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.

Exciting Developments on the Horizon for a FundRaiser Software

NewHorizons

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and the end of the year right around the corner, now is a great time for both reflection and forward thinking. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the ways that I am grateful for FundRaiser Software and the huge FundRaiser Family that comes with it – I’ve been here for more than fifteen years and have had the great honor to work with some of the most amazing co-workers and customers during this time. I’ve seen the company, the software, and the customers grow and change so much over the years that it’s hard to believe that we had such humble beginnings!

When I began working here, we did not have a central office and were one of the pioneers of the remote workforce movement. I worked from a home office with a (very touchy) satellite internet connection and used our FundRaiser DOS program to keep track of leads, customers, and notes. We had just released our first Windows version and were working to convert customers from DOS to Windows, as well as onboard new customers. We didn’t have much competition back then, either – we were one of about three vendors creating donor management software at that time.

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Program News - A Better Looking FundRaiser

NewScreenshotHeader

Interested in knowing more about what the future holds for your software?

It's no secret that, while FundRaiser is a very robust program, the interface is, frankly, outdated. As a small privately-owned company, we have had to choose how to allocate our resources very carefully and we have put other development projects ahead of updating the interface. Fortunately, that is changing now and we are pleased to offer you an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming release.

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Out on a limb that's big enough

Calico cat out on a limb looking intent

I am going to go out on a limb here--  I believe that in order to enjoy life you have to really get into it, and sometimes that includes taking risks. If you are like me,  you may like to take them slowly, a step at a time, with thoughtful pauses. Or you may just sprint ahead.

One way or another, you may find yourself out on the proverbial limb: even though it is holding you up at the moment, you aren't quite sure if it will continue to hold you, or where the next step is.

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Phase-Out Plan for Single and Multi-User

Phase 1:

Announcement of the phase-out. This occurred in August 2012. We announced that we will be phasing-out our single and multi user licenses in favor of either the Client/Server license or FundRaiser Hosted. This was due to increasing limitations of the antiquated licenses; customers were reporting very slow speeds when accessing FundRaiser on their network, and our development team was reporting that these licenses were not functioning properly in certain networking environments or on new Operating Systems. This lead us to shift our customers to the Client/Server license or the Hosted platform, both of which are built on cutting-edge technology allowing for optimal performance.

Phase 2:

In this phase, we will discontinue program updates for single and multi user licenses. Beginning in September 2015 (three full years after we announced the mandatory upgrade), all FundRaiser updates and new features will require the Client/Server license or the Hosted platform. We will also phase-out the sale price of the Client/Server license on October 31st - our vendor has mandated this.

Phase 3 (current phase):

Finally, we will discontinue Support for single and multi user licenses. This phase will begin on August 1st, 2016. After August 2016, we will no longer support the single or multi user licenses for FundRaiser. All customers who wish to retain our Support services must upgrade by then.

How will upgrading to Client/Server benefit you?

FundRaiser will be FASTER.

In the Client/Server version, FundRaiser will still be installed locally, on your machine. What's different is the way you see and access your data from your workstations.

When a user runs the program, it does not open the files directly, as it does in the Multi-User platform. Instead, the server opens the files on behalf of the client (the user at the workstation) and provides whatever data from the files that they need. When the user makes changes, their program sends those changes back to the server, which inserts it into the data files for them. This results in significantly less network traffic, and substantial speed differences.

FundRaiser will be MORE SECURE.

Because the workstation is not actually running the entire program over your network, as it does with Multi-User, the Client/Server version results in significant risk reduction in terms of data corruption. Should you experience a server crash or power failure, for example, it has built-in failsafes that will automatically restore the data back to the last complete transaction. This is not true of the Multi-User version.

Additionally, added security measures can be taken on the server to protect the data against intrusion or theft.

FundRaiser can have automatic ONLINE DONATIONS

With the Client/Server license, you can use our Donor Portal for Online Donations to receive and record online donations automatically! The Donor Portal also gives your donors the option of creating an account so they can log-in in the future and donate again, see past giving history, print receipts, reports, etc. And, coming soon, they will also be able to set up and manage recurring donations!

FundRaiser can be accessed REMOTELY.

If you would like to be able to log-in to FundRaiser from home or while you're traveling, you'll need the Client/Server license. With Client/Server, you will be able to use a remote desktop service and a Virtual Private Network to access FundRaiser from anywhere.

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Back from the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville

Joe and Jenny Emert with Autumn Shirley
Josh Shirley with Shawn Rames from WLMB-TV40

Joshua and I have just returned from our second year attending and exhibiting at the National Religious Broadcasting Convention in Nashville, TN, and what a year it was! It was very inspiring to be surrounded by so many passionate and engaged community leaders! I have returned feeling refreshed, invigorated, and excited about what the future holds for us. I found myself thinking over and over, as I met some of the most amazing people, "This is what it's all about. This is why we do this."

We really enjoyed the opportunity to meet with some of our new customers from last year, as well as customers who have been using FundRaiser for years. At one point, Joe Emert and his lovely wife, Jenny (both pictured at right, along with myself), from Life Radio Ministries were chatting with us, when Eric Jingst and Aaron Darr from WLMB-TV40 walked up. Joe said he remembered reading their recent Case Study (published in February's newsletter) that they were using some parts of FundRaiser which he hadn't explored yet, and he'd like to talk with them about that some more to see if it could work for his organization. 

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FundRaiser founder starts new nonprofit

Gene at entrance to OzSBI
Gene Weinbeck, founder and lead programmer of FundRaiser, has also recently helped found a local nonprofit, the Ozark Small Business Incubator (OzSBI). OzSBI helps new business owners bring their creative vision to life. About his involvement in OzSBI, Gene says, "For me, starting a business is the most fun, it’s creative. By being involved in OzSBI, I get to share in the creative excitement of starting a business."OzSBI just opened its doors this fall. Gene is one of several people who have been working for the past 6 years on getting the nonprofit started. Gene says he's used a lot of what he's learned from FundRaiser customers over the years. "For instance, we’re one of the few incubators in the world that has a membership program for the general public. It is an advantage because when people are members they feel more involved and connected. It is an additional source of income, and it helps spread the word about OzSBI." "We are also using FundRaiser online to keep track of memberships and clients, and using the FundRaiser Donor Portal for donations, memberships, and soon for workshop reservations." Now that OzSBI is working with clients, Gene will be involved as a mentor. “I’ve learned a lot about various aspects of business because of all my years with FundRaiser so I have something to share.”
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Using FundRaiser to gain a deeper understanding of your audience

What does the winning of broadcast awards have to do with donor management software? More than you might think!WLMB-TV40 has been recognized for the excellence of its broadcasting with many awards, including 4 time winner of TV Station of the Year by NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) and 7 time winner of the Peoples Choice Award. Visible in their programming is a deep understanding of their audience, and this is where FundRaiser comes in...

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See you at National Religious Broadcasters Conference?

We are going to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention Feb 18 - 21, just a little over a week from now! We had a wonderful time last year; it was so invigorating and inspiring to be surrounded by passionate, engaged nonprofit leaders. We enjoyed so much having the opportunity to meet with some of our clients there, and we hope to connect with more of you this year, too. We'll be at Booth #463, and will be looking for you!

 

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Simple segmenting for your newsletter

Yesterday, I heard a great simple idea on how to target newsletters to different segments of your mailing list. If you are sending out an email newsletter to your donors, you can easily customize that content to your donors' specific interests with a little reformatting.You are probably already including a variety of articles in order to appeal to a variety of interests among your donors. So, to help them connect to the specific content that interests them:

First, create segments of your mailing list. You can use data in FundRaiser to do this, such as what motivated the donor to donate; are they volunteering at your organization; have they attended events; or similar data that helps you understand what your donor might want to hear about your organization.Then, when you are ready to send your email newsletter, simply make one copy of it for each segment that you have defined. Now, move the article that is of most interest to a specific segment to the top of the newsletter. Voila, send the appropriately formatted newsletter to each segment, and watch to see if your response increases. Thanks to Heidi Tobias at Constant Contact for sharing this idea.

 

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How are the tax summary letters going?

We're wishing smooth sailing at this busy time of year! How are things going with producing tax summary letters? If you run into questions about using FundRaiser, please contact us for help !    

 

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Smudge, office cat, goes to the Christmas party

Smudge at FundRaiser Christmas party
Marcy with Smudge
Let me introduce you to Smudge, our office cat. Since early this summer, Smudge spends working hours at the main office. During non-working hours, she bunks with Gene Weinbeck, founder and lead programmer for FundRaiser. At the office, she snoozes on window sills, leaps over key boards, races up sectional dividers, and generally keep us from getting too serious. She has quickly found a way into our hearts, and now no office gathering is complete without her. For the Christmas party, she happily joined us at Autumn and Josh Shirley's house for the celebration. She's very comfortable there, as it was her first home, after being rescued from a school parking lot. During the party, she lurked around our ankles, checked out Santa's hat, and enjoyed some cuddles from Marcy Weinbeck (in photo at right), co-founder of FundRaiser. 
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Relaxing at the FundRaiser Christmas party

James at the FundRaiser Christmas party
Joe Salrin at FundRaiser Christmas party

This year at the FundRaiser Christmas party, we all seemed to be in a mellow mood... except occasionally our office cat, Smudge (more on that later). James Ware (in photo at left), our main sales rep, brought a pitcher of margaritas, and it is possible that this helped, but at least it didn't hurt. No dancing on the tables or other classic 'office party' humiliations. I'd say we enjoy being together, and the Mexican food everyone brought helped, too. I'm not sure it all classified as strictly Mexican, but it did classify as good and even interesting. Sherry, who works in FundRaiser Tech Support, brought cheese cake made from the milk of the goats she raises. If you've never tried her goat milk cheesecake, then don't wrinkle your nose... it is excellent.

Joe Salrin (in photo at right) spent the time relaxing from his work doing data conversion at FundRaiser. If you ever need to move your data from a previous program into FundRaiser, Joe is the one that you talk to.

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How do you respond to technology changes?

I was recently asked what my greatest technology challenge was, during an interview for TechSoup . For me, it's keeping up with changes. Sometimes you can participate those changes directly, for instance by giving input to us here at FundRaiser that could influence how we develop the software. Other times, you may not have much say about the a change, but you can choose your attitude and adjustment to it, for instance the growing importance of online fundraising, highlighted in our case study with Sacred Heart Radio this month.     A pleasant change at the FundRaiser office is the addition of Jonathan Smith to the FundRaiser tech support team. He joined us in August. He has previously worked in internet technology for a large phone company, and more recently as a computer instructor for Missouri State University.

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Cleaning up after the 'other tornado'

Sasha with chainsaw at Dhammasukha

On May 25, a few days after the tornado devastated Joplin, Missouri, another set of tornados passed by my house in eastern Missouri. The storms moved north, touching down briefly in a few places. No one was killed, but where tornados touched down, they caused significant damage. One of the places hard hit was Dhammasukha Meditation Center in Annapolis, Missouri. I know the residents there (who are also FundRaiser users) and so I was happy to pack up my chain saw and go help them clean up last weekend.

Dhammasukha Center has two sections of buildings. The upper section was untouched by the tornado, but in the lower section nearly every building was destroyed. The only structures left untouched were the two with people in them, and even these had the shingles stripped from the roof. One of the women was sucked out of her door and thrown onto the porch of the neighboring building. There, she was able to grab a hold of the front door by her fingers and drag herself in. She and another woman hunkered down in a corner and rode the storm out, while trees fell on all sides and the other buildings were destroyed. Although the noise must have been intense, they both said they had the sense of absolute stillness and peace.

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Volunteering in Joplin - My Impressions

On Wednesday (June 1, 2011) FundRaiser sent a carload of volunteers to help with the disaster relief in Joplin, which is just 3 hours from here.  I was one of them.  These are my impressions…

We worked with a crew of about 20 from one of several disaster relief centers (I would estimate that there were about 200 volunteers just at this one, which was coordinated by the Baptist convention).  We were working on the outskirts of the worst of the damage – where there were still houses standing.  The houses might have lost parts of a roof, or had part of the house caved in, siding blown off, windows blown in, etc, but they were habitable and the occupants were there.

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Spring Cleaning - Not Just for Dust Bunnies Anymore!

I am so glad that spring is finally here! After a long, cold, gray winter, it has been a long time coming!

Having all of the windows open at work really jump-starts my annual spring cleaning. This year, I'm not just going after the dust bunnies - I've also been reorganizing my desk, my calendar, and my databases, and making sure that everything is updated and in tip-top shape for a busy year. Updating my software and contacts always seems to take a back burner to answering the phones, responding to email, sending out invoices, and putting out fires...and I suspect that a lot of our FundRaiser customers are experiencing the same challenges. But it's amazing how much more efficiently I can work with a clean desk, an updated calendar, and the newest fixes for all my different software applications! I've noticed, for example, that I can really walk into the office, sit down, and get started with my day, instead of spending 15 minutes sorting through all the notes and paperwork scattered around my desk. When I log in to our CRM software, I can see all the calls I need to make today right on my homepage, instead of them being buried in page 3, behind all the calls I was supposed to make yesterday or last week. I also updated it to the newest version recently, which took care of a pesky bug that was causing all of my scheduled tasks to appear an hour earlier than they were scheduled for, and gave me several new options for building reports. Updating my browser to the newest version of Firefox also solved some problems I was having with unexplained slowdowns and bad page loads.

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Back from NRB

NRB 2011 Crosstalk
NRB 2011 Josh and Joe Emert
Calvin Bader and Autumn Shirley

Recently, Joshua and I had the opportunity to attend and exhibit at the 2011 National Religious Broadcasting Convention in Nashville, TN. I cannot easily describe how invigorating and inspiring it was to be surrounded by passionate, engaged nonprofit leaders for four whole days! It’s so easy to get so caught up with everyday management details, that I sometimes forget why I got involved in this business in the first place. The convention was a wonderful reminder of how much I love working with nonprofits. I can honestly say that I love my job because I get to work with the most important people in the world.While we were there, we also had the opportunity to meet with some of our clients, many of whom have been with us for a long time. Caleb, Jennifer (in photo at left with Joshua Shirley), and Josh Weiss from CrossTalk Ministries came by to meet us and could not have been more kind! They have been using FundRaiser since 1999, and are a brilliant example of a nonprofit who has really made the best use of donor management software, beginning with FundRaiser Basic and upgrading over the years all the way up to Professional Hosted! You can read the story or how CrossTalk has used FundRaiser to increase their donor base in their case study here. We also met Joe Emert (in photo at right with Joshua Shirley) from Life Radio Ministries, who spent a long time talking with Joshua about some of the ways he uses FundRaiser to manage their events, and to provide us with some thoughtful input for future development. Joe was so kind to share so much of his time with us.

 

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Granita Recipe

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Download Professional


Lemon-Mint Granita

Adapted  from Smitten Kitchen

What could possibly be more refreshing on a hot Summer day then an icy granita? This is a wonderful recipe to make with the kids (or, why not have them do it while you sit by the pool), and there is also a fabulous adult version. Both are wonderful!

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