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.

What are "DAFS"?

Daffy

Dear Kim,

I am an inexperienced board member for a small tutoring program. We had a guest speaker on fundraising that someone arranged for us and he went on and on about DAFs and how we should find donors with DAFs. Each of us on the board thought the others knew what he was talking about but afterwards it turned out none of us knew. Do you know? We felt stupid that we didn’t ask him and now we have renamed our board Daffy and the Dumbclucks.

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Board Member Paying Staff Member Extra

Ananias

Dear Kim,  

I chair the board of a small religious organization.  Each employee has to raise a certain amount toward their salary and this amount is set by the board, as are the salaries. Recently it came to my attention that one employee is receiving additional support from a board member who provides a designated gift for that individual’s support. I was caught off guard to find that this individual is making more money than we knew and that a particular board member is providing it.  This seems like money laundering to me. The board member is making a financial gift to a family, and running it through the non-profit so that it can be tax deductible. Is there an IRS rule, or a piece of governance that would prevent this sort of thing from happening? 

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Ways To Keep In Touch With Your Donors

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In previous blogs we’ve spoken about reaching out to donors and how many times and how often you should contact them. However, it’s important to think about ways to keep in touch. With so many communications options available to your organization, start thinking about moving beyond mailed letters or even emails into different ways to reach out.

One of the important things to keep in mind is that with today’s busy lifestyles, it’s vital to meet your donors where they are. This may mean moving to virtual communication or even using letters (or cards/postcards) sent through the mail for a special touch. Though social media outreach can have pitfalls and requires tending, it is a viable way to communicate with potential donors as well as your existing ones and with the ability for people to share your posts, they can go quickly viral and bring new people to your cause as well.

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Making the Most of Donor Preferences

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As part of donor management, being able to mark your donors as inactive or deceased, or even making note of mailing preferences (email vs. paper mail, for example), plays an important role. Not only can good preference management save your organization money by moving more of your donors to email, but it can also ensure that you’re contacting the donors when and how they wish to be reached. Within FundRaiser Software, our preferences tab places all of this information in one handy location, as you can see in the following screenshot:

The Preferences Tabbed Page is broken down into four sections. The first involves mailings and gifts, with an option for excluding from general mailings (newsletters and appeal letters), sending end of year letters if that’s not done automatically by your organization, as well as not sending thank you letters (for frequent donors), and the ability to completely block the addition of gifts to a record (for deceased donors).

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Speak Your Truth & Create Space for Others to Speak Theirs, Too

SpeakYourTruth

February is full of passion and power with Black History Month, Valentines' Day, and Presidents' Day. One thing that both true love and true leadership have in common is that they thrive on truth and integrity... yet it can take real courage to live these virtues and to support others to have them as well.

A free society is dedicated to each person being given the right to Speak Their Truth. Even with this legal right, it can be dangerous to speak a minority opinion, as the stories told in Black History Month testify. One of the most important roles nonprofits play now in our society is acting as truth speakers for vulnerable populations.

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Know Your Organization, part 1

Know Your Organization, part 1

You start the process of becoming a fund-raiser for an organization when you first become involved with the organization. That’s when you begin to acquire knowledge about an organization, and acquisition of knowledge is the first step in preparing to raise money. To sell any product, it is important to know just what the product is and what it does. It makes no difference whether you are a waitress explaining the intricacies of the specials of the day, a computer salesperson pitching the new improved model, or a solicitor in a fund-raising campaign.

If you are the person running a campaign, you must make sure your solicitors have access to information about what the organization is, what it does, and why money is needed in the furtherance of what goals. If you are the person asking for the money, think about how you would go about making your request without that information. Yes, you will on occasion find people who will give because you ask rather than give to the cause, but that is the exception and –this can’t be said often enough—you cannot rely on the exception to support your organization.

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Successful Closure to My First Fundraising Campaign

Successful Closure to My First Fundraising Campaign

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, I tried my own hand this year at fundraising for an organization I support. From creating my first fundraising campaign, to doing a little extra donor outreach with FundRaiser to reach our campaign goal, I enjoyed the experience and look forward to more. 

One of the very satisfying things was not just reaching the fundraising goal, but also an additional and important side benefit that I had not foreseen:  Based in part on the work our fundraising committee did, we had a wonderful turn out for the event in spite of some challenges that hit just before the event took place. Here's what happened...

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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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Pledges on Paper

Pledges on Paper

Dear Kim:  

A small family foundation run by a friend of our board chair promised us $10,000 at the beginning of the year and they have not yet paid it. Our board chair was recently told by her friend that the foundation probably wasn’t going to be able to pay because the market had wiped out a lot of their assets, but I can’t understand why they didn’t pay sooner.

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Accepting 'No' & Moving On

Accepting 'No' & Moving On

Dear Kim,

I am the executive director of a small environmental justice organization focused on organizing a community to stand up to a large and highly polluting CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.) We have recently had some victories but need to keep pushing. One of our board members comes from quite a wealthy family and he has been very generous himself plus raised a lot of money from family and friends. But recently we needed an extra $10,000 very quickly so I went to him and he said he couldn’t give anything right now. I didn’t say anything but I was really upset. The man has more money than all of us put together! I need to get him to change his mind. How can I do that?

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Donors Surveys: Acting on Findings and Recommendations

Donors Surveys: Acting on Findings and Recommendations
Acting on the Findings and Recommendations

Once a donor survey has been completed and you’ve received a report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations, you’re ready to start the toughest part of the process. Now, you have to listen and pay attention and act. You have a wonderful opportunity to benefit greatly from what your donors told you about the pleasure and satisfaction they derive from their support to your organization, as well as to be alerted to their concerns and cares. You work as best you can to “fix” the things that need fixing, according to what the donors told you. And you need to continue and to enhance the cultivation practices which are the most desired and satisfying to your donors. This will surely help in great measure to maximize your chances for their giving to continue, and it will provide opportunities for even larger gifts in the future.

What if the Donor Survey Tells You What You Don’t Want to Hear?

Make sure that you take the time to go over every aspect of the donor survey. Don’t skip over negative things that on first reading seem minor. It is folly to take the time to conduct a donor survey, spend the money on it, and then risk alienating people important to the organization by ignoring the survey’s recommendations. An organization that ignores some or all of a donor survey’s findings is making a mistake that can damage the organization.

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Donor Surveys: Questions to Learn About Your Donors

Donor Surveys: Questions to Learn About Your Donors
What Do You Know About Your Donorsand What Do They Know About Your Organization?

If we’re going to ask people for money, it sure helps if they think highly of both our organization and its mission.

Do they see our mission as vital and valid?Are we perceived as being successful at carrying out that mission?Has our organization earned and maintained trust and respect?Have we been efficient stewards of donations and resources?Has any controversy been associated with us?Have questions about any of our leaders arisen?Do people believe we are the right organization to address what we declare in our Mission Statement?Do they know enough about us to have formed any deeply held opinions?Learn About Your Donors

Methods to learn the opinions and impressions donors have of your organization can be implemented in a number of ways, including mail, e-mail, telephone, focus discussions, and face-to-face meetings. Whether comprehensive one-on-one interviews, or a mix of any of the other options, surveys do not need to be complicated research instruments. A simple questionnaire (or format, for personal meetings) can be tallied either by hand or, if you structure the questions right, on a simple computer spreadsheet.

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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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Sharing the Good News of a Campaign on the Road to Success

Sharing the Good News of a Campaign on the Road to Success

Recently, I was asked again what a non-profit organization should do about announcing that a fund-raising campaign is racing toward its goal at a record-setting pace. It’s a question asked more often than one might think.

If you’ve got a positive story to tell, especially one of community support, you tell it, right? The reality is that I have known many campaign leaders who have wanted to downplay their success during the campaign. Some have even wanted to under announce results. Why?

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Getting over the fear of asking for money

Getting over the fear of asking for money

Some interesting facts about asking for money:

few people give money unless they are askednearly everyone feels good when they give moneylower income people dig deeper and give a higher percentage of their income than high income peoplewhen you ask people you know for a contribution, at least half of them will say yes

Are you still nervous thinking about how you 'should' ask for money, but think you can't?

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Reach Out during Crisis w/ Respect & Sensitivity

Reach Out during Crisis w/ Respect & Sensitivity
Communicate in Midst of Disaster & Crisis

How can our orgs communicate effectively in the middle of two huge crises - 1) Police brutality and misconduct in Baltimore, spurring response by community members fighting for their rights and lives; and 2) Nepal’s crushing earthquake, and the millions whose lives will be impacted for years to come?

This is an extremely delicate challenge, whether the crisis is human-driven (as in the Baltimore police actions) or a natural disaster.

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Connecting With Category Codes

Connecting With Category Codes

An important aspect of fundraising is making connections with your prospective donors on a deeper level. It is one thing to connect with someone over a shared concern over animal welfare, for example, but reaching them with a story about a rescued cat or one who needs funds for an expensive surgery creates an immediate connection, one that you can tailor to the person’s interests through category codes.

Within FundRaiser category codes are designed to document and segment the non-giving aspects of your donors’ lives. Using category codes can help you create a more meaningful relationship. Document what activities your donors like, for example, and you could entice them to an event that seems tailor made for them.

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Useful Donor Information

Useful Donor Information

Dear Kim,

We have 500 donors, of whom 50 give over $1,000 and another 50 give between $500-999. We do a decent job of keeping in touch with these 100 donors, usually talking to them by phone or visiting the top 20 largest donors at least once a year. I keep all the information on these donors and I am retiring, so cleaning out my files and getting ready to pass this information on to the next person. I have pages of stuff on some people, and almost nothing on others. But what should I have? And what should I delete?

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3 Nonprofit Marketing Skills I Learned from Aunt Frances

3 Nonprofit Marketing Skills I Learned from Aunt Frances

Some of you may remember my stories about my wondrous Great Aunt Frances. We grew into close friends over the years I lived a few blocks from her in NYC.

Aunt Frances was fantastic—a warm, loving, down-to-earth lady who’d had many life adventures and was a fantastic cook.

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