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.

Schools improve donations by focusing on their most generous donors, part 1

Schools improve donations by focusing on their most generous donors, part 1

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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Useful Donor Information

Useful Donor Information

Dear Kim,

We have 500 donors, of whom 50 give over $1,000 and another 50 give between $500-999. We do a decent job of keeping in touch with these 100 donors, usually talking to them by phone or visiting the top 20 largest donors at least once a year. I keep all the information on these donors and I am retiring, so cleaning out my files and getting ready to pass this information on to the next person. I have pages of stuff on some people, and almost nothing on others. But what should I have? And what should I delete?

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7 key components for donor cultivation you should be tracking in your donor management software

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the daily details of life

Fund-raising has many engaging and inspiring sayings. Three that give insight into donor cultivation are:

People give to people.You don't raise funds; you raise friends.Fund-raising can be summed up in just three words - relationships, relationships, relationships.

At its heart, donor cultivation is about an organization's staff and leadership developing relationships with those capable of giving support and making them friends of the organization.I define donor cultivation as an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor.I can't stress enough how important this definition is - how important it is to the future of an organization's fund-raising efforts. Every successful fund-raising operation cultivates its donors - builds relationships with them. The most successful do it constantly and systematically.Let's parse this 48-word statement and examine its key components. Again, the definition, this time with its key components in bold type:Donor cultivation is an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor.

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Being of Service to Donors


As a development officer in a nonprofit organization you are well positioned to facilitate business and social contacts your donors may wish to make. Once, I had a family foundation that was making substantial gifts, and a donor who was head of a large financial house. I knew the broker-donor wanted to talk about handling the Foundation’s investments, so I put them together. The result was two happy donors and my employer, the Cleveland Orchestra, reaped the benefit of being the matchmaker.

Inviting a donor to a party or event hosted for you by those who are more socially or professionally prominent is a good way to help that donor up the success ladder. Conversely, inviting prominent members of your community to a party hosted for you by a donor who is trying to increase his or her social or professional standing can work just as well.

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Keeping in Touch with Donors

Preparation makes informal meetings go smoothly

Even if you successfully get donors to make site visits and are able to reach out to them as described above, it is not enough. You need to do more to keep in touch. After all, how many times a year will a donor be willing to come to the organization, or how frequently can you call for an appointment without becoming a pest? Besides, there are other ways to communicate and express interest in donors. Let’s begin by looking at communication that is more about the donor than the organization.

Send birthday and other appropriate greeting cards. Send get-well cards and even flowers to a donor in the hospital. Keep your eye open for items about donors in newspapers. When you see one, clip it and send it along with a “congratulations” note to the donor.

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