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.

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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Case Study: Michigan Israel Business Bridge

Pam Lippitt and Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan in Israel June 2013
Pam Lippitt of MIBB and Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan in Israel, June 2013

The Michigan Israel Business Bridge (MIBB) facilitates business and investment opportunities between Michigan and Israel for their mutual economic benefit.

Pam Lippitt has used FundRaiser reports to help her dramatically increase the membership of MIBB.  As it turned out, when she first looked at the report section of FundRaiser, she didn’t find what she needed for her membership renewal efforts, so she called FundRaiser Technical Support for help.

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Tapping the Philanthropic Well

Trust men and they will be true to you: treat them greatly and they will show themselves greatness

Principal Fund-Raising Myth: It's common knowledge that corporations and foundations give most of the money to non-profit organizationsPrincipal Fund-Raising Truth:  You go where money you think you can get is to be found in the greatest quantities and most of the time that means you look to the individual donorNo fund-raising campaign should ever be started until you have identified the sources from which you will draw contributions. Sources here does not refer to specific potential donors, but to the six categories of donors who contribute money to non-profit organizations. They are:

Trustees Of The OrganizationIndividualsCorporationsPrivate FoundationsCommunity FoundationsGovernment

Your plan for a fund-raising campaign should target each source appropriate for that campaign and set a goal for contributions to be achieved from that source. Those goals are determined by rating and evaluating the potential donors that comprise each source.

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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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Old Time Music Festival Attracts Enthusiastic Support

West Plains Square with people attending the Old Time Music Festival
Old Time Ozark Heritage Festival logo

Crowds gather for the Old Time Music Festival in the West Plains Court House Square. The FundRaiser office is also located in a loft on the West Plains Square.

West Plains, Missouri is buzzing this week, in preparation for the  Old Time Music Ozark Heritage Festival. It's pretty near impossible to live here and not get excited about it. West Plains is also the home of FundRaiser Software.

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Father's Day at FundRaiser

Josh and Jonathan
Jonathan Smith and Erin
Josh Shirley (left) and Jonathan Smith.

Happy Father's Day to the fathers at FundRaiser. Their role as fathers is an important influence on who they are, on the job as well as off.

Josh Shirley is the father of Lily, 18 and Isaac, 15; as well as CFO of FundRaiser. For Josh, he finds that something he carries over from being a father is patience and compassion.

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Donor Management Simplified!


Kim Klein's blog on Steps for Raising $20,000 is a great article to use to show exactly how FundRaiser can simplify donor management.  If you look at the steps suggested to the student in order to raise funds for their trip to Costa Rica, you'll see how each step can be simplified and tracked using FundRaiser.

Database programs are for storing and using informaiton, and we suggest using FundRaiser to store as much informaiton as you need to have for all the aspects of your fundraising efforts.  It's not just about donors, although that's certainly a big part, but look at the other aspects to this particular effort.

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Steps for Raising $20,000

You don't need to see the whole staircase just to take the first step

Dear Ms. Klein:

I am the treasurer of the Spanish Honor Society at my local High School. My goal is to raise approximately $20,000 in order to have all our club members fly to Costa Rica. We plan to volunteer at an orphanage there where we will teach the children English and organize activities for them. The problem is, however, that I have no idea where to start. I know a project of this scale requires more than a bake sale, but what? I understand that you are probably more used to dealing with things of a larger scale, but do you have any tips for the penniless high school student?

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Recognizing Donors Appropriately


Thanking donors is a private act. It is between the donor and the organization.  Recognizing donors is public, and because it is public you need to be absolutely sure you adhere to a donor’s wishes when you do it.

Obviously, you don’t publicly recognize a donor who has requested anonymity. But just how publicly does the donor want to be recognized? Does he wants his name ballyhooed from one end of town to the other, or would she prefer a discrete listing in the annual report?

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Memorial Tracking in FundRaiser


With Memorial Day just around the corner, it might be a good time to mention a couple of ways you can keep track of memorial gifts in FundRaiser.  We call them "Tribute" gifts, and they can be in memory of departed loved ones, or in honor of living individuals, or even in celebration of some life event or other.

For FundRaiser Professional users, there is a built-in module, appropriately called "Tributes" to handle the recording and subsequent correspondence for these types of gifts.  In FundRaiser Select, the Tributes module is available as an "add-on" module for a modest price.  But even in Spark, which has no specific facility for tribute tracking, one can devise some practices to follow and report on tribute giving.  Let's see how they work.

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Bringing Donors Closer to the Organization


One of the best ways to cultivate a relationship with a donor and strengthen that donor’s loyalty to an organization is to foster the donor’s connection with key staff. Obviously, executive directors and other very senior staff are naturals for this. But there are other approaches.

For one thing, you can introduce donors to staff members with whom they share interests. Another possibility is to invite donors to lunch with senior program staff. The donors get to hear the inside scoop on what the organization is doing, and staff develops an appreciation for the donors. That’s a win/win situation in my book.

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Communication doesn't have to be a ticklish subject


In a recent blog here by Kim Klein, follow-up was stressed as an important element in asking people to volunteer their help.  It's as true in fundraising as in any other aspect of volunteerism (or life itself, for that matter) that communication is critical in fostering a strong, respectful, and meaningful relationship.  So use what FundRaiser provides to keep abreast of what's happening with your individual requests of volunteers, and be prepared to communicate often and openly.  Here are a couple of features that I've talked about in the past, that can be very helpful in accomplishing your goals:

1.  Tickles.  Use them.  They are nothing but date-sensitive reminders that attach directly to a name record.  If you've ever ordered something from an online company or, perhaps less likely, a print catalog, you've probably had some way to follow up on that order: email, shipment tracking, etc.  Tickles can help you keep track of your outstanding requests of people, with "DO" dates set to remind you of when you need to follow up on those requests.  It only takes a minute to enter a Tickle, and it can save you a lot of grief due to miscommunications in the long run.  

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Importing into FundRaiser ... The Right Way!

The Face wants you to know.

Hi Everybody! The name is Nick and if you've called for FundRaiser Tech Support in the last year or so you've probably talked to me, and if not, then what's stopping you?Anyway, today I would like to talk about the best way to import data into FundRaiser and the mythically obscure .CSV file ... scary. Now, you may or may not be asking yourself. "Awesome Nick, how do I create a .CSV without summoning potentially evil spirits?"

Well, first things first, open up your spreadsheet in Excel. Most of the time it will be saved as an Excel Workbook or some other file useless to FundRaiser. Now, go to "Save As" this will open the "Save As" window. On the bottom of the "Save As" window you will see a drop menu that says "Save As type." Now this part is crucial, click on the drop down menu.

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The Importance of Follow-Up

Have faith and follow through

Dear Kim:

I recently sent a letter to the founding director of our organization and asked her to consider being on our event committee.  I never heard back from her and so I formed the committee without her.  But now I have heard through the grapevine that she is a little hurt not to be included on this committee.  It is our 30th Anniversary and the event is a really big deal.  She had her chance, so I am not sure what I am supposed to do.  Ideas?

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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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Being Quick and Genuine with Your Thanks


Thanking donors seems like something so basic that we shouldn’t even have to talk about it. But more mistakes, with more devastating results for donor loyalty, are made in the thanking of donors than anyplace else. So, let’s go over six rules for saying “thank you” that are absolutely essential.

Thank a donor immediately. Send out a thank-you note for a gift no later than the day after the gift is received. Nothing is more important than a prompt thank-you.Be humble. Don’t act as if or communicate the thought that you were expecting the gift as something that was the donor’s responsibility to do.Praise the donor’s generosity. Do not stint. Let the donor know how important the gift is.Praise your donor’s leadership. Anyone who gives is a leader and should be treated as such, and call attention to the fact that their gift will influence others to give.Thank donors for past support. When you receive today’s gift remind the donor how appreciative you are of past support, but do not talk about future support. Do not say thanks out of one side of your mouth and hint at future requests out of the other.And finally, never let a hint of disappointment show. Never, ever show a lack of gratitude for a gift, whatever its size.

There are two things that must be remembered about saying thanks. Donors expect it, and they deserve it.

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Automate to Increase Dollars Per Hour of Effort


This week's Kim Klein blog shows how some small organizations may falsely assume that "major" donors are their best target demographic when considering time vs return.  Statistically, individuals give more than foundations or corporations, and there are many more "small" donors contributing to non-profits than there are "major" donors.  Let's look at how FundRaiser's built-in word processing and automation of thank-you letters can whittle down time spent while increasing returns from the vast majority of donors.

First, let's make the assumption that an "average" donor will give about $20.00 per donation.  Let's also assume that thanking the donor is not only polite, but necessary for any future donations from that donor.  

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The Why of Grassroots Fundraising


Dear Kim:

My nonprofit has recently decided to follow your advice and build a base of individual donors.  (We have lost most of our foundation funding and see this as our only choice.)  We are very small, with only two staff and five board members and so we want to attract a small number of big donors ($5000+).  We are not trying to disrespect people who can only give $35 or $50, but we don’t have the staff capacity to deal with them and think it is more efficient to go after big gifts.  How can we best focus on major donors?  

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Being of Service to Donors


As a development officer in a nonprofit organization you are well positioned to facilitate business and social contacts your donors may wish to make. Once, I had a family foundation that was making substantial gifts, and a donor who was head of a large financial house. I knew the broker-donor wanted to talk about handling the Foundation’s investments, so I put them together. The result was two happy donors and my employer, the Cleveland Orchestra, reaped the benefit of being the matchmaker.

Inviting a donor to a party or event hosted for you by those who are more socially or professionally prominent is a good way to help that donor up the success ladder. Conversely, inviting prominent members of your community to a party hosted for you by a donor who is trying to increase his or her social or professional standing can work just as well.

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3-Step approach to Training in FundRaiser


In this week's blog by Kim Klein, the focus is on laying out an effective strategy for raising money, based on your organization needs and resources.  I'd like to give you a few steps on how to lay out an effective training strategy for learning FundRaiser software.

First, take the Overview class, whether it's a "live" webinar or a "canned" video on our website.  This gives a good overall layout of the program, going through many of the menu choices, most of the tabbed pages of the data area, and explains what data goes where, and why.  One of the other important things it does is to give you a sense of what other training classes you will want, to complete your specific goals.

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Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
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