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.

Don't Forget About Social Media

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As nonprofit organizations we get focused on appeal and end of year letters, especially during this time of year. However, letters aren’t the only way to reach donors. Quite often you need to get your message to them where and when they are. This means taking advantage of social media.

The main issue with social media is that as an organization you cannot control to whom or how your message is seen. And because someone may not be online when you share your message, it’s possible that you’ll miss your donor all together. So it is important to control the things that you can take control of.

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Tips For An Actionable Holiday Appeal Letter

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Do your appeals sound like “holiday family” letters?

For many people December’s mail brings two kinds of letters: holiday cards with family letters and appeals from non-profit organizations. And all too often both types of letters sound alike. How come and what can you do to avoid it?

Holiday family letters, the kind you slip into cards, are often seen as “catching up” for friends and family who don’t keep in touch. Sometimes when such letters are received, the person is scrambling to remember how they knew the person or even what relations they have in common. The same thing occurs with fundraising letters. You might get one in the mail and think “when did I support them?” or “how did they get my name again?”

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Have You Taken An Introduction To FundRaiser Class?

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Whether you’re new to the software or looking to reacquaint yourself with it, an Introduction to FundRaiser class is a great place to start. While the course does cover basic functions such as how to add a name and a gift, then send a thank you letter, it also discusses features of the software, as well as additional training that may be available.

Who should take an Introduction to FundRaiser class?

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What is NCOA processing?

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One of the more disappointing parts of sending out correspondence to donors is the returned mail. Inevitably, no matter how up to date an organization thinks its database is, some envelopes will be returned. The loss in resources (time, paper and envelopes) not to mention money can be disheartening and make an organization wonder if sending an appeal letter campaign is worth it. Although these expenses are considered when thinking about a campaign, wouldn’t it be nice to pre-screen your addresses for any changes before you mailed your letters?

Enter NCOA processing.

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3 Tips for Appeal Letters

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We’re into the end of the year giving season when many organizations are sending out appeal letters. This is a busy time for many nonprofits between Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, and then Christmas and last minute donations before the New Year rolls around. Yet, it’s important to give as much thought, if not more, to the appeal letters you send during this time of year. Your donors will most likely receive more of them and each one has to stand out.

Here are three tips to get you started.

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The Season for Thanks - a note from our CEO

As the weather turns cooler and the leaves begin to drop, I always try to take some time off from the constant stream of news and information that is constantly coming at me, and spend some time reflecting on the things that I'm truly thankful for. Sometimes, especially given the current state of affairs this season, this can feel a lot like... exercise. What if I miss something? What if everything changes when I'm not paying attention? What if, what if, what if?

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), this has never actually happened. Indeed, the world always continues to spin, news always continues to happen, and nothing major seems to change overnight. Apparently, my inattention to the news has zero effect on the bigger picture, what a relief! With that in mind, I chose to dedicate my mental energy in November and December to gratitude. The first week was mostly a detox; it is surprisingly difficult to avoid clicking those juicy headlines, or opening my News app for a quick update! After the first week, things began to normalize and I could focus more on my actual intention of feeling grateful. I decided to make a list of a few the things that I'm most thankful for to share with the world (the FundRaiser blog reading world, that is). Without further ado, here's a very partial list in no particular order of the things I am grateful for every single day.

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Carrying the Lessons Forward

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I did not expect, when I accepted the job at FundRaiser Software eighteen years ago, that it would become such an important part of my life. I had expected it to be a part time job that would smooth out some of the ups and downs of self-employment. What it actually turned out to be was a deeply engaging workplace where I learned the richness of the nonprofit sector and the joy of working on an aligned team. That experience has changed my life.

I also did not expect that eventually my work at FundRaiser would play a large role in reshaping my own small business. After working at FundRaiser, I offered to do a bit of volunteer work for a favorite nonprofit helping them with their donor outreach. Eventually, that turned into a full-on engagement in the issues that nonprofit addressed. That has been so rewarding, that I’ve decided to focus more attention on these issues. After almost two decades at FundRaiser, I’m saying good-bye to my role here to take on a larger role in that field.

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New Training Schedule Updates

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As part of my goal to bring you the most flexible training options available, as well as to revamp our training program, we’ve made some significant changes to our training classes. All classes, as always, are available through our Customer Portal on demand. However, if you’d like to take an in-person webinar class, our schedule has changed with the goal of bringing you a more personalized training flow.

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Reports Vs. Groupings: What's The Difference?

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One of the most common questions that customers ask is: what’s the difference between a report and a grouping? When someone needs a list of people, for example like a specialized mailing list for donors, they talk about needing a “report” of those donors. A lot of the difference between reports and groupings is simply a matter of terminology, so let’s break that down within FundRaiser Software.

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What can a new account analysis report tell you?

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FundRaiser software has several different analytical reports that can help you and your organization look more deeply into your data. While some of them, such as the donor level report or the donor period comparison report provide gift and monetary totals, which are easily used to determine giving levels over a set period of time, other reports give plain statistical data.

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Three Things To Prepare For Holiday Mailings

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As we enter the last quarter of the year, many organizations begin to think about their holiday fundraising campaigns. The holiday season, including the end of the year and all the associated holidays, is a big time of year for sending appeal letters and in the US, the January tax letters indicating the giving that had happened during the previous calendar year. Before you begin creating these mailings, try taking these three steps to ensure they’re reaching the right people and are cost effective for your organization.

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Getting The Most Out of the Software

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When I lead tours or teach classes, one of the most common refrains I hear from organizations is that they feel as if FundRaiser Software can do so much more than they’re currently using it for and they’re not sure how to tap into that potential. They’re not alone. So the question becomes, how can you utilize the software to its potential?

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What do you do with motivation codes?

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It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the coding of gifts in any donor management software. There’s motivation codes, which track what prompted your donor to give, and purpose codes, which track the way in which the gift will be used. Once you code a gift, other than running reports for the month (or year), what can do you do with them?

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Transitioning from FundRaiser Basic to Spark: Gift Codes

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One of the improved features when moving from FundRaiser Basic to Spark is increased coding and options for your gifts. In FundRaiser Basic, along with the amount and date given, there is a checkbox to send a thank you letter, as well as a field for the notes. The “source” code acts as a way to document what drove the gift, for example an appeal letter or an event.

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The Pros and Cons of Engaging Volunteers in Fundraising

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Dear Kim,

For years I have been told that board members and volunteers need to be trained and enlisted in reaching out, meeting with donors, thanking them and asking for support. I work somewhere that has prioritized that. But all of that comes with the cost of a lot of staff time. Some volunteers aren’t very good at it with training. What’s the downside of just having staff do that work?

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Transitioning from FundRaiser Basic to Spark: Donor Codes

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FundRaiser Basic offers three codes for donor records: a category code, a source code, and newsletter preferences. These three codes provide an excellent foundation for transitioning into FundRaiser Spark or even Select or Professional. Let’s look at each of the codes.

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My Experience: Moving from FundRaiser Basic to Spark

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After 5 years of using FundRaiser Basic, the organization I volunteer for decided to move to FundRaiser Spark. The 5 years we've been using Basic have been good to us, and Basic has played a significant role in that. The organization has stabilized donations at the level needed for our operations, and increased fundraising to create 'a little extra' each year. In a kind of feedback loop between success with fundraising and growing confidence, we've also been willing to try new things and expand our impact. Although quite happy with what we've been able to do with Basic, the time seemed right to give ourselves more power in our donor management software and to explore having a greater impact in our community. 

The move from Basic to Spark has been enjoyable and interesting. I've learned two basic things--

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What's A Volunteer Team

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Within your organization there may be times when you prefer to schedule teams of volunteers rather than individuals. Perhaps there are two or three people who enjoy performing certain duties at your events or who you know work well together. In this case, creating a volunteer team allows you to efficiently schedule them at the same time, as well as ensure that you have the required number of volunteers.

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Track Thank You Letter Effectiveness

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Have you ever thought about tracking the repeat donors from the thank you letters they receive? Do you include an ask or a reply coupon in the thank you letters to solicit additional donations?

It’s not a common thing to do, and yet, by generating another ask, you may be surprised by how many people will donate again. How would you track responses to thank you letters?

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The Value of a Salutation

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As many of the letters being sent transition from paper to digital and even email is being replaced by text messages and push notifications on apps, it’s important to think about whether we still have a place for formal salutations. While politeness and courtesy will never go out of style, too often when we call someone Mr. or Ms., such titles are eschewed for the person’s first name. When appealing to donors, what salutation should you use?

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