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.

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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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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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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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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When can we ask monthly donors for special one-time gifts (and to upgrade)?

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Dear Kim,

Our organization has been having discussions about whether and how we can approach monthly donors, particularly those who are already giving $100+ per month, to discuss an extra single gift or an increased monthly gift. When speaking with high-end monthly donors about a special gift, some have responded strongly that, “I have done the math in my budgeting and this is the most I am able to donate. It pisses me off when charities ask for more,” while others have responded by making very large single gifts, and increasing their monthly gifts voluntarily. We are looking to develop a protocol about this so our development team has some guidance. Do you have any advice?

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Short Take: Get Reminded

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When you create a “tickle” or reminder in Fundraiser Software, it will show up on the Task List when the program opens if it is due, or overdue. However, with the release of 5.20, we have an even more visible way of being reminded. Now, when a tickle is due, a reminder will show in the upper right-hand corner of the program until the reminder is marked completed.

When you click on the reminder button, the task list will open and show you how many reminders you have outstanding.

Screenshot of task list reminder window
task list window 

 

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Increase Donor Loyalty with a Membership Program

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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 order to create a strong membership program, there are  four basic questions you need to be think through in order for things to run smoothly. Knowing the answers will get a new membership program off to a strong start; or help clear up problems in one that is already established. Either way-- whether you are new to membership management or needing to strengthen one you already have, knowing the answers to these questions creates a solid foundation:

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5 ways your donor management software can help create a thriving membership organization

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Key to a thriving membership organization, is giving each member the sense that they are your most important. How can you do that, when members have different reasons for joining and different preferences for how you communicate with them? Your donor database can be your closest ally. With it, you can tune in to what it is that motivates a person to be a member, and record special preferences. That will help you to give each member the sense that you have them specifically in mind when you communicate with them, even as your membership continues to grow.

1. Make each member feel like they are your most important member

In a donor database, each donor/member has a record where you can enter information that is specific to that member. These specifics can be as basic as name and contact information, however to truly personalize your communications you need to go well beyond that. By recording information on what is important to a particular member about your organization, you can tailor your messages to speak to those interests. If you know what brought a member to your organization to begin with, what events each person participates in, and what friends, business associates or relatives of a particular member also belong to your organization, you are well on your way to understanding how to best connect with a particular member. 

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Do you know the difference between the 2 types of nonprofit membership programs?

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Membership initiatives can be a powerful way for your organization to increase donor loyalty and the size of gifts... but what do you actually mean when you say 'membership'? In fact, two very different types of outreach efforts are both called 'memberships' and they are managed in very different ways. Different staff skills are needed for each, as well as different donor database features. Understanding the differences between the two main types of membership will help you create a thriving outreach effort.

The two main types of memberships are...Benefit-driven memberships where donors give more money to receive greater benefits. Often these are used during membership drives. Often, there are several membership 'levels', with higher donations amounts bringing more valuable benefits/premiums/privileges.Recognition-driven memberships where donors give money and receive recognition, such as a wall plaque, engraved brick, or even a named building. These are also called 'philanthropic memberships'. They are a development tool, used to convert  prospects into donors and to increase the size of gifts.These also often are offered in levels, with greater donation amounts offering greater recognition.How donor management differs between the two types of memberships

In a nutshell, donor management of benefit-driven memberships depends on keeping track of lots of different pieces of data, and following up in a timely manner on those bits of data. It is in fact, very much like accounting. Donor management of recognition-driven memberships relies on the tools that help you build relationships. It relies more on the people-side of development work.

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Case study: Making members feel like they are the only one in your database

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This case study from the files of FundRaiser demonstrates how effective a membership program can be to increase donor loyalty. Original published in 2008. 

Indian River Land Trust, where Melanie Jones works as the Membership and Events Coordinator, is a completely membership-based organization. Instead of donor drives, they have membership drives. For Jones, "the most important aspect of my job is knowing my members and making them feel like they are the only member in our database." FundRaiser Select helps her to accomplish that. "With FundRaiser, we can be as specific as we want with each donor entry. We can record the information that lets us know the interests of each member."

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Speak Your Truth & Create Space for Others to Speak Theirs, Too

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February is full of passion and power with Black History Month, Valentines' Day, and Presidents' Day. One thing that both true love and true leadership have in common is that they thrive on truth and integrity... yet it can take real courage to live these virtues and to support others to have them as well.

A free society is dedicated to each person being given the right to Speak Their Truth. Even with this legal right, it can be dangerous to speak a minority opinion, as the stories told in Black History Month testify. One of the most important roles nonprofits play now in our society is acting as truth speakers for vulnerable populations.

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Small, local groups struggling to keep donors

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Dear Kim,

I work in an arts program that serves very poor public schools in a very poor state. Without us, 2nd -5th graders in public schools in our area would have NO arts program at all. We have no government funding and little foundation funding. We have built a base of donors and we squeeze every nickel. This year I am so discouraged by the number of donors who have said they are cutting back their giving so they can give to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. For the record, I totally support those organizations and what they do, but how can I keep our donors? What we do is still important.

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Art-Based Non-Profits Bring Hope to Disaster Recovery Work

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As the recovery continues from the Spring 2017 floods in southern Missouri, non-profits are involved in helping on every level. One key way in my home town of Doniphan, Missouri, has been through the work of two art-focused non-profits-- Radical Joy for Hard Times and the Riverside Art Guild. They have both stepped forward to focus attention on hope. Their projects have taken almost no resources at a time when resources are even more scarce than usual.

It all happened in an almost coincidental way. A project to paint a mural in honor of Earth Day was already scheduled when the rain started to fall at the end of April last year. Due to the weather, the Earth Day mural painting was postponed. The rain continued into May and by the time it stopped, the Southern Ozarks were looking at a daunting and long-term flood recovery

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Learning from experience makes you richer, wiser, & more hopeful

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In this space between the end of the Christmas holidays and the New Year, there's an opportunity to contemplate what has been and what we hope will be. It's a rare person who feels that everything has come to pass that you hoped for... (and if you are one of those people and this is one of those years, Congratulations!)

More often what we experience in the flow of life is a rich mix of events that can be difficult to categorize; whatever they have been, they have given us the opportunity to learn. Looking for what we've learned not only helps build on success, but also can take some of the pain out of events that have not gone as hoped. It lets us turn judgments of 'good vs. bad' or 'success vs. failure' into a much richer experience, an experience that contributes to the total forward momentum and appreciation of life.

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What to do when you don't have addresses

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Hi, Kim:

We urgently need to put out our first fundraising letter ever but only have email addresses for people (and in some cases, phone numbers). Should we send a nice looking letter by email, then follow up by phone, or should we just call to get the snail mail address, send the letter, then call again to try to schedule a face-to-face meeting?

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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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Case Study: Parkesburg Point Surges to Success with #GivingTuesday Crowdfunding Campaign

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Parkesburg Point is going for it this year for #GivingTuesday. Although it isn’t even Tuesday yet, they have already succeeded at reaching their goal. Now they are moving with confidence into their total year-end fundraising. “We were involved with GivingTuesday last year, but didn’t have an effective strategy in place,” says Debbie Shupp, development director for The POINT. “We really wanted a strategic approach this year and Sarah has successfully done that. Sarah created a full strategy and social media campaign.” Parkesburg Point offers extensive services to youth in the area with the help of volunteers, many drawn from local churches. They are FundRaiser Select users. 

Sarah Daniels, the new grants and communications manager who joined The POINT in May, says that the most important aspects of this success were:

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Welcoming New Donors

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Dear Kim, We're a small group with limited staff and resources, but we know that properly welcoming new donors to our organization and thanking them for their gift will greatly increase the chances of them giving again. What do you recommend including in donor welcome packets that is not too labor or resource intensive? ~Small but mighty Dear Might...
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