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.

Creating My First Fundraising Mailing

Creating My First Fundraising Mailing

At FundRaiser Software, staff members are experts in helping nonprofit organizations use our software. We have learned a lot about the how-to's of fundraising from our customers... but very few of us do it ourselves. For me, over the years, I've become eager to try my own hand at it. Yesterday, my wish came true as I mailed out my own first fundraising campaign. The experience was both fun and humbling, giving me a new and deeper appreciation of the work that our customers do daily! 

Let me say at the start, that the organization I volunteer for has done well for more than 35 years tracking donors by spreadsheet and memory. It's understandable that when I suggested using a FundRaiser program they were wary. This year, however, the other volunteers at the organization agreed to let me have a go at it... as long as I was the one working with FundRaiser.   

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Importing from Spreadsheets to FundRaiser

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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Importing into FundRaiser ... The Right Way!

The Face wants you to know.

Hi Everybody! The name is Nick and if you've called for FundRaiser Tech Support in the last year or so you've probably talked to me, and if not, then what's stopping you?Anyway, today I would like to talk about the best way to import data into FundRaiser and the mythically obscure .CSV file ... scary. Now, you may or may not be asking yourself. "Awesome Nick, how do I create a .CSV without summoning potentially evil spirits?"

Well, first things first, open up your spreadsheet in Excel. Most of the time it will be saved as an Excel Workbook or some other file useless to FundRaiser. Now, go to "Save As" this will open the "Save As" window. On the bottom of the "Save As" window you will see a drop menu that says "Save As type." Now this part is crucial, click on the drop down menu.

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7 ways an alumni foundation improved donor cultivation by moving from Excel to a donor database

Mariemont School Foundation didn’t really want to move from their Excel spreadsheets to a donor database, but their new development director said they needed to if they wanted to be more successful. “The people who were on the foundation board didn’t want to learn something new, but then they hired a development director who said in order to be a successful group, donor management software was something we needed to grow our organization. You start out as a grass roots organization and then you need someone to say, ‘to grow your organization this is something you need to do’.” says Ann Pardue, who is a Trustee on the Board of the Mariemont School Foundation.

Since starting to use the donor database, the foundation has seen great gains

According to Ann, Mariemont has been able to:

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3 Tips for Exporting Data to Spreadsheets

Why Export Data to Other Programs??

You know, from my point of view, "why" is a question I don't always feel inclined (or capable) to answer.  Sometimes the best answer to "why" is simply "because".  Why export?  Because I want to export.  It's a valid reason, and so it behooves us at FundRaiser to make it as easy as possible to perform the task, even though it's a relatively little-used task when compared to most features of the program.  We don't need to know "why" you want to export, but YOU need to know HOW to export, and here are some tips to get the job accomplished in the best possible way for your purposes.

1.  Export or Print to File??  Choosing the right method.

Under the File menu, the "Export" option enables you to send data to various file formats that can be easily read by other programs.  The ASCII/dBase option gives you several choices, but the most common for spreadsheets is the CSV (Comma-Separated-Values) file format.  Exporting, however, has some limitations, in that you can only export fields that are available in the "Field Selection" list.  You may have noticed that only "statistical" gift data can be exported, rather than individual gift information.  So, when you need to export that type of information, the best bet is to use the "Print to Excel" option found in almost all reports (like the donation/deposit reports).  While this option will not be as "clean" as exporting to a CSV and then opening the resulting file in a spreadsheet, it WILL allow you to bring those multiple gifts into play.  So, the first step to exporting is to decide the level of detail you need, and either choose to Export (less detail) or Print to Excel, using a report (more detail, but more cleanup needed in the resulting Excel/spreadsheet file).

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2 Situations When You Might Want to Consider Using Access or Excel for Donor Management

With the proper template (and there is one for nonprofits included with Access), it's not too difficult for someone with a modicum of computer savvy to put together a program to handle the basics of fundraising using either Excel or Access. However, remember that the fundraising world is not static, and neither should be your fundraising program—continuing maintenance could become a drain on your time and resources.

In our opinion, there are two situations in which using Access or Excel (or similar products) might make sense.

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8 Ways to Know If You've Outgrown Your Homegrown Software

In this modern technological age, even the smallest nonprofits are likely to use some type of software to help with fundraising. These fall into two general categories:

commercial "off the shelf" donor management softwarehomegrown or custom programs.

The homegrown varieties are most often constructed using Microsoft's Access or Excel because they are the most readily available products from which to create a database. In our many years working with small to medium-sized nonprofits in various capacities, many organizations have come to us looking for a solution to having outgrown their homegrown programs. This experience has taught us a number of lessons that may be helpful if you are thinking it may be time to purchase fundraising management software.

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When your spreadsheets aren't enough: import options in FundRaiser donor management software

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.  If you're having trouble convincing others of this, you may want to use one or the other of these linked articles as good examples.

Why NOT convert?

One of the big stumbling blocks to converting to a better system seems to be the old argument of "we would have to re-enter all that information, and no one has time to do that!".  Well, in FundRaiser there is a file menu option that allows you to import from other file formats.  Here are some quick tips and tricks on how to do that efficiently and successfully:

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Why I want the environmental organization I volunteer for to use a donor database instead of Excel spreadsheets

The environmental organization I volunteer for is important to me, so it followed that when I discovered they were using Excel spreadsheets to track the donors who help make it happen each year, I suggested that we use a FundRaiser Software program instead.

My co-volunteers were leery about moving from Excel to a donor database. They don't know me as any kind of expert on non-profit fundraising. They feared that using a donor database would simply complicate matters. Excel spreadsheets are free and everyone knew how to use them. Their questions led me to do some research so I could tell them more clearly why I was making my suggestion. Here's what I turned up:

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