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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The nine basic truths of fund-raising listed below are taken from the introduction to my book It’s a Great Day to Fund-Raise, and they are the foundation of my successful career as a development officer for and consultant to nonprofit organizations.

  1. Organizations are not entitled to support; they must earn it.
  2. Successful fund-raising is not magic; it is simply hard work on the part of people who are thoroughly prepared.
  3. Fund-raising is not raising money; it is raising friends.
  4. You do not raise money by begging for it; you raise it by selling people on your organization.
  5. People do not just reach for their checkbooks and give money to an organization; they have to be asked to give.
  6. You do not wait for the “right” moment to ask; you ask now.
  7. Successful fund-raising officers do not ask for money; they get others to ask for it.
  8. You don’t decide today to raise money and then ask for it tomorrow; it takes time, patience, and planning to raise money.
  9. Prospects and donors are not cash crops waiting to be harvested; treat them as you would customers in a business.

Learn more about how FundRaiser can help you acheive your fundraising goals

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Dear Kim,

I have a multipart question.  We want to start doing thank-you calls but often don’t have donor phone numbers. Is it creepy to get their phone number from the white pages? Should we require a phone number on our donation page so we can capture phone numbers going forward?

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Dear Kim:

You often advise asking people who have been giving you a certain amount of money for many years to consider giving more.  But how do you do that without making them feel you were not grateful for what they have already given?

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Kim Klein's blog on Steps for Raising $20,000 is a great article to use to show exactly how FundRaiser can simplify donor management.  If you look at the steps suggested to the student in order to raise funds for their trip to Costa Rica, you'll see how each step can be simplified and tracked using FundRaiser.

Database programs are for storing and using information, and we suggest using FundRaiser to store as much information as you need to have for all the aspects of your fundraising efforts. It's not just about donors, although that's certainly a big part, but look at the other aspects to this particular effort.

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 Dear Kim,

I am new to development and I have heard several contradictory things about the kinds of acknowledgements I should be sending to donors. Someone said we are required by law to send a thank you for every gift and someone else said you have to subtract the value of anything you send to the donor. Then someone else said that you only have to thank people who give over $250 and someone else said you are not allowed to thank people unless they request it and on and on. I know you say, “Thank before you bank” but that doesn’t sound like a law as much as a good habit.

~Help!  

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ORGANIZATIONS THAT WANT TO GROW and thrive in this century need to be clear about three things:

1. Givers give. In the United States, 70 percent of the adult population makes regular donations to nonprofits. Many thousands more give money in much more informal ways such as helping homeless people asking for money on the street, buying raffle tickets and products from schoolchildren, and giving money to friends and relatives in need. More people give away money than vote, than volunteer, or than attend any house of worship. These people are going to give to your organization, or they will give to another one.

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read part 1 Preparing for the ASK

The Opening: How It’s Handled Will Determine Its Outcome

The first meeting should not take place in a public space such as a restaurant with its distractions and interruptions. Solicitors should begin by talking with prospects about professional and personal interests, mutual friends and acquaintances, places and times where their lives may have crossed. However, solicitors should not forget why they are there. Quickly, but naturally, discussion of the campaign should be worked into the conversation. Solicitors should mention their own personal involvement and commitment to the organization as a way of explaining why it is of such great value to the community. They must convey how important the current fund-raising campaign is to the organization’s future. When appropriate, a tour of the organization’s facilities and the opportunity to meet others involved with the organization should be offered. Finally, solicitors should ask prospects to consider supporting the organization by making a pledge in the suggested amount.

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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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Dear Kim,

I am about to take the plunge. For years I’ve listened to many fundraisers stress the importance of segmenting your donor lists. For a variety of reasons including laziness, being too busy, and poor software, I have not yet done this.

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How a Christian Radion Station Got Back On Track by Responding Quickly to Listener LettersAbout 15 years ago, key members of CrossTalk ministry took a step back from their work, and realized they weren’t getting where they wanted to go. “We had a lag of four to six weeks in responding to people who contacted us. When we got around to contacting them they were irritated and didn’t care anymore. We were failing,” says Caleb Weiss, Development Director.

Caleb knew that donor management software could help, but theirs was more of a liability. “We had some kind of membership tracking software at that time. It took more work to use than it saved. We were also using several Excel spreadsheets. We needed a software product that would help us do our job without having to put so much into it.”

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BRING Recycling is adding #WorkUpstream – an online campaign starting on #GivingTuesday , December 1st – to their traditional end-of-year fundraising strategy. The social media portion of the campaign targets new donors from their Facebook and Twitter followers, says Ephraim Payne, Development and Communications Director at BRING.

New donors attracted through social media outreach will be added to the FundRaiser database as contacts, allowing for regular follow-up. “It allows us to reach them in a more focused way than we can through Facebook or Twitter,” says Ephraim. “We’ll be able to include them in our donor appreciation and cultivation communications.”

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Thanking donors seems like something so basic that we shouldn’t even have to talk about it. But more mistakes, with more devastating results for donor loyalty, are made in the thanking of donors than anyplace else. So, let’s go over six rules for saying “thank you” that are absolutely essential.

  1. Thank a donor immediately. Send out a thank-you note for a gift no later than the day after the gift is received. Nothing is more important than a prompt thank-you.
  2. Be humble. Don’t act as if or communicate the thought that you were expecting the gift as something that was the donor’s responsibility to do.
  3. Praise the donor’s generosity. Do not stint. Let the donor know how important the gift is.
  4. Praise your donor’s leadership. Anyone who gives is a leader and should be treated as such, and call attention to the fact that their gift will influence others to give.
  5. Thank donors for past support. When you receive today’s gift remind the donor how appreciative you are of past support, but do not talk about future support. Do not say thanks out of one side of your mouth and hint at future requests out of the other.
  6. And finally, never let a hint of disappointment show. Never, ever show a lack of gratitude for a gift, whatever its size.

There are two things that must be remembered about saying thanks. Donors expect it, and they deserve it.

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Dear Kim,

I sit on the advisory committee of a regional program whose mission is to fight racism and educate the public about celebrating diversity. They are hoping to increase their coffers by starting a membership program. I agreed to do some research into:

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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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Figge Art Museum is on the move, and so are their donors-- moving up the giving ladder! Raelene Pullen, Development Director at Figge Art Museum, is very deliberate about the steps she takes to communicate with donors and encourage them to become more involved in the museum. Her fundraising softwareFundRaiser Professional  is crucial to the process. 

Figge Art Museum

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Membership programs may have many practical benefits, but the biggest benefit to an organization is their potential to increase donor loyalty. Someone who sees herself as a member of an organization will generally feel more ownership and involvement in an organization than someone who sees herself just as a donor, even if the member never has any more concrete involvement than simply giving money.

In addition, enrolling a donor as a member gives a concrete reason for sporadic donors to become regular donors, at least once a year when their membership renewal comes due.

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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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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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