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.

When schools focus their donor cultivation on parents, alumni, and the close relatives of students and alumni, they are likely to see a very positive return. Knowing this has led to increased donations for several schools who are FundRaiser users. They know for a fact that these groups are their most generous because they clearly identified this trend in FundRaiser. Using these same techniques to identify common giving trends, your school – or other non profit— can clarify which of your constituent groups are most supportive.

Beginning to locate your most generous donors

Tracking donations for donor cultivation is easy to start. “It’s a simple matter of entering your checks into FundRaiser. Then all that information is there. If you enter it once, it’s there forever unless someone moves,” says Ellen Bouye, Administrative Assistant of Oklahoma Christian Academy and a FundRaiser Select user.

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by Tom King

Far too often, if we'll be honest, the motivation for organizing a special event, like golf, is to avoid having to do basic fund-raising. We hate making the calls. We hate asking for money.  So, to avoid having to do things we don't like, we have a golf tournament because we do like that!

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Some interesting facts about asking for money:

  • few people give money unless they are asked
  • nearly everyone feels good when they give money
  • lower income people dig deeper and give a higher percentage of their income than high income people
  • when you ask people you know for a contribution, at least half of them will say yes

Are you still nervous thinking about how you 'should' ask for money, but think you can't?

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This Sunday is the first day of summer, bringing with it good memories of relaxed easy days.

Taking a break from work is something that the founders of FundRaiser, Gene and Marcy Weinbeck, wove into the culture of our company. Although hard-work is highly valued here, every month the office is closed one day to honor a holiday. When there isn’t a ‘common’ holiday, we find one. Marcy Weinbeck is the one who established the FundRaiser holiday custom. She says it came about this way:

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When someone makes their first online donation to your organization, do you automatically add their name to your email contact list? This is a "Best Practice, for most organizations. Here's why:

First, consider that the reasons for an opt-in or a double opt-in on an email list:

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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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How can our orgs communicate effectively in the middle of two huge crises - 1) Police brutality and misconduct in Baltimore, spurring response by community members fighting for their rights and lives; and 2) Nepal’s crushing earthquake, and the millions whose lives will be impacted for years to come?

This is an extremely delicate challenge, whether the crisis is human-driven (as in the Baltimore police actions) or a natural disaster.

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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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An important aspect of fundraising is making connections with your prospective donors on a deeper level. It is one thing to connect with someone over a shared concern over animal welfare, for example, but reaching them with a story about a rescued cat or one who needs funds for an expensive surgery creates an immediate connection, one that you can tailor to the person’s interests through category codes.

Within FundRaiser category codes are designed to document and segment the non-giving aspects of your donors’ lives. Using category codes can help you create a more meaningful relationship. Document what activities your donors like, for example, and you could entice them to an event that seems tailor made for them.

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Principal Fund-Raising Myth:

It’s common knowledge that corporations and foundations give most of the money to non-profit organizations

Principal Fund-Raising Truth:

You go where money you think you can get is to be found in the greatest quantities and most of the time that means you look to the individual donor

No fund-raising campaign should ever be started until you have identified the sources from which you will draw contributions. Sources here does not refer to specific potential donors, but to the six categories of donors who contribute money to non-profit organizations. They are:

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Dear Kim:

How does a really good organization get foundation funding?  I know from your books that you don’t recommend relying on grants, but it seems like they are a help for getting programs off the ground.  I have used the Foundation Center’s database, which is great, and I have identified potential grantmakers, followed instructions, but so far have nothing to show for it.  I took an online course on grant writing and, I hope without sounding arrogant, I feel I know how to write a grant.  But it seems like you need to really know somebody to get grant money.  Can you share any secrets? 

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Have you wanted to take a training class, but the schedule just didn’t work out for some reason? Or maybe a last minute project or meeting prevented you from attending the class you really wanted. We understand that things happen, which is why we’re pleased to introduce our new training class, Open For Requests.

We’ve scheduled two Open sessions a month—one at each of our normal times, 10am and 3pm. With this session, simply sign up and let us know what class you would like to take. They are first come, first serve, and we will update the training calendar when they have been taken.

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Have you ever had a question about something in FundRaiser? Maybe it wasn’t a big question or something you felt like you needed to call for, but you wondered how to do something or maybe if FundRaiser could accomplish a task your organization wanted to have done. With this in mind, our training department has created a new class that’s less of a class and more of an opportunity for you to ask questions.

In April, we debuted a new training session called the Q&A. Scheduled on every other Thursday afternoon, this session provides an opportunity for customers to ask “how to” questions or discuss various projects within FundRaiser.

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A tribe of happy feral cats lives near the FundRaiser office and several staff members are involved in helping care for them. Last September, I mentioned this colony in the FundRaiser newsletter. Newsletter readers responded warmly and we received quite a few emails expressing concern for the cats. Along with sharing our feelings for the cats, many hoped that we had plans to spay and neuter them.

This month, Autumn Shirley of FundRaiser organized a campaign to do just that.

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The Development Committee

The development committee has basic responsibility for overseeing and advising on the organization’s fund-raising activities. Its main duties are to:

  •     Set policies, priorities, and goals for fund-raising programs for the current fiscal year.
  •     Review the ongoing performance of each campaign.
  •     Review campaign achievement versus its objectives.
  •     Identify and rate all major prospects for support.
  •     Recruit key volunteer leadership and solicitors for the organization’s fund-raising campaigns.


Chairs of development committees, like development directors, must resolve the various contributed income needs of the organization without exhausting its base of support. The best development committee chairpersons are able to see the job in its entirety. They have broad vision. They don’t fall in love with one fund-raising idea, campaign, or concept at the expense of the overall development effort.

My preferred development committee chairperson is a general managerial type with a strong marketing background. Ideally, this chairperson is something of an alter ego of the development director. I have been my most successful when my development chairpersons and I shared the same fund-raising vision. In a sense, the best development chairperson is a leader whom a competent development director is able to lead. The development chairperson has clout within the community that the development director is unlikely to possess, while the latter has fund-raising knowledge that is probably outside of the development chairperson’s purview. The partnership between the development chairperson and the development director works best when the professional develops the ideas and then gains the agreement of the volunteer leader, who uses his or her clout to get cooperation from the board and other volunteer campaign leaders.

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One of the things I receive questions on as I’m hosting training classes is email through FundRaiser. How does the program know that someone can get emails? What can be sent via email? Is there a copy? The convenience of email, not to mention the cost savings, makes it appealing to use. So let’s talk about emailing within FundRaiser.

For each record within FundRaiser you have complete control over the communications preferences. If someone prefers email—and many people do these days—then the customer’s record can be set to email only. Additionally, with each correspondence that is sent, you can choose if it will be sent through the postal mail or via email where appropriate.

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So you’ve downloaded an evaluation trial of our software or setup an online trail, and you’ve opened the program. Now what? Or maybe you’ve stepped into a new position and need to get up and running quickly. Whichever the case, here are some tips for getting started quickly with FundRaiser software.

First, if you are working with a trial copy, don’t be afraid to experiment. The sample data is already in the program for you to work with. Feel free to change the data, add gifts, etc. When you are ready to use the program with your data, it’s simple to remove the sample data.

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When organizations talk about pledges, often times they have different meanings. For some, a specific payment promise, such as a fixed amount each month for a year (or in perpetuity) constitutes a pledge. Others believe that any promise to pay is a pledge, whether it’s for a certain amount or a certain timeframe. The dictionary definition of the word pledge is simply a promise to give money. (There are other definitions, but for our purposes we’re focusing on the financial one.) The question remains: when is a pledge not a pledge?

When it comes to putting promises to pay into FundRaiser Software, there are a couple of options. The first is to consider it a later promise to pay. This is good when there isn’t a definitive time frame for the money to be paid. In fact, there often may be some uncertainty about the money to be paid.

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Inevitably if you’ve been working with FundRaiser (or any software using codes or tags) for any length of time, duplicate codes begin to happen. Maybe someone put in a code with the year first; maybe someone put the category first, then the year. However it happens, duplicate codes grow in the database and there needs to be a way to manage them.

Luckily within FundRaiser, there’s the ability to review all the codes. You can even print a list of the codes if you’re the type of person who likes paper and pencil for planning. Once you’ve reviewed your codes to determine how you’d like to merge, or maybe even delete some of them, then you’re ready to clean up your database.

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