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.

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Dear Kim,

We work with refugees and immigrants, providing legal services, workshops and even sanctuary in some churches. I have been reading a lot about fundraising metrics recently and wonder how much time I should spend figuring out our retention rates and return on investment and that kind of thing? We have three paid staff: I am the development director and we have an executive director and a director of programming. We have about 100 volunteers and serve 2,500 people a year, and growing. We have about 1,000 individual donors as well as a number of faith-based organizations who are partners in a variety of ways. Sometimes we make money from workshops. We are all stretched thin but I want to run a good development program. What is the value of all this data?

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 101
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Track Campaigns more easily 

All the FundRaiser programs can help you track your campaign activity.  FundRaiser Professional has a special "Campaign Management" component to help do it even more completely, but any version will allow you to do the following tips. Any of these tips will help you gather together donors and/or donations specific to any of your campaigns. 

1.  Code those gifts !!!

Most campaigns are made up of fundraising events.  Some are physical gatherings, like walkathons, parties, etc., to encourage immediate donations. Some are awareness events, such as mailings, advertising, and so forth, which will bring donations over a period of time.  In any of those cases, when gifts are received and recorded, it just makes sense to use the Motivation Code to indicate why that person gave at that event.  Normally it will be a code that reflects the event during which they were asked to give, whether a mailing or a gathering.  If you do this consistently, you'll be able to create Groupings, based on donations made to these codes during a particular period of time.  Groupings can be used with almost all reports, so you can focus on a particular event, or on all the events within a campaign.

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in Tech Blog 2291
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Campaign Assessment and Review

The campaign is finished. The thank-yous have been said and the money counted. However, before closing the book on a campaign for good, you should take one last look at it. The days immediately following a campaign are the time to analyze what went wrong and what went right, which fixes worked and which didn’t.

You should assess and review every fund-raising campaign, and you should make a record of what you find.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 652
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Dear Kim,

I am writing to you as a donor. I give away 10% of my income every year and support about 25 organizations with donations in the $20-$50 range with a few at $100. I live on social security but I don’t have many expenses so I can do this. But I read recently that gifts of $20 and $25 aren’t that useful to organizations because it costs so much to process them. The article said to make fewer gifts of higher amounts. I like giving to a lot of organizations but I don’t want to waste their time (or my money.) You are in fundraising so what do you think?

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 961
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Like many development directors, Raelene Pullen of Figge Art Museum has a small staff and limited budget, so she needs to use resources wisely. On first arriving at her new job, she turned to the donor database in place at the Figge for information on how to do that … and found that the data she needed wasn’t there. “The previous development team didn’t use the software in a very dynamic way. I’d have a question and refer to the software. The answers weren’t there. So I had to ask myself why that was. Is this software not good? The software can only return information based on what was input,” says Raelene about her first experiences with the donor database.

Instead of giving up on FundRaiser, she sat down to figure out what information she needed and if FundRaiser could do the job. She went through each of the technical trainings offered by FundRaiser Training and spoke to FundRaiser Technical Support.  When properly implemented, FundRaiser was able to provide almost all she needed. “Since then, we’ve revitalized and revamped the coding and campaign management processes. Now we are able to benchmark and track the differences in response for appeals, museum events, gifts, and engagement and have data over a number of years.”

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Tagged in: ROI support training
in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 907
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In part 1 - Raelene Pullen, Development Director at the Figge Art Museum, shares how she is successfully uses FundRaiser Professional to engaged more donors and increasing donations.

FundRaiser Professional is important in evaluating ROI (Return On Investment) of the events organized by Raelene Pullen. “After an event, we are interested to see the relationship between donations received by the Museum and the donor’s attendance at recent events. How do the donations that come in from those prospects compare to the ones that come from people who haven’t attended? This makes visible the impact of the event and that way of cultivating these relationships,"says Raelene.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1598
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Read Part 1 here

Most schools find that building strong relationships with parents, alumni, and the close relatives of students and alumni, is an excellent way to increase donor loyalty and donations.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1536
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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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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1369
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The most essential factor is persistence-- the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by discouragement that must inevitably  come.

Dear Kim,

How often should you try to get someone who gave your organization money once to give again?

~Persistence and Pestering: Where is the Line?

Dear Persistence,

The sad fact that has to be taken into account when building a donor program is that most people who give once will not give again. The percentage of people who give a second gift varies from 25-40%. (This is called your “conversion rate” and is an important metric to track.)

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Tagged in: Codes ROI
in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1839
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The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers

Dear Kim,

We are a 50-year-old social service agency and we have done a gala wine tasting event for the past 20 years. For many years, it was really fun and was the place to “see and be seen” in our community. About 300 people always came and we netted more every year. Our highest net was $75,000.

We had a strong volunteer group who did most of the work and a list of sponsors who said yes almost without being asked. But in the last 5-7 years, several things have happened which have depressed our income and the fun of the event, and almost all of them have to do with aging. Our main volunteers retired and many of the regular attenders started saying they don’t like to go out at night, or their doctor has said they can’t drink wine or they can’t hear and the event is unpleasant for that reason. Needless to say, some have died. Last year, staff did most of the work on the event and we netted about $25,000. About 200 people came but that’s because we let staff invite five friends for free so we only had 120ish paying customers.  

My question is this: is the event worth it? Should we change it up entirely? People have a lot of loyalty to this event but it seems to be slowly dying.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 2352
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In Sasha's blog this week, Julie, at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, explains how they use FundRaiser Professional's Campaign Management section to keep track of return on investment (ROI) for various events, as well as keeping track of responses to mailings, like newsletters.  But what if you don't have Professional?  Can you work around that limitation to get a better picture of ROI and similar characteristics of your campaigns?  Well, the answer is "yes", you can, but it may take a bit more creative thought and planning on your part.  Here are a few tips to help:

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in Trainers Blog 1621
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Knowing the balance between incoming donations and outgoing expenses is vitally important at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center. The organization runs a large and historically rich facility on a tight budget. The facility serves as a spiritual center for the Catholic Church. Among the Center’s many activities this year, they have been hosting events and retreats for high schools students.

Julie Nerl is currently a one-person development staff for the Center. “It’s a large place with few employees,” she says. “Like most nonprofits we all multi-task.” Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center is a FundRaiser Professional user. Julie is the main user of FundRaiser. “I use the FundRaiser Software system daily,” she says.

One of important things she uses the software for is to get a clear picture of event return on investment (ROI). This is one of the main challenges for any nonprofit, and especially crucial if funds are tight. For Julie, the Campaign Management section in FundRaiser has been particularly helpful in this regard. 

ROI on newsletter donation envelopes

This year she focused on clarifying the cost versus income on the newsletter. “We insert a reply envelope in every newsletter, it’s not a formal ask but a reminder. I mark the envelope, so when it comes back, I’ll be able to track exactly where the donations come from and if we are receiving enough to cover the cost of the newsletter,” says Julie.

“We send an issue every other month. In the Campaign Management section, I track each issue as a sub-event under the annual fundraising campaign. I enter the expenses of the newsletter and track the donations. That has let me report on the actual costs versus income. I can track and see what month we raise the most or least. We are using the information to determine if we should cut down on our newsletter mailings or replace one with another kind of mailing.”

“It’s important to know where your donations are coming from and which fundraising events work and which do not,” explains Julie “That’s why I like Fundraiser Software, it’s easy to see the results.”

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 2553
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I've talked to some brilliant and inspiring fundraisers through my work at FundRaiser. Over time, I've noticed how they emphasize certain points about the interface between effective appeal letters and using their donor database.

These people have a heart-felt connection to their donors and they want to use their donor database to convey that.  They often have ways they think of their letters that help them feel their emotional connection, even through all the layers of distance, and technology. Some find this through envisioning letters as organizing tools. Others experience letters as a way touch someone who has touched them. It depends on the purpose and personality of the organization. But whatever that may be, there are some consistent ways that they use their donor databases to make that connection.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1862
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increasing donations for schools large and smallWith the start of the new school season, my mind is on donor management for schools. One of the things I've learned most clearly from talking to school organizations about their successful donor management strategies is the key importance of knowing by constituent group who your most generous donors are. FundRaiser Software is created to help you do this as one of its core tasks. Organizations thrive who do it well, whether they are schools or another type of organization.

The three steps that make it easy to see your donations by constituent group start with the most basic donor management task.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 2227
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How Gildas Club uses campaign management software to stay organized on simultaneous eventsGilda’s Club of Western Pennsylvania has a dedication to improving the lives of cancer survivors that inspires me. They keep up a very active schedule of fundraising to pay for the services they offer to cancer survivors and their families. They started small, using FundRaiser Basic, and over the years have built momentum so that they now are running several events at once. Staying organized is a challenge, and they have done it by skillful use of special campaign management features in FundRaiser Software.

Using the Campaign Management Console is straightforward, and in doing so, Gilda’s Club of Western PA is able to easily view campaign ROI, and make adjustments as needed to their campaigns. Debra Markovich, Executive Assistant at Gilda’s Club Western Pennsylvania uses FundRaiser Professional on a daily basis and explains how they stay organized while running several simulaneous events:

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 2018
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