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.

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

CommemorativeBricks

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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How FundRaiser Helps You Track Awareness Day FundRaising

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Nearly every day on the calendar, and certainly every month, has an Awareness Day attached to it. For example, did you know that not only is May Zombie Awareness month, but also Fibromyalgia and CF/ME Awareness month? Depending on the work your nonprofit does, awareness days, such as those related to families, children, or certain illnesses, can be excellent fundraising opportunities.

Not only is it important for organizations to use awareness days in their fundraising, but also to be able to track where those donors and gifts come from. FundRaiser Software will allow you to do so.

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Keeping Track of Memorial Giving in FundRaiser

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With Memorial Day just around the corner, it might be a good time to mention a couple of ways you can keep track of memorial gifts in FundRaiser.  We call them "Tribute" gifts, and they can be in memory of departed loved ones, or in honor of living individuals, or even in celebration of some life event or other.

For FundRaiser Professional users, there is a built-in module, appropriately called "Tributes" to handle the recording and subsequent correspondence for these types of gifts.  In FundRaiser Select, the Tributes module is available as an "add-on" module for a modest price.  But even in Spark, which has no specific facility for tribute tracking, one can devise some practices to follow and report on tribute giving.  Let's see how they work.

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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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Short Take: Spare Fields for Follow Up

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A common question that I am asked is whether there a good way to track follow up within FundRaiser other than through the notes tab. You may want this when, as in the case of the American Rescue Workers highlight, you have donors that don’t make any commitments as concrete as a pledge or recurring gifts, but who do send in major gifts at least once a year.

Utilizing spare fields within FundRaiser to track this information is perfect. Spare fields are configurable fields within FundRaiser that you can customize to track the additional information that’s important to your organization and your donors.  FundRaiser Spark has 3 spare fields; FundRaiser Select has 5 of them; Professional has unlimited spare fields.

In FundRaiser Select and Spark, you’ll find the spare fields at the bottom of the Codes page. FundRaiser Professional has its own dedicated Spare Fields page.

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Short take: Tracking Tickets With Campaign Management

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Within FundRaiser Professional, the Campaign Management module makes it easy to track responses and response rates to your campaigns and events. But did you know it can also track ticket sales? For an event, such as a raffle or a banquet where there isn’t assigned seating and you want to track how many paid versus complimentary tickets are sold, our Campaign Management module is a big help.

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Short take: non-traditional uses for the alternate address field

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FundRaiser Software has the capability to not just hold unlimited alternate addresses, but also code them based on the type of address. Depending on the choices selected (date range or specific code) FundRaiser will then send to the alternate address instead of the main address on the record. Alternate addresses also have a few additional uses:

  1. Store old addresses
    When a donor updates an address, keep the old one on file so you don't lose it. Copy the current address to the alternate address space. It will be marked inactive, so you can keep the address on file just in case it's needed.
  2. Send mail to a power of attorney or another location permanently
    There may be times that you need to send correspondence to someone else, such as a power of attorney or even a family foundation's address. Using the alternate address field you can keep the donor's original address on file, while sending correspondence to another location.
  3. Keep an alternate address "just in case"
    For donors without a certain time for their vacation or summer home, or who may want some correspondence sent to a business address, but not all of it, then using the alternate address field is the perfect way to keep track of this information. Keeping the addresses coded correctly will ensure mail goes to the appropriate places.

If you have any questions about working with FundRaiser to manage your addresses: 

  • Sign up for the live FundRaiser Overview webinar. You can see the complete webinar schedule on the training calendar for the current month.  
  • Contact support at 800-543-4131 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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5 Ways to Manage Address Changes for a Donors on the Move with your FundRaiser Database

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What percentage of your donors can you afford to lose?

According to the US Census Bureau, over 11.2% of the population will move during the year, and while this figure is at an all time low, it still represents a significant number of changes that will, most likely, occur in your donor database as well.  If you rely on your donors to inform you of their address changes, you will no doubt lose contact with many of them. There are a few ways to take positive action on your own to keep in touch and retain donors who move without notice, however. These include:  3 features available in FundRaiser Spark, Select, and Professional; 1 additional feature available in Select and Professional; and 1 other feature exclusive to Professional.

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Short take: Importing Your #GivingTuesday Gifts

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If you are receiving gifts for #GivingTuesday (or any other occasion) in another system, you’ll most likely be entering them into FundRaiser. (If you haven’t inquired about our Donor Portal, which can put gifts directly into your FundRaiser database, now is a great time to do so.) Instead of entering your gifts one-by-one, you can import them.

To import your gifts, save your file of exported gifts into a CSV (comma separated values) format. Most programs export into CSV files automatically. Then, go to File > Import and follow the prompts to match up the fields and import the gifts.

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Short Take: Customer Portal for FundRaiser Users

Short Take: Customer Portal for FundRaiser Users

In addition to our technical support and training departments, FundRaiser Software also provides an extensive library of how-to documents and training videos through the Customer Portal. The Customer Portal is available to customers with a current Annual Maintenance Plan. To log in visit http://www.fundraisersoftware.com and click on the “Customer Login” link in the upper right-hand corner.  If you don’t have your login information (It will be unique to the customer portal), call or email our support team and we would be happy to reset the password for you.

Once you’re logged in, the Contact Info tab allows you to update and change your organization’s contact information. There are bulletins and news available. And the Training Videos tab takes you to the library of training videos. On the Support Tools tab, there is a link to view support document and downloads, including several “how to” documents. 

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3 Important In-Kind Gift Entry Tips

3 Important In-Kind Gift Entry Tips
1.  Mode Code Denotes In-Kind or Monetary

When entering a gift in FundRaiser, the Mode Code is used to differentiate not only between methods of payment (cash, check, charge, etc.) but also between monetary or in-kind donations. When you create a Mode Code you must specify whether that code will be monetary or in-kind. A Mode Code is always one or the other, and each gift requires a Mode Code. You may have multiple codes, as is usual in FundRaiser, which allows for specific types of in-kind donations. For instance, one of our users is a diaper bank, and, while they accept many infant-related types of in-kind donations, they need to keep diaper donations separated from others. The easiest way was to have, simply, a "diaper" Mode Code. When running various reports, you can specify to include monetary, or in-kind, or both types of donations. Use these codes to your advantage.  And check out the Coding & Spare Fields training video in the Customer Portal section of our website.

2.  Use the Merge Notes for Descriptions

On each gift record is a "Letter Notes for Merging" section. It is primarily used for notes that will then be merged into thank you letter templates. And for monetary gifts, these are usually personal greetings, of sorts, like "Gee, it was great to see you", or "Glad to see you've recovered from surgery", or something else to more personalize the thank you letter. For In-Kind donations, this is a great place to put a description of the items (or services) that were donated. It makes a permanent record as well as an easy way to pull that description in to a thank you letter.  More information on entering gifts is available in both the FundRaiser Overview and Recurring Gifts training videos available in the Customer Portal section of our website.

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3 Tips for Identifying Capital Campaign Donors In FundRaiser

3 Tips for Identifying Capital Campaign Donors In FundRaiser

Tony Poderis suggests that, in a capital campaign, fully one third of your goal should be met by only 10 to 15 donors, and that the next third will be met by another 75 to 100 donors.  While you may have a good idea who those top donors are, it would be asking a bit much that you also, off the top of your head, know who those next hundred top donors might be.  So here are a few ideas that can help:

1.  Use the Donor List Report in Amount Order

The Donor List report can be set up to list donors in order of their giving amounts, with the largest donors always at the top of the list.  You can limit the range of gifts in many ways, to consider only monetary gifts, for instance, or to look at just a certain time period in the recent past.  And, when you are previewing the report, you can choose to print only the first few pages (or whatever number you need) to get the top 115 or so donor names, based on your selection criteria.

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3 FundRaiser Thank You Letter Tips

3 FundRaiser Thank You Letter Tips
 1.  Be personal, share success, and Thank Them

It doesn't take much to include personal touches in a thank you letter template.  You could mention the last gift they gave (date and/or amount), or the first time they gave, or the amount of support they've provided over the years.  Different situations may call for different letter templates, and different groups of donors, but it's all possible in FundRaiser.  And while you are thanking them, let them know what their contribution has done.  What has your organization done since their last gift?  How many people (or animals, or communities, or ??) has the organization helped in that time?  This takes a bit of planning, so that you might have, for instance, a group of donors who have given, but not in the past 2 years, and another group who have given in the past 2 years, but not the past 6 months, and maybe another group who gave for the first time in the past 6 months, etc. You'll want different messages depending on the situation, but it's not that difficult to do, and the results will be a more personal approach to that "ask" for additional donations.

2.  Thank Often

Many non-profits are vying for the same donor dollars, and showing appreciation for past donations is important in ALL interactions with your donors.  If you are sending an invitation to an event, THANK them for their previous gifts.  If you are sending a newsletter, THANK them for their ongoing support.  If you have a special funding need and are sending an appeal, THANK them in advance for their consideration and for sharing your needs with their friends, family, etc., but THANK THEM.

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5 Main Steps of Data Entry Work Flow in FundRaiser Software

5 Main Steps of Data Entry Work Flow in FundRaiser Software
Establishing a Work Flow for your FundRaiser Database

Writing down an established work flow for entering gifts and name data after a fundraising event is one of single best things you can do to increase your donor management effectiveness. What's more, it creates a good working atmosphere and makes routine work a pleasure, even relaxing after the hectic pace of a fundraising event. What you need in your database will be put there effectively, free of unnecessary mistakes, or need to backtrack. Making it a regularly scheduled task is one great way to increase your all-around effectiveness. The frequency of the task, whether daily or weekly, will depend on the volume of gifts, of course, but it should be a part of the office routine.

Write it down as a task outline, laying the steps out in logical order. The ease of working will be a reward to continue doing the task. It also helps when the person who normally does the data entry is out sick, or is promoted to another position, or is otherwise taken out of the data entry picture. The person who takes over will appreciate having those steps in logical order, with hints, tips, and tricks in their appropriate places along the way. Here's a suggested flow that will work for most nonprofits. Adapt it as needed to make it right for your nonprofit's needs.  

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Turn your New Year's Resolutions into End-Of-Year Benefits with FundRaiser Training Options

Turn your New Year's Resolutions into End-Of-Year Benefits with FundRaiser Training Options
The Annual Resolution Parade

This time of year, most of us "resolve" to make changes: in our lives; in our work habits; in our approach to life in general, etc. And many of those resolutions fall by the wayside as the year develops, either because they seem too difficult, or they weren't that important, or (fill in the blank with your last unfulfilled resolution reason). I'd like to suggest a resolution that will help you all through the year, and will almost certainly repay your efforts many times over: learn how to better use your FundRaiser software to do what needs doing for your organization. While learning the program doesn't sound nearly so important as changing lifestyle choices, or gaining virtues, or shedding bad habits, it can, for your non-profit organization, be the catalyst for many changes, like donor retention, increased donations, better communications, and less effort expended for all of it.

Which type of training do you prefer?

FundRaiser offers several different training formats, to fit your individual and organizational efforts, from self-help using the program's built-in Help manual and training videos on our website, to scheduled live webinars, to on-site training at your facilities, and you always have the option to call or email the training office, or tech support, for help. Each method of learning has it's pros and cons, of course, but the choices are available to you, and in this blog I'll try to give you some tips on how to approach them. And at the end of this, I'll let you know how all this can benefit you at the end of the year.

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Explore FundRaiser's Custom Page

Explore FundRaiser's Custom Page

As most of you know, in FundRaiser there are a multitude of ways and places in which to store this data. The one complaint I've heard about this is that it can be difficult to remember where you've put each different type of information. Is it in the Name Details? or Preferences? or Spare Fields? And why should I have to jump all over the place to see the information that is important to MY tasks in this organization, anyway?

Enter the "Custom Page" concept. Have you noticed the Custom Page tab (normally found to the left of the Master List tab) in FundRaiser? If it doesn't exist, you probably have Spark. If you have Select or Professional, it may have been moved to the right of the Master list (Options | Change Tab Order). The Custom Page is, at first, a blank space just waiting for you to design your perfect information layout. What information about donors do you want at your fingertips? Where is that data normally kept? You can "mirror" that field (or table) of information on the Custom Page. You can have, for instance, not only the donor name, phones, email, age, and so forth, but also the table showing their entire Giving History, or the table showing all of their Category Codes, or any specific Preference settings that are important, or... whatever you wish.

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3 Tips for Evaluating Small Gift Donors

3 Tips for Evaluating Small Gift Donors

You know that there are strong reasons to send thank you letters to all donors, regardless of the size of the gifts.  I want to give you some ways to help evaluate small gift donors, in order to see if you can increase giving rates and/or amounts.

1.  Use Groupings to identify "small" gift donors

It's true that some people will give multiple gifts, of varying amounts, and in order to insure that you are looking at "small" gift donors only, you'll need to create a grouping. You'll want to base the grouping on gift size, of course, but just how can you get those who have given ONLY small gifts? Well, first, when you start the grouping criteria, choose the Common Pattern of "All Donors" (date range optional). Then, to isolate it to just those who have only small gifts, click the "Finish Criteria" button, use the "AND" separator, and start a new criteria line. In this line, choose the Gifts tab, and select an "Amount Given" range (in Details tab) of a dollar more than your "small" gift limit (i.e., $21 if you consider $20 or less a small gift) through "blank", and select "Any Single Gift". This sounds counter-intuitive, since it's asking for anyone who has given a $21.00 or greater gift, but hold on. Click the "Finish Criteria" button again, and, this time, apply the "NOT" qualifier to the line.  Now your criteria should read (more of less):  select everyone who is a donor AND who has NOT given a gift of $21 or more. This eliminates both non-donors and those who have given gifts over $20. Now you can use this grouping with various reports.

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First Steps To Starting Donor Management

First Steps To Starting Donor Management

Kim Klein's blog on Steps for Raising $20,000 is a great article to use to show exactly how FundRaiser can simplify donor management.  If you look at the steps suggested to the student in order to raise funds for their trip to Costa Rica, you'll see how each step can be simplified and tracked using FundRaiser.

Database programs are for storing and using information, and we suggest using FundRaiser to store as much information as you need to have for all the aspects of your fundraising efforts. It's not just about donors, although that's certainly a big part, but look at the other aspects to this particular effort.

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