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.

Program News - A Better Looking FundRaiser

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Interested in knowing more about what the future holds for your software?

It's no secret that, while FundRaiser is a very robust program, the interface is, frankly, outdated. As a small privately-owned company, we have had to choose how to allocate our resources very carefully and we have put other development projects ahead of updating the interface. Fortunately, that is changing now and we are pleased to offer you an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming release.

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Are you ready for Giving Tuesday? Let us help with free hosting

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Giving Tuesday is just 2 months away, on November 27 and it is not too soon to start preparing for it. This year, we  want to give you some extra help by creating an online donations page that is integrated with FundRaiser. Our Donor Portal can play a key role in the success of your Giving Tuesday campaign.

Your custom Donor Portal page for online donations will 

• look & feel like your website• accept online donations using Authorize.net• seamlessly stream donor and donation records directly to FundRaiser

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3 Ways of Tracking the Elusive Donor/Prospect

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In a recent blog by Tony Poderis, it is suggested that a myriad of things *should* be tracked in order to cultivate donors and prospects more easily and fully.  It's further suggested that, in order to be truly successful, an organization will build strong relationships with their top 20% of donors, getting them fully involved in the organization's mission. All of this tracking and relationship-building requires a lot of detailed information about people, and storing it in a manner that can be readily accessed may appear daunting.  Let me "undaunt" that appearance with FundRaiser.

Category Codes are the most flexible way to record non-giving aspects of peoples' lives, as I've said numerous times in my blogs over the years, yet some users are still reluctant to utilize them as fully as possible.  Maybe they feel the list of codes gets a bit unwieldy, too long, to specific, etc.  Or perhaps they don't see the immediate need of tracking so many aspects of a person's life.  Hopefully, Tony's blog will give you a better grasp of why this is so necessary.  And I've got a few suggestions that will make it easier to use a multiplicity of Category Codes.  

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7 key components for donor cultivation you should be tracking

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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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Ideas for an Arts Advocacy organization looking to diversify funding sources

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Dear Kim,

I work for a small statewide arts advocacy organization, and by small I mean in staff size rather than geographic size. We receive funding from our state agency and membership but realize the need to diversify our funding sources. We are finding it difficult to approach foundations and corporations for funding because we are statewide and we do advocacy. Any advice on how to solve this problem?

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Solicitor Codes & Reports: Not Just For Major Donors

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When it comes to solicitors, most organizations think of them as something only major donors have, and if the organization works primarily in smaller dollar donations, then they might not use solicitors. However, solicitors are an excellent idea if you like to track your donors’ influencers. Our solicitor code and report will make it easy.

The Donor Solicitor Code can be found on both the Codes tab as well as the Name Details > Misc. tab and is traditionally thought of as a way to show which volunteer or board member is assigned to solicit, or encourage, donations from that particular donor. Because most organizations don’t have someone working with each and every donor, the donor solicitor code is often used only for major donors.

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Meeting with donors for a Big Ask

Meeting with donors for a Big 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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What's THE Best Fundraising Strategy?

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Dear Kim,

I only want to use the most successful fundraising strategy. Which is it?

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Increasing the Courage to Asked Lapsed Donors to Give

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Sometimes all you need to make a change is to see things from a new perspective. Earlier this month, that happened for me, and it resulted in success for a fundraising campaign I was organizing.

As the campaign approached an important deadline, we were still short on our break even point. It was then that something lucky happened. A new donor mentioned how eager she was to be included in the line up of published sponsors-- she had been impressed when she'd read over the list of names from last year. Her enthusiasm for our sponsors was such a welcome breath of fresh air. It moved me out of the 'hard work to raise money' frame of mind, into a space of deep appreciation for the people who recognize and support the value of our work. 

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Short take: Using Category Codes For Better Donor Targeting

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Most organizations deal with a range of donors and sometimes clients who may be interested in different things from your organization. A nonprofit healthcare clinic, for example, may have physicians and staff (even if they are all volunteers), patients, friends and family of patients, as well as those who simply wish to sponsor free or affordable healthcare.

Each group will respond differently to appeals. For example, patients may wish to “pay back” some of the care that was received. Friends and family may give so that those they care about continue to receive care, and sponsors may want to know how many people their dollars helped.

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How Happiness is Happening Now for FundRaiser Staff

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Monday August 6 is the annual Happiness Happens celebration that we enjoy so much every year. The celebration was instituted years ago by FundRaiser founders and continues to this day as the current owners favorite holiday. This year we again commemorate it by sharing with you our staff's plans to celebrate the weekend and the day

Autumn Shirley, CEO- I'm going to be at my family open house on the river, with some of our favorite people.  

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Word FM's Brick Campaign Builds a Pathway to Hope

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Complementing a traditional capital campaign, “Positive, Uplifting Word FM” is trying a new kind of fundraiser – inscribed bricks listeners personalize to include in a pathway the nonprofit plans to install at its new facility.  This Christian radio station has been growing steadily by offering positive conversations and uplifting music and recently moved to a larger, more functional ministry building.  Bricks that listeners reserve now will be used next spring to transform the new location’s nondescript, concrete sidewalk into something much more meaningful:  a “Pathway to Hope.”  

“We’re not selling bricks,” qualifies Jean Otto Ford, one of Word FM’s main FundRaiser users.  “We’re asking listeners to support this ministry at specific giving levels (at minimum) that then offers them a unique opportunity to create a lasting expression of what Word FM means to them – or of hope, love, inspiration, tribute, etc.  Listeners often tell us that our station plays a huge role in their day-to-day lives, and this campaign provides a way for all of us to celebrate that connection.”  

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Short Take: Tracking Commemorative Donations, Part 2: Period & Misc. Codes

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In the first blog about commemorative donations, I talked about how to use notes to document elements of the gifts such as inscriptions or even the specific reason for the gift. If your organization uses FundRaiser Professional, you have two additional tools at your disposal: Period and Miscellaneous codes.

These additional codes can be found on the “Edit Other” tab of your gift entry, right next to the information where you would note any non-tax deductible portions of the gift. FundRaiser doesn’t provide any sample codes for these two items, because they’re designed to be customized to meet the organization’s individual needs.

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Short Take: Tracking Commemorative Donations Part 1: Notes & Inscriptions

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Often when organizations undertake a building or other special project, they sell “bricks” with inscriptions as a way to quickly raise funds. These bricks or stones can also be inscribed with the names of major donors. Organizations need a way to not just recognize these donations, but also note the inscription if provided at the time of the donation or if they need to obtain it later.

While we often recommend codes such as a motivation or purpose code to mark such gifts, when it comes to inscriptions, you may need additional space. It’s also quite possible that your organization has set a specific motivation code, of which the bricks will be a part, so there’s a need to further designate those gifts. One way to do this is through the Gift Notes field in FundRaiser. When entering in the gift a specific phrase such as “BRICK” or “INSCRIPTION” could be placed in the notes field.

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Three Independence Day Reflections

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1. Independence, good or bad?

Nearly every citizen of the U.S., I believe, would agree that national independence from foreign powers is a good thing, and we celebrate our country's independence from Great Britain every year on July 4th.  But not all forms of independence are necessarily good, I think.  Let me elaborate.  When I was young, I was instilled with the idea that self-independence is a good thing, so far as providing for one's own needs, food, shelter, clothing, etc.  Hard work, I was told, was the key for obtaining that independence.  Looking back, I think that was a bit naive on my parents' part, but it certainly got me out of the house earlier than I might otherwise have left.  Few of us truly want to be independent in all respects, and most of us need some forms of interdependence to thrive and live full lives.  Successful marriage, rearing children, meaningful employment, team sports, all require interdependence to one degree or another.  And learning how to use donor management software as powerful and versatile as FundRaiser products requires a bit of interdependence as well.  So consider that trying to be too independent when learning the ins and outs of FundRaiser is not a good thing, and is probably a bit self-defeating, in that you will take longer to perform the tasks that you need to perform without a proper grounding in the use of the software.  Allow yourself the luxury of interdependence with our staff and other users in order to more quickly and efficiently reach your fundraising goals.  You'll see that, while not a bad thing in itself, striving for independence in all things may be a bit misguided.

2.  Independent interdependence

It's not really an oxymoron.  There are several avenues for learning FundRaiser software that allow you to be independent to a great degree:  training videos online; online FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions); the Help Contents HOW-TO section in your software; the blog archives on our website for learning about many aspects of how the software helps with specific fundraising tasks.  These avenues of learning allow you to view the information at your leisure, on your timetable, without being dependent on someone else's scheduling or priorities.  Someone else, of course, expended the effort to create or make available the information on the website, so there is a level of dependence on those folks (mostly our staff here at FundRaiser), but it's kept at arm's length, so to speak, through the media in which it's presented.

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Giving Friends and Allies a Chance to be Donors

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Dear Kim:

We are a 19-year-old organization of mothers in poverty fighting for the lives of mothers and children who are on the front line in the escalating war on the poor. Our budget has generally been around $52,000—just enough to cover two staff salaries, printing, postage, volunteer stipends, and office utilities and phones. We combine grant writing, subscriptions sales, fundraising events and private donations from quarterly fundraising letters to support our work. Several years ago, we lost our major funder and we have had difficulty getting smaller grants for our work in the last three years since welfare deform lost its “sexy” topical appeal. To survive with our reduced budget of less than $20,000, we have only one part-time paid staff person, our website was disconnected, and we did not replace our copy machine when it died. Consequently, we are accomplishing less work, so it is even more difficult to get grants. We do not want to quit at a time when single-mother families in poverty are suffering nightmares unimagined ten years ago: millions of US single moms forced to quit college; 37 percent increase in infant deaths in cities like Milwaukee; hundreds of thousands of moms and children homeless every year; tens of thousands of moms living with zero income after reaching unrealistic welfare time limits; tough competition for awful jobs paying even less than before, and so on.

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Short Take: Variations on LYBUNT/SYBUNT

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As we move into the second half of the year, it’s a good time to start thinking about donors who have given last year, or even some year, but not yet this year. Built into the FundRaiser reports are options for LYBUNT (Last Year But Not This Year) and SYBUNT (Some Year But Not This Year). These are both great tools to determine donors who have given during your last calendar (or reporting year if it’s different) year, but not this one, and begin to extend your outreach to those individuals.

However, did you know that in our groupings options, we offer even more variations on the traditional LYBUNT/SYBUNT criteria?

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Get Some Simple Answers to your FundRaiser Technical Questions

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Recently I learned a new phrase, "Cuddle Puddle." I learned it after discovering three new kittens near the office. It was early, and I saw a movement in the grass.... then a little kitten head popped up above the grass and practically waved a paw at me.  The meow clinched it. It sounded beseeching to me. I was sure it said, "We don't know what to do! Someone just dumped us! This is so confusing!"

There were three of them. When I went to scoop them up, they were easy to catch. These kittens were still trying to figure out why they were sitting out in the hot sun with no food or water around. I feel so much gratitude that when I saw them, I knew that there was someone to help take care of them... Ozark Regional Cats, a local nonprofit started by staff members at FundRaiser Software to address the issue of feral cats in downtown. Soon these three little ones (bellies now full) were "cuddle puddled" in my lap. What could have been a quiet and unpublished tragedy for three small kittens was now inexorably heading  towards a happy ending.  

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Inviting LYBUNTS to Renew Support

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Dear Kim:

What is a Lie-Bunt?  I have some pro bono consulting from this high powered direct mail and social media person and she told me we have a lot of lie-bunts we should be asking.  I already feel stupid around her and don’t want to ask her what she means.  Do you have any idea? 

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Using FundRaiser to Increase Mission Impact

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I’ve worked at FundRaiser for many years now, and for all of that time I’ve been deeply inspired by the work our customers do. Committed to a wide range of missions, the nonprofits using FundRaiser actively make a difference in our world. 

Given that sense of admiration, of course I decided to try my own hand at the fundraising part of nonprofit work. What I’ve learned is that each time I use FundRaiser to help raise funds for an organization I care about, I succeed. I also learn something new about the whole process of fundraising, and I get better for next time. That all adds up to more funds to help achieve what I’d like to see happen in the world. An example, in the first year of using FundRaiser, I learned the value of some very basic donor management practices:

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