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.

Rootbound

I adore the early morning. I realize that many of you are not of a similar disposition and would rather lick wet paint than get out of bed an instant before you have to. My husband is definitely not a morning person. I’ve learned not to try to discuss anything important with him before noon. But mornings are so lovely. The world is fresh and new, the air is nearly always still, and everything is quiet but for the twittering of birds.

This morning was especially beautiful. The dawn light spilled over the horizon like golden honey and created flashing patterns on the earth beneath the oak tree. The delicate pattern of veins of each emerald leaf was clearly visible. Here and there a crystal droplet of dew flashed with rainbow light. Active robins busily rustled the brown carpet of last fall’s leaves, while placid doves quietly pecked seeds from among the weeds. As I watched a particularly fat dove waddle past my tomato plants I noticed that they are far too big for their four inch pots! I’m not quite sure when they became a knee-high jungle of fragrant hairy stems and velvet green leaves. Yet it is obvious they need more than they have now.

The same thing can easily happen with your fundraising software. A small organization with only a few donors can do very well with a very simple program. However; as your organization grows you may find that you just need more. No matter where you are in the spectrum, FundRaiser Solutions has a program that will meet your needs. 

 

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In the beginning... how network technology change has effected FundRaiser

When I first created FundRaiser in prehistoric times, it was cutting edge (this was way before Windows), but time passes and things change, fastest of all when it comes to computer technology. Since those DOS days, enormous changes have occurred, many of which affect our use of single/multi-user vs. client/server for FundRaiser, which is what I want to talk about today.

For many years, FundRaiser has offered users the option of using either client/server or single/multi-user for network setups. Both worked fine most of the time on local networks, although client/server was always faster and more reliable.

Single/multi-user was actually a carry-over from the DOS version of FundRaiser. For those of you who skipped computer history in school, DOS was before you could use a mouse and before graphics or images of any kind could be displayed on the screen. You used only the keyboard to enter commands and data.
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Effort's Reward

I planted a rare heirloom pea called Golden Sweet in my porch boxes early this spring. It is hard to believe the dull, wrinkled brown seeds would become the lush greenery snow peasclinging and tangling its way ever upward on my front porch. I had just begun to despair of actually getting any peas from the vining jungle when I began to notice the first delicate magenta blooms peaking from ruffled clusters of yellow green leaves. Now tiny yellow pea pods are pushing their way out flowers that have faded to blue and I will soon enjoy them lightly sautéed with butter and garlic.

It is very nice to see my effort bear fruit. There were so many steps required to get here. I spent a good many hours researching heirloom seeds. I chose the Golden Sweet for its lovely flowers and pretty yellow pods. Once I’d made my choice, I had to actually find seeds for that variety, order them, plant them, and care for them. Each step was essential for any kind of success.

Fundraising is very similar to gardening; it often starts with something very small and inconspicuous, but with care and nurturing it can become many times greater than its humble beginnings. Yet the growing of it takes diligent effort and the proper tools.

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Best Practices for Coordinating Users in Your Database

When Siena/Francis House began to grow, it also found the need to change how it was using FundRaiser. For one thing, with more staff members simultaneously using the software, FundRaiser was slowing down. For another, more users meant more need to coordinate work within the database.

Siena/Francis House is Nebraska’s largest shelter serving homeless men, women, and children, and growing quickly. In the past seven years, “we’ve grown from 86 to 222 beds for the men guests. Within 2 months of building the new men’s shelter, we were laying down mats for overflow. Depending on the weather, we now house as many as 300 to 350 men, women and children guests a night and serve 900 meals a day. We’re expanding our women’s shelter soon to double the number of women we can help,” says Marge Harman, Information Technology Administrator for the organization.

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Glittering Gems

It was a beautiful morning here in the Ozarks. Dewy mist swirled around the mighty oak in my yard, opalescent in the tender morning sun. The rich scent of damp living thingsspiderweb encircled me and the cool moist air teased my skin. Drops of dew shimmered on everything. Tiny threads of silken spider web, generally invisible, glittered with watery baubles.

As I sat on the porch with a steaming cup of mint tea, I was soothed by my muted surroundings. Bright colors became gentle, sounds of traffic seemed far away, and the intricate pattern of a spider web strung with beads of water became an ethereal work of art. The rushing and bustling of sunlit times seemed very far away. It is in this time of slowing down I notice the small but important things around me.

Your organization can benefit from slowing down and just looking around as well.

 

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Some Like it Hot

I baked bread this week. I find breadmaking a pastime that teases and delights my senses. The smell of bubbling yeast rises from the sticky-smooth dough as I rhythmically knead it and wafts through the house as the bread rises. The earthy aroma quickly becomes heavenly as the pale white lumps of dough grow into light crusty fresh breadbrownness in the oven. I can never wait more than a few minutes before cutting into the steaming hot bread, spreading it liberally with butter, and eating it.

The funny thing is, I’m not really all that crazy about bread any other time. It is only in that short amount of time after it comes out of the oven that I am eager to eat it. Unlike Revenge, bread is better served hot. A cold loaf often sits on the counter uneaten until it gets cubed, brushed with herbs and butter, and toasted for croutons or goes into the compost pile if I've waited too long.

A Thank You to a Donor is very similar to bread. The sooner they get it, the better it feels.

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Hidden Treasures

Redbud podsWe moved into our tiny cottage in town on February 24th, probably the bleakest time of year in the Ozarks. The bright palette of Autumn was long gone and only a few tattered brown remnants of Summer’s glory clung defiantly to their spindly branches. Our lawn was a barren rocky wasteland and an untidy collection of shrubs, vines and adolescent trees spanned the back property line. I was determined to tear out that eyesore at the first possible chance. I envisioned a neat privacy fence with dwarf fruit trees artfully espaliered against it..

But time has a way of slipping by and this spring seemed to move in fast forward. That “useless” collection of wildness has burst forth with life. The sweet pink blooms of the redbud were followed by delicate edible pods. Honeysuckle and wild grape twine among the shrubbery. Thorny blackberry stems push infant fruit toward the sun. There is even a half buried mulberry tree laden with tiny pale green fruit.

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Looking Forward

This week has been much more like a normal Ozark spring with cool crisp mornings and warm gentle afternoons. The frantic pace of the past few weeks has slowed to a lazy crawl and the succession of blooms and leaves is no longer a blur. The blackberries have put forth their snowy blossoms, flirting with the bees that so admire them. They are Blackberriesshort lived, each day shedding their tender wreath of petals to leave only the bristly globe that will, in time, become a glossy blackberry.

I suppose the best part of this season is the anticipation it inspires. In my mind’s eye I see neat garden beds overflowing with a riot of tomatoes, squash, beans and peppers. Those blackberry blossoms are destined to become fragrant ebony jam. The mint that is threatening to overflow its pot will become next winter’s sweet hot tea.

Anticipation can be a very powerful tool to inspire enthusiasm for an event as well. Once your event or activity is well planned, let your donors know about it with Fundraiser’s Mass Mailing function. By using the FundRaiser Word Processor to create personalized letters and emails and sending them out at the appropriate time, you can arouse interest and excitement about your organization and your endeavors..

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It's all in the Planning

The tender green of spring have matured into the rich emerald of summer here in the Ozarks. Seeds started two weeks ago have pushed their way through the dark soil and spread hungry leaves into the sunshine and fresh air. My sturdy young tomato starts release the pungent odor of summer when touched and the baby dill begins to uncurl the tulipslacy leaves of maturity. It is nearly time to remove them from their small sheltered nursery and let them dig their roots deep into the wide open earth. Yet I have no idea where to put them. I need a plan.

A plan will help me to have an efficient, productive garden rather then a rampant tangle of weeds and poor sickly plants. During the planning process, I will asses the necessary conditions for the plants I am caring for, the limitations and strengths of my space, and match each plant to the best place I have for it. Perhaps the most important part of planning my garden is assessing how well the plan worked and how it could have worked better. Each year, I should have increased success.

Events are a lot like gardens. Without a plan they quickly get out of hand, a tangled mess of mistakes and forgotten items. 

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A New Perspective

One girl’s chore is another girl’s pleasure… it’s really just a matter of perspective. I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately. We recently moved to a tiny cottage less than three blocks from the FundRaiser office. It actually takes me less time to walk to work now than it does to drive. Being primarily a country girl, I’vdandelione never before had this luxury of being able to walk to where I need to be. There’s amazing freedom in knowing I don’t have to fret about a three cent gasoline price hike. 

Economics aside, there’s another joy in walking that I never imagined. I see things in a different way. This morning I noticed the tiny oak leaves spreading in the sun over the alley, each one a perfect miniature of its grown-up self, untouched by bug or storm. This afternoon I walked through nodding pallid globes, all that is left of this morning’s bold yellow dandelions, and watched as they released their feathery children into the world. I heard the musical drone of honeybees as they ambled among the fragrant blooming lilac branches. Had I been in my car, I would have missed all of this.

Just as it took a change in my routine for me to realize I was missing so much, it is very easy to “get in a rut” in how you do things in your FundRaiser database.

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Favorite feature - the Custom Page

Calvin Bader of WJIE  loves the FundRaiser custom page. In the WJIE case study, he mentions how much simpler their online fundraising drives have been as a result. This article will help familiarize you with it’s intended design and purpose.

First of all, let me point out that, originally, the Custom Page was created in order to allow you to put all of the data fields YOU consider important to view at a single glance on a single page. This, as Calvin points out, prevents you from having to switch from tab to tab looking for the information you consider pertinent.  Calvin has taken it a step further, by using it as a single page into which WJIE volunteers can INPUT information, rather than simply viewing it, but this can have certain difficulties, as I will explain....

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Beautiful Weeds

We’ve had a few days of gentle rain, slowly soaking our rocky Ozark soil to the brim. Water rushes merrily in all the little wet weather streams that chuckle downhill in frothy exuberance. A golden sun blazed forth this morning among billowing clouds and the muted colors of the past few days were transformed into vibrant greens glittering with sparkling jewels of dew.

Purple spring flowersEverything is growing by leaps and bounds now. The wooly sage colored leaves and tiny purple flowers of henbit push brazenly toward the sun while vivid purple violets bow modestly amid their leafy rosettes. I cringe at mowing such lovely plants, but something must be done to keep them in check lest they take over the entire lawn and push out their more timid cousins.

Since this is the final week of Spring Cleaning, I thought a quick lesson on “weeding” out your old Codes would be in order. Codes, especially Category Codes, can certainly grow like weeds in your database obscuring the codes you use frequently and making it time consuming to create reports.

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Spring Fever

The weather has been delightful this week, certainly more like June than March in the Ozarks. Warm fragrant days are interposed with nights of crashing thunderstorms and fresh rain. Plants are pushing through the rocky soil with wild abandon. The blooming pear trees rain white petals and reveal slender branches clad in delicate spring green. A few intrepid butterflies flit here and there among the wildflowers. Blooming pear

All this loveliness is urging me to plunge in to my usual spring planting frenzy. I always plant way more than I need while in the throes of spring fever. All the work and weeding of summer never seems to cross my mind as I decide I can certainly use ten more tomato plants and three kinds of pumpkins. All those seedlings are so small and pretty, somehow I can’t seem to remember just how large they get later. Of course this inexorably ends with crowded garden beds and less yield from all the plants unless I ruthlessly thin them so those that are left can get all the attention they need.

Databases are kind of like gardens that way. It is easy for them to get overcrowded with old or outdated Donor records. This makes it cumbersome and takes your attention away from your active donors. Therefore our Spring Cleaning task for this week is to find and delete all those old, unproductive records. 

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Spring Cleaning

While many of you may still be caught in the icy grip of Old Man Winter, Spring has shown her gentle face in the Ozarks. Trees are blossoming in frothy white and stunning maroon. The undergrowth and thickets sport wisps of tender green. Daffodils and crocus echo the warm yellow sunshine while tiny blue wildflowers lay across the ground like little snips of sky.

Spring has always been a time of cleaning and renewal for me. One of my fondest childhood memories is that the first nice weekend in spring we washed all of the winter-stale bedding and hung it outside in the fresh breeze. That first night of snuggling in crisp sheets and inhaling the sweet smell of outdoors was a real treat!

Spring is also a good time to clean out your FundRaiser Database, getting it ready for all the events and fundraisers that will be taking place over the rest of the year. So I am dedicating the month of March as FundRaiser Spring Cleaning Month and will have a project each week to help your database work more smoothly and be easier to use.

 

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Changing Contact Information

Today I was looking through my emails and I noticed that I have quite a few from customers who want me to update their contact information for billing  purposes in our database. I’m happy to do this, of course, but I also wanted to  point out a way that you, as a FundRaiser customer, can control your own contact information.  Accessing this information through our Customer Portal is just for you!

You can log in, set up multiple users, view free training videos, review help technical support help documents and interact with other users and the FundRaiser staff through the Support Forum.  Make sure you contact our Technical Support staff to obtain your username or you can reset your password on your own from the login page.

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From the Developer: What is FundRaiser Online

FundRaiser Online works exactly like the current version of FundRaiser installed on your computer. The difference is that you can run it from anywhere that you have internet access:  home, office, library, hotel room.... you name it. You can let board members or other people have access to it, and you can limit what they can do and what they can see in the program, just like with the regular version of FundRaiser. Read more...

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From the Developer: What is FundRaiser Online

FundRaiser Online works exactly like the current version of FundRaiser installed on your computer. The difference is that you can run it from anywhere that you have internet access:  home, office, library, hotel room.... you name it. You can let board members or other people have access to it, and you can limit what they can do and what they can see in the program, just like with the regular version of FundRaiser. Read more...

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Become a beta tester for FundRaiser Donor Portal - Volunteer Features

The Volunteer features of the Donor Portal integrate volunteering scheduling features on your website with your desktop version of FundRaiser.  If you are a current FundRaiser user and are interested in being a beta tester for Volunteer features of the Donor Portal, let us know. Beta testing is starting  soon. Now is your chance to give input into development as well as test and use the new features. Contact Autumn Shirley at 800-880-3454 ext 302

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