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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With Spring, the Ozarks come truly alive. It's one of the most gorgeous places on Earth, with lots of rain, vibrant green grass, and sweet tiny flowers. It's impossible to remain untouched by all the beauty and growth, and we have been touched! As the first shrubs began blooming a few weeks ago, Autumn Shirley, CEO of FundRaiser and I sat down and brainstormed ideas to make our Facebook page more of a resource for you. We came up with some great ideas-- some brand new and a few tweaks to old standards.

Brand new are the weekly Facebook-only Flash Sales, which include things like discounts on modules, donor portal set up, NCOA processing, training credits, additional user licenses and more. These are only available on Facebook, so be sure to check our page each week to stay in the know.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 157
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Joey Patten, with family
Jessica, 2 month old Emmett, and Joey Patten. Joey Patten is the newest member of the FundRaiser Tech Team

If you've called FundRaiser Technical Support recently, you may have heard a new voice on the line helping you. We are happy to introduce Mary Lenker and Joey Patten who have just joined the FundRaiser Support Team. Both have extensive experience in tech support and customer service.

Joey Patten comes to FundRaiser after working in the Navy as the Administrative Assistant for the commander of a submarine squadron. His job was to do computer work and interface with IT. He joined the FundRaiser staff recently after moving back to West Plains, his home town. He loves working with computers and got started when he was 6 years old. He likes working in the friendly ambiance of the FundRaiser office.

Outside of work Joey enjoys hiking, fishing, hunting, being outside, and, being with his son, Emmett.

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What is Happiness?

As Autumn's blog points out, August is Happiness Happens Month.  According to the dictionary, happiness is a "state of well-being or contentment", although many people would put a specific face on what makes them happy.  To be honest, I've never been too ambitious.  I've never expected a lot from life.  I've never been accused of being an "over-achiever".  Maybe that's part of why I've always considered myself a fairly happy person.  I've gone with the flow, accepting life's ups and downs, and floated merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, through the dream of life.  But I realize most people aren't this way.  And fund raisers, by definition, cannot be content with what they have, but must constantly strive to achieve more for their organizations.  That's where training can bring some measure of happiness, I believe.

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Nick Haring, support technician at FundRaiser SoftwareNick Haring is the new fellow at the end of the FundRaiser Tech Support line. In addition to Jonathan Smith, Nick is here to answer your questions about using the FundRaiser programs. Nick is replacing Sherry Willis whose own home business, Half-Pint Homesteads, has taken off and needs her full time. We are sorry to see her go, and happy to have someone like Nick join the FundRaiser staff. Right now, he's responding mostly to emails involving simple queries. "I’ll be on the phones soon!" he says.

Nick studied Computer Science and Mass Communications at Missouri Southern State in Joplin, Missouri. After losing his home in the Joplin tornado in 2011, he moved back to West Plains, Missouri, to be closer to family.

After his move, he was happy to discover that FundRaiser Software was looking for someone like him as a support technician. Because of his ability with computers he is at home with technical questions; and with his interest in communications, he has an easy and pleasant way of sharing information. Look for his blog posts coming up as he settles in at FundRaiser.

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in About us 2350
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Cool car with large engineIt's scorching hot here in the Southwest (training office is in Arizona), and the monsoon rains just haven't been as heavy or as often as we'd like to cool things down or build the water table up.  This is the time of the year when many of us become lethargic and just don't want to do much more than sit and think.  And I was thinking of the impending deadline most all of our users have in the near future.  It's just around the corner:  the deadline for getting the best upgrade pricing for Client / Server.  And some folks may be wondering how much change this will make in their use of the program.  Most of us are used to routines in entering data, creating reports, sending thank you letters, and so on, and ANY change can be a bit intimidating.

How much will you need to re-learn once you've upgraded to the Client / Server version?

NOTHING.

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in Trainers Blog 1953
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The past few years I’ve noticed that clothing just doesn’t fit the way it once did.  I’ve become less active (read “lazy”) and my physical mass has begun to shift around on my body.  I’ve always been an “off-the-rack” shopper, boringly average in run-of-the-mill sizes, until recently.  Last weekend, while having some tires replaced at one of our local malls, my wife and I were browsing the stores and happened on a great sale at one of the stores we rarely shop.  I followed her advice and tried on some jeans, and was pleasantly surprised to find some that fit perfectly, shifted mass and all.  I bought two pairs, at 20% of their original list price, feeling like a million bucks.

I got to thinking about this in relation to our latest product offering:  FundRaiser Spark.  One size doesn’t fit all in the world of software, and sometimes extra features impede the use of a product, rather than promoting it.  This can be especially true in software when the people using it are not necessarily computer “geeks”, like myself, and don’t have the time, inclination, etc., to fully explore all the functionality of a program.  And the reverse side of this coin is software that doesn’t do quite enough.

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I live in Arizona (not Missouri, where our home office is located) and sparks are not normally welcome at this time of year, due to dry conditions and fire hazards that, each year, cost millions of dollars in loss of habitat and homes. So when our CEO, Autumn Shirley, told me about a new product we’re releasing, called “Spark”, with a tag-line of “Start something big”, my first thoughts were of some rather large wildfires that we’ve had here in the West.Well, I came to grips with my regionalized knee-jerk reactions, and took a look at this new arrival, and now I see what all the hoopla is about.

Many FundRaiser users are with organizations that have modest database needs, and a tight budget. That is, after all, why we released FundRaiser Basic (www.fundraiserbasic.com), originally: to have an “entry-level” offering that would help small nonprofits grow to a level that allows them to step up to FundRaiser Select or Professional (www.fundraisersoftware.com) when Basic’s abilities are no longer enough. And it’s that same thinking that prompted us to a modular approach, allowing customers to start with Select, for instance, and add modules for functionality as needed (like Pledge, Membership, and Volunteer management modules).

Over the years, one of the problems we found with that approach was that the cost of even Select was too much more than that of Basic. It was just too big a step for growing organizations to make all at once. And, for some, even Select has more functionality than necessary, like too many codes, too many data fields, too many options, etc.

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The internet has developed so quickly over the past decade that it’s hard to remember how things looked even just a short while ago. With FundRaiser going live with a new website this week, I began to wonder what our earliest websites looked like. I talked to Gene Weinbeck, founder of FundRaiser, and he was happy to share some memories and a few images of earlier websites.

When did FundRaiser first go online?

Gene: Our earliest website went up about 1994. It looked like a DOS program. It was done in Times New Roman only, and for sophistication, it used bold and underlining. We don’t have any screenshot of that… no one thought to save it!

What made you go online at that time?

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Lily BrothertonFundRaiser recently hired an expert in Social Media. This week, she’s starting work creating videos, educating staff about using Twitter, and creating a more lively presence on Facebook.  She’s been actively involved in social media for the last 4 years… since she was 12 years old. Yes, our newest staff member is just 16 and the daughter of Autumn Shirley, CEO of FundRaiser. Her name is Lily Brotherton and she is our social media intern.  

When I interviewed her this morning, our dialog took a slightly different direction than the usual interviews:

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Having been associated with FundRaiser (and its founder, Gene Weinbeck) for more than a quarter century is, frankly, rather difficult for me to consider without thinking of the myriad changes (personal and professional, local and international, physical and metaphysical) that have occurred during that time. Some reflections bring out nostalgic yearnings for a return to a simpler life, while others evoke a sense of gratitude that “it” isn’t what “it” used to be. Change, in itself, could care less about how I view what was, and change will continue regardless of what I think.

In the mid-80’s my brother asked me to come to Missouri to help with his business, where, he assured me, I’d get the chance to learn computers while earning “Ozark” wages. With not a little trepidation, I agreed, packed everything I owned, including my best pal, Harry S Trudog, into a VW microbus (remember those?) and drove from Louisiana to the sleepy south central Missouri town of West Plains. I quickly learned that “Ozark” wages consisted of $50.00 per week and a place to stay, and that my education in computers was to be in the form self-education, using a then-new IBM PC with both the MS-DOS and BASIC manuals, and a single software program called Lotus 1-2-3. And, while it seemed a rude awakening in one sense, I’ll be forever grateful to my brother for the introduction to my mentor, and friend, Gene Weinbeck, who not only taught me about computers, but also about what it means to care about other people, the value of supporting others’ endeavors, and the ability to adapt to change.

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A couple of years ago I wrote an article about the differences between our Multi-User versions of FundRaiser and the Client/Server versions of FundRaiser.  And you may want to visit that article for a more technical explanation of things, but in this week's blog I'll attempt to give you the short version.

Client/Server versions can allow more than one person to use the program simultaneously, like Multi-User versions, but that's not their real purpose and strength.  Speed with safety is the real benefit to Client/Server versions, speeding up processes while insuring that no data becomes corrupt or lost.  Most "regular" versions of software are installed directly to the computer at hand, and that computer does all the work, so it's called a "stand alone" setup.  On networks of computers, it can be advantageous to have the program installed on a special computer called a Server, and allow other computers (Clients) to run the program over the network.

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