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.

Are your gift codes aligned with your Gift Acceptance Policy?

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When an organization creates a Gift Acceptance Policy (GAP) it outlines the types of gifts that it will, and won’t, accept. This policy is often written down and stored in a company handbook or provided internally for volunteers and employees to use. And yet, when a gift gets entered into FundRaiser, are you able to follow up on it through reporting to see how certain gifts are contributing to your organization’s bottom line?

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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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3 Things To Do When Your Campaign Stalls

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It’s never easy, or fun, when a campaign stalls. Running out of momentum halfway through a five-year campaign, for example, may leave you with what seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb to get going again. And there’s the impact to your organization, especially if you’re fundraising for a major project.

There are usually four reasons why campaigns stall. The first is a lack of prospects. Not having very many major donors, or a lack of donor cultivation (Did you know it can take 18 to 24 months to fully cultivate a major donor?) may leave your organization with a small amount of people from which to initially draw. The second main reason is a lack of infrastructure, such as a donor database, volunteer training, and methods of cultivating your donors. Good news! If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re using FundRaiser Software, which puts you one step ahead and can help you with the first two reasons. The third reason is a lack of planning, including a campaign feasibility study. And finally, the last reason may be timing, which often is outside of our control such as an economic downturn happening in the middle of a long-term campaign.

Generally campaigns stall due to a combination of factors. So what can you do when that happens?

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Why Do We Need a Gift Acceptance Policy?

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Dear Kim,

A colleague is working with you on a capital campaign and she says you have insisted that the organization create a “Gift Acceptance Policy.” I brought this to our board of directors and they said it should just be “We accept all gifts.” We all laughed. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but what is the point of having such a policy? What kind of gifts would you not accept? That doesn’t even make sense.

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Two weeks left on our Spring Sale to take FundRaiser to the Cloud

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Spring is turning to summer, and as it does the FundRaiser Hosted sale is coming to an end. If you are interested in moving your FundRaiser program to the Cloud at a special lower cost, you have just until  the end of May. Hosted is a fast, secure online FundRaiser, and available to everyone who is already a FundRaiser desktop customer.

Why Professional Hosted?

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Measuring Campaign Progress

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I think every organization wonders how their campaign is doing, and not just in a direct monetary sense, but also in terms of momentum. Are you gaining more new donors? Have things leveled off a bit? Are you progressing?

When the donations stop coming in for a long-term campaign, it’s easy to notice a stall. Running a Donation Report ordered by Date of Gift, will show you the cutoff point. Depending on how long ago that was, the report can help you guide your future strategy.

But what if donations don’t stop completely?

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Spending Money To Raise Money

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Dear Kim,

You’ve often said, “You have to spend money to raise money.” But how much is enough? What’s the ideal ratio of fundraising expenses to income? 

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Creating Value with Non-Ask Events

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Most of the time organizations offer donors reciprocated value. They send thank you notes in response to donations, preprinted labels in the hopes of receiving a donation, tickets when purchased, or other tangible things received either in response to or in anticipation of a donation. This isn’t bad, but it’s very reactive. It assumes the organization has a quid pro quo relationship with its donors.

To start thinking proactively, it’s important to work on non-reciprocated value. This is something that you can offer to your donors for free without asking for a donation or any other consideration. When it holds real value for them, it becomes memorable.

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We've Updated Our Training Schedule

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Beginning in May, you’ll notice some of the classes that we have on our training schedule will have new names. In addition, you’ll find the class schedule has been reorganized to allow you to complete our three core classes in the same weeks. We’ve made these changes in the hopes of streamlining your training experience as well as providing more descriptive names for the classes.

So what’s changed?

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Ways To Keep In Touch With Your Donors

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In previous blogs we’ve spoken about reaching out to donors and how many times and how often you should contact them. However, it’s important to think about ways to keep in touch. With so many communications options available to your organization, start thinking about moving beyond mailed letters or even emails into different ways to reach out.

One of the important things to keep in mind is that with today’s busy lifestyles, it’s vital to meet your donors where they are. This may mean moving to virtual communication or even using letters (or cards/postcards) sent through the mail for a special touch. Though social media outreach can have pitfalls and requires tending, it is a viable way to communicate with potential donors as well as your existing ones and with the ability for people to share your posts, they can go quickly viral and bring new people to your cause as well.

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Managing Tribute Gifts in FundRaiser Software, part 2

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Managing Tribute Gifts with FundRaiser Software, part 1In last week's blog post, I discussed the general donor management issues for working with tribute donations. Here, I will go into more of the specifics of working with these gifts in FundRaiser.

The general flow of tribute gifts can be explained better, perhaps, with an example. Let’s say that a prominent citizen of the community has passed away, and that the family has requested that donations be directed to your organization. You might first enter that citizen’s name as an honoree in the Windows | Tributes section, along with the family member to whom notification should be sent. It is good to prepare this ahead, because you may receive many donations and you will want to respond promptly.

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Managing Tribute Gifts with FundRaiser Software, part 1

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Tribute Gifts are in a class by themselves when it comes to fundraising. They can require a bit more management than "general" gifts, but they can also offer you the opportunity to acquire new donors that might otherwise not be involved with your organization. They also offer existing donors the opportunity to show their respects by giving to a cause they already deem worthy.

Tributes can be made for people or pets, a fact to which many animal-oriented nonprofits will attest. Tributes to the living are the "in honor of" kinds of gifts, while tributes to the deceased are the "in memory of" gifts. "In honor" of gifts may be motivated by an event such as a wedding, anniversary, birthday, graduation, or other important moment for congratulations.

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How Often Should You Communicate with Donors?

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When your organization receives a gift, you send a thank you letter. Perhaps the donor has requested to be subscribed to your newsletter, which is sent maybe once a quarter. Other than that, do you reach out to your donors? Are you afraid you’re talking to them too much?

It’s a fine balance between too much outreach and not enough. On one hand, you don’t want your donors to forget about you, and it happens in even those with the best of intentions. People’s lives are busy. In the hustle and bustle of juggling jobs and family along with everything else, something as simple as sending a check slips through the cracks.

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Do's and Don'ts of Texting Donors

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Dear Kim,

I am wondering about texting our current and lapsed donors to ask for money? We have a donor base that tends to be young and we have lot of phone numbers (sometimes we have a cell number and not a snail mail address). I think this would work well because it is much more efficient than writing and calling and a lot of people don’t use their phone for calling anymore. My ED wants me to check with someone else. What do you think?

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Two Ways to Entice Lapsed Donors With Your Letters

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Now that the busy holiday giving season, as well as end of the year tax letters are completed, it’s time to look at ways to bring donors back who perhaps missed out on giving during the past year (or longer). Even if your organization doesn’t consider a donor lapsed until they haven’t given for a much longer time frame than 12 months, it doesn’t hurt to put some enticements into your letters to bring these donors back.

Once you’ve identified your lapsed donors, it’s time to contact them. A primary reason why organizations may not reach out to lapsed donors is an uncertainty about what to say. There are two things that you can do to help entice these donors to return to your organization.

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One Impactful Action by 12/31

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Dear Kim,

I have taken many fundraising workshops, including from you, and I always find that I learn a lot. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I am hardly ever able to implement anything I learned because I have no time. Someone suggested just trying to figure out one thing I could do differently for a short period of time, so I am asking you: what is one thing I could do between now and the end of the calendar year that will make a big difference to our fundraising?

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Identifying Lapsed Donors

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The goal of a nonprofit organization is to acquire and keep a stable, and growing, donor base. Preferably these donors give often, at least once a year, if not quarterly, or even monthly. And yet, in the day to day operations of the organization, it’s easy to lose track of the donors who simply have stopped giving.

Donors stop connecting with your organization for many reasons, but probably the two largest are either due to financial circumstances changing or it simply slipped their mind. In our busy lives, “out of sight, out of mind” happens all too often, and not just with the causes we want to support. Before we can reconnect with our donors we need to identify who has lapsed.

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Anonymous Donors

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Dear Kim,

I am the ED of a medium sized organization (budget just over $3 million). We raise $1 million from government (we hope that continues), $1 million from fees and rentals, varying amounts from foundations and about $600,000 from individuals. I recently solicited and got a gift of $50,000 but the person made me swear I would never tell another soul where the money came from. I did, but later wondered if that was the right thing to do. What are the protocols for anonymous donors? Can you have a donor that only one person in the organization knows about? If not, should I go back to this person and explain that I made a mistake?

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Looking Deeper Into the Donor Period Comparison Report

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The Donor Period Comparison Report (available on FundRaiser Select and Professional) provides a powerful way to receive an overview of your donors’ giving over several set time periods. From monthly to quarterly, semi-annually, or yearly, this report allows you to see a list of all your donors (or just a selection) and the totals of their giving for each period. In one glance you can chart trends, view donors who haven’t given and even see percentage and dollar amounts of the increase or decrease in giving.

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Using FundRaiser Reports to Support Your Capital Campaign

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When looking if your organization has what it takes to succeed with a capital campaign, FundRaiser reports can help. As a rule of thumb, fully one third of your goal will 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 if you have that kind of commitment from a large enough pool of donors and 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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