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.

Lessons Learned from Crowdfunding to Save a Horse

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Facebook has been a remarkable tool for those involved in saving horses from the kill buyers. For those lots that want to see a horse in a good home rather than shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter, there are pages and Facebook Groups devoted to getting these horses visibility, donations, and even a good home. Which brings me to Thanksgiving weekend, when a very pregnant mare, skinny and in dire need of a good home, came across my Facebook newsfeed. I knew I had enough money to pay the deposit required to ensure she wouldn’t suddenly be shipped off...but for the rest of the money, and the cost to ship her from Kansas to Missouri? I wasn’t sure how to raise it. I decided to try crowdfunding.

I hear about crowdfunding successes all the time, but could I do it? Could I raise the money necessary to save this horse and bring her to my place? Her story reminded me so much of my own mare (now 19), whom I rescued as a 3 month old colt, a “surprise” for the mare had been through so many auctions that no one knew or disclosed that she was pregnant. I had to try.

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What We Plan To Do Today to Celebrate Happiness Happens Day

What We Plan To Do Today to Celebrate Happiness Happens Day

Every year for more than 2 decades, FundRaiser staff get a day off at the beginning of August to celebrate Happiness Happens Day. In the tradition of the founders of FundRaiser, Gene and Marcy Weinbeck, at least once a month, the company has a three-day holiday weekend. In August, when the US has no official holiday, Happiness Happens Day creates that 3-day weekend. The week before Happiness Happens Day, it was fun to speculate about what each one of us might do to celebrate. Here's what we intend... 

Autumn Shirley, CEO- I'm going to visit Crystal Bridges Art Museum. I was there last month and I want to go again. I loved the Chihuly Glass Exhibit. 

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Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks

Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks

The water has swept on from the floods that raged through this region less than 2 weeks ago. It took with it all that it had the power to carry away. It left behind not just confusion and debris, but also an opportunity for communities to rise higher than the water ever did, and they are doing so. All members of the FundRaiser staff were touched directly by the impact of the floods which spread over the entire region where the FundRaiser office is located. Each responded with energy and courage as matched their situation, and all have been left with a deeper understanding for customers involved in disaster relief.  

Tamara Lovan of Technical Support went right to work volunteering. "Heading to Carmichael Field to assist with sorting flood debris starting at noon. This evening we will be helping gather donations at the Civic Center," she wrote us after being one of the first to track down where the volunteers were gathering. 

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FundRaiser Founder Reflects on the New FundRaiser Leadership

FundRaiser Founder Reflects on the New FundRaiser Leadership

"What does it feel like to watch FundRaiser move into a new phase?" I asked FundRaiser founder Gene Weinbeck, who retired last year after a gradual turn over of leadership to Autumn and Joshua Shirley. He stopped by the FundRaiser office  last week to join in the fun of celebrating birthdays for several staff members who, like himself, were born in January. 

After a thoughtful pause, he shared these reflections on the past, present and future of FundRaiser... 

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An Open Letter from FundRaiser CEO, Autumn Shirley: Why We Do It

An Open Letter from FundRaiser CEO, Autumn Shirley: Why We Do It
Our Mission:  FundRaiser Software proudly stands for Integrity, Approachability, Responsiveness, and Excellence in service and product.

A couple of weeks ago, I took the time to step back and reflect on why I am so committed to my work at FundRaiser. With my husband and FundRaiser co-owner, Joshua Shirley, I spent the weekend quietly reviewing where we are in relation to the FundRaiser. In the process, I reread the FundRaiser mission, thinking that with all the recent changes, perhaps we needed to update it. I was delighted to feel how fresh and alive this mission is for me. I thought, "This is why we do it—we do this because it means something to us to be working with the people we work with. We chose a career that helps us help the people that help. It allows us to support those who do that. We help helpers."

I'm aware that I only have so much energy and time, and that how I spend my life matters. The same is true for you, our customers. Your life matters and so does what you do with it. People who work at nonprofits take this to heart in a special way, which is why we love supporting you. I think our work will become even more important in the coming years. Nonprofits will need to step up and become more stable, and I am even more glad to be a part of this. We have always focused on helping as much as we can, and I can see how much the work of helping where it is needed is falling on the shoulders of the nonprofit sector. 

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Raymond Carson Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff

Raymond Carson Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff
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Raymond, on left, enjoys watermelon with Josh Shirley, right, at the FundRaiser staff party

Raymond started working in FundRaiser Technical Support in a smooth transition when former FundRaiser Support Technician Lee Johnson moved to another job. Lee asked Raymond if he might be interested in working at FundRaiser.

Raymond followed up on the suggestion and both he and FundRaiser staff felt it was a great fit. “I like it here. It’s a good place,” says Raymond. “I’m cheerful, and I try to have a positive influence. It’s great to work in a place like FundRaiser that values happiness, too, and wants people to be happy at work while they are helping others.”

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Tamara Lovan Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff

Tamara Lovan Joins the FundRaiser Technical Support Staff
Tamara Lovan
Eye image by Tamara Lovan

Tamara Lovan is the newest FundRaiser Support Technician. You may hear her voice and enjoy her pleasant, easy-going style of helping people use their software now if you call in to FundRaiser Technical Support.

She is enthusiastic about joining the FundRaiser staff and working in an area where her personal interest lies. Her computer involvement in the past has been with coding related to website and game development, and computer art, such as animation and 3D modeling. The graphic images in this blog post, including the header are Tamara's work. “I enjoy the educational aspect of it all.”

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Lee Johnson, new FundRaiser Support Technician

Lee Johnson, new FundRaiser Support Technician

We’re pleased to announce that Lee Johnson joined the FundRaiser technical support staff this month. He brings to the staff a strong background in computer service and repair, and recent training in programming and web development. He has worked at a local computer service shop in West Plains for the past 8 years since moving from California to West Plains, Missouri and just graduated with a degree in computer science from Missouri State University. He started his computer training in California, where he was born. His long-term goal is to be working in programming full time. His real love is programming in Sql database, which is the basis for FundRaiser, so we are pleased to have him on board.

This month, Lee is getting up to speed on the ins-and-outs of FundRaiser, taking training classes and going in-depth with the program.  You’ll begin to hear his pleasant easy going voice answering technical calls soon. 

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In Remembrance of Larry Weaver, the voice of FundRaiser Technical Support

Larry Weaver at his retirement part
 Larry Weaver, at his FundRaiser retirement party in December 2014. 

It is with sadness we report the death on January 13, 2016 of Larry Weaver, long-time employee and friend at Fundraiser.

Many of you have have “known” Larry for years, as he helped all of our FundRaiser users in his roles as Technical Support expert, and in later years, the “star” of our Training videos and live classes. Larry was the first employee hired by founder Gene Weinbeck, and remained, through the ups and downs of the company and his own move from Missouri to Arizona, a staunch friend and supporter of FundRaiser’s mission.

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Local fundraising fixes feral cats

Local fundraising fixes feral cats
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A tribe of happy feral cats lives near the FundRaiser office and several staff members are involved in helping care for them. Last September, I mentioned this colony in the FundRaiser newsletter. Newsletter readers responded warmly and we received quite a few emails expressing concern for the cats. Along with sharing our feelings for the cats, many hoped that we had plans to spay and neuter them.

This month, Autumn Shirley of FundRaiser organized a campaign to do just that.

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Why we believe in working at FundRaiser

FundRaiser staff at company meeting
Joshua Shirley, CFO of FundRaiser with Smudge the office cat
Gene Weinbeck and Joey Patten
Smudge the office cat snoozing at company meeting

We believe that what you and your organization do makes a positive impact in the world.... and that makes us happy in the work we do. That's the main understanding we all recently came away with, when the FundRaiser staff met for a year-end mission/company meeting.

FundRaiser staff, left to right, at company meeting: Larry Weaver, Autumn Shirley, Jonathan Smith, Joshua Shirley, Gene Weinbeck, Joey Patten, Mary Lenker

After watching a TED talk together, the FundRaiser staff began to share why we enjoy coming to work at FundRaiser... which we all do. The upshot was that we enjoy working at FundRaiser for a combination of reasons, top among them being the great working environment and the opportunity to use our skills in the service of people like YOU who are working to make a positive difference in the world. Here's a synopsis of what our staff members had to say about why we continue to like working to support nonprofits through our work at FundRaiser.

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FundRaiser's Dragon's Breath Chili


Gene and Jonathan cooking chili

FundRaiser staff has more than one 'foodie' among its ranks, so there was no problem coming up with a recipe that we wanted to give a try at the local Chili Cook-Off recently. Quite a lot more debate went into the name of the chili...At the end of the day, we took home the first prize for Booth, and had a fantastic time cooking up our pot ot Dragon's Breath Chili. Here you have it, not too hot, but with a little something special about the taste. 

 

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Learning about your donor database is good for your health

donor database achievements boost staff morale
Hawksbill Crag, Arkansasphoto by Jonathan Smith of FundRaiser

When you think about the things that you are proud of achieving in your organization last year, what do they include? Take a moment to ponder before you read on.

After the start of the New Year, one of the things I enjoyed most was hearing from some of our customers about the things they were proud of having achieved in 2012. That got me thinking how good it feels to achieve something and to hear how people you care about have done so, too. Then I started wondering what staff members here at FundRaiser are proud of achieving.The answers cover a lot of territory. Two things they have in common though; every achievement required learning new things; and people felt good about whatever they had done.  Feeling good ('subjective well-being') has been substantially linked to better health, so it stands to reason that when you learn something new, or want to generally strengthen the health and morale at your organization, a powerful way to achieve that is to give yourself and staff the opportunity to stretch and learn.

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Season Greetings from all of your friends at FundRaiser Software

Happy Holidays from FundRaiser Staff

As the last week before the holidays wind down, things here at FundRaiser Software have been, well, INSANE! We’ve needed all hands on deck to manage tech support, sales, and fulfillment.  While it always feels great to be this busy (and the only thing we like better than being this busy is being this busy all the time!), it has been hard to find a moment to catch my breath and write this message. I would like to take a moment to thank you. You are the reason that we do this.

We truly are so fortunate. We all come to work every day and get to work with YOU - the absolute best customers on the planet! Even during the holiday rush, when everyone is trying desperately to get their last-minute appeal letters, thank-you letters, and tax letters out the door, so many of you take the time to thank us and wish us Happy Holidays. That means a lot to us! We know that the software isn’t perfect and sometimes you probably want to just throw the computer out the window, but you still manage to find the grace to be polite (if a bit panicky) and wish us well. That is enough. Truly.

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Welcome to Nick Haring, the new support technician at FundRaiser.

Nick Haring, support technician at FundRaiser Software

Nick 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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Mary Badiny, our bookkeeper


Many FundRaiser users also work as the bookkeeper for their office or interface closely with their organization's bookkeeper. FundRaiser makes this as simple as possible with its integration features for QuickBooks and Peachtree accounting programs. Good people plus good software make an office run well. In our office, the people part of our bookkeeping equation is Mary Badiny and we all interface with her most happily.

She's worked as a bookkeeper all her life, starting during college as a way to support herself. “While I was going to school for a business degree, I got my first bookkeeping job. The woman who interviewed me for that first job said, 'I really need someone with experience, but I'm going to give you a chance.' She became a kind of mentor to me, and we were both happy with how it went. I've been a bookkeeper now for 41 years," says Mary. "You'd think I'd be burned out, but I found the perfect office de-stressor. It's my garden. Of course there is stress, like no rain for 3 months, but it’s a totally different kind and it gives me the right balance."

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What does a data converter do?

Joe Salrin at his desk in the FundRaiser office

Working mostly from his corner desk by the windows, Joe Salrin quietly fields many data emergencies for both FundRaiser customers and staff. His primary job is data conversion – moving data out of other brands of software and into FundRaiser for new customers. He is also the ‘go-to’ person for difficult, quirky, or just plain obstinate problems that involve technology and data at our office.

I asked him to tell me what he does in a normal day, and he laughed. “There is no normal day,” he answered. “Normal is whatever happens.

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Staff on Happiness Happens Day




Talking to Sarah at MaineShare got me thinking about what exactly makes any particular person happy. I happen to agree with her about getting out in nature. That also makes me happy, so for Happiness Happens day that is where you will find me and my dog Lulu. I also wondered how the rest of the FundRaiser staff will be spending their Monday holiday.

Bea in her life jacket

James Ware, Sales Representative: We'll take the bulldogs down to the river. We have life jackets for them.

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Happiness is a 3-day weekend

Marcy with friends at Sustainability Festival
Marcy Weinbeck (right), with friends at the West Plains Sustainability Festival

While studying in Germany, I lived in the southern part of the country where lots of holidays were celebrated. It seemed like nearly every week there was some official reason to take a day off. I was often confused by exactly what was being celebrated, but I still thought the custom was great.

Many years later, when I began working at FundRaiser, I was happy to learn that part of the company policy was to give us all one three-day weekend every month. One of the most popular holidays we have at FundRaiser is Happiness Happens Day, which comes at the beginning of August. There is no doubt that having a non-traditional day-off does create happiness.

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Sherry Willis, Girl Tech Supporter

Sherry of FundRaiser tech support is breaking ground in her job, just like Lois Lane, Girl Reporter and hero of my younger days. "People find it interesting that I'm a woman doing tech support," says Sherry. "This is still definitely a male-dominated field. Despite the fact that I am the only girl here in FundRaiser tech, I don't find that a handicap at all. I don't know if that's the company or if it is that if you learn enough to do the job, then any company would be happy to have you. Here, I'm not the first woman to do tech support. FundRaiser has a history of hiring women for the job."

Because FundRaiser prides itself on its high-level of tech support, great care is put into finding the right people to do the job. "Right now, there are two of us dedicated full time to doing tech support, myself and Jonathan," says Sherry. "We have different focuses. He is more interested in the fine tech details. I am more interested in the Big Picture. I think that is typical of women. So together we make a good tech team. He will delve into the fine details on a case, while my focus is trying to get people to be able to do what they want in the shortest amount of time possible."

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Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
appeal letters community arts nonprofits Congratulations backing up data spare fields happiness Thank You monthly giving Alternative Addresses volunteers data analysis Company culture budget membership programs advanced tab overview GivingTuesday online donations training tip Reporting to IRS Facebook campaign LYBUNTS upgrade moves management fundraising letters animal rescue donor attrition rate updates change of address updating membersip benefits annual maintenance plan follow up accounting software communications donor recognition GoFundMe project annual campaign password protection Excel volunteering major gift prospects community broadcasting donor attrition giving levels Facebook data conversion tax summary letters End of Year Letters new leadership announcements how-to videos social media merge fields user spotlights event management solicitors case study building donor relationships National Change of Address general disaster relief ticket sales operational costs operating systems board members ROI word processor Crowdfunding Campaign gift entry spreadsheets government grants FundRaiser Spark customer portal the Ask motivation mode code flash sales Snow Birds Volunteer module custom page role of nonprofits Codes charity golf tournaments support donor contact information NCOA processing donor endowment campaign increasing giving amounts segmenting donors relationship tracking banquet arts pledges data entry on site training donor retention rate foundations grassroots campaign #GivingTuesday features Resiliency small donations ticketsales major donors office understanding giving trends importing csv raffle online donations donation history correspondence capital campaign thank you letters product news in honor of donations donor loyalty memorial giving corporate sponsors mission driven fundraising look and feel training PayPal welcome packet nonprofit fundraising upgrading donors membership benefits customer service alumni Groupings targeted mailings donor slip community supported gardens phoning donors publicity materials grants campaign management security tribute gifts recurring gifts add ons Donor Portal lapsed donor reports tech tip motivation code development director In-Kind gifts premiums

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