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.

3 Resolutions For The New Year

3 Resolutions For The New Year

It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions and how to improve ourselves in the coming year. While many people are making resolutions about their health or wellness, it is also a good idea to think about how you can better utilize FundRaiser Software within your organization. There may be larger projects, such as implementing a membership or pledge program that you’re thinking about. But here are three, smaller-scale ideas to get you started.

Resolution 1: Maintain your data entry. A database is only as good as the information that’s inside it. Keeping up with your organization’s data entry allows you to utilize the robust features of FundRaiser to the fullest. With regular maintenance, keeping the data entry current isn’t a big chore and can have big payoffs for your organization.

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Three Of My Favorite FundRaiser Training Classes

Three Of My Favorite FundRaiser Training Classes

There’s no doubt that FundRaiser Software is a robust program. As with any program, even if you’ve been using it for a while, there are always new tips and tricks to learn. This is where our wonderful training department can help out.

As part of my training here at FundRaiser support, I attended the training courses (and watched our training videos) that we offer to our customers. While I found each of them informative and helpful in deepening my understanding of the software, I wanted to share with you my three favorite classes.

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Why we believe in working at FundRaiser

FundRaiser staff at company meeting
Joshua Shirley, CFO of FundRaiser with Smudge the office cat
Gene Weinbeck and Joey Patten
Smudge the office cat snoozing at company meeting

We believe that what you and your organization do makes a positive impact in the world.... and that makes us happy in the work we do. That's the main understanding we all recently came away with, when the FundRaiser staff met for a year-end mission/company meeting.

FundRaiser staff, left to right, at company meeting: Larry Weaver, Autumn Shirley, Jonathan Smith, Joshua Shirley, Gene Weinbeck, Joey Patten, Mary Lenker

After watching a TED talk together, the FundRaiser staff began to share why we enjoy coming to work at FundRaiser... which we all do. The upshot was that we enjoy working at FundRaiser for a combination of reasons, top among them being the great working environment and the opportunity to use our skills in the service of people like YOU who are working to make a positive difference in the world. Here's a synopsis of what our staff members had to say about why we continue to like working to support nonprofits through our work at FundRaiser.

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3 Things Support Can Help You With Besides Technical Issues

3 Things Support Can Help You With Besides Technical Issues

Most often when people think about technical support they think about error messages and things that aren’t working. And it’s true that even when I evaluate a program to purchase, I think about support as “problem solving”. However, it’s so much more than that.

Here at FundRaiser, we understand that you may need help beyond something technical. Making sure you can use the software to its advantage in order to help your organization is our number one priority. That’s how I think about my job at support—my job is to help you help your organization. And yes, here in support we chase down the occasional error message, but more often it’s about answering questions, providing mini training classes, and offering help and assistance wherever we can.

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Hiring a Development Director

Gratitude and thankfulness for what you have leads to success

Dear Kim:

I was hired about six months ago as the development director for a small organization (budget=$500,000) which raises most of its money from individuals and fees for service. I was told I could spend $30,000 on direct mail and web redesign for fundraising. Four months ago, I drew up a plan, arranged for list acquisition and created a direct mail package. The Executive Director then said I should discuss the plan with the whole staff as she is trying to promote a sense of team. I did so, and the finance director said we did not have the money to spend in this way (even though it was in the budget). The rest of the staff agreed with her, and so the ED said I had to shelve my plan. I wrote a few proposals and pursued some other strategies, but now the board is mad because the website is static and out of date, and we are not meeting our fundraising goals. The ED said I could spend $15,000 and I drew up a plan, arranged for some lists, got a web design firm to donate their time, and again had to present this to staff. The finance director announced we don’t have $15,000 and the staff agreed I can’t spend it, but they were happy with the free web design. My plans are once again shelved. Is this the normal way to build a team? I am ready to quit.

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Creative Codes

Creative Codes

FundRaiser Software has the ability to track the non-giving aspects of your donors as well as donation information. A great way to do this is to use the category codes features. Each version (Spark, Select, and Professional) of FundRaiser offers unlimited category codes. With an ability to create codes up to eight characters in length, your organization has a nearly unlimited (there’s a limit, but it’s in the billions) to create as many codes as you require.

So in what ways can your organization use codes?

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A Development Director Needs More Than “a Smile and a Shoeshine,” But It’s a Good Start

No matter how high-tech the tools, funds are raised person-to-person

This 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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Membership Campaigns: The “How-To”

Give Thanks for Unknown Blessing Already On the Way

You 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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Are your donors on the right frequency?

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.

On the Recurring Gifts tab page, you'll see a drop-down code list for "Frequency".  This is where you can choose the normal Monthly or Quarterly or Annual payment periods we're so used to seeing.  But what if some can give more often, or their paychecks come in on a different type of schedule?  Here you'll see the following choices:

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Making Great Groupings

Making Great Groupings

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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Membership vs. Monthly Giving

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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Save a Stamp, Emailing Within Fundraiser

Save a Stamp, Emailing Within Fundraiser

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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Win Your Year-End Campaign—5 A.S.A.P Steps

Email message subject lines

Publisher – / President – Nancy Schwartz & Company

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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5 Things To Be Thankful For With FundRaiser

5 Things To Be Thankful For With FundRaiser

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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Joyful Tribute Giving

Joyful Tribute Giving

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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New Staff in FundRaiser Tech, Joey and Mary

Joey Patten, with family
Mary Lenker
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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Reviving On-Hold projects (Revisited)

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.

Sometimes it's necessary to put a project or campaign "on hold" to wait for more positive circumstances. But it's still important to keep up with your donor database changes, because, someday, those circumstances will arrive and you'll want to get back in the swing of things as quickly as possible. The economic climate change has profoundly affected many non-profits these past few years, and some have had to take a step back to reassess their plans in light of these changes.

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Backup Basics

Backup Basics

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.

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What's in a Greeting, Personally?

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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Pros and Cons of Multiyear Pledges

My belief is taht communication is the best way to create strong relationships

Dear 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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