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.

Word FM's Brick Campaign Builds a Pathway to Hope

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Complementing a traditional capital campaign, “Positive, Uplifting Word FM” is trying a new kind of fundraiser – inscribed bricks listeners personalize to include in a pathway the nonprofit plans to install at its new facility.  This Christian radio station has been growing steadily by offering positive conversations and uplifting music and recently moved to a larger, more functional ministry building.  Bricks that listeners reserve now will be used next spring to transform the new location’s nondescript, concrete sidewalk into something much more meaningful:  a “Pathway to Hope.”  

“We’re not selling bricks,” qualifies Jean Otto Ford, one of Word FM’s main FundRaiser users.  “We’re asking listeners to support this ministry at specific giving levels (at minimum) that then offers them a unique opportunity to create a lasting expression of what Word FM means to them – or of hope, love, inspiration, tribute, etc.  Listeners often tell us that our station plays a huge role in their day-to-day lives, and this campaign provides a way for all of us to celebrate that connection.”  

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Come Rain, Shine or Nor'easter, American Rescue Workers Offer Crucial Assistance

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It’s been a tough winter in eastern United States. Happily, there are nonprofits who help keep people safe. American Rescue Workers in Williamsport, Pennsylvania is one, providing emergency assistance in the way of food, shelter, counseling, and more. 

Their mission is to give spiritual and material aid to those in need. New development director Valerie Fessler is busy fundraising in the community as well as working behind the scenes to build an even stronger program.

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Case Study: Parkesburg Point Surges to Success with #GivingTuesday Crowdfunding Campaign

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Parkesburg Point is going for it this year for #GivingTuesday. Although it isn’t even Tuesday yet, they have already succeeded at reaching their goal. Now they are moving with confidence into their total year-end fundraising. “We were involved with GivingTuesday last year, but didn’t have an effective strategy in place,” says Debbie Shupp, development director for The POINT. “We really wanted a strategic approach this year and Sarah has successfully done that. Sarah created a full strategy and social media campaign.” Parkesburg Point offers extensive services to youth in the area with the help of volunteers, many drawn from local churches. They are FundRaiser Select users. 

Sarah Daniels, the new grants and communications manager who joined The POINT in May, says that the most important aspects of this success were:

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Case Study: Local CASA 'Eclipse Child Abuse' Campaign Succeeds

Case Study: Local CASA 'Eclipse Child Abuse' Campaign Succeeds
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  Although the total Eclipse in August is a thing of the past, funds and volunteers that the 37th Judicial CASA group raised are even now fueling forward  progress. The group exceeded their campaign goal by $5,000 raising a total of $25,000. Perhaps equally important is that a large amount of the money was raised from  new major donors who have a higher likelihood of becoming repeat donors. 

The "Eclipse Child Abuse campaign" had two parts:

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Case Study: Interest in the Total Eclipse Boosts CASA Major Donor Campaign

Case Study:  Interest in the Total Eclipse Boosts CASA Major Donor Campaign
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For this month's total eclipse, Missouri is one of the prime viewing spots. Local media are in love with the eclipse, and one nonprofit group is using that to boost their fundraising campaign. The 37th Judicial CASA, who are FundRaiser Select users, have created an entire campaign around the eclipse, called Eclipse Child Abuse with Child Advocacy.

The campaign has three efforts tied to it:

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Tornado near FundRaiser office hits close to home

Tornado near FundRaiser office hits close to home
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Last Thursday, people around the FundRaiser office had their eyes glued to the weather radar. A tornado was headed our direction. It hit in the early morning hours of Friday, April 3rd. Although the damage wasn't widespread, many of us were personally connected to someone who was impacted. One of those was the Whetstone Boy's Ranch, a boarding school for at-risk and troubled boys in Mountain View, Missouri. Whetstone is a FundRaiser user. A further connection for us it that Joey Patten, of FundRaiser Technical Support, has been helping with the damage clean-up at the Ranch, along with other members of his church, the Pomona Christian Church. 

Everyone at the Ranch is safe -- boys, staff and animals. The Ranch, however, has been severely damaged. It's a devastating sight, relieved in part by news of the faith and funds being raised to recover from the damage. On their facebook page, Whetstone is reporting rapid fundraising progress. We are so sorry that this has happened, and are looking forward to hearing more happy news as the recovery process continues.

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Old Time Music Festival Attracts Enthusiastic Support

West Plains Square with people attending the Old Time Music Festival
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Crowds gather for the Old Time Music Festival in the West Plains Court House Square. The FundRaiser office is also located in a loft on the West Plains Square.

West Plains, Missouri is buzzing this week, in preparation for the  Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival. It's pretty near impossible to live here and not get excited about it. West Plains is also the home of FundRaiser Software.

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Visit to Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center

Dianne and Jonathan at ECCAC

 

Dianne Lewellyn and Jonathan Smith in front of tiles created by children at ECCAC

For most of us, Labor Day brings with it an awareness that summer is coming to an end.  How many kids, now back in school, are writing about 'What I did this summer'? 

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How a training intensive saved the day for a long term care facility experiencing a donor database crisis

Onsite Training for Lisner-Louise-Dickson Hurt home in FundRaiser Software

The crunch was on at Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home. They had to find a replacement for their Development Coordinator, and get her up to speed on their FundRaiser program fast. Ward Orem, CEO for LLDL Home, was pulling his hair out. “We had a huge mailing coming up, and then a spring campaign, and immediately after that a large fundraising event.” The Lisner-Louis-Dickson-Hurt Home is the only long term care facility in Washington, DC exclusively serving disadvantaged senior citizens of the city. They are FundRaiser Professional users.

Virtually at the last minute, they found a new Development Coordinator, Debbie Lyle. “Debbie is new in the position and was literally being dumped into boiling hot water,” says Ward. He decided to invest in onsite training for her. “Debbie had to get her feet on the ground and start running immediately. Individualization was critical. Although we have benefited in the past from FundRaiser training webinars, we felt that it would be so much more beneficial to have a FundRaiser trainer sitting right next to us. It was well worth the investment,” says Ward.

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How we are all the same

If you are working with FundRaiser software, you are spending some time in front of a computer, just like we are. I enjoy that similarity, and also, seeing the photos of you working at your computers. I’ve been sent a few of these during my time writing about the way organizations use our software. Usually they come with a slightly apologetic comment, like, ‘I know this isn’t a very exciting photo’… or something along those lines. I love them and I think they are beautiful. And I can relate, because that’s how I look when I am working, too. You might be surprised to know, also, that when I post them, they are our most popular photos because we can all relate.

All of us connected to FundRaiser have in common that we are spending time behind our computers. In many of the photos I receive, people are looking up, the way we often talk to people who come to our computers station. Or you may be looking directly across at the camera, the way we sit in an office across from each other. It’s also pretty common to see people turned to look over their shoulder, because we are all facing the screen in front of us, and not the world behind. This is the world we live in, at least for the length of time we are working in a database.

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MaineShare Shares Tips

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I contacted MaineShare to talk to them about how they celebrate Happiness Happens Day, which I posted about here in Happiness Happens Day at MaineShare. I wasn't expecting when I talked to them to learn about a unique way of fundraising, but that's also what happened. MaineShare is part of a national organization called Community Shares. Each Community Share organization, in this case MaineShare, acts on behalfof local nonprofits who belong to it as members in order to participate in workplace giving programs. his organizational model creates some unique tracking challenges, which MaineShare is meeting in outstanding fashion with some help from FundRaiser Professional. Here's how it works:

Acting on behalf of their member organizations, MaineShare raises funds for 43 local nonprofits groups. The structure created by the Community Shares model that they follow works well. It also creates the need for highly accurate tracking of many different and sometimes complicated fund pools. MaineShare relies on FundRaiser for help. With the skillful use of codes and reports, MaineShare keeps their records accurate and their funding distributions to member groups on-target.

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Happiness Happens Day at MaineShare

Sarah Fagg, Campaign Coordinator of MaineShare
Hildie Lipson, Executive Director of MaineShare

Because MaineShare does most of its fundraising through workplace giving programs, they are acquainted with a wide variety of workplaces. Company culture is important to them. Their satisfaction with FundRaiser is based both on the software and on their experience of the company, as well.

“We love your holidays, for instance that you have the first day of spring off. We feel like you have a good workplace and we like working with other places like that. We feel your love,” says Sarah Fagg, Campaign Coordinator and the main user of FundRaiser at MaineShare.

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Case study: Reviving a Lapsed Capital Campaign

 

Nine years ago, Center for Community Arts began a capital campaign and simultaneously got a grant for their first paid executive director. They planned carefully and hopes were high. Knowing that they would need to keep excellent records, they had done a careful search for the right database. At that time, I wrote a case study about why they chose FundRaiser. It was one of the first I ever wrote here for FundRaiser, and now I wondered how things had gone after all these years. I gave Judy Austermiller a call to find out. Judy is the development director and primary user of FundRaiser still.

When I reached her, Judy told a story that other organizations can likely relate to:  how the economy had hit them and their capital campaign hard, and how staff turn over had added an additional challenge to doing their work. She also talked of how, in spite of these difficulties, the Center had kept on serving the community, and how FundRaiser has helped them do it.

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Three years later-- WJIE's experience

When WJIE switched to FundRaiser, they were close to the memory of a very bad experience with other software. They were so happy to be rid of that software and they hoped that they had solved their problem. Shortly after their switch to FundRaiser, I wrote a case study. You can see the complete case study here. This blog is just about what they are experiencing now, after three years of using FundRaiser. Did FundRaiser continue to meet their expectations? This is what Calvin Bader, Engineer at WJIE, had to say: Clavin Bader of WJIE

“Things have gone very well. We just came through our spring fundraiser. Our staff continues to be very happy that we’ve switched to the system. They like the ease of use regarding pledge entries and other gift entries.

“One of the things we like best is the Custom page. It saves us a ton of time during a pledge drive. It’s one of the main reasons that we are able to get things entered so quickly. In the past, with our previous system, it took a long time to enter pledges into the system. Everyone was staying late at night during the fundraising drive; and the following week, people were still entering information. Using the custom page in FundRaiser, we are done a half hour after going off the air. We’ve designed that page so that it allows us to do everything that we need to do on a fundraiser right on that one page. That way we don’t need to switch from tab to tab,” says Calvin.

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Case Study: Life Radio Ministries

Life Radio Ministries needed to update their donor management software. "We were using something that had served us well enough over the years, but it was becoming extremely expensive to maintain, as well as being outdated. We decided to look for something that was more reasonably priced and which had stayed up with technology," says Joe Emert, General Manager of Life Radio Ministries.He was looking for features that allow him to create a personal, 'high touch' connection with donors...Read more ...

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Case study: The Mariemont Foundation

Until recently, Mariemont School Foundation kept their donation records on Excel spreadsheets and pieces of paper. Encouraged to adopt donor management software by a new development director, they have quickly seen an increase in donations and members.The Foundation was established fifteen years ago and was very slow growing. "Records were kept in notebooks and on Excel spreadsheets. There were multiple Excel sheets. Nothing was ever carried over, so a new sheet was started every time," says Ann Pardue, on the Board to Trustees for the Mariemont School Foundation, and now the main user of FundRaiser. Read more...

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Case study: Childcare Resources of Indian River

Donor relations at Childcare Resources were limited when Pam King started her job there as the new Executive Director. "Letters were sent to the entire mailing list. We had no software, so we weren't able to personalize them or target them to sections of our donor base. Many donors were sporadic givers, giving once every few years, but there was no way to track giving history so it was hard to follow-up in an effective way." Childcare Resources helps lower-income children receive high quality childcare.

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Donor management for schools

What do schools have in common with theatres and hospitals when it comes to fundraising? The answer is that all of them have a source of potential donors among the people who have benefited from their paid services. When schools focus their donor cultivation on parents, alumni, and the close relatives of students and alumni, they are likely to see a very positive return. Knowing this has led several private schools who are FundRaiser users to succeed at increasing their donations over the last few years.

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Case Study: USLEAP

Letter appeals are an integral tool to fundraising at US Labor Education in the Americas Project. USLEAP uses them not only to raise money but also to keep donors informed. "We send out four letters a year to repeat donors and an occasional letter to lapsed donors depending on time available," says Rachel Wallis, Development Associate, and a FundRaiser Professional user. The repeat mailings are worthwhile. "Twenty percent of our donors give more than once a year in response," she says. Read more...

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Case Study: Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers Maine

Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers Maine came to FundRaiser looking for a more powerful software to help with their fund raising. They were using an outdated version of software which they acquired through the nationwide Habitat for Humanity umbrella organization. Now they were finding that software too limiting. In their work, Habitat for Humanity/7 Rivers Maine coordinates the labor of volunteers with contributions of money and materials to build modest, affordable housing. For that reason, excellent tracking of volunteers and gifts of money and goods are crucial to their mission. They needed to be able to easily enter, categorize, and report on these key areas. Read more...

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