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.

When You're Hot...

Like much of the country, the Ozarks has been in the throes of a heat wave. This time of year the sun seems to surge over the horizon, bursting across the treetops like molten gold. Mornings are no longer still. Birds and squirrels scurry about, determined to get their daily business done before the oppressive heat bears down on the landscape. One of the many feral cats in our neighborhood sits and watches the activity with feigned disinterest that will quickly turn into a tiger’s leap should opportunity present itself.

While our mobile cousins can hide from the worst of the heat, our leafy relatives have no such comfort.They must bear the brunt of the sun’s blaze. Some stand resolute against the blistering sun while others succumb, drooping to the ground in surrender. Yellows and oranges that usually herald the crisp cool days of autumn splatter foliage as plants draw back from the summertime heat.

I suppose it is human nature to consider the very moment we are in as somehow extraordinary. Last summer, we were told, was unusually hot. Yet here we are in the midst of an unusual heat wave once again. Our perception is so subjective. I’m sure I considered summers I spent training horses outside much hotter than those in which I worked inside an office. So how can I tell if my observations are accurate or not? I look it up on a weather service site. Those statistics are really the only way to get an objective comparison.

FundRaiser has a new report that can help you make your own objective assessment of your 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 (www.fundraiserbasic.com), 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 (www.fundraisersoftware.com) 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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Effort's Reward

I planted a rare heirloom pea called Golden Sweet in my porch boxes early this spring. It is hard to believe the dull, wrinkled brown seeds would become the lush greenery snow peasclinging and tangling its way ever upward on my front porch. I had just begun to despair of actually getting any peas from the vining jungle when I began to notice the first delicate magenta blooms peaking from ruffled clusters of yellow green leaves. Now tiny yellow pea pods are pushing their way out flowers that have faded to blue and I will soon enjoy them lightly sautéed with butter and garlic.

It is very nice to see my effort bear fruit. There were so many steps required to get here. I spent a good many hours researching heirloom seeds. I chose the Golden Sweet for its lovely flowers and pretty yellow pods. Once I’d made my choice, I had to actually find seeds for that variety, order them, plant them, and care for them. Each step was essential for any kind of success.

Fundraising is very similar to gardening; it often starts with something very small and inconspicuous, but with care and nurturing it can become many times greater than its humble beginnings. Yet the growing of it takes diligent effort and the proper tools.

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Client/Server: A GeekSpeak Analogy

A couple of years ago I wrote an article about the differences between our Multi-User versions of FundRaiser and the Client/Server versions of FundRaiser.  And you may want to visit that article for a more technical explanation of things, but in this week's blog I'll attempt to give you the short version.

Client/Server versions can allow more than one person to use the program simultaneously, like Multi-User versions, but that's not their real purpose and strength.  Speed with safety is the real benefit to Client/Server versions, speeding up processes while insuring that no data becomes corrupt or lost.  Most "regular" versions of software are installed directly to the computer at hand, and that computer does all the work, so it's called a "stand alone" setup.  On networks of computers, it can be advantageous to have the program installed on a special computer called a Server, and allow other computers (Clients) to run the program over the network.

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Personally Speaking

This past weekend I volunteered to play guitar as a part of the Earth Day activities at Oracle State Park, where my wife, Nanette, volunteers on a regular basis.  The park is about to close for the summer, since the state is not providing funds any more, but a group has formed, called Friends of Oracle State Park, to coordinate volunteer efforts and raise monies to keep up the trails and structures and all that's required even for a small (4,000 acres) park.  I was happy to spend an hour doing something I love to help folks maintain what they (and my wife) love, and it's something I'd readily do again.  I must admit that, for someone who works almost solely with non-profits, I don't give of my time as much as some others, but, then again, I'm rarely asked.  This little glimpse of myself is offered in order to illustrate some uses for FundRaiser, of course.

From the little personal information in the previous paragraph, one could reasonably assign several category codes to my name record in their FundRaiser database.  Remember that category codes are used, for the most part, as non-gift-related aspects of a person's life.  This means that codes with descriptions such as "guitar player", or "music interest", or others, might be created and assigned, in order to have the ability at a later date to pull names of people with similar interests.  And, although it doesn't mean that I'll play at your event if asked, it does mean that you'll have the facts you need to pull a list of people you want to ask to volunteer services or talents when the time comes.

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Case Study: Life Radio Ministries

Life Radio Ministries needed to update their donor management software. "We were using something that had served us well enough over the years, but it was becoming extremely expensive to maintain, as well as being outdated. We decided to look for something that was more reasonably priced and which had stayed up with technology," says Joe Emert, General Manager of Life Radio Ministries.He was looking for features that allow him to create a personal, 'high touch' connection with donors...Read more ...

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

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