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.

Roll Over!

This morning I woke up with a heavy weight on my ribs and a buzzing sound in my ear. No, I wasn’t having a coronary; it was only my cat purring happily from the middle of my chest. He obviously feels this is an ideal morning perch. I, on the other hand, wonder if it means I’m getting squishier in my old age. Still, I find it a relaxing way to wake up unless he happens to get one of his whiskers up my nose.

It seems that people either love or despise cats. I think it’s because they make it perfectly clear that they are going to live on their own terms and not pander to what we’d like them to be. A dog is perfectly happy to change his ways to suit you. He will wear whatever you want and learn to do any amount of tricks you care to teach him. However, my cat will choose what he does for himself and I always feel a bit privileged when he graces me with his presence.

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Go With the Flow

oak leafJust when I was sure July was coming in May this year, we had some relief. The last couple of days have provided us with stormy mornings and sparkling, sunny afternoons. It has been lovely to lie snug in my warm bed, listening to grumbling thunder and feeling the sweet-scented breeze slipping past my cheek in a cool caress. The normal riot of bird sounds was replaced by the quiet patter and muffled dripping of rain.

Despite the fact that I will surely have to mow my lawn this weekend, I was very glad to see the rain. Everything was so very dry! I ached for my trees, knowing that even their mighty roots couldn’t pull moisture from the ground that wasn’t there. But while the trees stayed stalwart and green, many of their smaller cousins have succumbed to the heat, quickly seeding out and turning dry and skeletal. Only the airy white tufts of Queen Anne’s Lace and the sturdy blue spikes of wild chicory seem immune to their situation.

This morning everything was different. The sun shone merrily among puffy white clouds and everything already looked greener. The world is moist and cool. I could almost see the new green shoots of grass spring up from bleached clumps. Stalks and branches that looked brittle and dead have become supple and alive once more. Water is indeed a wonderful element, capable of performing near miracles.

Volunteers are a lot like water in a non-profit organization.

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Just a Spark...

I live in Arizona (not Missouri, where our home office is located) and sparks are not normally welcome at this time of year, due to dry conditions and fire hazards that, each year, cost millions of dollars in loss of habitat and homes. So when our CEO, Autumn Shirley, told me about a new product we’re releasing, called “Spark”, with a tag-line of “Start something big”, my first thoughts were of some rather large wildfires that we’ve had here in the West.Well, I came to grips with my regionalized knee-jerk reactions, and took a look at this new arrival, and now I see what all the hoopla is about.

Many FundRaiser users are with organizations that have modest database needs, and a tight budget. That is, after all, why we released FundRaiser Basic (, originally: to have an “entry-level” offering that would help small nonprofits grow to a level that allows them to step up to FundRaiser Select or Professional ( when Basic’s abilities are no longer enough. And it’s that same thinking that prompted us to a modular approach, allowing customers to start with Select, for instance, and add modules for functionality as needed (like Pledge, Membership, and Volunteer management modules).

Over the years, one of the problems we found with that approach was that the cost of even Select was too much more than that of Basic. It was just too big a step for growing organizations to make all at once. And, for some, even Select has more functionality than necessary, like too many codes, too many data fields, too many options, etc.

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The dance of change

Having been associated with FundRaiser (and its founder, Gene Weinbeck) for more than a quarter century is, frankly, rather difficult for me to consider without thinking of the myriad changes (personal and professional, local and international, physical and metaphysical) that have occurred during that time. Some reflections bring out nostalgic yearnings for a return to a simpler life, while others evoke a sense of gratitude that “it” isn’t what “it” used to be. Change, in itself, could care less about how I view what was, and change will continue regardless of what I think.

In the mid-80’s my brother asked me to come to Missouri to help with his business, where, he assured me, I’d get the chance to learn computers while earning “Ozark” wages. With not a little trepidation, I agreed, packed everything I owned, including my best pal, Harry S Trudog, into a VW microbus (remember those?) and drove from Louisiana to the sleepy south central Missouri town of West Plains. I quickly learned that “Ozark” wages consisted of $50.00 per week and a place to stay, and that my education in computers was to be in the form self-education, using a then-new IBM PC with both the MS-DOS and BASIC manuals, and a single software program called Lotus 1-2-3. And, while it seemed a rude awakening in one sense, I’ll be forever grateful to my brother for the introduction to my mentor, and friend, Gene Weinbeck, who not only taught me about computers, but also about what it means to care about other people, the value of supporting others’ endeavors, and the ability to adapt to change.

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Case study: Reviving a Lapsed Capital Campaign


Nine years ago, Center for Community Arts began a capital campaign and simultaneously got a grant for their first paid executive director. They planned carefully and hopes were high. Knowing that they would need to keep excellent records, they had done a careful search for the right database. At that time, I wrote a case study about why they chose FundRaiser. It was one of the first I ever wrote here for FundRaiser, and now I wondered how things had gone after all these years. I gave Judy Austermiller a call to find out. Judy is the development director and primary user of FundRaiser still.

When I reached her, Judy told a story that other organizations can likely relate to:  how the economy had hit them and their capital campaign hard, and how staff turn over had added an additional challenge to doing their work. She also talked of how, in spite of these difficulties, the Center had kept on serving the community, and how FundRaiser has helped them do it.

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Reporting to IRS major donors password protection in honor of donations upgrading donors announcements training tip data entry holiday National Change of Address giving history campaign management donor recognition GivingTuesday segmenting donors LYBUNTS prospects mailing correspondence community arts nonprofits operational costs Thank You donor targeting giving levels nonprofit fundraising donor prospects adding personal notes to letters endowment campaign tech tip Resiliency training SYBUNTS fundraising solicitors passwords how to handle auction gifts Importing Data new version gift acceptance policy In-Kind gifts Groupings data analysis how-to videos campaign vacation NCOA processing community broadcasting Alternative Addresses annual maintenance plan alumni donor retention salutation appeal Reminders thank you letters FundRaiser Spark accounting software Cloud texting donors Network for Good follow up anonymous donors the Ask motivation donor slip #GivingTuesday community supported gardens repeat donors security moves management communications welcome packet Excel ticket sales donation history large donations animal rescue planning understanding giving trends membersip benefits ticketsales relationship tracking government grants grassroots campaign donor attrition tribute gifts new donors donor preferences New Year event management grants features donor source backing up data development director Snow Birds legacy giving new leadership email pledges GoFundMe project donor contact information small donations FundRaiser Hosted donor role of nonprofits happiness Facebook Codes ROI monthly giving PayPal technical support board members upgrade customer service user interface FundRaiser Basic volunteers merge notes targeted mailings mission driven data conversion planned giving personalizing letters merge fields add ons auction Task List lapsed donor online donations holiday letters Donor Portal End of Year Letters donor advised funds donor profile customer portal online donations membership benefits foundations office Tickles capital campaign reports donor engagement support donor attrition rate custom page new features motivation code overview operating systems pictures phoning donors appeal letters social media Volunteer module disaster relief gift entry entering auction gifts correspondance tax summary letters gift notes field corporate sponsors recurring gifts Company culture charity golf tournaments premiums look and feel volunteering Crowdfunding Campaign product news letter templates building donor relationships spare fields on site training advanced tab flash sales direct mail updates major gift prospects change of address updating memorial giving membership programs increasing giving amounts fundraising letters Facebook campaign Congratulations donor retention rate new nonprofit brick campaign Constant Contact importing csv letter general word processor banquet budget spreadsheets raffle holiday giving Thanksgiving Personalizing mode code annual campaign donor relations arts transparency publicity materials user spotlights donor loyalty case study

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