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.

How to Capture Email Addresses from First Time Online Donors

How to Capture Email Addresses from First Time Online Donors

When someone makes their first online donation to your organization, do you automatically add their name to your email contact list? This is a "Best Practice, for most organizations. Here's why:

First, consider that the reasons for an opt-in or a double opt-in on an email list:

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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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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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A Sneak Peek at a New Feature



SHHHHH!!  Don't tell anyone I'm giving you this sneak peek, but I feel compelled to let you know just one new layout feature coming in the near future.  It won't happen for a month or two, but when it does, you'll be able to take advantage of it right away.  The Tony Poderis blog of April 7th got me thinking about this, because it's nice to be able to thank brand new donors in one way, while thanking repeat donors in a whole different way.  In fact, one of the points in Tony's blog is to thank donors for past support.

You all know by now (I hope) that you can have as many letter templates set up as you need, for all types of donations, and all types of donors.  So, you can have one letter that you send out for a first time donor, and another for a repeat donor, and maybe even another for a long-time frequent giver.  One of the things that has been a bit frustrating for some of you is that, while viewing the gifts that you are entering, and trying to determine which template you might want to use, it is not possible to view the giving history of the donor.

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The Language of Color

The view from the FundRaiser office balconyThe Ozarks have put on a truly breathtaking show this Fall.  I have never seen colors so vivid.  The trees stand boldly clad in crimson and gold.  Ruby vines twine around trunks and gently swing from branches like expensive jewelry.  Even when clouds darken the sky, the colors continue to glow as if lit from within.

Color is such an important part of our lives.  Naming colors is one of the first things we learn as children.  Since color is a near universal language, stemming from somewhere deep in our primeval history, we can use color to communicate many things without words.  Red usually means stop or danger, yellow inspires caution or attention, and green suggests going ahead.  Like most people, I suspect, I don’t even have to think about these impressions, they are just there.

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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 the Way I Want It!

I think the key attraction of owning our home for me is the fact that I can do whatever I want with it. If I want purple and green walls I can have them (well if I can talk my husband into it, that is). One of the first things we did after buying the house was remove the door between the kitchen and the bathroom as it made the kitchen basically a hallway to the bathroom. One must walk through the bedroom to get to the bath now, but I felt that is more than made up for by the increased counter space I will be able to add.

 

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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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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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FundRaiser's oldest websites were cutting edge... at the time

Screenshot of FundRaiser's second website from 1996
FundRaiser website in 2003

The internet has developed so quickly over the past decade that it’s hard to remember how things looked even just a short while ago. With FundRaiser going live with a new website this week, I began to wonder what our earliest websites looked like. I talked to Gene Weinbeck, founder of FundRaiser, and he was happy to share some memories and a few images of earlier websites. When did FundRaiser first go online? Gene: Our earliest website went up about 1994. It looked like a DOS program. It was done in Times New Roman only, and for sophistication, it used bold and underlining. We don’t have any screenshot of that… no one thought to save it!

What made you go online at that time?

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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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