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.

Moving up the Donor Management Ladder

SparkUpgrade

I've been thrilled with my explorations as a volunteer fundraiser for a small all-volunteer nonprofit that I support. Four years ago, I moved donor information from Excel spreadsheets into FundRaiser's simplest program, FundRaiser Basic.  At that time, I had no hands-on experience raising money, and I was eager to try out some of the things I'd learned from talking to customers in my work at FundRaiser. 

As it turned out, success was relatively easy. Yes, it's true what 'they' say: sending thank you letters, following up with donors who gave last year but not this year, and making sure that donors don't fall through the cracks does result in more stable incoming donations. I've learned lots of good lessons in fundraising and what's more I've really enjoyed the work. Now, on our 5th year using FundRaiser Software, the organization is more financial stable than ever before, all funded by grassroots giving-- loyal donors who believe in our work and aren't likely to move on as a grant or foundation often does. 

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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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3 FundRaiser Versions for Membership Management


Choose the features you need at a price that fits

The membership Management Module is available in 3 out of 4 FundRaiser Software levels, excepting only the entry-level FundRaiser Basic.  Which of the others (Spark, Select, or Professional) you choose amy depend on a combination of price and features available.  As the official "Tour Guide" for our online tours of the software, I always recommend starting at the least expensive level that has the features you absolutely must have, and working up from there in the future.  Sasha's recent blog does a great job painting the general picture of what the Membership Module can help you do, but in this installment, I'll explain the three versions that can manage memberships, starting with the least expensive and ending with the most versatile.  For a quick view, you can visit the comparison chart found here.

 

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Looking Ahead

The brilliant colors of Fall are beginning to blaze here in the Ozarks.  I see crimPiawacket helps himself to his son blushed sumacs nestled among the stalwart green of the oaks.  Oaks are the last trees to change color, calmly keeping their glossy green raiment as a lovely backdrop to the riotous colors of less sedate trees.  Acorns and walnuts rain down and the grass grows with spring-like abandon.

All of this color and abundance tends to make me forget we are heading into the cold, drab days of winter.  Days when all is quiet and still and where growth happens unseen below fallen leaves and brown grasses.  I always long to take some green with me into winter and this year I am determined to do so.  I have spent the last month designing a hydroponic system for growing wheat grass.  The idea was to be able to feed the few critters I want to add to our home without having to depend on outside hay.  I accomplished this, but since I am currently “critterless” with the exeption of a few cats, I am now considering using it to grow salad greens all winter.  What can be better that eating a fresh picked salad as I watch the snow fall outside? 

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Treatment for database growing pains and head banging


When you decide to move into a more advanced FundRaiser program, it usually means that your organization is in a time of positive change: your organization is growing and having enough success that you can no longer make due with the limitations of your previous software. You make the jump to a more powerful program, open it up and then try to get as comfortable as you used to be with the old software.

I had that kind of positive confusion on my mind when I went over to the FundRaiser Tech Support department and asked Jonathan what would be his ‘best advice’ for organizations who were having 'software growing pains.' He had some great suggestions, but overall it boiled down to this simple piece of advice:

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The Heat is On... C/S Upgrade Special

Cool car with large engine

It's scorching hot here in the Southwest (training office is in Arizona), and the monsoon rains just haven't been as heavy or as often as we'd like to cool things down or build the water table up.  This is the time of the year when many of us become lethargic and just don't want to do much more than sit and think.  And I was thinking of the impending deadline most all of our users have in the near future.  It's just around the corner:  the deadline for getting the best upgrade pricing for Client / Server.  And some folks may be wondering how much change this will make in their use of the program.  Most of us are used to routines in entering data, creating reports, sending thank you letters, and so on, and ANY change can be a bit intimidating.

How much will you need to re-learn once you've upgraded to the Client / Server version?NOTHING.

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Out on a limb that's big enough

Calico cat out on a limb looking intent

I am going to go out on a limb here--  I believe that in order to enjoy life you have to really get into it, and sometimes that includes taking risks. If you are like me,  you may like to take them slowly, a step at a time, with thoughtful pauses. Or you may just sprint ahead.

One way or another, you may find yourself out on the proverbial limb: even though it is holding you up at the moment, you aren't quite sure if it will continue to hold you, or where the next step is.

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Does it fit?

The past few years I’ve noticed that clothing just doesn’t fit the way it once did.  I’ve become less active (read “lazy”) and my physical mass has begun to shift around on my body.  I’ve always been an “off-the-rack” shopper, boringly average in run-of-the-mill sizes, until recently.  Last weekend, while having some tires replaced at one of our local malls, my wife and I were browsing the stores and happened on a great sale at one of the stores we rarely shop.  I followed her advice and tried on some jeans, and was pleasantly surprised to find some that fit perfectly, shifted mass and all.  I bought two pairs, at 20% of their original list price, feeling like a million bucks.

I got to thinking about this in relation to our latest product offering:  FundRaiser Spark.  One size doesn’t fit all in the world of software, and sometimes extra features impede the use of a product, rather than promoting it.  This can be especially true in software when the people using it are not necessarily computer “geeks”, like myself, and don’t have the time, inclination, etc., to fully explore all the functionality of a program.  And the reverse side of this coin is software that doesn’t do quite enough.

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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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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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Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
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