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.

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

SpeakYourTruth

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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Determing Donor Levels

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Dear Kim: What is the best method for determining where to split the levels of donor giving as far as recognition is concerned? This is for the purpose of recognition in a quarterly newsletter. Thank you for your common sense approach to fundraising. –Death by Detail Dear Detail: Generally, the split is at these intervals: Less than $100 $100-$499 ...
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Short Take: Giving Levels

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As we come into the fall and winter giving seasons, it’s important to take a few moments to talk about giving levels. A giving level is a benchmark of giving that you’d like to have your donors reach, whether that’s through a one-time contribution or ongoing monthly contributions. For example, our local NPR station has the “Leadership Circle”, which means the person donated at least $1000 during the year. NPR makes this more manageable by encouraging people to make a recurring donations of between $80-100/month. 

Giving levels don’t have to be something you share with your donor. While many organizations use them as suggested donation amounts or levels, others simply generate internal reports with them. When you use giving levels within FundRaiser software, you can track these levels regardless of whether they’re advertised to your donors as suggested donation amounts, or levels you use for internal reporting, but never share with the donors.

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Establishing Giving Levels and Perks Can Increase Membership Donations

Establishing Giving Levels and Perks Can Increase Membership Donations

 

What's in a Name?

You can be creative in determining the names you'll assign to each membership giving category, but donors will be drawn immediately to "tags" specific to your organization and related to your mission. You can also employ familiar categories such as, Friends, Benefactors, Pacesetters, etc., or designations such as "Individual," "Family," "Associate," or "Sustaining.

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Creative Giving Level Labels

Creative Giving Level Labels

Dear Kim:

I have recently been appointed a development director and I am looking forward to developing this new skill (which I don’t have right now). One of the first things I must do is establish “levels” of donations. We are a pediatric facility that is part of a large organization. Is it appropriate to designate levels of giving that are related to kid themes, or do you suggest sticking with tried-and-true levels such as platinum, silver, gold, President’s Circle, etc?

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Check Out Your Organization’s Fund-Raising Readiness and Learn the Secret Of Fund-Raising Success

Check Out Your Organization’s  Fund-Raising Readiness and Learn  the Secret Of Fund-Raising Success
 

For many people, fund-raising is the stuff of myth and magic—a series of tasks rivaling the labors of Hercules and demanding the powers of a Merlin. Myth and magic, because they offer the balm of simple acceptance in place of the pain of comprehension, can be very comforting, and in no instance is this more true, than when the myth of fund-raising magic is used to excuse fund-raising failure.

“If,” goes the justification, “running a successful fund-raising campaign is an endeavor comparable to dredging the river Styx, and soliciting large gifts equivalent to pulling Excalibur from the stone, what mere mortal can be expected to succeed?” Given that attitude, let me add a corollary: “Why bother to develop a goal or start a campaign?” The answer to those questions is, because we have to, and because the myth of fund-raising doom can’t measure up to the basic truth that fund-raising success is simply hard work on the part of people who are thoroughly prepared.

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Short Take: User Access Control

Short Take: User Access Control

 

It’s very likely you may have more than one person within your organization who can view or work in FundRaiser. During certain times of the year, volunteers may be entering in data and gifts or pledges. One of the useful features of FundRaiser Software is the ability to be able to control the information that someone can see, or even if they can edit or delete items from your database.

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Finding the Time for Grassroots Fundraising

Finding the Time for Grassroots Fundraising

Dear Kim,

I have tried to follow the advice in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and from you, Andy Robinson, Stephanie Roth, and other grassroots fundraising experts. What you all say makes sense. Having said that, I hope you don’t find my question rude: where do you find the time to really implement all this advice? I am a relatively efficient person and I already work my 40 hours and then some every week. Being in touch with more donors, doing research on prospects, keeping our social media presence vibrant? Something is always not getting done. Any tips?

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Converting In Kind Donors to Financial Supporters

Converting In Kind Donors to Financial Supporters

Dear Kim:

We are a 50-year-old social service agency mostly supported by government grants.  We do have about 600 donors who help us every year and we do a reasonable job keeping in touch with them.  We also have about 300 people who give us in-kind gifts and I have tried all kinds of solicitations to encourage them to give money as well as stuff, but I have had a really poor response. Someone said that you said in-kind donors often don’t become money donors. Is that true?  Should I stop trying to convert them? 

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How to Acknowledge and Recognize In-Kind Gifts

How to Acknowledge and Recognize In-Kind Gifts

When you receive gifts of products, time and services, be aware that your organization can be held in even greater regard by donors of such In-Kind gifts, should you express your gratitude in a meaningful way—in a manner far and above how these contributions are usually acknowledged by non-profit organizations. This can be accomplished in strict keeping with the applicable IRS rules and regulations, which are especially explicit when it comes to In-Kind gifts and how non-profits handle them.

By law, non-profit organizations cannot provide a donor with the dollar value of an In-kind gift. Such valuations when applicable, relative to "fair market value" of In-Kind gifts, need to be professionally assessed and certified elsewhere—if they can be—and that is the responsibility of the donor. This certification subsequently needs to be resolved with the professionals and others who prepare the donor's tax forms—whose work in turn will need to be reconciled with IRS regulations. In instances where time and service are donated, no tax break whatsoever is allowed, as the IRS Publication 526 clearly states, "You cannot deduct the value of your time or services…"

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Capital Campaigns During a Recession

Capital Campaigns During a Recession

Dear Kim:

Our church needs make a number of renovations.  These are not cosmetic—the roof leaks, the basement floods and many of the pews are falling apart and have splinters.  The congregation is small, but the church is historic and right downtown.  Of course we would rather wait until the economy improves, but we simply can’t. We are in danger of being shut down for being unsafe.  Everyone says you can’t launch a capital campaign right now, but what else can we do?

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Guidelines for Succeeding With Your Capital Campaign

Guidelines for Succeeding With Your Capital Campaign

A capital campaign raises money that will be spent to acquire or improve a physical asset. The most common use of a capital campaign is for the purchase, construction, or renovation of a building (commonly referred to as “bricks and mortar”). However, an organization can conduct a capital campaign to purchase machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, or any physical asset that can be reflected on its balance sheet.

The purpose of a capital campaign differs from that of an endowment campaign in that the money raised will not be used to cover ongoing, operational expenses, or to fund special projects. Capital funds are spent on one-time or seldom recurring expenditures. The primary difference between capital and endowment funds is that capital funds are not retained and invested to yield income. However, capital and endowment campaigns are very similar in their planning and management.

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A Kind & Common Sense Approach to Donor Relations

A Kind & Common Sense Approach to Donor Relations

 

Dear Kim,

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