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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You start the process of becoming a fund-raiser for an organization when you first become involved with the organization. That’s when you begin to acquire knowledge about an organization, and acquisition of knowledge is the first step in preparing to raise money. To sell any product, it is important to know just what the product is and what it does. It makes no difference whether you are a waitress explaining the intricacies of the specials of the day, a computer salesperson pitching the new improved model, or a solicitor in a fund-raising campaign.

If you are the person running a campaign, you must make sure your solicitors have access to information about what the organization is, what it does, and why money is needed in the furtherance of what goals. If you are the person asking for the money, think about how you would go about making your request without that information. Yes, you will on occasion find people who will give because you ask rather than give to the cause, but that is the exception and –this can’t be said often enough—you cannot rely on the exception to support your organization.

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As mentioned in earlier blog posts, I tried my own hand this year at fundraising for an organization I support. From creating my first fundraising campaign, to doing a little extra donor outreach with FundRaiser to reach our campaign goal, I enjoyed the experience and look forward to more. 

One of the very satisfying things was not just reaching the fundraising goal, but also an additional and important side benefit that I had not foreseen:  Based in part on the work our fundraising committee did, we had a wonderful turn out for the event in spite of some challenges that hit just before the event took place. Here's what happened...

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Mid-Course Corrections and Problem Solving

(read part 1 here)

We track progress in a fund-raising campaign in order to identify problems in time to take corrective actions so that the goal stays within reach. If at any point in the campaign it begins to look as if the ability to achieve the goal is slipping away, then those managing the campaign must stop and take stock of the situation.

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How do you keep a fund-raising campaign on track? By being well organized, constantly monitoring progress, and informing all campaign participants of that progress. The very reason for the pyramidal structure of a campaign committee is to simplify management. In the best of circumstances, the pyramid is constructed so that no person supervises more than five people. (To maintain this limit is why we sometimes add campaign and divisional co-chairs.)

The campaign pyramid

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1020
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Dear Kim:  

A small family foundation run by a friend of our board chair promised us $10,000 at the beginning of the year and they have not yet paid it. Our board chair was recently told by her friend that the foundation probably wasn’t going to be able to pay because the market had wiped out a lot of their assets, but I can’t understand why they didn’t pay sooner.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 812
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Dear Kim,

I am the executive director of a small environmental justice organization focused on organizing a community to stand up to a large and highly polluting CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.) We have recently had some victories but need to keep pushing. One of our board members comes from quite a wealthy family and he has been very generous himself plus raised a lot of money from family and friends. But recently we needed an extra $10,000 very quickly so I went to him and he said he couldn’t give anything right now. I didn’t say anything but I was really upset. The man has more money than all of us put together! I need to get him to change his mind. How can I do that?

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Acting on the Findings and Recommendations

Once a donor survey has been completed and you’ve received a report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations, you’re ready to start the toughest part of the process. Now, you have to listen and pay attention and act. You have a wonderful opportunity to benefit greatly from what your donors told you about the pleasure and satisfaction they derive from their support to your organization, as well as to be alerted to their concerns and cares. You work as best you can to “fix” the things that need fixing, according to what the donors told you. And you need to continue and to enhance the cultivation practices which are the most desired and satisfying to your donors. This will surely help in great measure to maximize your chances for their giving to continue, and it will provide opportunities for even larger gifts in the future.

What if the Donor Survey Tells You What You Don’t Want to Hear?

Make sure that you take the time to go over every aspect of the donor survey. Don’t skip over negative things that on first reading seem minor. It is folly to take the time to conduct a donor survey, spend the money on it, and then risk alienating people important to the organization by ignoring the survey’s recommendations. An organization that ignores some or all of a donor survey’s findings is making a mistake that can damage the organization.

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What Do You Know About Your Donors
and What Do They Know About Your Organization?

If we’re going to ask people for money, it sure helps if they think highly of both our organization and its mission.

  • Do they see our mission as vital and valid?
  • Are we perceived as being successful at carrying out that mission?
  • Has our organization earned and maintained trust and respect?
  • Have we been efficient stewards of donations and resources?
  • Has any controversy been associated with us?
  • Have questions about any of our leaders arisen?
  • Do people believe we are the right organization to address what we declare in our Mission Statement?
  • Do they know enough about us to have formed any deeply held opinions?

Learn About Your Donors

Methods to learn the opinions and impressions donors have of your organization can be implemented in a number of ways, including mail, e-mail, telephone, focus discussions, and face-to-face meetings. Whether comprehensive one-on-one interviews, or a mix of any of the other options, surveys do not need to be complicated research instruments. A simple questionnaire (or format, for personal meetings) can be tallied either by hand or, if you structure the questions right, on a simple computer spreadsheet.

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The Annual Resolution Parade

This time of year, most of us "resolve" to make changes: in our lives; in our work habits; in our approach to life in general, etc. And many of those resolutions fall by the wayside as the year develops, either because they seem too difficult, or they weren't that important, or (fill in the blank with your last unfulfilled resolution reason). I'd like to suggest a resolution that will help you all through 2016, and will almost certainly repay your efforts many times over: learn how to better use your FundRaiser software to do what needs doing for your organization. While learning the program doesn't sound nearly so important as changing lifestyle choices, or gaining virtues, or shedding bad habits, it can, for your non-profit organization, be the catalyst for many changes, like donor retention, increased donations, better communications, and less effort expended for all of it.

Which type of training do you prefer?

FundRaiser offers several different training formats, to fit your individual and organizational efforts, from self-help using the program's built-in Help manual and training videos on our website, to scheduled live webinars, to on-site training at your facilities, and you always have the option to call or email the training office, or tech support, for help. Each method of learning has it's pros and cons, of course, but the choices are available to you, and in this blog I'll try to give you some tips on how to approach them. And at the end of this, I'll let you know how all this can benefit you at the end of the year.

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Recently, I was asked again what a non-profit organization should do about announcing that a fund-raising campaign is racing toward its goal at a record-setting pace. It’s a question asked more often than one might think.

If you’ve got a positive story to tell, especially one of community support, you tell it, right? The reality is that I have known many campaign leaders who have wanted to downplay their success during the campaign. Some have even wanted to under announce results. Why?

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1282
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Some interesting facts about asking for money:

  • few people give money unless they are asked
  • nearly everyone feels good when they give money
  • lower income people dig deeper and give a higher percentage of their income than high income people
  • when you ask people you know for a contribution, at least half of them will say yes

Are you still nervous thinking about how you 'should' ask for money, but think you can't?

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How can our orgs communicate effectively in the middle of two huge crises - 1) Police brutality and misconduct in Baltimore, spurring response by community members fighting for their rights and lives; and 2) Nepal’s crushing earthquake, and the millions whose lives will be impacted for years to come?

This is an extremely delicate challenge, whether the crisis is human-driven (as in the Baltimore police actions) or a natural disaster.

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An important aspect of fundraising is making connections with your prospective donors on a deeper level. It is one thing to connect with someone over a shared concern over animal welfare, for example, but reaching them with a story about a rescued cat or one who needs funds for an expensive surgery creates an immediate connection, one that you can tailor to the person’s interests through category codes.

Within FundRaiser category codes are designed to document and segment the non-giving aspects of your donors’ lives. Using category codes can help you create a more meaningful relationship. Document what activities your donors like, for example, and you could entice them to an event that seems tailor made for them.

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Tagged in: Codes communications
in Tech Blog 1477
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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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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1955
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Some of you may remember my stories about my wondrous Great Aunt Frances. We grew into close friends over the years I lived a few blocks from her in NYC.

Aunt Frances was fantastic—a warm, loving, down-to-earth lady who’d had many life adventures and was a fantastic cook.

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When your organization needs to send out communications, the mass mailings feature within FundRaiser provides a quick and easy way to do so. Simply choose the letter, select who receives it, and then print and send. In times of disaster or when funds are needed urgently, the Mass Mailings feature provides a way for you to communicate with your donors, even through email.

What sort of letters can be sent out through Mass Mailings? Anything you can create. As long as you can format the template, it can be sent. Mass mailings also works for mailing labels and envelopes, which means labeling postcards just became a lot easier.

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