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.

Turn your New Year's Resolutions into End-Of-Year Benefits with FundRaiser Training Options

Turn your New Year's Resolutions into End-Of-Year Benefits with FundRaiser Training Options
The Annual Resolution Parade

This time of year, most of us "resolve" to make changes: in our lives; in our work habits; in our approach to life in general, etc. And many of those resolutions fall by the wayside as the year develops, either because they seem too difficult, or they weren't that important, or (fill in the blank with your last unfulfilled resolution reason). I'd like to suggest a resolution that will help you all through the year, and will almost certainly repay your efforts many times over: learn how to better use your FundRaiser software to do what needs doing for your organization. While learning the program doesn't sound nearly so important as changing lifestyle choices, or gaining virtues, or shedding bad habits, it can, for your non-profit organization, be the catalyst for many changes, like donor retention, increased donations, better communications, and less effort expended for all of it.

Which type of training do you prefer?

FundRaiser offers several different training formats, to fit your individual and organizational efforts, from self-help using the program's built-in Help manual and training videos on our website, to scheduled live webinars, to on-site training at your facilities, and you always have the option to call or email the training office, or tech support, for help. Each method of learning has it's pros and cons, of course, but the choices are available to you, and in this blog I'll try to give you some tips on how to approach them. And at the end of this, I'll let you know how all this can benefit you at the end of the year.

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Explore FundRaiser's Custom Page

Explore FundRaiser's Custom Page

As most of you know, in FundRaiser there are a multitude of ways and places in which to store this data. The one complaint I've heard about this is that it can be difficult to remember where you've put each different type of information. Is it in the Name Details? or Preferences? or Spare Fields? And why should I have to jump all over the place to see the information that is important to MY tasks in this organization, anyway?

Enter the "Custom Page" concept. Have you noticed the Custom Page tab (normally found to the left of the Master List tab) in FundRaiser? If it doesn't exist, you probably have Spark. If you have Select or Professional, it may have been moved to the right of the Master list (Options | Change Tab Order). The Custom Page is, at first, a blank space just waiting for you to design your perfect information layout. What information about donors do you want at your fingertips? Where is that data normally kept? You can "mirror" that field (or table) of information on the Custom Page. You can have, for instance, not only the donor name, phones, email, age, and so forth, but also the table showing their entire Giving History, or the table showing all of their Category Codes, or any specific Preference settings that are important, or... whatever you wish.

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3 Tips for Evaluating Small Gift Donors

3 Tips for Evaluating Small Gift Donors

You know that there are strong reasons to send thank you letters to all donors, regardless of the size of the gifts.  I want to give you some ways to help evaluate small gift donors, in order to see if you can increase giving rates and/or amounts.

1.  Use Groupings to identify "small" gift donors

It's true that some people will give multiple gifts, of varying amounts, and in order to insure that you are looking at "small" gift donors only, you'll need to create a grouping. You'll want to base the grouping on gift size, of course, but just how can you get those who have given ONLY small gifts? Well, first, when you start the grouping criteria, choose the Common Pattern of "All Donors" (date range optional). Then, to isolate it to just those who have only small gifts, click the "Finish Criteria" button, use the "AND" separator, and start a new criteria line. In this line, choose the Gifts tab, and select an "Amount Given" range (in Details tab) of a dollar more than your "small" gift limit (i.e., $21 if you consider $20 or less a small gift) through "blank", and select "Any Single Gift". This sounds counter-intuitive, since it's asking for anyone who has given a $21.00 or greater gift, but hold on. Click the "Finish Criteria" button again, and, this time, apply the "NOT" qualifier to the line.  Now your criteria should read (more of less):  select everyone who is a donor AND who has NOT given a gift of $21 or more. This eliminates both non-donors and those who have given gifts over $20. Now you can use this grouping with various reports.

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First Steps To Starting Donor Management

First Steps To Starting Donor Management

Kim Klein's blog on Steps for Raising $20,000 is a great article to use to show exactly how FundRaiser can simplify donor management.  If you look at the steps suggested to the student in order to raise funds for their trip to Costa Rica, you'll see how each step can be simplified and tracked using FundRaiser.

Database programs are for storing and using information, and we suggest using FundRaiser to store as much information as you need to have for all the aspects of your fundraising efforts. It's not just about donors, although that's certainly a big part, but look at the other aspects to this particular effort.

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Revolutionize Your Thinking About Creating Targeted Mailings

Revolutionize Your Thinking About Creating Targeted Mailings

This month is the celebration of independence for the USA, and it seems appropriate to try revolutionizing your thinking about creating targeted mailings using FundRaiser. This is done by creating segments of your database, or Groupings, and, hopefully, turn an otherwise onerous task into one that gives you more freedom and choice. Groupings help you to pull out a sampling of people (or organizations) from your full database in order to treat them as a separate group. Why would you even want to do that? Well, the most common answer is to “target” an audience with a specific message from your organization, whether for an appeal letter, an invitation to an event, or a special “thank you” newsletter at the end of a particularly successful campaign.

By becoming  comfortable with creating Groupings, this will become an enjoyable task. And I’m going to give you some hints to ease you into creating exactly the groups of records you need. There is a trick to it all and it doesn’t even involve the software. Here it is, in a nutshell:

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A Pledge or a Promise?

A Pledge or a Promise?

 In Tony's blog post, Financial vs. Development, he discusses two different possibilities on pledges-- are they a firm commitment, or are they more a promise to make a contribution in the future. This might seem like semantics, but when it comes to financial tracking, you would want to handle them differently. Here's an article from previous FundRaiser lead trainer, Larry Weaver, that helps you decide how you might want to handle these two different situations. 

1.  Divide and Conquer:  Pledge or Promise?

First, it's good to know whether your pledges are better tracked through FundRaiser's Pledge Module (optional in Select, included in Professional) or not.  That will depend on the make-up of the pledge itself.   If a person (or organization) promises to give you a particular gift in the future, and will be giving it to you in one payment, then you don't need to use the Pledge Module, necessarily.  The determining factor, in this case, might be whether you need to track promised payments as "accounts receivable" for accounting purposes.  If so, you'll probably want to use the Pledge Module, as it makes it easier to do.  If not, then you may just need to use the Gift Type Code "Later - Promise to Pay", to record a pledged amount.  

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Turn your New Year's Resolutions into End-Of-Year Benefits with FundRaiser Training Options

The Annual Resolution Parade

This time of year, most of us "resolve" to make changes: in our lives; in our work habits; in our approach to life in general, etc. And many of those resolutions fall by the wayside as the year develops, either because they seem too difficult, or they weren't that important, or (fill in the blank with your last unfulfilled resolution reason). I'd like to suggest a resolution that will help you all through 2016, and will almost certainly repay your efforts many times over: learn how to better use your FundRaiser software to do what needs doing for your organization. While learning the program doesn't sound nearly so important as changing lifestyle choices, or gaining virtues, or shedding bad habits, it can, for your non-profit organization, be the catalyst for many changes, like donor retention, increased donations, better communications, and less effort expended for all of it.

Which type of training do you prefer?

FundRaiser offers several different training formats, to fit your individual and organizational efforts, from self-help using the program's built-in Help manual and training videos on our website, to scheduled live webinars, to on-site training at your facilities, and you always have the option to call or email the training office, or tech support, for help. Each method of learning has it's pros and cons, of course, but the choices are available to you, and in this blog I'll try to give you some tips on how to approach them. And at the end of this, I'll let you know how all this can benefit you at the end of the year.

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Even Donor Management Improves with a Break

Even Donor Management Improves with a Break

This Sunday is the first day of summer, bringing with it good memories of relaxed easy days.

Taking a break from work is something that the founders of FundRaiser, Gene and Marcy Weinbeck, wove into the culture of our company. Although hard-work is highly valued here, every month the office is closed one day to honor a holiday. When there isn’t a ‘common’ holiday, we find one. Marcy Weinbeck is the one who established the FundRaiser holiday custom. She says it came about this way:

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New Course: Open For Requests

New Course: Open For Requests

Have you wanted to take a training class, but the schedule just didn’t work out for some reason? Or maybe a last minute project or meeting prevented you from attending the class you really wanted. We understand that things happen, which is why we’re pleased to introduce our new training class, Open For Requests.

We’ve scheduled two Open sessions a month—one at each of our normal times, 10am and 3pm. With this session, simply sign up and let us know what class you would like to take. They are first come, first serve, and we will update the training calendar when they have been taken.

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New Course: Q&A Session

New Course: Q&A Session

Have you ever had a question about something in FundRaiser? Maybe it wasn’t a big question or something you felt like you needed to call for, but you wondered how to do something or maybe if FundRaiser could accomplish a task your organization wanted to have done. With this in mind, our training department has created a new class that’s less of a class and more of an opportunity for you to ask questions.

In April, we debuted a new training session called the Q&A. Scheduled on every other Thursday afternoon, this session provides an opportunity for customers to ask “how to” questions or discuss various projects within FundRaiser.

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Reviving On-Hold projects (Revisited)


The economy is on the rebound, or so most of the news I've heard says, even though we individuals may not be feeling the positive effects as strongly as we'd like.  In light of the rebound, I'm re-posting a blog I wrote a while back, thinking that it might be time for some of you to think about revisiting projects or campaigns you've had on hold.

Sometimes it's necessary to put a project or campaign "on hold" to wait for more positive circumstances. But it's still important to keep up with your donor database changes, because, someday, those circumstances will arrive and you'll want to get back in the swing of things as quickly as possible. The economic climate change has profoundly affected many non-profits these past few years, and some have had to take a step back to reassess their plans in light of these changes.

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What's in a Greeting, Personally?


In a recently (Oct. 3, 2014) posted blog by Kim Klein, the question of how to greet donors and prospects in letters and emails is addressed.  While the article seems to favor erring on the side of formality, when in doubt, it also recognizes that there are times to be informal, and even quite casual, during correspondence.

In FundRaiser the word processing is built into the program, allowing access to all fields of data for merging into letters as needed.  This enables you to write "form" letters that have the personal look and feel that used to be possible only through individually crafted letters.  The way you greet people in a letter can be personalized for each name record in FundRaiser, as well.

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Importing from Spreadsheets to FundRaiser

Many non-profits began their data management using spreadsheets.  Yours may still use them, but there are many reasons to move away from them and into donor management software, as you may be aware.  In fact, here are a couple of articles that some folks have referenced in telling us why they no longer want to use spreadsheets:  
 
One of the big stumbling blocks to converting to a better system is the old argument: “We would have to re-enter all the information, and no one has time to do that!”  Well, in FundRaiser (even in FundRaiser Basic) there is a file option that allows you to import from other file formats.  Here are some tips and tricks on how to do set up your spreadsheet for optimal importing:  
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4 Examples of FundRaiser Pledge Flexibility


Tony Poderis's recent blog (July 31st:  How Long Should Donors Have to Fulfill Fundraising Pledges?) proposes that the donor should be allowed to set the time limit for fulfilling any pledge they make.  Some folks might, at first glance, think this will dramatically increase the amount of work necessary to manage the overall pledge campaign, as well as the individual pledges.  With FundRaiser's Pledge Module, available in Select and standard in Professional, this should be of little concern and here is why:

1.  Flexibility of pledge length.  With FundRaiser, no two pledges have to be the same.  You can set defaults that you'd like to use, but you can adjust each pledge, as needed, to suit the donor.

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Tracking the Elusive Donor/Prospect


In a recent blog by Tony Poderis, it is suggested that a myriad of things *should* be tracked in order to cultivate donors and prospects more easily and fully.  It's further suggested that, in order to be truly successful, an organization will build strong relationships with their top 20% of donors, getting them fully involved in the organization's mission.  All of this tracking and relationship-building requires a lot of detailed information about people, and storing it in a manner that can be readily accessed may appear daunting.  Let me "undaunt" that appearance with FundRaiser.

Category Codes are the most flexible way to record non-giving aspects of peoples' lives, as I've said numerous times in my blogs over the years, yet some users are still reluctant to utilize them as fully as possible.  Maybe they feel the list of codes gets a bit unwieldy, too long, to specific, etc.  Or perhaps they don't see the immediate need of tracking so many aspects of a person's life.  Hopefully, Tony's blog will give you a better grasp of why this is so necessary.  And I've got a couple of suggestions that will make it easier to use a multiplicity of Category Codes.  

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Options and Choices are GOOD things


Summer is almost upon us, officially, although many of us have been experiencing summer-like weather already, and there are some great things about summer that need to be pointed out from time to time.  I was talking with a friend the other day and the conversation somehow wound around to how I've always been a bit envious of those who don't wear prescription glasses, and I'm looking forward to cataract surgery that will also correct my distance vision.  This means I'll be able to buy cheap sunglasses for the first time in my life.  I'll have options, choices, and decisions to be made regarding the size, style, color, and so on, that I've never had before, since I've been wearing prescriptions since I was 9 or 10.  What an epiphany!  Where is that rack of $1.00 sunglasses??  I can't wait!

 

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Donor Management Simplified!


Kim Klein's blog on Steps for Raising $20,000 is a great article to use to show exactly how FundRaiser can simplify donor management.  If you look at the steps suggested to the student in order to raise funds for their trip to Costa Rica, you'll see how each step can be simplified and tracked using FundRaiser.

Database programs are for storing and using informaiton, and we suggest using FundRaiser to store as much informaiton as you need to have for all the aspects of your fundraising efforts.  It's not just about donors, although that's certainly a big part, but look at the other aspects to this particular effort.

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Memorial Tracking in FundRaiser


With Memorial Day just around the corner, it might be a good time to mention a couple of ways you can keep track of memorial gifts in FundRaiser.  We call them "Tribute" gifts, and they can be in memory of departed loved ones, or in honor of living individuals, or even in celebration of some life event or other.

For FundRaiser Professional users, there is a built-in module, appropriately called "Tributes" to handle the recording and subsequent correspondence for these types of gifts.  In FundRaiser Select, the Tributes module is available as an "add-on" module for a modest price.  But even in Spark, which has no specific facility for tribute tracking, one can devise some practices to follow and report on tribute giving.  Let's see how they work.

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Communication doesn't have to be a ticklish subject


In a recent blog here by Kim Klein, follow-up was stressed as an important element in asking people to volunteer their help.  It's as true in fundraising as in any other aspect of volunteerism (or life itself, for that matter) that communication is critical in fostering a strong, respectful, and meaningful relationship.  So use what FundRaiser provides to keep abreast of what's happening with your individual requests of volunteers, and be prepared to communicate often and openly.  Here are a couple of features that I've talked about in the past, that can be very helpful in accomplishing your goals:

1.  Tickles.  Use them.  They are nothing but date-sensitive reminders that attach directly to a name record.  If you've ever ordered something from an online company or, perhaps less likely, a print catalog, you've probably had some way to follow up on that order: email, shipment tracking, etc.  Tickles can help you keep track of your outstanding requests of people, with "DO" dates set to remind you of when you need to follow up on those requests.  It only takes a minute to enter a Tickle, and it can save you a lot of grief due to miscommunications in the long run.  

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A Sneak Peek at a New Feature



SHHHHH!!  Don't tell anyone I'm giving you this sneak peek, but I feel compelled to let you know just one new layout feature coming in the near future.  It won't happen for a month or two, but when it does, you'll be able to take advantage of it right away.  The Tony Poderis blog of April 7th got me thinking about this, because it's nice to be able to thank brand new donors in one way, while thanking repeat donors in a whole different way.  In fact, one of the points in Tony's blog is to thank donors for past support.

You all know by now (I hope) that you can have as many letter templates set up as you need, for all types of donations, and all types of donors.  So, you can have one letter that you send out for a first time donor, and another for a repeat donor, and maybe even another for a long-time frequent giver.  One of the things that has been a bit frustrating for some of you is that, while viewing the gifts that you are entering, and trying to determine which template you might want to use, it is not possible to view the giving history of the donor.

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