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.

3 Things To Do When Your Campaign Stalls

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It’s never easy, or fun, when a campaign stalls. Running out of momentum halfway through a five-year campaign, for example, may leave you with what seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb to get going again. And there’s the impact to your organization, especially if you’re fundraising for a major project.

There are usually four reasons why campaigns stall. The first is a lack of prospects. Not having very many major donors, or a lack of donor cultivation (Did you know it can take 18 to 24 months to fully cultivate a major donor?) may leave your organization with a small amount of people from which to initially draw. The second main reason is a lack of infrastructure, such as a donor database, volunteer training, and methods of cultivating your donors. Good news! If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re using FundRaiser Software, which puts you one step ahead and can help you with the first two reasons. The third reason is a lack of planning, including a campaign feasibility study. And finally, the last reason may be timing, which often is outside of our control such as an economic downturn happening in the middle of a long-term campaign.

Generally campaigns stall due to a combination of factors. So what can you do when that happens?

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Why Do We Need a Gift Acceptance Policy?

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Dear Kim,

A colleague is working with you on a capital campaign and she says you have insisted that the organization create a “Gift Acceptance Policy.” I brought this to our board of directors and they said it should just be “We accept all gifts.” We all laughed. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but what is the point of having such a policy? What kind of gifts would you not accept? That doesn’t even make sense.

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Measuring Campaign Progress

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I think every organization wonders how their campaign is doing, and not just in a direct monetary sense, but also in terms of momentum. Are you gaining more new donors? Have things leveled off a bit? Are you progressing?

When the donations stop coming in for a long-term campaign, it’s easy to notice a stall. Running a Donation Report ordered by Date of Gift, will show you the cutoff point. Depending on how long ago that was, the report can help you guide your future strategy.

But what if donations don’t stop completely?

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Short take: Tracking Tickets With Campaign Management

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Within FundRaiser Professional, the Campaign Management module makes it easy to track responses and response rates to your campaigns and events. But did you know it can also track ticket sales? For an event, such as a raffle or a banquet where there isn’t assigned seating and you want to track how many paid versus complimentary tickets are sold, our Campaign Management module is a big help.

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Case Study: Local CASA 'Eclipse Child Abuse' Campaign Succeeds

Case Study: Local CASA 'Eclipse Child Abuse' Campaign Succeeds
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  Although the total Eclipse in August is a thing of the past, funds and volunteers that the 37th Judicial CASA group raised are even now fueling forward  progress. The group exceeded their campaign goal by $5,000 raising a total of $25,000. Perhaps equally important is that a large amount of the money was raised from  new major donors who have a higher likelihood of becoming repeat donors. 

The "Eclipse Child Abuse campaign" had two parts:

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Check Out Your Organization’s Fund-Raising Readiness and Learn the Secret Of Fund-Raising Success

Check Out Your Organization’s  Fund-Raising Readiness and Learn  the Secret Of Fund-Raising Success
 

For many people, fund-raising is the stuff of myth and magic—a series of tasks rivaling the labors of Hercules and demanding the powers of a Merlin. Myth and magic, because they offer the balm of simple acceptance in place of the pain of comprehension, can be very comforting, and in no instance is this more true, than when the myth of fund-raising magic is used to excuse fund-raising failure.

“If,” goes the justification, “running a successful fund-raising campaign is an endeavor comparable to dredging the river Styx, and soliciting large gifts equivalent to pulling Excalibur from the stone, what mere mortal can be expected to succeed?” Given that attitude, let me add a corollary: “Why bother to develop a goal or start a campaign?” The answer to those questions is, because we have to, and because the myth of fund-raising doom can’t measure up to the basic truth that fund-raising success is simply hard work on the part of people who are thoroughly prepared.

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Case Study: Interest in the Total Eclipse Boosts CASA Major Donor Campaign

Case Study:  Interest in the Total Eclipse Boosts CASA Major Donor Campaign
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For this month's total eclipse, Missouri is one of the prime viewing spots. Local media are in love with the eclipse, and one nonprofit group is using that to boost their fundraising campaign. The 37th Judicial CASA, who are FundRaiser Select users, have created an entire campaign around the eclipse, called Eclipse Child Abuse with Child Advocacy.

The campaign has three efforts tied to it:

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Know Your Organization, part 2

Know Your Organization, part 2
Who Cares Enough about Our Organization to Give Us Money?

Remember the TV detective Kojak, played by the late Telly Savalas, who was always asking, “Who loves ya, baby?” Well, the question fund-raisers need to ask of their organizations is the same, although it is more likely to be phrased, Who cares about us and why?

Let’s go back to the mission statement for a moment. If an organization’s mission statement is truly in sync with what the organization is doing, it provides a way to help identify who cares about it and why. Or put another way, it explains who benefits from the existence of the organization.

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Who is a Prospect and When Should I Stop Bugging Them?

Who is a Prospect and When Should I Stop Bugging Them?

Dear Kim,

How many times do you ask someone for a meeting to discuss a major gift? We are in a small, quiet major gifts campaign. Solicitors have gotten an initial interest when talking with prospects when they have invited them to an event which they cannot attend but say they are interested in our mission. Then the solicitors get into a lot of voice mail and phone tag when trying to set up a meeting or extend an invitation to another event. Do you get to a point where you just give up–and if so, when is that? Or do you come right out and ask them if they want you to stop bugging them? Or do you try to connect with them indefinitely? This has been going on for 4-5 months in some cases.

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Gift Codes Help Record Details of Campaigns

Gift Codes Help Record Details of Campaigns

Campaigns are generally recorded in FundRaiser through the Motivation code, which is a gift code. The Motivation Code tells what motivated the donor to give to your organization. These codes usually correspond to the campaign that an organization is running when the donation is made.

In FundRaiser Professional there are some additional gift code options- Period and Miscellaneous. These are good ways to get more detail on a campaign. Period codes are usually used when you do multiple mailings are done on the same campaign. For instance, if you do 4 mailings on a campaign, the Period Code shows which season each of the mailings was sent it, and allows you to see the differences in response according to the time period.

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3 Donor Management Tips to Improve Your FundRaising Campaign Reporting

3 Donor Management Tips to Improve Your FundRaising Campaign Reporting
Track Campaigns more easily 

All the FundRaiser programs can help you track your campaign activity.  FundRaiser Professional has a special "Campaign Management" component to help do it even more completely, but any version will allow you to do the following tips. Any of these tips will help you gather together donors and/or donations specific to any of your campaigns. 

1.  Code those gifts !!!

Most campaigns are made up of fundraising events.  Some are physical gatherings, like walkathons, parties, etc., to encourage immediate donations. Some are awareness events, such as mailings, advertising, and so forth, which will bring donations over a period of time.  In any of those cases, when gifts are received and recorded, it just makes sense to use the Motivation Code to indicate why that person gave at that event.  Normally it will be a code that reflects the event during which they were asked to give, whether a mailing or a gathering.  If you do this consistently, you'll be able to create Groupings, based on donations made to these codes during a particular period of time.  Groupings can be used with almost all reports, so you can focus on a particular event, or on all the events within a campaign.

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Developing Development Director

Developing Development Director

Dear Kim:

I am the first development director for a full-service humane society that has been operating for 125 years, and I have been on the job less than a year. We have a $1. 5 million budget ($500,000 coming from a county contract). We have always operated in the black, but unfortunately, not much analysis and goal setting have ever been done. There is no strategic plan in place, and we are heading into a capital campaign to build a new shelter and have many needs on the horizon. To top it off, the Executive Director is also new, and we are both working fast and furiously to evaluate as much as we can and to get a plan in place. I have been working on an overall development plan and the article, “Creating a Budget for Fundraising” is very helpful. However, do you know if there are specific percentages or guidelines as to how much the development office should raise in relation to the overall budget? For instance, when I worked in fundraising at an independent school, I raised 6-7 percent of the total budget. That was fairly average at that time. Because there has been little tracking and overall analysis, I realize that we are going to need to look at each direct mail piece, each special event to create budgets and to determine overall purpose. Any help you can give is appreciated!

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Managing & Reporting Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 4: Finishing up your Campaign

Managing & Reporting  Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 4: Finishing up your Campaign
Campaign Assessment and Review

The campaign is finished. The thank-yous have been said and the money counted. However, before closing the book on a campaign for good, you should take one last look at it. The days immediately following a campaign are the time to analyze what went wrong and what went right, which fixes worked and which didn’t.

You should assess and review every fund-raising campaign, and you should make a record of what you find.

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Managing & Reporting Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 3: Tracking, Collecting and Acknowledging Gifts

Managing & Reporting  Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 3: Tracking, Collecting and Acknowledging Gifts
Tracking Gifts and Collecting the Money

(read part 1 and part 2 of this series.

Receiving and recording gifts is simple to do, but very often poorly done. When donors make a gift or a pledge, solicitors notify their team captain and forward the pledge card or check to the organization’s development office that day. If the deal is struck in the evening, they do it first thing the next morning. The timing and process is where the first mistakes are made. The timing is do it immediately. The process is send the paperwork to the development office. There is no need for checks and pledge cards to go anyplace other than to the organization. These are official documents and should be collected in one central location as soon as they are signed. No solicitor should ever hold a check or pledge card while waiting for others to come in. Stamps and envelopes are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of the bad will created by a lost or slowly processed check or pledge card.

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Managing & Reporting on Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 2 : Mid-Course Corrections & Problem Solving

Managing & Reporting on Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 2 : Mid-Course Corrections & Problem Solving
Mid-Course Corrections and Problem Solving

(read part 1 here)

We track progress in a fund-raising campaign in order to identify problems in time to take corrective actions so that the goal stays within reach. If at any point in the campaign it begins to look as if the ability to achieve the goal is slipping away, then those managing the campaign must stop and take stock of the situation.

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Managing & Reporting Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 1: Organizing Teams & Reporting Meetings

Managing & Reporting  Fund-Raising Campaign Progress, part 1: Organizing Teams & Reporting Meetings

 

How do you keep a fund-raising campaign on track? By being well organized, constantly monitoring progress, and informing all campaign participants of that progress. The very reason for the pyramidal structure of a campaign committee is to simplify management. In the best of circumstances, the pyramid is constructed so that no person supervises more than five people. (To maintain this limit is why we sometimes add campaign and divisional co-chairs.)

The campaign pyramid

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Finance vs. Development

Finance vs. Development
Mixing Oil and Water and Making it Work in a Non-Profit Organization 

The receiving and the handling of donations made to non-profit organizations are simple to do, but very often poorly done. When that happens, a vital block is taken out of the foundation we strive to build in an effort to ensure donor loyalty for future gifts. Lost or misplaced checks and other communications from donors, late and erroneous recording of gift/pledge dates and amounts, delayed and otherwise neglected acknowledgments, spelling errors of donors’ names, etc., all lead to lost or upset donors. 

We can all agree that this critically important process must be done right. And it starts with the very first check or pledge from a donor when it arrives in the mail room. But in many non-profit organizations, there is a sharply divided opinion regarding just where those checks, pledges, and other donor communications should go next in order to ensure that all goes right with the receiving, posting, acknowledging, reporting, and banking process of donations. 

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Case Study: Our Clubhouse's management of simultaneous campaigns

Case Study: Our Clubhouse's management of simultaneous campaigns

Our Clubhouse.org has a dedication to improving the lives of cancer survivors that inspires me. They keep up a very active schedule of fundraising to pay for the services they offer to cancer survivors and their families. They started small, using FundRaiser Basic, and over the years have built momentum so that they now are running several events at once. Staying organized is a challenge, and they have done it by skillful use of special campaign management features in FundRaiser Software.

Using the Campaign Management Console is straightforward, and in doing so, Gilda’s Club of Western PA is able to easily view campaign ROI, and make adjustments as needed to their campaigns. Debra Markovich, Executive Assistant at Gilda’s Club Western Pennsylvania uses FundRaiser Professional on a daily basis and explains how they stay organized while running several simulaneous events:

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Asking for the Money: "If you don't ask, you don't get" -- Part 2 Meeting with donors for a Big Ask

Asking for the Money: "If you don't ask, you don't get" -- Part 2 Meeting with donors for a Big Ask

read part 1 Preparing for the ASK

The Opening: How It’s Handled Will Determine Its Outcome

The first meeting should not take place in a public space such as a restaurant with its distractions and interruptions. Solicitors should begin by talking with prospects about professional and personal interests, mutual friends and acquaintances, places and times where their lives may have crossed. However, solicitors should not forget why they are there. Quickly, but naturally, discussion of the campaign should be worked into the conversation. Solicitors should mention their own personal involvement and commitment to the organization as a way of explaining why it is of such great value to the community. They must convey how important the current fund-raising campaign is to the organization’s future. When appropriate, a tour of the organization’s facilities and the opportunity to meet others involved with the organization should be offered. Finally, solicitors should ask prospects to consider supporting the organization by making a pledge in the suggested amount.

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Asking for the Money: "If you don't ask, you don't get" -- Part 1 Preparing for the ASK

Asking for the Money: "If you don't ask, you don't get" -- Part 1 Preparing for the ASK

Generally, the first step in asking prospects to make a donation is to send them a letter. This is true no matter the type of campaign or potential size of gift. In the small-gifts division of an annual campaign the letter may be the only step, although I would recommend having it followed up by a telephone call, if at all possible. Even in door-to-door solicitations, a letter should be sent first announcing the date of, reason for, and, in most cases, the suggested amount of the request. In the case of larger gifts, the letter announces that a solicitor will be calling for an appointment. We refer to this kind of letter as the proposal letter because it proposes that the prospect become a donor to an organization.

Proposal letters are usually signed either by the solicitor or by the campaign chair. In the case of the latter, the status and power of the chair are lent to what is essentially a request of the prospect to meet with a solicitor. If signed by the chair, you can also be sure the letters all went out by a specific time. This also forces solicitors to act by the time the letter says they will be calling for an appointment. However, not every solicitor will be able to make the initial calls in the same time frame. One or more solicitors may be out of town when the letter hits. Consequently, there is less likelihood of being in error as to when solicitors will be calling if the timing of proposal letters is left in the hands of the solicitors.

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