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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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What are "DAFS"?

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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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Board Member Paying Staff Member Extra

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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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Can FundRaiser Track Volunteers?

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Many organizations separate volunteer management from donor management, which means that often two separate systems are involved. Volunteer Coordinators often rely on spreadsheets or personalized databases to track who is actively volunteering, when they work, scheduling, and even tracking availability, skills, or work preferences. Grouping these volunteers into teams or crews becomes problematic, because it is often a manual process. Since many volunteers also financially support an organization, wouldn’t it make sense to have them both in the same database?

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Summer Savings When You Update FundRaiser!

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Happy Summer! If you are a FundRaiser user, and your Annual Maintenance Plan (AMP) has been expired for longer than six months, you can renew and update FundRaiser at a special lower price. The usual cost to update is $200-$400 to bring your license up to the latest version; however, we're offering you two ways to save when you update your FundRaiser license this summer!  

Update & Renew your AMP

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Preparing your fundraising database for what's coming next

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Summer can be a slower time of the year for many non-profit organizations, which gives us a unique opportunity to look ahead and prepare for upcoming projects.

Some of you have already begun preparing for your Fall fundraising campaigns. We are happy to help you get ready by setting up integrated online donations, creating new Pledge levels, or helping you accept and acknowledge Tributes gifts.

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Are your gift codes aligned with your Gift Acceptance Policy?

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When an organization creates a Gift Acceptance Policy (GAP) it outlines the types of gifts that it will, and won’t, accept. This policy is often written down and stored in a company handbook or provided internally for volunteers and employees to use. And yet, when a gift gets entered into FundRaiser, are you able to follow up on it through reporting to see how certain gifts are contributing to your organization’s bottom line?

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Small, Local Groups Struggling to Keep Donors

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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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