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.

Meta Peace Team Comes Back For Great Support

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Melody Arnst, Administrative Assistant at Meta Peace Team, says her specialty is diving in and figuring out how to make things work better, primarily in the office. “That’s why I am working in the database. Things need to work and be streamlined there,” says Melody.

First thing as she started working at Meta Peace, she found herself untangling database issues. Meta Peace, FundRaiser Software users, had decided to give another donor database a try. “We attempted to move to Network for Good. It was a frustrating experience. As the process unfolded, I thought, ‘maybe we shouldn’t have done this,’ " says Melody.

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Short take: Using Category Codes For Better Donor Targeting

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Most organizations deal with a range of donors and sometimes clients who may be interested in different things from your organization. A nonprofit healthcare clinic, for example, may have physicians and staff (even if they are all volunteers), patients, friends and family of patients, as well as those who simply wish to sponsor free or affordable healthcare.

Each group will respond differently to appeals. For example, patients may wish to “pay back” some of the care that was received. Friends and family may give so that those they care about continue to receive care, and sponsors may want to know how many people their dollars helped.

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Back-up Your Database... and other important files

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It's a little boring to talk about... but it's not boring at all when something happens to your database records. It can happen in a moment... as I discovered when I accidentally dropped my external back-up drive last Friday. "No problem," I thought. "It was a short fall onto carpeting... and it's a well-built drive. Haven't I knocked it around a little before?" 

My drive experienced the event differently. When I plugged it in (so as to access all of the photos that I use in my work) it made little grunting sounds and disappeared from the computer explorer memory. If you've been there yourself, you  know what I did next... a series of restarts, re-plug-ins, and re-trys all gave me the same result. Yes, it was true, about 10 years worth of raw and edited photos were no longer accessible. 

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Short Take: PayPal for #GivingTuesday

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On this Giving Tuesday you may receive donations through PayPal, an online payment service, and wonder how you can code them in your FundRaiser Software. When entering gifts, either through importing a spreadsheet or entering them manually, the mode code is used to designate in what form the gift was received. Adding a code for PayPal will allow you to note that those gifts came in through that service.

To create a new mode code go to View > Codes to open the Codes Maintenance Window. Click on Add. Type in the code and a description. In this case, both of them can be "PayPal". Click on Save. This will add a new mode code for PayPal gifts.

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Short Take: Coding In-Kind and Monetary Gifts

Short Take: Coding In-Kind and Monetary Gifts
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When inputting donations into your database, it’s important to differentiate in-kind gifts (which are usually goods, services, or time) from the financial gifts you receive. You get help doing this through the GIFT MODE code, which allows you to indicate the way the gift was received by your organization. With that code, you’ll notice that there are four default modes in the program: cash, check, charge, and in-kind.

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Short Take: Coding Is Key To Good Capital Campaigns

Short Take: Coding Is Key To Good Capital Campaigns

In a capital campaign it's important to know how much money you raised and from which donors. You can do this by coding the gifts. Within FundRaiser there are several places you can code your capital campaign donations.

The MOTIVATION CODE is what motivated a donor to give. Most often this is a specific campaign, and this is a great place to create a specific code to use with these gifts. If you are using our Campaigns Management Module available in FundRaiser Professional, you can set specific codes for each event of the campaign, as well as the overall campaign.

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Short take: Changing Merge Field Criteria In Letter Templates

Short take:  Changing Merge Field Criteria In Letter Templates

When updating a previous letter, it's important to review the criteria for the merge fields. This is especially true when using merge fields that input a total of all gifts or a list of gifts which meet certain requirements. For example, you may want to make the total of the gifts include the current year to date, rather than the date range used previously.

You can remove and then insert the merge field again to bring up the list of criteria to make those changes; however, there's an easier way to do this. Double click on the capital letter or symbol preceding the field name in brackets. This will open up the criteria window where you can make changes to the criteria and click okay to save it. Then, save your letter again.

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Magnificent Memberships: Using FundRaiser To Boost Your Numbers

Magnificent Memberships: Using FundRaiser To Boost Your Numbers

My nonprofit experience has been limited to membership groups, and in my training, I’ve discovered this is an area in which FundRaiser excels. All three versions of FundRaiser (Spark, Select, and Professional) have the ability to manage members, though in Select it is an optional module. The process is very similar in all three versions as well.

When you enter a gift the type can be marked membership dues. This triggers the system to set up a new membership where you can input the type (family or individual), any benefits, and double check the renewal date. As an organization, you can choose how you want the memberships to renew and any default benefits as part of the settings. In fact, you can print membership cards.

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Preventing Code Creep to Keep Reports Accurate

Preventing Code Creep to Keep Reports Accurate

When several different people are entering codes into FundRaiser, ‘code creep’ can occur. Code Creep is where several different codes are used to designate the same type of gift. This creates complications when you want to get the data out of FundRaiser for a report. Because codes are the main way that you get data out of FundRaiser, keeping codes consistent will ensure that your reports accurately reflect all the data you have entered into FundRaiser on a particular topic.   

To prevent code creep, make sure that everyone who is entering codes understands your conventions. Basic training on using FundRaiser and on your coding conventions is important. Also the program settings allow you to limit certain people’s use of the program to only the areas that are needed for the job they are doing. The Administrator can do this by going to Options > User Set Up to  

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Which Report Should I Use?

Which Report Should I Use?

There are three main reports within FundRaiser for viewing donor or donation data: Master, Donor, and Donation. Each of these reports contains separate pieces of information, though there is some overlap between the reports. Each report has a unique use.

The Master Report is one of the few reports where you can see information for non-donors in your database. The variations allow you to look at donor codes, donor addresses, or donor information including gifts.

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Short Take: I need a list of names and addresses for my donors. How do I do that?

Short Take: I need a list of names and addresses for my donors. How do I do that?
There are times when you are looking to see the names and addresses for your donors, and FundRaiser supports multiple ways of retrieving this information. If you need a list to use as a print out, for example, then the Master Report has a variation which only prints names and addresses. You can access this through Reports > Master Report.If you need to export those names and addresses to send to a vendor for printing mailings or to import into another system, the most efficient way to obtain this information is to follow a 2-step process.First, create a grouping of the individuals whom you wish to include in the mailing list. Then, go to File > Export, select your grouping, and export the names and addresses directly into a CSV (Excel-compatible) file. You can export additional fields such as total giving or last gift as well if you'd like.By choosing one of these methods you'll be able to export names and addresses in a format that will work for your organization and in an easy to transfer manner.To learn more on this and related topics, sign up for one of our live webinar training classes or contact support at 800-543-4131 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
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Short Take: New Features in the New Version of FundRaiser

Short Take: New Features in the New Version of FundRaiser
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When you upgrade to a new version, such as the recent new release of FundRaiser, it is good to familiarize yourself with the new features. A great way to do that is to read the update notes, which are easily available through the Help menu after you update the software.

Just click on Help and look for the selection that says “Read Update Notes”. Click on that to bring up the document. The Update Notes are a snapshot of the changes that were made to FundRaiser since the last update. Focus on the column marked “New.” These are the new features for this release. If you don’t understand a feature or how to use it, please contact support. We’ll be happy to help you.

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Information About Backing Up Your FundRaiser Database

Information About Backing Up Your FundRaiser Database
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A common question that we receive in Technical Support is that if an organization has an IT department which creates backups of the server computer which holds FundRaiser, is an actual FundRaiser backup necessary?

The answer is yes. When an IT department backs up a server that is different from a FundRaiser backup.

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How FundRaiser Gives You More Time In Your Day

How FundRaiser Gives You More Time In Your Day

What would you do with 22 more minutes each day? According to a survey by IT staffing firm Robert Half Technologies, most workers lose approximately 22 minutes every day due to technical issues. That’s 4 hours and 24 minutes per 5-day work week. Or to put it in another context, its 228 hours and 48 minutes, or roughly 5 ¾ weeks out of your year! Of course, this could be anything from a slow computer to printer issues; however, when it comes to your FundRaising software, you don’t have to lose any time at all!

The support team at FundRaiser is always available to answer questions. From a quick how-to question or a more intensive technical issue, our talented and friendly support technicians want to help. Part of that 22 minutes each day also comes from trying to learn about the programs that we use and how these work. Here, too, FundRaiser Software has our customers covered. In addition to our support team, we offer on-demand training videos as well as a full schedule of training classes.

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Short Take: Reusing Last Year's Tax Summary Letter

Short Take: Reusing Last Year's Tax Summary Letter

If you are going to use last year's letter, it is good to review the letter in FundRaiser’s Word Processor, if the letter was used in FundRaiser previously. One of the common problems we see in Tech Support regarding Tax Summary letters is when people would like to use the letter from last year, and it isn't showing the right gift amounts. That’s easily solved. 

With the letter open in FundRaiser, click on the Gift List or Gift Total Function code and make sure that the date range is in the right year. You can also remove the merge function for the total giving or gift list and reenter it, and that will allow you the opportunity to reenter the date range. 

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Reach More Donors with NCOA Processing

Reach More Donors with NCOA Processing
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One of the most frustrating experiences as a nonprofit is to send out a carefully crafted appeal letter only to have several envelopes be returned as unable to be delivered by the post office. Not only have you spent postage and used paper and time to send the letters, but your message won’t reach your donors. How do you prevent this from happening?

NCOA, or National Change of Address, is a United States Post Office program designed to prevent non-deliverable mail. The USPS maintains a database of all permanent address changes within the past three years by people who have completed change of address cards. When you export your database and use a USPS licensed processor, they will run your donors’ addresses through this program and provide you with information such as a changed address, the complete ZIP+4 zip code, which helps with mail processing, and which addresses are not valid without any further information. When you merge the received data back into your database, it will be updated and your donors coded appropriately to help you better manage your mailings.

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Producing End of Year Tax Summary Letters in FundRaiser

Producing End of Year Tax Summary Letters in FundRaiser

It's time to produce Tax Summary letters (also called End of Year letters) again. They are usually sent in January after the last donation for the year is in. To help you breeze through this process, here's a coherent plan of attack for FundRaiser users.

Step One

First, start by deciding how you want to list the donations in your letter. Two merge functions found in the FundRaiser word processor are used specifically for this type of letter.

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Short Take: Advanced Tab

Short Take: Advanced Tab
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Groupings are a useful way to work with a large number of donor records, such as printing a report or sending correspondence. However, depending on your criteria, you may not need to create a grouping. When you click Customize on the report preview screen, you are brought to a new window with four tabs, and one of these says “Advanced”. On both reports and correspondence, you can use the Advanced tab to set the criteria you wish to use in running the report. (For example, people who gave in the last twelve months or gave over a certain dollar amount.)

For correspondence, using the Advanced tab is helpful for year-end letters. Instead of creating a grouping, you can use the Advanced tab to limit your letters to individuals who gave during the calendar year.

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Short take: Event Managment

Short take: Event Managment

FundRaiser Software provides many tools for managing event participation and donation. Users of FundRaiser Pro have access to the Campaigns and Events Module, which will track participation, donations, sponsorships, and provides detailed reporting. If you’re interested in the Campaigns and Events Module, you’re encouraged to sign up for the next training class.

However, even without the Campaigns and Events Module, you can keep track of campaign participation several ways. The Motivation Code records what motivated someone to give, and that’s usually because they attended an event or received a mailer. Using a unique motivation code will allow you to run reports as well as create groupings based off of event donations.

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How Often Should You Back Up Your Data?

How Often Should You Back Up Your Data?

Different people and organizations will have different backup needs. To set up a schedule that works for you, consider the following questions

How much data loss would you consider 'allowable loss"- fairly simple to recreateHow often do you enter data?How much of your data would be difficult or impossible to recreate?

These questions will give you the answer for how often you need to back up.  If your computer crashes and you lose all your data, how recent was your last back up? Does it cover the data which would be difficult or impossible to recreate? If you enter a lot of information regularly, you may want to back up weekly. 

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