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.

My Experience: Moving from FundRaiser Basic to Spark

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After 5 years of using FundRaiser Basic, the organization I volunteer for decided to move to FundRaiser Spark. The 5 years we've been using Basic have been good to us, and Basic has played a significant role in that. The organization has stabilized donations at the level needed for our operations, and increased fundraising to create 'a little extra' each year. In a kind of feedback loop between success with fundraising and growing confidence, we've also been willing to try new things and expand our impact. Although quite happy with what we've been able to do with Basic, the time seemed right to give ourselves more power in our donor management software and to explore having a greater impact in our community. 

The move from Basic to Spark has been enjoyable and interesting. I've learned two basic things--

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We've Updated Our Training Schedule

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Beginning in May, you’ll notice some of the classes that we have on our training schedule will have new names. In addition, you’ll find the class schedule has been reorganized to allow you to complete our three core classes in the same weeks. We’ve made these changes in the hopes of streamlining your training experience as well as providing more descriptive names for the classes.

So what’s changed?

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Meta Peace Team Comes Back For Great Support

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Melody Arnst, Administrative Assistant at Meta Peace Team, says her specialty is diving in and figuring out how to make things work better, primarily in the office. “That’s why I am working in the database. Things need to work and be streamlined there,” says Melody.

First thing as she started working at Meta Peace, she found herself untangling database issues. Meta Peace, FundRaiser Software users, had decided to give another donor database a try. “We attempted to move to Network for Good. It was a frustrating experience. As the process unfolded, I thought, ‘maybe we shouldn’t have done this,’ " says Melody.

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Three Independence Day Reflections

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1. Independence, good or bad?

Nearly every citizen of the U.S., I believe, would agree that national independence from foreign powers is a good thing, and we celebrate our country's independence from Great Britain every year on July 4th.  But not all forms of independence are necessarily good, I think.  Let me elaborate.  When I was young, I was instilled with the idea that self-independence is a good thing, so far as providing for one's own needs, food, shelter, clothing, etc.  Hard work, I was told, was the key for obtaining that independence.  Looking back, I think that was a bit naive on my parents' part, but it certainly got me out of the house earlier than I might otherwise have left.  Few of us truly want to be independent in all respects, and most of us need some forms of interdependence to thrive and live full lives.  Successful marriage, rearing children, meaningful employment, team sports, all require interdependence to one degree or another.  And learning how to use donor management software as powerful and versatile as FundRaiser products requires a bit of interdependence as well.  So consider that trying to be too independent when learning the ins and outs of FundRaiser is not a good thing, and is probably a bit self-defeating, in that you will take longer to perform the tasks that you need to perform without a proper grounding in the use of the software.  Allow yourself the luxury of interdependence with our staff and other users in order to more quickly and efficiently reach your fundraising goals.  You'll see that, while not a bad thing in itself, striving for independence in all things may be a bit misguided.

2.  Independent interdependence

It's not really an oxymoron.  There are several avenues for learning FundRaiser software that allow you to be independent to a great degree:  training videos online; online FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions); the Help Contents HOW-TO section in your software; the blog archives on our website for learning about many aspects of how the software helps with specific fundraising tasks.  These avenues of learning allow you to view the information at your leisure, on your timetable, without being dependent on someone else's scheduling or priorities.  Someone else, of course, expended the effort to create or make available the information on the website, so there is a level of dependence on those folks (mostly our staff here at FundRaiser), but it's kept at arm's length, so to speak, through the media in which it's presented.

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Short take: FundRaiser Overview Class

Short take:  FundRaiser Overview Class

 

Feel like you need a refresher on the software? Do you have a new employee or volunteer who will be helping your organization with FundRaiser Software? Our FundRaiser Overview Class is the perfect resource for this - and it is offered every week.

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How FundRaiser Gives You More Time In Your Day

How FundRaiser Gives You More Time In Your Day

What would you do with 22 more minutes each day? According to a survey by IT staffing firm Robert Half Technologies, most workers lose approximately 22 minutes every day due to technical issues. That’s 4 hours and 24 minutes per 5-day work week. Or to put it in another context, its 228 hours and 48 minutes, or roughly 5 ¾ weeks out of your year! Of course, this could be anything from a slow computer to printer issues; however, when it comes to your FundRaising software, you don’t have to lose any time at all!

The support team at FundRaiser is always available to answer questions. From a quick how-to question or a more intensive technical issue, our talented and friendly support technicians want to help. Part of that 22 minutes each day also comes from trying to learn about the programs that we use and how these work. Here, too, FundRaiser Software has our customers covered. In addition to our support team, we offer on-demand training videos as well as a full schedule of training classes.

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Turn your New Year's Resolutions into End-Of-Year Benefits with FundRaiser Training Options

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 the year, 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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In Remembrance of Larry Weaver, the voice of FundRaiser Technical Support

Larry Weaver at his retirement part
 Larry Weaver, at his FundRaiser retirement party in December 2014. 

It is with sadness we report the death on January 13, 2016 of Larry Weaver, long-time employee and friend at Fundraiser.

Many of you have have “known” Larry for years, as he helped all of our FundRaiser users in his roles as Technical Support expert, and in later years, the “star” of our Training videos and live classes. Larry was the first employee hired by founder Gene Weinbeck, and remained, through the ups and downs of the company and his own move from Missouri to Arizona, a staunch friend and supporter of FundRaiser’s mission.

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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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Case Study: What to Do When You Inherit Fundraising Software from your Predecessor, Figge pt 3

Case Study: What to Do When You Inherit Fundraising Software from your Predecessor, Figge pt 3

Like many development directors, Raelene Pullen of Figge Art Museum has a small staff and limited budget, so she needs to use resources wisely. On first arriving at her new job, she turned to the donor database in place at the Figge for information on how to do that … and found that the data she needed wasn’t there. “The previous development team didn’t use the software in a very dynamic way. I’d have a question and refer to the software. The answers weren’t there. So I had to ask myself why that was. Is this software not good? The software can only return information based on what was input,” says Raelene about her first experiences with the donor database.

Instead of giving up on FundRaiser, she sat down to figure out what information she needed and if FundRaiser could do the job. She went through each of the technical trainings offered by FundRaiser Training and spoke to FundRaiser Technical Support.  When properly implemented, FundRaiser was able to provide almost all she needed. “Since then, we’ve revitalized and revamped the coding and campaign management processes. Now we are able to benchmark and track the differences in response for appeals, museum events, gifts, and engagement and have data over a number of years.”

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Even Donor Management Improves with a Break

Even Donor Management Improves with a Break

This Sunday is the first day of summer, bringing with it good memories of relaxed easy days.

Taking a break from work is something that the founders of FundRaiser, Gene and Marcy Weinbeck, wove into the culture of our company. Although hard-work is highly valued here, every month the office is closed one day to honor a holiday. When there isn’t a ‘common’ holiday, we find one. Marcy Weinbeck is the one who established the FundRaiser holiday custom. She says it came about this way:

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New Course: Open For Requests

New Course: Open For Requests

Have you wanted to take a training class, but the schedule just didn’t work out for some reason? Or maybe a last minute project or meeting prevented you from attending the class you really wanted. We understand that things happen, which is why we’re pleased to introduce our new training class, Open For Requests.

We’ve scheduled two Open sessions a month—one at each of our normal times, 10am and 3pm. With this session, simply sign up and let us know what class you would like to take. They are first come, first serve, and we will update the training calendar when they have been taken.

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New Course: Q&A Session

New Course: Q&A Session

Have you ever had a question about something in FundRaiser? Maybe it wasn’t a big question or something you felt like you needed to call for, but you wondered how to do something or maybe if FundRaiser could accomplish a task your organization wanted to have done. With this in mind, our training department has created a new class that’s less of a class and more of an opportunity for you to ask questions.

In April, we debuted a new training session called the Q&A. Scheduled on every other Thursday afternoon, this session provides an opportunity for customers to ask “how to” questions or discuss various projects within FundRaiser.

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Three Of My Favorite FundRaiser Training Classes

Three Of My Favorite FundRaiser Training Classes

There’s no doubt that FundRaiser Software is a robust program. As with any program, even if you’ve been using it for a while, there are always new tips and tricks to learn. This is where our wonderful training department can help out.

As part of my training here at FundRaiser support, I attended the training courses (and watched our training videos) that we offer to our customers. While I found each of them informative and helpful in deepening my understanding of the software, I wanted to share with you my three favorite classes.

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What's in a Greeting, Personally?


In a recently (Oct. 3, 2014) posted blog by Kim Klein, the question of how to greet donors and prospects in letters and emails is addressed.  While the article seems to favor erring on the side of formality, when in doubt, it also recognizes that there are times to be informal, and even quite casual, during correspondence.

In FundRaiser the word processing is built into the program, allowing access to all fields of data for merging into letters as needed.  This enables you to write "form" letters that have the personal look and feel that used to be possible only through individually crafted letters.  The way you greet people in a letter can be personalized for each name record in FundRaiser, as well.

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Importing from Spreadsheets to FundRaiser

Many non-profits began their data management using spreadsheets.  Yours may still use them, but there are many reasons to move away from them and into donor management software, as you may be aware.  In fact, here are a couple of articles that some folks have referenced in telling us why they no longer want to use spreadsheets:  
 
One of the big stumbling blocks to converting to a better system is the old argument: “We would have to re-enter all the information, and no one has time to do that!”  Well, in FundRaiser (even in FundRaiser Basic) there is a file option that allows you to import from other file formats.  Here are some tips and tricks on how to do set up your spreadsheet for optimal importing:  
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4 Examples of FundRaiser Pledge Flexibility


Tony Poderis's recent blog (July 31st:  How Long Should Donors Have to Fulfill Fundraising Pledges?) proposes that the donor should be allowed to set the time limit for fulfilling any pledge they make.  Some folks might, at first glance, think this will dramatically increase the amount of work necessary to manage the overall pledge campaign, as well as the individual pledges.  With FundRaiser's Pledge Module, available in Select and standard in Professional, this should be of little concern and here is why:

1.  Flexibility of pledge length.  With FundRaiser, no two pledges have to be the same.  You can set defaults that you'd like to use, but you can adjust each pledge, as needed, to suit the donor.

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Tracking the Elusive Donor/Prospect


In a recent blog by Tony Poderis, it is suggested that a myriad of things *should* be tracked in order to cultivate donors and prospects more easily and fully.  It's further suggested that, in order to be truly successful, an organization will build strong relationships with their top 20% of donors, getting them fully involved in the organization's mission.  All of this tracking and relationship-building requires a lot of detailed information about people, and storing it in a manner that can be readily accessed may appear daunting.  Let me "undaunt" that appearance with FundRaiser.

Category Codes are the most flexible way to record non-giving aspects of peoples' lives, as I've said numerous times in my blogs over the years, yet some users are still reluctant to utilize them as fully as possible.  Maybe they feel the list of codes gets a bit unwieldy, too long, to specific, etc.  Or perhaps they don't see the immediate need of tracking so many aspects of a person's life.  Hopefully, Tony's blog will give you a better grasp of why this is so necessary.  And I've got a couple of suggestions that will make it easier to use a multiplicity of Category Codes.  

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AMP Up Your FundRaiser Usage


Just the other day, I got a call here at the training office with a question about how to get out a list of Tribute Notification names (it's a Tributes module kind of thing).  Since there is no facility for doing that within FundRaiser's reports or groupings, I suggested they call tech support and get an SQL script written that will do that.  An SQL script is a program-code-like statement that can be used to tell the program to do things outside it's normal role.  The user was surprised that we could do that sort of thing, but it's just a part of the service you can expect from your FundRaiser "AMP".

AMP is the acronym we use for the Annual Maintenance Plan.  We encourage every user to have it, and it includes some important features.  First of all, AMP is a fee-based service that is required initially, since new users will require more contact with Tech Support and Training until they've learned the basice.  Even with training classes, questions will arise that will require you to either search for the answers on your own or, to save time, money, and keep your frustration level down, you can call tech support or training for the answers.

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Options and Choices are GOOD things


Summer is almost upon us, officially, although many of us have been experiencing summer-like weather already, and there are some great things about summer that need to be pointed out from time to time.  I was talking with a friend the other day and the conversation somehow wound around to how I've always been a bit envious of those who don't wear prescription glasses, and I'm looking forward to cataract surgery that will also correct my distance vision.  This means I'll be able to buy cheap sunglasses for the first time in my life.  I'll have options, choices, and decisions to be made regarding the size, style, color, and so on, that I've never had before, since I've been wearing prescriptions since I was 9 or 10.  What an epiphany!  Where is that rack of $1.00 sunglasses??  I can't wait!

 

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