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.

Old Time Music Festival Attracts Enthusiastic Support

West Plains Square with people attending the Old Time Music Festival
Old Time Ozark Heritage Festival logo

Crowds gather for the Old Time Music Festival in the West Plains Court House Square. The FundRaiser office is also located in a loft on the West Plains Square.

West Plains, Missouri is buzzing this week, in preparation for the  Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival. It's pretty near impossible to live here and not get excited about it. West Plains is also the home of FundRaiser Software.

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Visit to Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center

Dianne and Jonathan at ECCAC

 

Dianne Lewellyn and Jonathan Smith in front of tiles created by children at ECCAC

For most of us, Labor Day brings with it an awareness that summer is coming to an end.  How many kids, now back in school, are writing about 'What I did this summer'? 

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How a local United Way uses donor management software to encourage repeat donations and build donor loyalty

United Way of Moscow/Latah County logo

As the need for emergency services throughout the USA continues to rise, overall donations to emergency management organizations have fallen. The local United Way of Moscow/Latah County is succeeding at holding its own because of two important factors. The first is their own skill and understanding of their community and its evolving needs, and the second is thanks to their donor management database, FundRaiser Select.

Effective donor management can be simple

The features Cretia Bunney, executive director at United Way of Moscow/Latah County, uses in FundRaiser are all core features. They are easy to learn. Even with very limited time, any organization can maintain the necessary records. Cretia works at United Way of Moscow/Latah only one day a week, and in that time is able to do this tracking in FundRaiser as well as her other office work.

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Case study: Ease of use for staff and donors of online donations helps Sacred Heart's fundraising thrive

logo for Sacred Heart Radio

Sacred Heart Radio is fortunate in their problem—they need to process lots of online donations. For this reason, Beverly Hill, office and database manager for Sacred Heart Radio, was eager to implement the automatic entry of online donations that is offered through the FundRaiser Donor Portal. Sacred Heart Radio is a national Catholic radio station. They are users of FundRaiser Professional with the Donor Portal for online donations.

Successfully promoting online donations

“We promote online donations strongly and it is working for us. As a radio station, we have access to the airwaves. We use public service announcements that say ‘visit us online and click donate’,” explains Beverly.

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Case study: moving from endowment-funding to broad-based community support with the help of donor management software

Lisner Louise Dickson Hurt Home

Most nonprofits dream of the simplest form of fundraising-- an angel who walks in the door and freely offers money. For a few organizations this dream comes true... at a cost. Those organizations are very dependent on one or a few donors. What's more, staff fundraising skills languish.

In an effort to avoid this very situation, the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home began to take proactive steps to move from endowment-only funding to individual donor support. Support from a broad base of individual donors creates a solid base  for organizations. Donor management software helps keep details organized for development aimed at individual donors.“I want to make sure that the Home is here in the future,” says Ward Orem, CEO of LLDL Home. “Up until 5 years ago, we didn’t have an aggressive development program. Our work was supported by an endowment but not a huge one. Whatever modest development efforts we made were scribbled on notes and kept in a binder.”“However, we could see that at the rate at which we were dipping into the endowment, we would eventually spend ourselves out of business. It was sort of a draconian doomsday projection but it was crystal clear we couldn’t keep withdrawing money from the endowment if we were going to sustain ourselves into perpetuity. The economic downturn drove the point home, but we already knew we needed to do things differently.”“As development folk, we recognized that the bulk of support comes from individuals,” says Ward. He knew he needed a solid infrastructure for donor gifts.

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Mothers' donor database know-how: how MADD personalizes appeal letters with local chapter information

MADD chapters personalize appeal letters

In honor of Mother's day, we're running a case study , written in 2010 that shares how FundRaiser is used to create a personal feeling for appeal letters sent out from one central location on behalf of several Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) chapters in Florida.

Fundraising appeals for many MADD Florida chapters are produced and mailed from one central office, but donors won’t be able to tell. With personalization, these letters will look and sound local, addressing the local activities of the closest chapter.

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Case study: How one volunteer's excellent data entry routine helped turn around a fundraising downslide

VolulnteerAppreciation

Menaul School has turned its fundraising downslide around. They've worked as a team to do it, combining in-person fundraising with strategic changes to what they record in their donor database and backed up by meticulous data entry. Each of these jobs is accomplished primarily by a different person, who excels at it. The data entry work is entrusted to a special volunteer.

Through steadfast attention to detail, volunteer Jim Hodges makes sure that correspondence goes out in a timely fashion and accurate data is in place when reports are needed for evaluation and planning.

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FundRaiser users respond: reaching out to donors in times of national tragedy

Look for the Helpers

This has been quite a week for disastrous and heartbreaking events in the news-- first the Boston Marathon bombing, then the explosion of the chemical plant in Waco, Texas. How does your nonprofit organization handle these kinds of events in your social media outreach?

You might have planned to make a post about some event or topic that seems out of step with the reactions that flood the newsfeeds when such well-publicized tragedies occur. Do you stay the course and make the post? Do you pause the post? Do you make a brief comment of condolence, or use the opportunity to offer some help if the crisis relates to your mission?Some FundRaiser users quickly went into action with posts related to their mission. Here's how a few of them handled it:

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How your donor database can help you revive a lapsed capital campaign

Reviving a lapsed capital campaign

Did you start a capital campaign and have to allow it to lapse before it finished? You are not the only one. Many nonprofits have had this happen-- maybe because of the economy, or unexpected changes within an organization.Just because you let a campaign lapse, doesn't mean you have to abandon it forever. You can revive a lapsed capital campaign, and your donor database can help. By keeping your contacts current, you will have the records there to start up again when you are able.

 

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3 ways you can use your database to create warmer fundraising letters

Stronger fundraising letters

“Donors share personal things in letters when they send donations. For instance they might say that they recently lost a loved one. I want to be able to use my software to respond to that person, to create ‘high touch’ communications, and even to become friend,” says Joe Emert of Life Radio Ministries.

Joe makes it part of his mission to interact with donors as people. He also knows that a good relationship to a donor can have a positive impact on giving. “I don’t just do things to help me get another donation and yet I know that if I meet the needs of a donor not just on the radio but also by responding appropriately to an inquiry or something that is said in a letter, that creates a better relationship.

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How we are all the same

If you are working with FundRaiser software, you are spending some time in front of a computer, just like we are. I enjoy that similarity, and also, seeing the photos of you working at your computers. I’ve been sent a few of these during my time writing about the way organizations use our software. Usually they come with a slightly apologetic comment, like, ‘I know this isn’t a very exciting photo’… or something along those lines. I love them and I think they are beautiful. And I can relate, because that’s how I look when I am working, too. You might be surprised to know, also, that when I post them, they are our most popular photos because we can all relate.

All of us connected to FundRaiser have in common that we are spending time behind our computers. In many of the photos I receive, people are looking up, the way we often talk to people who come to our computers station. Or you may be looking directly across at the camera, the way we sit in an office across from each other. It’s also pretty common to see people turned to look over their shoulder, because we are all facing the screen in front of us, and not the world behind. This is the world we live in, at least for the length of time we are working in a database.

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Not gone yet...! Lapsed donors

Dog moving away from photographer

You still have time to catch them... and it's easier to do it while they are still in sight, than later when they are totally gone. That's lapsed donors I'm talking about.One of the most important groups to send letters to are Lapsed Donors - those who have given in the past, but not in the most recent 9-24 months. It’s much easier, and less expensive, to win a donor back than to find a new one.

Lapsed donors have indicated that they are interested enough in your organization to donate at least once. This makes them highly qualified as potential future donors. For some reason they have not felt the incentive to donate again recently. That may be for reasons beyond your control, but it might also be because you haven't asked.

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MaineShare Shares Tips

MaineShare logo

I contacted MaineShare to talk to them about how they celebrate Happiness Happens Day, which I posted about here in Happiness Happens Day at MaineShare. I wasn't expecting when I talked to them to learn about a unique way of fundraising, but that's also what happened. MaineShare is part of a national organization called Community Shares. Each Community Share organization, in this case MaineShare, acts on behalfof local nonprofits who belong to it as members in order to participate in workplace giving programs. his organizational model creates some unique tracking challenges, which MaineShare is meeting in outstanding fashion with some help from FundRaiser Professional. Here's how it works:

Acting on behalf of their member organizations, MaineShare raises funds for 43 local nonprofits groups. The structure created by the Community Shares model that they follow works well. It also creates the need for highly accurate tracking of many different and sometimes complicated fund pools. MaineShare relies on FundRaiser for help. With the skillful use of codes and reports, MaineShare keeps their records accurate and their funding distributions to member groups on-target.

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Happiness Happens Day at MaineShare

Sarah Fagg, Campaign Coordinator of MaineShare
Hildie Lipson, Executive Director of MaineShare

Because MaineShare does most of its fundraising through workplace giving programs, they are acquainted with a wide variety of workplaces. Company culture is important to them. Their satisfaction with FundRaiser is based both on the software and on their experience of the company, as well.

“We love your holidays, for instance that you have the first day of spring off. We feel like you have a good workplace and we like working with other places like that. We feel your love,” says Sarah Fagg, Campaign Coordinator and the main user of FundRaiser at MaineShare.

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Case study: Reviving a Lapsed Capital Campaign

 

Nine years ago, Center for Community Arts began a capital campaign and simultaneously got a grant for their first paid executive director. They planned carefully and hopes were high. Knowing that they would need to keep excellent records, they had done a careful search for the right database. At that time, I wrote a case study about why they chose FundRaiser. It was one of the first I ever wrote here for FundRaiser, and now I wondered how things had gone after all these years. I gave Judy Austermiller a call to find out. Judy is the development director and primary user of FundRaiser still.

When I reached her, Judy told a story that other organizations can likely relate to:  how the economy had hit them and their capital campaign hard, and how staff turn over had added an additional challenge to doing their work. She also talked of how, in spite of these difficulties, the Center had kept on serving the community, and how FundRaiser has helped them do it.

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Case Study: Life Radio Ministries

Life Radio Ministries needed to update their donor management software. "We were using something that had served us well enough over the years, but it was becoming extremely expensive to maintain, as well as being outdated. We decided to look for something that was more reasonably priced and which had stayed up with technology," says Joe Emert, General Manager of Life Radio Ministries.He was looking for features that allow him to create a personal, 'high touch' connection with donors...Read more ...

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