I've been thrilled with my explorations as a volunteer fundraiser for a small all-volunteer nonprofit that I support. Four years ago, I moved donor information from Excel spreadsheets into FundRaiser's simplest program, FundRaiser Basic. At that time, I had no hands-on experience raising money, and I was eager to try out some of the things I'd learned from talking to customers in my work at FundRaiser.
As it turned out, success was relatively easy. Yes, it's true what 'they' say: sending thank you letters, following up with donors who gave last year but not this year, and making sure that donors don't fall through the cracks does result in more stable incoming donations. I've learned lots of good lessons in fundraising and what's more I've really enjoyed the work. Now, on our 5th year using FundRaiser Software, the organization is more financial stable than ever before, all funded by grassroots giving-- loyal donors who believe in our work and aren't likely to move on as a grant or foundation often does.
With this success under my belt, I'm ready to take on more. I suggested that moving up to FundRaiser Spark would make it easier for us to have more impact in our community. For an all-volunteer organization which has lasted 4 decades partly by keeping very close tabs on the budget and time needed from volunteers, moving up to Spark was something to think through well. Yes, Spark does cost more than Basic, and yes, it will take more management to input and maintain the records. "Does this make sense, when we've done so well with Basic?" my cohorts asked.
Very good question! After talking over, everyone was excited by the possibilities that Spark offers. On the question of cost, Basic had earned its own retirement. As I wrote about last year, in Increasing the Courage to Ask Lasped Donors to Give, last year, I'd earned the amount we needed to purchase Spark through using Basic to see patterns and follow up with donors who'd forgotten to give.
Right now, we are in the process of setting up Spark online and getting our data moved over. Then it will be time for us to dig in deeper to our donor records. Up until now, we've only entered larger donors into FundRaiser. Now, in preparation for our next gathering, we're doing more. We may even eventually start a membership program, with the membership module that comes as part of Spark! I'm excited for us to spread our wings and see what more we can do in our community as a result of larger incoming donations.
To learn more about the FundRaiser family of donor management software, and see which one might be right for your organization, take a look at this Comparison Overview