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.

The Pros and Cons of Engaging Volunteers in Fundraising

VolunteerFundRaisers

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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6908 Hits

What are "DAFS"?

Daffy

Dear Kim,

I am an inexperienced board member for a small tutoring program. We had a guest speaker on fundraising that someone arranged for us and he went on and on about DAFs and how we should find donors with DAFs. Each of us on the board thought the others knew what he was talking about but afterwards it turned out none of us knew. Do you know? We felt stupid that we didn’t ask him and now we have renamed our board Daffy and the Dumbclucks.

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3178 Hits

Board Member Paying Staff Member Extra

Ananias

Dear Kim,  

I chair the board of a small religious organization.  Each employee has to raise a certain amount toward their salary and this amount is set by the board, as are the salaries. Recently it came to my attention that one employee is receiving additional support from a board member who provides a designated gift for that individual’s support. I was caught off guard to find that this individual is making more money than we knew and that a particular board member is providing it.  This seems like money laundering to me. The board member is making a financial gift to a family, and running it through the non-profit so that it can be tax deductible. Is there an IRS rule, or a piece of governance that would prevent this sort of thing from happening? 

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2104 Hits

Small, Local Groups Struggling to Keep Donors

ArtsOr_20190521-232705_1

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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2196 Hits

Why Do We Need a Gift Acceptance Policy?

GAP

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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2243 Hits

Spending Money To Raise Money

Bucky

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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1888 Hits

Do's and Don'ts of Texting Donors

TextingDonors

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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2511 Hits

One Impactful Action by 12/31

Action

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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2375 Hits

Anonymous Donors

AnonDo_20190213-213125_1

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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2522 Hits

Gift Thank Yous Are the Heart of Appreciation

YouAreLoved2

Dear Kim,As a new fundraiser for a mental health provider, I would like to know the etiquette and proper mode of thanking someone for either an in-kind gift or a monetary donation. It is bad form to send a pre-printed card to acknowledge the gift? I am referring to monetary gifts under $100. ~Ms. Manners, Jr.

Dear Junior Ms.,

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2576 Hits

Spice Up Your Thank You Notes With What Interests You

ThankSpice

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.

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2146 Hits

Ideas for an Arts Advocacy organization looking to diversify funding sources

ArtDiversity

Dear Kim,

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?

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2836 Hits

What's THE Best Fundraising Strategy?

Best

Dear Kim,

I only want to use the most successful fundraising strategy. Which is it?

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2832 Hits

Giving Friends and Allies a Chance to be Donors

Poverty

Dear Kim:

We are a 19-year-old organization of mothers in poverty fighting for the lives of mothers and children who are on the front line in the escalating war on the poor. Our budget has generally been around $52,000—just enough to cover two staff salaries, printing, postage, volunteer stipends, and office utilities and phones. We combine grant writing, subscriptions sales, fundraising events and private donations from quarterly fundraising letters to support our work. Several years ago, we lost our major funder and we have had difficulty getting smaller grants for our work in the last three years since welfare deform lost its “sexy” topical appeal. To survive with our reduced budget of less than $20,000, we have only one part-time paid staff person, our website was disconnected, and we did not replace our copy machine when it died. Consequently, we are accomplishing less work, so it is even more difficult to get grants. We do not want to quit at a time when single-mother families in poverty are suffering nightmares unimagined ten years ago: millions of US single moms forced to quit college; 37 percent increase in infant deaths in cities like Milwaukee; hundreds of thousands of moms and children homeless every year; tens of thousands of moms living with zero income after reaching unrealistic welfare time limits; tough competition for awful jobs paying even less than before, and so on.

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2546 Hits

Inviting LYBUNTS to Renew Support

LYBUNT_Ki_20180614-202152_1

Dear Kim:

What is a Lie-Bunt?  I have some pro bono consulting from this high powered direct mail and social media person and she told me we have a lot of lie-bunts we should be asking.  I already feel stupid around her and don’t want to ask her what she means.  Do you have any idea? 

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2803 Hits

When can we ask monthly donors for special one-time gifts (and to upgrade)?

MonthlyDonors

Dear Kim,

Our organization has been having discussions about whether and how we can approach monthly donors, particularly those who are already giving $100+ per month, to discuss an extra single gift or an increased monthly gift. When speaking with high-end monthly donors about a special gift, some have responded strongly that, “I have done the math in my budgeting and this is the most I am able to donate. It pisses me off when charities ask for more,” while others have responded by making very large single gifts, and increasing their monthly gifts voluntarily. We are looking to develop a protocol about this so our development team has some guidance. Do you have any advice?

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2769 Hits

Small, local groups struggling to keep donors

Art_20180102-212603_1

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.

Continue reading
3318 Hits

What to do when you don't have addresses

EmailContact

Hi, Kim:

We urgently need to put out our first fundraising letter ever but only have email addresses for people (and in some cases, phone numbers). Should we send a nice looking letter by email, then follow up by phone, or should we just call to get the snail mail address, send the letter, then call again to try to schedule a face-to-face meeting?

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3590 Hits

Welcoming New Donors

WelcomeNewDonors
Dear Kim, We're a small group with limited staff and resources, but we know that properly welcoming new donors to our organization and thanking them for their gift will greatly increase the chances of them giving again. What do you recommend including in donor welcome packets that is not too labor or resource intensive? ~Small but mighty Dear Might...
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3215 Hits

Determing Donor Levels

GivingLevels2
Dear Kim: What is the best method for determining where to split the levels of donor giving as far as recognition is concerned? This is for the purpose of recognition in a quarterly newsletter. Thank you for your common sense approach to fundraising. –Death by Detail Dear Detail: Generally, the split is at these intervals: Less than $100 $100-$499 ...
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2661 Hits
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