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.

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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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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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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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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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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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 Reports To Set Fund Raising Goals

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With the start of a new year, there’s a good chance that you’re already well into strategic planning for 2019. No doubt you have a list of goals to achieve such as a certain number or percentage increase in new donors, more consistent donor acquisition, and an increase in total giving or perhaps getting your major donors to increase their giving by a certain percent. No matter your goal, FundRaiser Software has reports which will help you track and reach these goals. 

Increasing the Overall Number of Donors and Prospects

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Using Merge Fields for a Special Touch in Letters

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What happens when saying thank you isn’t enough? Your donors love to receive acknowledgement of your gifts, and these letters often include the phrase (or something similar) “thank you for your generous donation”. And yet, there are times, especially in the case of major donors, when you want to say more. How do you handle it?

On every gift within FundRaiser, there’s a “Letter Notes for Merging” field. This field is designed for you to type additional notes which can be inserted into a letter, such as the thank you letter. In this way, you can type a personalized note that will appear on the letter and customize it for each gift.

You’ll find the “Letter Notes for Merging” field on the notes tab of the gift. This field differs from the “in house” notes, which will remain within the program and cannot be merged into a letter. The field provides unlimited space for you to type a personalized note, and while this isn’t designed to replace the thank you letter, it can certainly provide a way to share appreciation. I wrote about this field when I recently talked about auction gifts.

However, there may be times when you want to put an additional post script or personalized note in your appeal, end of year, or other correspondence. For example, if someone had been a volunteer at an event last year and you wanted to invite them back or even provide a welcome message when sending out a first appeal or welcome kit if someone signs up at an event, this field would provide a place to do so.

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New Organization? Creating Your First Thank You Letter

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When you’re new to using donor management software, one of the things you will do is create your first thank you letter. Even if you’ve been using the software for a while, you’ll probably create new letters, so a lot of what we’ll cover will apply to long-time users of the software as well. One of the biggest tasks of writing a thank you letter is deciding what to say. You want to strike a balance between conveying your organization’s mission and thanking the donor, while being personable, yet professional.

Within our software we provide a template to get you started. While we call this our “Generic Thank You Letter”, there certainly will be nothing generic about it once you’ve followed our lead. We provide the template, including automatically adding in merge fields for the gifts and the donor’s address. And more importantly, we provide pointers to give you an idea of what to write.

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Handling Holiday Auction Gifts

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Auctions are a popular part of holiday fundraising and festivities. People are often looking for gifts and a charitable donation while they’re marking off items on their holiday list creates a great way to raise funds and provide value to your donors. Auctions also provide a way for local businesses to promote themselves and do good in the local community. Once the auction is over, how do you enter in the money raised from the auction?

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Thank Your Donors With Pictures

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When creating your thank you letters, telling your donors about your mission helps to convey the appreciation you have for their gift, as well as the good work their gift will do. Showing them with a picture or two will provide a powerful reminder of the transformative nature of your organization’s work.

When including a picture in your correspondence, you want to choose one that conveys your mission and the work you do. Too many pictures will clutter the letter. A single picture in a thank you letter will provide a visual reminder to your donor and help them see that their donation has gone toward a good cause. I’ve seen this work very well in animal rescue or children’s organizations, where the picture completes a very personal thank you. For example, a picture of a cat and a message that, “Fluffy thanks you for your donation to keep her purring with good food and care.” will help bring home the thought that the donation went directly toward the organization’s mission.

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Making the Most of Donor Preferences

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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).

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3 Ways To Target Your Giving Tuesday Donors

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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.

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Three Tips for Managing Your FundRaiser Codes

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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.

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Short take: Making Event Participants into Regular Donors

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 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.

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Solicitor Codes & Reports: Not Just For Major Donors

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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.

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Short take: Using Category Codes For Better Donor Targeting

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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.

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Short Take: Tracking Commemorative Donations, Part 2: Period & Misc. Codes

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In the first blog about commemorative donations, I talked about how to use notes to document elements of the gifts such as inscriptions or even the specific reason for the gift. If your organization uses FundRaiser Professional, you have two additional tools at your disposal: Period and Miscellaneous codes.

These additional codes can be found on the “Edit Other” tab of your gift entry, right next to the information where you would note any non-tax deductible portions of the gift. FundRaiser doesn’t provide any sample codes for these two items, because they’re designed to be customized to meet the organization’s individual needs.

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