Dear Kim:You are often quoted as saying things like, “Thank before you bank,” and “The thank you note is the most important element in a donor relationship” and other pro-thank you note statements. But how do you make a thank you note interesting? And do donors really read them? And what if I think the gift the donor gave isn’t really what they could afford so I am not that thankful? ~Dubious Dear Dubious:.
Your letter poses several questions, and I will quickly dispatch the last one first. You need to change up your attitude toward the gifts that are given to your organization. Any gift is more than nothing, and donors are making all kinds of choices. You really don’t know what people can afford and you need to thankful they thought of you.
With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and the end of the year right around the corner, now is a great time for both reflection and forward thinking. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways that I am grateful for FundRaiser Software and the huge FundRaiser Family that comes with it – I’ve been here for more than fifteen years and have had the great honor to work with some of the most amazing co-workers and customers during this time. I’ve seen the company, the software, and the customers grow and change so much over the years that it’s hard to believe that we had such humble beginnings!
When I began working here, we did not have a central office and were one of the pioneers of the remote workforce movement. I worked from a home office with a (very touchy) satellite internet connection and used our FundRaiser DOS program to keep track of leads, customers, and notes. We had just released our first Windows version and were working to convert customers from DOS to Windows, as well as onboard new customers. We didn’t have much competition back then, either – we were one of about three vendors creating donor management software at that time.
As part of donor management, being able to mark your donors as inactive or deceased, or even making note of mailing preferences (email vs. paper mail, for example), plays an important role. Not only can good preference management save your organization money by moving more of your donors to email, but it can also ensure that you’re contacting the donors when and how they wish to be reached. Within FundRaiser Software, our preferences tab places all of this information in one handy location, as you can see in the following screenshot:
The Preferences Tabbed Page is broken down into four sections. The first involves mailings and gifts, with an option for excluding from general mailings (newsletters and appeal letters), sending end of year letters if that’s not done automatically by your organization, as well as not sending thank you letters (for frequent donors), and the ability to completely block the addition of gifts to a record (for deceased donors).
As we draw closer to Giving Tuesday, you may be thinking about how to make highly targeted appeals to your donors based on information like their giving history or other factors. Luckily, FundRaiser software makes it easy for you to select groups of donors and then send them correspondence based on your selections. Let’s look at three different ways you can target your Giving Tuesday prospective donors.
Based on past giving
A motivation code tracks what motivated your donors to give a specific gift. This could be an appeal letter, a campaign, an event, or the fact that they gave to Giving Tuesday last year. Perhaps you want to reach out to donors who haven’t yet given this year or ones who have lapsed. Use your criteria to target your communication directly to these donors.
Melody Arnst, Administrative Assistant at Meta Peace Team, says her specialty is diving in and figuring out how to make things work better, primarily in the office. “That’s why I am working in the database. Things need to work and be streamlined there,” says Melody.
First thing as she started working at Meta Peace, she found herself untangling database issues. Meta Peace, FundRaiser Software users, had decided to give another donor database a try. “We attempted to move to Network for Good. It was a frustrating experience. As the process unfolded, I thought, ‘maybe we shouldn’t have done this,’ " says Melody.
When you’ve used a database for any length of time it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of codes you have. The power of codes is that they’re what the system uses to show you data. Too many, and you won’t know what information you can obtain or how you’ve coded your donors to get it. Just like we do “spring cleaning” at home, it’s a good idea once or twice a year, usually spring and fall, to do a review of the codes in your database. These three tips can help.
1. Use the Code Listing Report (Reports > Code Listing) to see what you have
When running this report, check the box that says “show inactive codes” so you can see every code in your system. Then review the report to see what codes can be marked as inactive (or hidden) so that you don’t see them during day-to-day data input or if you have duplicate codes which need to be merged.
You can create a #GivingTuesday campaign that brings in donations and increases the visibility of your nonprofit, even if you don’t have much time. Cindy Hassil, Development Director of Ijams Nature Center, quickly created a campaign even in the midst of other year-end fundraising plans last year that did just that. Using resources she adapted from the Giving Tuesday website and some new and existing photos of the nature center, she created a personalized effort that raised awareness and brought in additional funds and new donors.
“The Giving Tuesday website has almost everything you’ll need to create your own campaign, from various logos and images to sample news releases and a planning calendar,” Cindy said. “We used our website, weekly e-newsletter, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to let people know about our campaign, and used graphics I created in Publisher by adding the Giving Tuesday heart image and several hashtags to photos. You don’t have to have graphic design software; you could use PowerPoint or just keep it simple by using hashtags with your own photos and the images you download from the Giving Tuesday website.”
Your event was a smashing success and you raised a lot of money. After entering the participants into FundRaser, you might be wondering what the next steps are. How do you convert them to prospective, and hopefully future, donors?
First, make sure you’ve coded them as having been a participant at the event. This could be using the motivation code from their gift or ticket purchase to attend or even just a category code. If you have FundRaiser Professional, our Campaign Management Module is a great way to keep track of complex events and their participants.
Interested in knowing more about what the future holds for your software?
It's no secret that, while FundRaiser is a very robust program, the interface is, frankly, outdated. As a small privately-owned company, we have had to choose how to allocate our resources very carefully and we have put other development projects ahead of updating the interface. Fortunately, that is changing now and we are pleased to offer you an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming release.
Giving Tuesday is just 2 months away, on November 27 and it is not too soon to start preparing for it. This year, we want to give you some extra help by creating an online donations page that is integrated with FundRaiser. Our Donor Portal can play a key role in the success of your Giving Tuesday campaign.
Your custom Donor Portal page for online donations will
• look & feel like your website• accept online donations using Authorize.net• seamlessly stream donor and donation records directly to FundRaiser
In a recent blog by Tony Poderis, it is suggested that a myriad of things *should* be tracked in order to cultivate donors and prospects more easily and fully. It's further suggested that, in order to be truly successful, an organization will build strong relationships with their top 20% of donors, getting them fully involved in the organization's mission. All of this tracking and relationship-building requires a lot of detailed information about people, and storing it in a manner that can be readily accessed may appear daunting. Let me "undaunt" that appearance with FundRaiser.
Category Codes are the most flexible way to record non-giving aspects of peoples' lives, as I've said numerous times in my blogs over the years, yet some users are still reluctant to utilize them as fully as possible. Maybe they feel the list of codes gets a bit unwieldy, too long, to specific, etc. Or perhaps they don't see the immediate need of tracking so many aspects of a person's life. Hopefully, Tony's blog will give you a better grasp of why this is so necessary. And I've got a few suggestions that will make it easier to use a multiplicity of Category Codes.
Fund-raising has many engaging and inspiring sayings. Three that give insight into donor cultivation are:
People give to people.You don't raise funds; you raise friends.Fund-raising can be summed up in just three words - relationships, relationships, relationships.
At its heart, donor cultivation is about an organization's staff and leadership developing relationships with those capable of giving support and making them friends of the organization. I define donor cultivation as an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor. I can't stress enough how important this definition is - how important it is to the future of an organization's fund-raising efforts. Every successful fund-raising operation cultivates its donors - builds relationships with them. The most successful do it constantly and systematically. Let's parse this 48-word statement and examine its key components. Again, the definition, this time with its key components in bold type: Donor cultivation is an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor.
I work for a small statewide arts advocacy organization, and by small I mean in staff size rather than geographic size. We receive funding from our state agency and membership but realize the need to diversify our funding sources. We are finding it difficult to approach foundations and corporations for funding because we are statewide and we do advocacy. Any advice on how to solve this problem?
When it comes to solicitors, most organizations think of them as something only major donors have, and if the organization works primarily in smaller dollar donations, then they might not use solicitors. However, solicitors are an excellent idea if you like to track your donors’ influencers. Our solicitor code and report will make it easy.
The Donor Solicitor Code can be found on both the Codes tab as well as the Name Details > Misc. tab and is traditionally thought of as a way to show which volunteer or board member is assigned to solicit, or encourage, donations from that particular donor. Because most organizations don’t have someone working with each and every donor, the donor solicitor code is often used only for major donors.
The Opening: How It’s Handled Will Determine Its Outcome
The first meeting should not take place in a public space such as a restaurant with its distractions and interruptions. Solicitors should begin by talking with prospects about professional and personal interests, mutual friends and acquaintances, places and times where their lives may have crossed. However, solicitors should not forget why they are there. Quickly, but naturally, discussion of the campaign should be worked into the conversation. Solicitors should mention their own personal involvement and commitment to the organization as a way of explaining why it is of such great value to the community. They must convey how important the current fund-raising campaign is to the organization’s future. When appropriate, a tour of the organization’s facilities and the opportunity to meet others involved with the organization should be offered. Finally, solicitors should ask prospects to consider supporting the organization by making a pledge in the suggested amount.
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.
Most organizations deal with a range of donors and sometimes clients who may be interested in different things from your organization. A nonprofit healthcare clinic, for example, may have physicians and staff (even if they are all volunteers), patients, friends and family of patients, as well as those who simply wish to sponsor free or affordable healthcare.
Each group will respond differently to appeals. For example, patients may wish to “pay back” some of the care that was received. Friends and family may give so that those they care about continue to receive care, and sponsors may want to know how many people their dollars helped.
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.
Complementing a traditional capital campaign, “Positive, Uplifting Word FM” is trying a new kind of fundraiser – inscribed bricks listeners personalize to include in a pathway the nonprofit plans to install at its new facility. This Christian radio station has been growing steadily by offering positive conversations and uplifting music and recently moved to a larger, more functional ministry building. Bricks that listeners reserve now will be used next spring to transform the new location’s nondescript, concrete sidewalk into something much more meaningful: a “Pathway to Hope.”
“We’re not selling bricks,” qualifies Jean Otto Ford, one of Word FM’s main FundRaiser users. “We’re asking listeners to support this ministry at specific giving levels (at minimum) that then offers them a unique opportunity to create a lasting expression of what Word FM means to them – or of hope, love, inspiration, tribute, etc. Listeners often tell us that our station plays a huge role in their day-to-day lives, and this campaign provides a way for all of us to celebrate that connection.”