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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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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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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