The Mariemont School Foundation is a FundRaiser Professional Hosted user. The Foundation supports initiatives that help the Mariemont School District preserve, enhance and sustain educational excellence.
The Foundation was established fifteen years ago and was very slow growing. “Records were kept in notebooks and on Excel spreadsheets. There were multiple Excel sheets. Nothing was ever carried over, so a new sheet was started every time,” says Ann Pardue, on the Board to Trustees for the Mariemont School Foundation, and now the main user of FundRaiser.
“It’s the first time we’ve worked with donor management software,” says Ann. “The people who were on the Foundation Board didn’t want to learn something new. Then they hired a development director who said in order to be a successful group and grow the organization, donor management software was something we needed. You start out as a grass roots organization and then you need someone to say, 'to grow your organization, this is something you need to do’.”
Core Donor Management with room to grow
“What we have seen is that we are able to stay more current than we were in the past, and our membership base has grown. We’ve seen an increase in what is being donated and designated as scholarships for grads and seniors,” says Ann. “In the database, we've recorded all the people who have donated and their gifts. Now we know what is coming in and who is giving it.”
They are keeping things simple at the moment. “We mostly use FundRaiser for tracking money that comes into the Foundation and goes into the schools,” says Ann. “We also use it for sending emails, generating letters, printing envelopes and reporting on the financial data.
"We also use the Product Sales module. We are selling commemorative engraved bricks for a sidewalk at the high school. The software has certainly helped in tracking those orders.
"I haven’t used the Volunteers or Pledge modules, although we have these because we expect to use them as we grow.”
Alumni Tracking increases donations
As with other schools, alumni giving is very important for the Mariemont School Foundation. “Every year we have another class of grads to keep track of as alumni. We work with the alumni association and track alumni data for them. A lot of our donors are alumnus so we couldn’t see a need to keep a separate database,” says Ann.
For alumni, the Foundation track:
- donation amounts
- frequency of donations
They also track the sort of things that might influence an alumnus to donate to the Foundation such as:
- marriage status
- educational degrees
- current address, especially if currently located in the school district
- children in the school district
The Foundation is also doing more segmentation with the alumni data for development, mostly by graduating class. “Representatives of specific graduating classes, who want to hold reunions and the like come to us for data. The more we can refine the data, the more they come to us and are motivated to donate,” says Ann.
Campaign Management improves fund drive results
The Foundation also uses the FundRaiser Campaign Management module for tracking details of fundraising campaigns. “The Campaign Management module is easy to use. It helps us to see where our efforts have worked and to plan on what to do in the future. We have seen that the bulk of money comes from one particular effort,” says Ann.
“The more I work with it, the more it helps others. I pass the data on to members of the Board who are responsible for campaigns, for instance the marketing person or the person in charge of the next campaign. That way, they can build on and learn from past campaigns. We had a very spotty record on running a fund drive. Now it’s better.”
Multiple users, multiple locations works smoothly
Ann and the other three users are all able to access FundRaiser from the location which is most convenient for them using the Hosted edition of FundRaiser. “I use it in the office and at home,” says Ann. “I use it at home about 85% of the time and the rest of the time at the office, when I check in there. It’s very convenient.”
Three other people on the Board also use FundRaiser from their homes. This has worked smoothly, according to Ann. “We communicate with each other frequently, by email and by phone. We make sure that we each know what the others are doing. We assign tasks by weeks: this week one person is responsible for a certain task and next week someone else is. Some people are responsible only for updating the alumni portion of database. Someone else does the receiving of product orders and inputting those. I do all of that and more.”
The impact of the economy
Like all nonprofits, changes in the economy have impacted giving. In spite of that, the Mariemont School Foundation is experiencing an increase in donations. The increase is coming from many individual donors, says Ann. “We’re not getting as many big donors and they’ve cut some of their donations, but we’ve seen more donors giving smaller amounts.”
When starting with FundRaiser
Although completely new to using donor management software, Ann got up to speed in a short period of time. She read the help file on topics of interest to her, watched training videos posted on the FundRaiser Customer portal, took training classes, and asked questions of the technical support staff. “The more you get to know the software, the more you realize what it can do for you. Whenever I call technical support, everyone is as nice as can be. They do a great job."