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.

No matter how high-tech the tools, funds are raised person-to-personThis is the era of high-tech delivery of information in an instant. The Internet is accessible from any telephone line, and lap-top computers let us take the facts and figures—all the facts and figures—to wherever they’re needed. Development professionals must master this technology which lets us massage estate planning scenarios, target solicitation mailings, and develop campaign giving plans. But, we must also remember that, no matter how high-tech the tools, funds are raised person-to-person.

In Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” Willy Loman’s rejection of new technology, when he encounters a voice recorder for the first time, is part of his slow and agonizing deterioration. The only thing he knows—selling—is slipping from his grasp, and he tries to tighten his grip on it by clinging to the past. The times are changing and Willy isn’t. But that doesn’t mean that the experience of a lifetime of selling is no longer valid when he declares, “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.” Willy is talking about being a salesman and having the proper temperament for the job, but he might just as well have been talking about Development Directors.

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Give Thanks for Unknown Blessing Already On the WayYou want to introduce a membership campaign, preferably as part of the Annual Fund Campaign. Your objective is an expanded and reliable base of donors who renew their support year after year.

Good thinking. Give yourself a pat on the back: An effective membership campaign can be one of your greatest assets and building it requires little more than a dose of common sense and strategic approach.

The Purpose Of a Membership Campaign

Philanthropy-driven, recognition-based, membership campaigns are proven and effective tools used to convert prospects into donors, to increase the size of gift, and to build and strengthen relationships. They are one of the most useful solicitation methods fund-raising managers have.

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Tagged in: membership programs
in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1592
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After reading a recent Kim Klein blog, titled Membership vs. Monthly Giving, I wondered whether our users realized that there are multiple choices for giving increments built right into FundRaiser.  And they show up in several places, like Recurring Gift setup, Pledge payment setup, and Membership dues setup, depending on which modules you have, and which ones are active.  Everyone will have the Recurring Gift setup, so let's use that as an example, especially since a recurring gift template can be used for either pledge payments or membership payments, as well as simple frequent givers.

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in Tech Blog 1742
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One of the most attractive features about FundRaiser Software is its ability to hold a lot of information on your organization’s donors. By the time you utilize category codes and handle such things as Campaigns and Events, Memberships, and Pledges, you can have a lot of donor-specific information. Gathering this information into meaningful groups is the power of groupings inside of FundRaiser.

Let’s say you want to see who attended your events, but hasn’t given a donation. You can make a grouping for that.

How about someone who is a monthly donor who has never attended any events? That’s right. You can make a grouping for that.

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The art of living lies in the fine mingling of letting go and holding on Dear Kim:

We are in the middle of a debate in our organization regarding the next step to take. What are the clear differences between monthly giving and membership programs? Does one favor a different demographic?

-Comparing Apples and Orange Juice

Dear Fruity:

Monthly giving is a strategy that allows people to give bigger gifts by spreading the payment of the gift out over several months. People who want to do more for an organization often love a monthly giving program, as it is a fairly painless way to become a significant donor. A monthly giving program can be offered to members, to donors, to major donors, and it is not at all in opposition to membership. They complement each other; in fact, one is usually a strategy for promoting the other. The idea of membership appeals to people who want to have a feeling of ownership in the organization. In some membership groups, such as unions, the members are involved in all the decisions that are made (or should be, anyway.) In others, a member is largely a name describing a donor. (What a member means is established in the by-laws of the organization.)

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1733
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Sending your year-end appeals doesn’t mean rushing to the post office or worrying about running out of stamps. With FundRaiser, you have the option to send your correspondence through email. This means your organization will save paper and postage and your donors will hear from you more quickly.

Inside FundRaiser the process for sending correspondence through email is much the same as printing the letters. The options you select on the printing window are different.

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Publisher – GettingAttention.org / President – Nancy Schwartz & Company

Email message subject lines We’re at the beginning of the end…of the year. Now’s the time for you to bear down and give birth to the most compelling fundraising campaign you have in you.

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It’s the time of year when my thoughts turn toward thankfulness and gratitude, though I try to keep them tuned in that direction year round. There are many things that I think we all can be thankful for, but I wanted to take a few moments this week and share with you the five things I’m thankful for in FundRaiser Software.

1) An intuitive interface. FundRaiser holds a lot of data on your donors and organization, which is a good thing. It can also get overwhelming, too. The intuitive way that you can move through FundRaiser allows you to access, sort, and filter, all that data so you can make the best contacts you can with your donors.

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So my family had that conversation this weekend. The one that usually happens sometime at the start of November. My mother asked me, “so what do you want for Christmas?”. There’s a good chance similar conversations, centered around any number of the winter holidays, are happening in your donors’ households too.

I’m also hearing from a lot of organizations that are working to send out their holiday appeal letters.

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Joey Patten, with family
Jessica, 2 month old Emmett, and Joey Patten. Joey Patten is the newest member of the FundRaiser Tech Team

If you've called FundRaiser Technical Support recently, you may have heard a new voice on the line helping you. We are happy to introduce Mary Lenker and Joey Patten who have just joined the FundRaiser Support Team. Both have extensive experience in tech support and customer service.

Joey Patten comes to FundRaiser after working in the Navy as the Administrative Assistant for the commander of a submarine squadron. His job was to do computer work and interface with IT. He joined the FundRaiser staff recently after moving back to West Plains, his home town. He loves working with computers and got started when he was 6 years old. He likes working in the friendly ambiance of the FundRaiser office.

Outside of work Joey enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting, being outside, and, being with his son, Emmett.

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The economy is on the rebound, or so most of the news I've heard says, even though we individuals may not be feeling the positive effects as strongly as we'd like.  In light of the rebound, I'm re-posting a blog I wrote a while back, thinking that it might be time for some of you to think about revisiting projects or campaigns you've had on hold.

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There’s nothing more reassuring to a computer user than to have a good backup of data. This is no less true when it comes to your FundRaiser data. As an organization, there’s a good bet that you keep a large amount of information about your donors. To know that you can restore it in the sad event of a computer failure, is good news indeed.

FundRaiser makes it easy to do backups, by putting the command in an easy to locate place. Under the FILE menu in FundRaiser, choose CREATE A BACKUP. To complete your backup hit the “backup” button. The process will run and once it’s finished, you can choose Exit. Your backup has completed.

However, you may have questions about backups and the process. One of the most common is: where do you want to place your backup?

FundRaiser conveniently places backups in a default location. (For clients using FundRaiser Hosted, always accept the default location. To receive a copy of the backup, give our technical support team a call and we’ll gladly send you a copy of the files.) Since the restore screen automatically goes to the location of the last backup, you don’t have to worry about where you saved your backup.

It is a good idea to backup before doing a major operation such as an import or export. Regular backups can also keep data safe in the event of a computer failure. Set a schedule within your organization and stick to it.

It doesn’t take a lot of time to do a backup of your FundRaiser data. Keeping your backups current will save you, and your organization, a lot of time and trouble. Plus, the peace of mind is priceless.

Tagged in: features tech tip
in Tech Blog 1275
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In a recently (Oct. 3, 2014) posted blog by Kim Klein, the question of how to greet donors and prospects in letters and emails is addressed.  While the article seems to favor erring on the side of formality, when in doubt, it also recognizes that there are times to be informal, and even quite casual, during correspondence.

In FundRaiser the word processing is built into the program, allowing access to all fields of data for merging into letters as needed.  This enables you to write "form" letters that have the personal look and feel that used to be possible only through individually crafted letters.  The way you greet people in a letter can be personalized for each name record in FundRaiser, as well.

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My belief is taht communication is the best way to create strong relationshipsDear Kim,

We have been advised to start asking our donors for three to five year pledges.  The consultant advising us says it will save us a lot of time because we do ONE ask and then the payment is spread over five years.  Our executive director likes the idea because she and the Finance Committee will be able to project income more accurately if they know people are bound by a pledge agreement.   I like the idea of saving time and not having to deal with the donors every year—it seems like I will have more time to find new donors.  But someone who heard you speak recently said you were opposed to multiyear pledges.  Can you talk about the pros and cons?

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Tagged in: pledges
in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1434
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When you set out to learn any new software, it’s like learning to dance where the steps seem familiar, and yet new at the same time. As I begin my second week at FundRaiser Software, I find that the dance becomes more familiar and I can really appreciate the nuances of the program.

One of the things that first impressed me about FundRaiser’s software program was its versatility. My background in nonprofits is with small organizations—really small. For a while back in the 90’s, I worked with our local cage bird club to do rescue for aviary birds like finches and canaries. Eventually we educated those in the area about the smaller birds and the local club was able to pick up the work of finding new homes for any birds in need. It was a me-myself-and-I operation, with help from a few friends. Even for a nonprofit as small as we were back then, I think FundRaiser’s membership function would have been very helpful. That would have been so much easier than the Excel spreadsheets I was using to track renewals and to print labels for the newsletter mailings.

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Have no fear of perfection; you'll never reach it. Dear Kim:

We have an ongoing debate about the use of formal (more traditional) vs. informal salutations. Historically, our default was formal unless we knew the individual(s). My question relates to how this is trending in the non-profit sector. For example, our ED is suggesting that our default be informal, e.g.: Tom and Susan Mitchell…Dear Tom and Susan. Even though we tend to have a younger donor base, it makes me nervous to make that global change.

~The Honorable Charles Alphonse Smithereens, III, (aka Chucky)

Dear Mr. S-3:

The nonprofit sector is so large, with 1.7 million different nonprofits in the United States alone, that there is no one trend. Some are using very formal salutations and some seem to have abandoned salutations altogether for very casual, “Hi, Friend.”

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Tagged in: fundraising letters
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Fairness is not an attitude. It's a professional skill that must be developed and exercised.How Do You Pay A Grant Writer?

(Read Part 1 on setting expectations for grant writers)

Few topics generate more heated discussion in non-profit organizations than whether professional grant writers should be paid a percentage of the money raised, receive commission-based compensation, or be paid a performance bonus. Perhaps because it is a practice of giving financial rewards to grant writing professionals contingent upon the achievement of fixed money goals, we can simply refer to it as "contingent-pay." Whatever you want to call it, two things are becoming more and more apparent.

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Tagged in: grants
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The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work much first sharpen his tools.Unrealistic Expectations Can Doom The Best To Failure

(Read Part 2 here, on how to pay grant writers)

Some of the most heated discussion in the nonprofit world centers on grant writing. Why? Because so much is riding on it. It is the rare organization that could continue to carry out its mission anywhere near as effectively if its grants dried up, and for many, such an occurrence would sound the death knell.<

Of the three basic sources of money for non-profits—earned income, donations from individuals, and grants—the process of getting a grant is the most puzzling. All but the smallest organizations are likely to have people on staff or use outside counsel who specialize in grant writing. The demand for skilled grant writers, coupled with the mystery that seems to surround successful grant writing, leads to some troubled areas for development professionals and non-profit organizations.

Two questions are central: How do you evaluate the performance of grant writers and how do you pay them? We'll cover the first question in this blog, and the question of pay in the next one.

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Tagged in: grants
in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 2019
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Many non-profits began their data management using spreadsheets.  Yours may still use them, but there are many reasons to move away from them and into donor management software, as you may be aware.  In fact, here are a couple of articles that some folks have referenced in telling us why they no longer want to use spreadsheets:  
 
One of the big stumbling blocks to converting to a better system is the old argument: “We would have to re-enter all the information, and no one has time to do that!”  Well, in FundRaiser (even in FundRaiser Basic) there is a file option that allows you to import from other file formats.  Here are some tips and tricks on how to do set up your spreadsheet for optimal importing:  
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Dear Kim:

You are often quoted as saying things like, “Thank before you bank,” and “The thank you note is the most important element in a donor relationship” and other pro-thank you note statements.  But how do you make a thank you note interesting?  And do donors really read them?  And what if I think the gift the donor gave isn’t really what they could afford so I am not that thankful?

~Dubious

Dear Dubious:.

Your letter poses several questions, and I will quickly dispatch the last one first.  You need to change up your attitude toward the gifts that are given to your organization.  Any gift is more than nothing, and donors are making all kinds of choices.  You really don’t know what people can afford and you need to thankful they thought of you.

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Tagged in: fundraising letters
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