addresses also have a few additional uses:

  1. Store old addresses
    When a donor updates an address, keep the old one on file so you don't lose it. Copy the current address to the alternate address space. It will be marked inactive, so you can keep the address on file just in case it's needed.
  2. Send mail to a power of attorney or another location permanently
    There may be times that you need to send correspondence to someone else, such as a power of attorney or even a family foundation's address. Using the alternate address field you can keep the donor's original address on file, while sending correspondence to another location.
  3. Keep an alternate address "just in case"
    For donors without a certain time for their vacation or summer home, or who may want some correspondence sent to a business address, but not all of it, then using the alternate address field is the perfect way to keep track of this information. Keeping the addresses coded correctly will ensure mail goes to the appropriate places.

If you have any questions about working with FundRaiser to manage your addresses: 

  • Sign up for the live FundRaiser Overview webinar. You can see the complete webinar schedule on the training calendar for the current month.  
  • Contact support at 800-543-4131 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Learning from experience makes you richer, wiser, & more hopeful


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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What to do when you don't have addresses


Hi, Kim:

We urgently need to put out our first fundraising letter ever but only have email addresses for people (and in some cases, phone numbers). Should we send a nice looking letter by email, then follow up by phone, or should we just call to get the snail mail address, send the letter, then call again to try to schedule a face-to-face meeting?

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5 Ways to Manage Address Changes for a Donors on the Move with your FundRaiser Database


What percentage of your donors can you afford to lose?

According to the US Census Bureau, over 11.2% of the population will move during the year, and while this figure is at an all time low, it still represents a significant number of changes that will, most likely, occur in your donor database as well.  If you rely on your donors to inform you of their address changes, you will no doubt lose contact with many of them. There are a few ways to take positive action on your own to keep in touch and retain donors who move without notice, however. These include:  3 features available in FundRaiser Spark, Select, and Professional; 1 additional feature available in Select and Professional; and 1 other feature exclusive to Professional.

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Lessons Learned from Crowdfunding to Save a Horse


Facebook has been a remarkable tool for those involved in saving horses from the kill buyers. For those lots that want to see a horse in a good home rather than shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter, there are pages and Facebook Groups devoted to getting these horses visibility, donations, and even a good home. Which brings me to Thanksgiving weekend, when a very pregnant mare, skinny and in dire need of a good home, came across my Facebook newsfeed. I knew I had enough money to pay the deposit required to ensure she wouldn’t suddenly be shipped off...but for the rest of the money, and the cost to ship her from Kansas to Missouri? I wasn’t sure how to raise it. I decided to try crowdfunding.

I hear about crowdfunding successes all the time, but could I do it? Could I raise the money necessary to save this horse and bring her to my place? Her story reminded me so much of my own mare (now 19), whom I rescued as a 3 month old colt, a “surprise” for the mare had been through so many auctions that no one knew or disclosed that she was pregnant. I had to try.

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Short take: Importing Your #GivingTuesday Gifts


If you are receiving gifts for #GivingTuesday (or any other occasion) in another system, you’ll most likely be entering them into FundRaiser. (If you haven’t inquired about our Donor Portal, which can put gifts directly into your FundRaiser database, now is a great time to do so.) Instead of entering your gifts one-by-one, you can import them.

To import your gifts, save your file of exported gifts into a CSV (comma separated values) format. Most programs export into CSV files automatically. Then, go to File > Import and follow the prompts to match up the fields and import the gifts.

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


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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Short Take: PayPal for #GivingTuesday


On this Giving Tuesday you may receive donations through PayPal, an online payment service, and wonder how you can code them in your FundRaiser Software. When entering gifts, either through importing a spreadsheet or entering them manually, the mode code is used to designate in what form the gift was received. Adding a code for PayPal will allow you to note that those gifts came in through that service.

To create a new mode code go to View > Codes to open the Codes Maintenance Window. Click on Add. Type in the code and a description. In this case, both of them can be "PayPal". Click on Save. This will add a new mode code for PayPal gifts.

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Welcoming New Donors

Dear Kim, We're a small group with limited staff and resources, but we know that properly welcoming new donors to our organization and thanking them for their gift will greatly increase the chances of them giving again. What do you recommend including in donor welcome packets that is not too labor or resource intensive? ~Small but mighty Dear Might...
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Determing Donor Levels

Dear Kim: What is the best method for determining where to split the levels of donor giving as far as recognition is concerned? This is for the purpose of recognition in a quarterly newsletter. Thank you for your common sense approach to fundraising. –Death by Detail Dear Detail: Generally, the split is at these intervals: Less than $100 $100-$499 ...
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Short Take: Giving Levels


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.

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Establishing Giving Levels and Perks Can Increase Membership Donations

Establishing Giving Levels and Perks Can Increase Membership Donations


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.

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Creative Giving Level Labels

Creative Giving Level Labels

Dear Kim:

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?

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

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

  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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Check Out Your Organization’s Fund-Raising Readiness and Learn the Secret Of Fund-Raising Success

Check Out Your Organization’s  Fund-Raising Readiness and Learn  the Secret Of Fund-Raising Success

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.

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