Shawn Rames-WLMBWhat does the winning of broadcast awards have to do with donor management software? More than you might think!

WLMB-TV40 has been recognized for the excellence of its broadcasting with many awards, including 4 time winner of TV Station of the Year by NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) and 7 time winner of the Peoples Choice Award. Visible in their programming is a deep understanding of their audience, and this is where FundRaiser Software comes in.
The Mission of WLMB-TV 40 is to provide Christ-centered television of high technical quality and programming excellence. They FundRaiser Professional users.
“FundRaiser has been very important in maintaining the level of excellence that WLMB-TV40 aspires to. Our donors are the most important thing for us being on the air and spreading the gospel through television. When they contact us, we are able to easily help them because of the excellent records that we keep in FundRaiser,” says Shawn Rames the Senior Vice President of Business Affairs at WLMB-TV40.

“FundRaiser also helps our donor development by allowing us to focus on donors’ specific interests. We segment donors by their interests and target different campaigns towards them based on that. This saves us money and lets us send the most relevant message we can to a variety of donors. FundRaiser makes it really easy to look at our donors in many different ways,” says Shawn.

What he uses FundRaiser for

Shawn covers a lot of ground in FundRaiser. He uses it to

  • track all donations; including current status of pledges
  • keep track of the premiums requested and sent
  • track the effectiveness of letters, newsletters, and online giving campaigns in generating donations

“We use a lot of it. We continue to find new things we can do with it, and new ways to apply it to our donor development,” says Shawn.

Tracking the impact of regular communications

“Our newsletter list and regular mailing list are important segments that we spend a lot of time understanding,” says Shawn. The campaign management module helps greatly with that.

“I like many things about FundRaiser. At the top my list is the campaign module. It allows us to closely monitor our direct-mail campaigns and to watch the response change in relation to changes we make on our mailings. It gives us a concise report on the ROI (return on investment) for our mailings like our newsletter or fundraising letters. It tells us how many people respond positively and the net income for that mailing, I can tell that very quickly by checking in the campaign module. Before we had that, it would take a lot longer.”

Thank you letters

Shawn also likes the ease of sending out a variety of thank you letters. “When I enter a donation, I pick the letter I want to send, and then FundRaiser automatically prints out the correct one when I print the batch. We can easily send out different letters for different donations.”

The development staff at WLMB-TV has carefully created the thank you letters so that donors get relevant communications. Shawn has the following letters to choose from each time:

  • General thank youThank you customized to that specific month of year
  • ‘Gift of the Month’ thank you
  • Pledge payment thank you
  • New person on the mailing list thank you
  • First time donor thank you

This kind of focus on donor communications creates and maintains a strong sense of connection between the station and its audience.

Reports help WLMB-TV40 keep their finger on the pulse

The development staff at WLMB-TV relies on reports to stay current and on track. The team comes up with what they want to know about donors and donations and Shawn runs the report. Some of the most important reports for WLMB-TV focus on the regular communications between the station and their supporters. “It is quick and easy for me. The ease of creating a wide number of reports is wonderful,” says Shawn.

Regularly run reports for WLMB-TV40 include

  • daily deposit reports
  • reports on ‘gift of the month’ including what outreach effort motivated the donor to respond
  • donor reports for the phone operators during the fundraising season.”
  • LYBUNT - reports of people who gave last year but not this year

“The End of Year report also makes our tax letters a very simple process to get printed” says Shawn.

Understanding and managing pledge flow

Shawn also uses reports to help manage the complexities of pledge giving. Reports allow the WLMB-TV40 development team to see which donors have active and which donors are starting to fall behind on pledges.

“We send out quarterly letters to people who have an active pledge to stay up-to-date with them. If a donor is falling behind, then we can see if there is anything to do to help them out,” says Shawn. “We follow up on past due pledges, but not with the intent of trying to collect. In the letter, we ask whether the donor is able to fill the pledge and not to feel pressure if they are having financial difficulty. Response is pretty good. Most of them either say, ‘thank you for reminding me,’ or they tell us why they can’t make the payments right now, but that they will donate again when they can. The letter through FundRaiser is an easy way to help us keep an open dialogue.”

“FundRaiser also helps by showing us the amount that we aren’t going to collect from a particular campaign. The amount is fairly consistent across campaigns. FundRaiser has helped us to easily figure out that consistent percentage that probably won’t be fulfilled. We use that when it comes to budgeting.”

Rapid Gift Entry and Check Reader

Another feature of FundRaiser that Shawn likes is the Rapid Gift entry. He particularly likes to use it in combination with the check reader.

“Rapid gift entry is a major time saver for us,” says Shawn. “Especially during our fundraising seasons when we are broadcasting live and at year-end when our mail volume is higher, we get a lot of donations in at the same time. It also helps us with our credit card transactions, which we enter in batches. For that, rapid gift entry cuts the data entry time literally in half.”

“Using the check reader makes using the rapid gift entry feature even more efficient for us. When the check is read, Fundraiser automatically pulls up the donor and enters the check number, all I need to do is enter the amount and use the keyboard shortcut to save it. I don’t even need to touch the mouse. When entering a large batch of checks, having the ability to keep both hands on the keyboard does save a lot of time. It also adds a level of accuracy, for example if there are multiple ‘John Smiths’ in our database, it knows which John Smith record this gift should post to,” says Shawn.

Help during difficult fundraising times

“We have had to tighten up our budget and be very careful about watching where our money goes in the past year or two,” says Shawn. “Fundraiser has helped by allowing us to better steward our resources when it comes to interacting with our donors. Through precise segmentation of our mailing lists we are able to control who receives mailings, who wants to receive mailings, and determine which records in our database may no-longer be active.”

“The pledge projection features lets our leadership team easily look at the amount we can expect to come in on a monthly basis which helps with budgeting.

Learning curve

Given the many features in FundRaiser, it is reasonable to wonder how easy it is to learn and use FundRaiser. Shawn found it to be straightforward. “I had very little training when I started, and this was the first donor management program that I had ever used. I figured most of it out on my own and did that quite easily. Whenever I had a question, I’d send an email and FundRaiser Support was quick to help out.”

For people who want more help, FundRaiser also has a wide variety of learning options, including live webinars, online videos and articles, and on-site training. For more information on training, contact 800-880-2997.

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