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.

Fat and Sassy

Mab Guards the HouseThe brilliant colors of Fall have moved from the trees to the ground.  Bright confetti of red, orange, and yellow leaves litters the road and yards.  The smell of fallen foliage is rich and brings back childhood memories of jumping into piles of crunchy, newly raked leaves.  The summer complement of flying bugs is gone leaving only a few industrious honeybees to visit the few yellow flowers left on my dying tomato plants. 

We have had our little foundling kitten, Mab, for nearly two months now.  She’s a very different creature than the starved little waif who showed up on our doorstep.  She has become our fat little porch guardian, content to curl up on the step and sleep in the sun or hover just out of reach when we try to pet her.  It’s amazing the difference regular feeding makes.

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The Language of Color

The view from the FundRaiser office balconyThe Ozarks have put on a truly breathtaking show this Fall.  I have never seen colors so vivid.  The trees stand boldly clad in crimson and gold.  Ruby vines twine around trunks and gently swing from branches like expensive jewelry.  Even when clouds darken the sky, the colors continue to glow as if lit from within.

Color is such an important part of our lives.  Naming colors is one of the first things we learn as children.  Since color is a near universal language, stemming from somewhere deep in our primeval history, we can use color to communicate many things without words.  Red usually means stop or danger, yellow inspires caution or attention, and green suggests going ahead.  Like most people, I suspect, I don’t even have to think about these impressions, they are just there.

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Birds of a Feather

Winter is on its way here in the Ozarks.  The trees are putting on their bright end of year party dresses, the morning glories, who stood unruffled in 100+ temperatures, wilt in the cooler temperatures, and the squirrels bury their bounty here and there in frenzied anticipation of the deep cold.  Perhaps we’ll even have a winter this year.

It is time for me to think about putting up our bird feeder.  This will be our first winter here and I am eager to see what kind of visitors we get.  There are always the bright cardinals and the pushy blue jays.   These birds are entertaining but somehow I find myself enjoying the quieter finches and woodpeckers more.   Some of our summer birds are already gone.  The robins are few and far between, the hummingbirds no longer zip and fight from one flower to the next, and tiny grey birds can be seen practicing their formations for the long flight south.  Soon they will be gone and the others who have stayed hidden in the greenery of summer will come out to be seen.

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A Little Reminder

After such a long hot summer, Autumn seems to be speeding by in the Ozarks.  The trees that only had the slightest hint on color three days ago are now beginning to blaze gloriously.  We’ve had several thunderstorms and lots of badly needed rain.  The air smells fresh and woodsy and I occasionally catch the hint of wood smoke wafting from someone’s lawn while doing their fall cleanup.  A bowl of crisp apples sits on the table and I’ve gathered up acorns and bright fallen leaves so I can have a bit of brightness when Winter comes.

The squirrels are busy too.  They scamper here and there, carrying large walnuts and tiny acorns to hide away for lean times in the winter.  It fascinates me to watch them scurry across power lines as secure and confident as if they were walking on the street.  Our foundling kitten, Mab, watches them too and occasionally makes a dash to try to catch one so bold as to come too near.  Since she is smaller than a squirrel, I think she would quickly discover she’s bitten off more than she could chew should she actually catch one.

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Looking Ahead

The brilliant colors of Fall are beginning to blaze here in the Ozarks.  I see crimPiawacket helps himself to his son blushed sumacs nestled among the stalwart green of the oaks.  Oaks are the last trees to change color, calmly keeping their glossy green raiment as a lovely backdrop to the riotous colors of less sedate trees.  Acorns and walnuts rain down and the grass grows with spring-like abandon.

All of this color and abundance tends to make me forget we are heading into the cold, drab days of winter.  Days when all is quiet and still and where growth happens unseen below fallen leaves and brown grasses.  I always long to take some green with me into winter and this year I am determined to do so.  I have spent the last month designing a hydroponic system for growing wheat grass.  The idea was to be able to feed the few critters I want to add to our home without having to depend on outside hay.  I accomplished this, but since I am currently “critterless” with the exeption of a few cats, I am now considering using it to grow salad greens all winter.  What can be better that eating a fresh picked salad as I watch the snow fall outside? 

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A Family Thing

It was a lovely morning as I walked to work. The sky was pearl grey and the air was moist and cool.  I noticed the walnut tree behind the house starting to put on her fall clothing and the walnut husks stood boldly out against the lacy yellow-green leaves.  Walnut trees lose their leaves first and soon she will stand with her slim, twisted branches bare among the still-green foliage of the maples.  Autumn is a season of thrilling changes.  Colors blaze and fade among the foliage.  Plants that haven’t finished blooming do so with reckless abandon.  Somehow cloudy days only seem to intensify the hues.

A change has come to our house as well.  About a week ago we heard our tomcat, Phillip, fighting with something.  As it is his job to keep other cats away, we don’t usually interfere.  But the cries of the other cat were those of surrender rather than challenge, so we went to see what was happening.  Phillip was holding down a tiny kitten, so thin her hips jutted above the ridges of her backbone like hills.  Phillip released his little victim on command and she skittered a short distance away.  Ten minutes later the scene was repeated and we once again insisted he let her go.  Phillip must have gotten the message at that point as he willingly allowed the kitten to eat from his dish from then on.  Thus the scrawny, half wild Queen Mab has joined our family.

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Attack of the Killer Strawberries


Currently, I am using on a particular list of keywords to optimize the whole website, and I thought it would make sense to use that list for the blog, but after a session with our marketing analytics company (HubSpot), I realize that may not be the best approach to the website. It may make more sense to develop a separate list of keywords for the blog For example, I had been operating under the idea that using two or three keywords in an article would generate the best results, but our HubSpot consultant said they generally focus on one keyword per article.

I have a lovely south facing window next to my desk at the FundRaiser office. Early this spring I replaced the sinuous vines that had been growing on the windowsill next to my desk. They had been slyly trailing beneath my desk, giving me the impression that they were ready to wrap around my feet and drag me under the moment I wasn’t paying attention.

I decided that sweet, innocent strawberry plants would be a lovely replacement. After all, there could be nothing sinister about the fresh green, rounded leaves and delicate white blossoms with their cheery yellow centers. The vines went into the compost pile and five small strawberry plants took their place in fresh new soil. The plants seemed very happy in their new home and the June bearing variety quickly produced blooms followed by small tart berries. Then the runners spouted.  It began with a single, innocent shoot. Now the longest one is relentlessly reaching for me across the top of my desk.  Time to find the pruning shears.... A coding scheme in your donor management software can be very much like these vines.

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Trust - Keeping Donor Information Private


My morning cup of tea on the back deck was especially nice today. A cool breeze swirled though the leaves of the trees and brought the first spicy hint of autumn to my nose. Grass, newly green from recent rains, has quickly pushed dangling seed heads toward the sky.  Crickets piped their sad tunes from the hedge. Even the placid doves seem livelier with the advent of cooler weather.

While I sat, a steaming cup of mint tea cradled in my hands, I watched a small grey rabbit dine on a patch of clover left uncut by the corner of the house. His ears flicked back and forth and his bright black eyes scanned his surroundings as he daintily pulled velvet green leaves from their stems. One can hardly blame him; a rabbit, being the natural prey of pretty much anything with pointed teeth, must always be ready to run.  The slightest hint of trouble will send him bounding away.Donors can be very much like rabbits when it comes to their information with nearly as many “virtual predators” as a rabbit has physical ones.

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Timing It Right


Mother Nature is mistress of the art of timing. When left to her own devices, everything happens when it should.  Seeds sprout when the soil warms enough to nurture them properly.  Delicate green leaves unfurl when the days are long and warm enough to feed the tree.  Blooms burst forth just in time for the bees and other insects to pollinate them, while birds hatch their hungry families to feed on this bounty.

I, on the other, do not have Mother Nature’s patience.  I am always trying to bend the rules.  I want those super early tomatoes, flowers in the winter, and cucumbers in December.  These preferences have nothing to do with what is best, just what I want.  The funny thing is that when I do get my way with these things they are often less than satisfactory.  Those early tomatoes are small and bitter from lack of sun; the flowers quickly marred by insects, and the cucumbers bland and tasteless.  Truly timing is everything.Just as with gardening, timing is vital when creating your FundRaiser backups. 

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Just In Case


After weeks of hot dry weather, it feels more like Arizona than the Ozarks here. Trees drop yellowed leaves, grass bleaches in the hot sun, and only a few intrepid flowers such as the nearly leafless chicory sill bloom. But relief was at hand yesterday. It was bright and sunny when I walked to work, but the air was heavy with moisture. Clouds gathered in the afternoon and grew dark and angry while thunder rumbled in the distance.

The storm began with a brilliant flash and a loud crack that made startled me at my desk. A few drops of rain quickly gave way to white torrents whipped to froth by an angry wind. Black clouds roiled and split with flashes of lightening. Water streamed across the pavement pushed into foamy waves by the gale. Then as suddenly as it started, it was gone. Leave and broken branches littered the ground and the rich smell of earth and green wafted through the sweet, clean air.

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Grow Where You Are Planted


I love weeds. That may seem very odd to hear from someone who enjoys gardening, but perhaps I am not a typical gardener. I must confess I’m terribly fickle when it comes to my garden. Each spring I succumb to the passion of lush, green spring and gaily plant far more than I can ever take care of. Inevitably the oppressive heat of summer squelches my enthusiasm and only those plants that survive the minimal tending I care to give them live to benefit from my renewed vigor with autumn’s chill.Despite these serious flaws in my gardening technique, I’m never without green in my life. For intrepid weeds soften my failures. Perhaps my favorite is the wild morning glory. Its rich green leaves cover a vine as tough and tenacious as barbed wire. These tendrils coil from dry, barren ground and climb to the sun upon anything they can reach. Yet from this ruthless creeper spring delicate ivory blossoms that sing to the sun for only one day. It is truly heartening to see beauty spring from what seems to be nothing.

Nonprofit organizations often have the same issue with hardware and software. You spring out of what seems to be nothing, pulling resources from volunteers and donations from the community you serve. Purchasing up to date computers and hiring someone to set up and maintain them is frequently out of your reach, financially, although I’ve seen some pretty amazing things done with the bare minimum.

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Make It Count


For those of you who haven’t spent much time on the phone with me while unraveling one of the many mysteries FundRaiser may present us, I’m an old-fashioned girl. I cook most everything from scratch, make cheese, and sew some of my own clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I like electricity and indoor plumbing as much as the next girl, but I feel strongly that technology should be a helper, not the sole reason for doing something.

 

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Just the Way I Want It!

I think the key attraction of owning our home for me is the fact that I can do whatever I want with it. If I want purple and green walls I can have them (well if I can talk my husband into it, that is). One of the first things we did after buying the house was remove the door between the kitchen and the bathroom as it made the kitchen basically a hallway to the bathroom. One must walk through the bedroom to get to the bath now, but I felt that is more than made up for by the increased counter space I will be able to add.

 

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When You're Hot...

Like much of the country, the Ozarks has been in the throes of a heat wave. This time of year the sun seems to surge over the horizon, bursting across the treetops like molten gold. Mornings are no longer still. Birds and squirrels scurry about, determined to get their daily business done before the oppressive heat bears down on the landscape. One of the many feral cats in our neighborhood sits and watches the activity with feigned disinterest that will quickly turn into a tiger’s leap should opportunity present itself.

While our mobile cousins can hide from the worst of the heat, our leafy relatives have no such comfort.They must bear the brunt of the sun’s blaze. Some stand resolute against the blistering sun while others succumb, drooping to the ground in surrender. Yellows and oranges that usually herald the crisp cool days of autumn splatter foliage as plants draw back from the summertime heat.

I suppose it is human nature to consider the very moment we are in as somehow extraordinary. Last summer, we were told, was unusually hot. Yet here we are in the midst of an unusual heat wave once again. Our perception is so subjective. I’m sure I considered summers I spent training horses outside much hotter than those in which I worked inside an office. So how can I tell if my observations are accurate or not? I look it up on a weather service site. Those statistics are really the only way to get an objective comparison.

FundRaiser has a new report that can help you make your own objective assessment of your organization.

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Roll Over!



This morning I woke up with a heavy weight on my ribs and a buzzing sound in my ear. No, I wasn’t having a coronary; it was only my cat purring happily from the middle of my chest. He obviously feels this is an ideal morning perch. I, on the other hand, wonder if it means I’m getting squishier in my old age. Still, I find it a relaxing way to wake up unless he happens to get one of his whiskers up my nose.

It seems that people either love or despise cats. I think it’s because they make it perfectly clear that they are going to live on their own terms and not pander to what we’d like them to be. A dog is perfectly happy to change his ways to suit you. He will wear whatever you want and learn to do any amount of tricks you care to teach him. However, my cat will choose what he does for himself and I always feel a bit privileged when he graces me with his presence.

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Go With the Flow

oak leafJust when I was sure July was coming in May this year, we had some relief. The last couple of days have provided us with stormy mornings and sparkling, sunny afternoons. It has been lovely to lie snug in my warm bed, listening to grumbling thunder and feeling the sweet-scented breeze slipping past my cheek in a cool caress. The normal riot of bird sounds was replaced by the quiet patter and muffled dripping of rain.

Despite the fact that I will surely have to mow my lawn this weekend, I was very glad to see the rain. Everything was so very dry! I ached for my trees, knowing that even their mighty roots couldn’t pull moisture from the ground that wasn’t there. But while the trees stayed stalwart and green, many of their smaller cousins have succumbed to the heat, quickly seeding out and turning dry and skeletal. Only the airy white tufts of Queen Anne’s Lace and the sturdy blue spikes of wild chicory seem immune to their situation.

This morning everything was different. The sun shone merrily among puffy white clouds and everything already looked greener. The world is moist and cool. I could almost see the new green shoots of grass spring up from bleached clumps. Stalks and branches that looked brittle and dead have become supple and alive once more. Water is indeed a wonderful element, capable of performing near miracles.

Volunteers are a lot like water in a non-profit organization.

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Rootbound

I adore the early morning. I realize that many of you are not of a similar disposition and would rather lick wet paint than get out of bed an instant before you have to. My husband is definitely not a morning person. I’ve learned not to try to discuss anything important with him before noon. But mornings are so lovely. The world is fresh and new, the air is nearly always still, and everything is quiet but for the twittering of birds.

This morning was especially beautiful. The dawn light spilled over the horizon like golden honey and created flashing patterns on the earth beneath the oak tree. The delicate pattern of veins of each emerald leaf was clearly visible. Here and there a crystal droplet of dew flashed with rainbow light. Active robins busily rustled the brown carpet of last fall’s leaves, while placid doves quietly pecked seeds from among the weeds. As I watched a particularly fat dove waddle past my tomato plants I noticed that they are far too big for their four inch pots! I’m not quite sure when they became a knee-high jungle of fragrant hairy stems and velvet green leaves. Yet it is obvious they need more than they have now.

The same thing can easily happen with your fundraising software. A small organization with only a few donors can do very well with a very simple program. However; as your organization grows you may find that you just need more. No matter where you are in the spectrum, FundRaiser Solutions has a program that will meet your needs. 

 

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Effort's Reward

I planted a rare heirloom pea called Golden Sweet in my porch boxes early this spring. It is hard to believe the dull, wrinkled brown seeds would become the lush greenery snow peasclinging and tangling its way ever upward on my front porch. I had just begun to despair of actually getting any peas from the vining jungle when I began to notice the first delicate magenta blooms peaking from ruffled clusters of yellow green leaves. Now tiny yellow pea pods are pushing their way out flowers that have faded to blue and I will soon enjoy them lightly sautéed with butter and garlic.

It is very nice to see my effort bear fruit. There were so many steps required to get here. I spent a good many hours researching heirloom seeds. I chose the Golden Sweet for its lovely flowers and pretty yellow pods. Once I’d made my choice, I had to actually find seeds for that variety, order them, plant them, and care for them. Each step was essential for any kind of success.

Fundraising is very similar to gardening; it often starts with something very small and inconspicuous, but with care and nurturing it can become many times greater than its humble beginnings. Yet the growing of it takes diligent effort and the proper tools.

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Glittering Gems

It was a beautiful morning here in the Ozarks. Dewy mist swirled around the mighty oak in my yard, opalescent in the tender morning sun. The rich scent of damp living thingsspiderweb encircled me and the cool moist air teased my skin. Drops of dew shimmered on everything. Tiny threads of silken spider web, generally invisible, glittered with watery baubles.

As I sat on the porch with a steaming cup of mint tea, I was soothed by my muted surroundings. Bright colors became gentle, sounds of traffic seemed far away, and the intricate pattern of a spider web strung with beads of water became an ethereal work of art. The rushing and bustling of sunlit times seemed very far away. It is in this time of slowing down I notice the small but important things around me.

Your organization can benefit from slowing down and just looking around as well.

 

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Some Like it Hot

I baked bread this week. I find breadmaking a pastime that teases and delights my senses. The smell of bubbling yeast rises from the sticky-smooth dough as I rhythmically knead it and wafts through the house as the bread rises. The earthy aroma quickly becomes heavenly as the pale white lumps of dough grow into light crusty fresh breadbrownness in the oven. I can never wait more than a few minutes before cutting into the steaming hot bread, spreading it liberally with butter, and eating it.

The funny thing is, I’m not really all that crazy about bread any other time. It is only in that short amount of time after it comes out of the oven that I am eager to eat it. Unlike Revenge, bread is better served hot. A cold loaf often sits on the counter uneaten until it gets cubed, brushed with herbs and butter, and toasted for croutons or goes into the compost pile if I've waited too long.

A Thank You to a Donor is very similar to bread. The sooner they get it, the better it feels.

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