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.

The Pros and Cons of Engaging Volunteers in Fundraising

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Dear Kim,

For years I have been told that board members and volunteers need to be trained and enlisted in reaching out, meeting with donors, thanking them and asking for support. I work somewhere that has prioritized that. But all of that comes with the cost of a lot of staff time. Some volunteers aren’t very good at it with training. What’s the downside of just having staff do that work?

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Transitioning from FundRaiser Basic to Spark: Donor Codes

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FundRaiser Basic offers three codes for donor records: a category code, a source code, and newsletter preferences. These three codes provide an excellent foundation for transitioning into FundRaiser Spark or even Select or Professional. Let’s look at each of the codes.

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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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What's A Volunteer Team

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Within your organization there may be times when you prefer to schedule teams of volunteers rather than individuals. Perhaps there are two or three people who enjoy performing certain duties at your events or who you know work well together. In this case, creating a volunteer team allows you to efficiently schedule them at the same time, as well as ensure that you have the required number of volunteers.

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Track Thank You Letter Effectiveness

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Have you ever thought about tracking the repeat donors from the thank you letters they receive? Do you include an ask or a reply coupon in the thank you letters to solicit additional donations?

It’s not a common thing to do, and yet, by generating another ask, you may be surprised by how many people will donate again. How would you track responses to thank you letters?

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The Value of a Salutation

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As many of the letters being sent transition from paper to digital and even email is being replaced by text messages and push notifications on apps, it’s important to think about whether we still have a place for formal salutations. While politeness and courtesy will never go out of style, too often when we call someone Mr. or Ms., such titles are eschewed for the person’s first name. When appealing to donors, what salutation should you use?

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What are "DAFS"?

Daffy

Dear Kim,

I am an inexperienced board member for a small tutoring program. We had a guest speaker on fundraising that someone arranged for us and he went on and on about DAFs and how we should find donors with DAFs. Each of us on the board thought the others knew what he was talking about but afterwards it turned out none of us knew. Do you know? We felt stupid that we didn’t ask him and now we have renamed our board Daffy and the Dumbclucks.

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Effectively Track Online Donations

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FundRaiser Software customers are already used to our Donation, Deposit, and Donor Reports for tracking donations. But for those who also use our Donor Portal it’s important to see what donations came in strictly through online means. The Online Donation report provides the same functionality as these other reports; however, it defaults to showing only gifts that came directly through the Donor Portal.

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Board Member Paying Staff Member Extra

Ananias

Dear Kim,  

I chair the board of a small religious organization.  Each employee has to raise a certain amount toward their salary and this amount is set by the board, as are the salaries. Recently it came to my attention that one employee is receiving additional support from a board member who provides a designated gift for that individual’s support. I was caught off guard to find that this individual is making more money than we knew and that a particular board member is providing it.  This seems like money laundering to me. The board member is making a financial gift to a family, and running it through the non-profit so that it can be tax deductible. Is there an IRS rule, or a piece of governance that would prevent this sort of thing from happening? 

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Can FundRaiser Track Volunteers?

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Many organizations separate volunteer management from donor management, which means that often two separate systems are involved. Volunteer Coordinators often rely on spreadsheets or personalized databases to track who is actively volunteering, when they work, scheduling, and even tracking availability, skills, or work preferences. Grouping these volunteers into teams or crews becomes problematic, because it is often a manual process. Since many volunteers also financially support an organization, wouldn’t it make sense to have them both in the same database?

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The Power of Volunteer Reports

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When it comes to keeping track of your volunteers there are several important pieces of information it’s helpful to know at a glance. Who are your volunteers? When did they work? How many hours your volunteers have worked and how much have they saved your organization over the course of a year?

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Summer Savings When You Update FundRaiser!

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Happy Summer! If you are a FundRaiser user, and your Annual Maintenance Plan (AMP) has been expired for longer than six months, you can renew and update FundRaiser at a special lower price. The usual cost to update is $200-$400 to bring your license up to the latest version; however, we're offering you two ways to save when you update your FundRaiser license this summer!  

Update & Renew your AMP

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Preparing your fundraising database for what's coming next

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Summer can be a slower time of the year for many non-profit organizations, which gives us a unique opportunity to look ahead and prepare for upcoming projects.

Some of you have already begun preparing for your Fall fundraising campaigns. We are happy to help you get ready by setting up integrated online donations, creating new Pledge levels, or helping you accept and acknowledge Tributes gifts.

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Are your gift codes aligned with your Gift Acceptance Policy?

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When an organization creates a Gift Acceptance Policy (GAP) it outlines the types of gifts that it will, and won’t, accept. This policy is often written down and stored in a company handbook or provided internally for volunteers and employees to use. And yet, when a gift gets entered into FundRaiser, are you able to follow up on it through reporting to see how certain gifts are contributing to your organization’s bottom line?

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Small, Local Groups Struggling to Keep Donors

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Dear Kim,

I work in an arts program that serves very poor public schools in a very poor state. Without us, 2nd -5th graders in public schools in our area would have NO arts program at all. We have no government funding and little foundation funding. We have built a base of donors and we squeeze every nickel. This year I am so discouraged by the number of donors who have said they are cutting back their giving so they can give to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. For the record, I totally support those organizations and what they do, but how can I keep our donors? What we do is still important.

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3 Things To Do When Your Campaign Stalls

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It’s never easy, or fun, when a campaign stalls. Running out of momentum halfway through a five-year campaign, for example, may leave you with what seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb to get going again. And there’s the impact to your organization, especially if you’re fundraising for a major project.

There are usually four reasons why campaigns stall. The first is a lack of prospects. Not having very many major donors, or a lack of donor cultivation (Did you know it can take 18 to 24 months to fully cultivate a major donor?) may leave your organization with a small amount of people from which to initially draw. The second main reason is a lack of infrastructure, such as a donor database, volunteer training, and methods of cultivating your donors. Good news! If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re using FundRaiser Software, which puts you one step ahead and can help you with the first two reasons. The third reason is a lack of planning, including a campaign feasibility study. And finally, the last reason may be timing, which often is outside of our control such as an economic downturn happening in the middle of a long-term campaign.

Generally campaigns stall due to a combination of factors. So what can you do when that happens?

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Why Do We Need a Gift Acceptance Policy?

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Dear Kim,

A colleague is working with you on a capital campaign and she says you have insisted that the organization create a “Gift Acceptance Policy.” I brought this to our board of directors and they said it should just be “We accept all gifts.” We all laughed. I don’t mean to be disrespectful but what is the point of having such a policy? What kind of gifts would you not accept? That doesn’t even make sense.

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Two weeks left on our Spring Sale to take FundRaiser to the Cloud

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Spring is turning to summer, and as it does the FundRaiser Hosted sale is coming to an end. If you are interested in moving your FundRaiser program to the Cloud at a special lower cost, you have just until  the end of May. Hosted is a fast, secure online FundRaiser, and available to everyone who is already a FundRaiser desktop customer.

Why Professional Hosted?

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Measuring Campaign Progress

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I think every organization wonders how their campaign is doing, and not just in a direct monetary sense, but also in terms of momentum. Are you gaining more new donors? Have things leveled off a bit? Are you progressing?

When the donations stop coming in for a long-term campaign, it’s easy to notice a stall. Running a Donation Report ordered by Date of Gift, will show you the cutoff point. Depending on how long ago that was, the report can help you guide your future strategy.

But what if donations don’t stop completely?

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Spending Money To Raise Money

Bucky

Dear Kim,

You’ve often said, “You have to spend money to raise money.” But how much is enough? What’s the ideal ratio of fundraising expenses to income? 

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