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

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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"?

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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62 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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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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111 Hits

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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139 Hits

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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107 Hits

3 Things To Do When Your Campaign Stalls

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It’s never easy, or fun, when a campaign stalls. Running out of momentum halfway through a five-year campaign, for example, may leave you with what seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb to get going again. And there’s the impact to your organization, especially if you’re fundraising for a major project.

There are usually four reasons why campaigns stall. The first is a lack of prospects. Not having very many major donors, or a lack of donor cultivation (Did you know it can take 18 to 24 months to fully cultivate a major donor?) may leave your organization with a small amount of people from which to initially draw. The second main reason is a lack of infrastructure, such as a donor database, volunteer training, and methods of cultivating your donors. Good news! If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re using FundRaiser Software, which puts you one step ahead and can help you with the first two reasons. The third reason is a lack of planning, including a campaign feasibility study. And finally, the last reason may be timing, which often is outside of our control such as an economic downturn happening in the middle of a long-term campaign.

Generally campaigns stall due to a combination of factors. So what can you do when that happens?

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210 Hits

Why Do We Need a Gift Acceptance Policy?

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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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135 Hits

Two weeks left on our Spring Sale to take FundRaiser to the Cloud

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Spring is turning to summer, and as it does the FundRaiser Hosted sale is coming to an end. If you are interested in moving your FundRaiser program to the Cloud at a special lower cost, you have just until  the end of May. Hosted is a fast, secure online FundRaiser, and available to everyone who is already a FundRaiser desktop customer.

Why Professional Hosted?

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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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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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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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255 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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204 Hits

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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301 Hits
Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
mode code add ons repeat donors recurring gifts communications operational costs new version arts new nonprofit grassroots campaign Reminders in honor of donations tech tip upgrade motivation code memorial giving brick campaign user spotlights texting donors End of Year Letters New Year general online donations Alternative Addresses community arts nonprofits PayPal donor targeting ROI Task List giving levels merge notes follow up moves management training corporate sponsors happiness donor source gift acceptance policy alumni how to handle auction gifts #GivingTuesday Cloud personalizing letters ticket sales social media annual maintenance plan animal rescue National Change of Address membersip benefits tribute gifts targeted mailings how-to videos SYBUNTS thank you letters adding personal notes to letters solicitors disaster relief spreadsheets charity golf tournaments anonymous donors monthly giving support major gift prospects volunteering planned giving annual campaign Donor Portal major donors budget membership benefits data entry donor loyalty online donations updates user interface correspondance technical support donor preferences segmenting donors FundRaiser Hosted donor attrition Snow Birds new features Thank You accounting software Crowdfunding Campaign donor recognition motivation features event management NCOA processing Importing Data role of nonprofits raffle advanced tab prospects security transparency building donor relationships Personalizing donor donor attrition rate membership programs reports pictures Excel gift notes field salutation board members Thanksgiving look and feel FundRaiser Basic banquet correspondence Groupings community supported gardens donation history Tickles merge fields word processor importing csv phoning donors large donations Company culture giving history data conversion mission driven customer service grants Congratulations donor profile customer portal Resiliency flash sales fundraising community broadcasting increasing giving amounts welcome packet appeal letters operating systems relationship tracking overview small donations fundraising letters training tip foundations capital campaign ticketsales new leadership entering auction gifts letter templates custom page endowment campaign lapsed donor tax summary letters vacation Network for Good donor slip auction upgrading donors FundRaiser Spark Reporting to IRS donor advised funds legacy giving data analysis development director Constant Contact password protection LYBUNTS Facebook campaign change of address updating Volunteer module spare fields premiums gift entry Facebook publicity materials office campaign management volunteers government grants Codes pledges nonprofit fundraising the Ask understanding giving trends product news on site training GivingTuesday case study new donors donor contact information direct mail backing up data GoFundMe project announcements In-Kind gifts donor retention rate

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