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.

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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Spice Up Your Thank You Notes

Dear Kim:You are often quoted as saying things like, “Thank before you bank,” and “The thank you note is the most important element in a donor relationship” and other pro-thank you note statements.  But how do you make a thank you note interesting?  And do donors really read them?  And what if I think the gift the donor gave isn’t really what they could afford so I am not that thankful? ~Dubious Dear Dubious:.

Your letter poses several questions, and I will quickly dispatch the last one first.  You need to change up your attitude toward the gifts that are given to your organization.  Any gift is more than nothing, and donors are making all kinds of choices.  You really don’t know what people can afford and you need to thankful they thought of you.

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Accept Fundraising Feasibility Study Results No Matter How Painful

Don't be afraid embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start again.

As I was in the midst of writing this article, my wife entered the room modeling a dress she thought would be perfect for an upcoming special event. She asked my opinion. I looked her up and down, examined the garment, and then suggested that it might be a bit too dressy for the event. When will I ever learn?

It wasn’t the first time she had rejected what I had to say. Nor is she the only one to ever do so. As someone who has been asked by nonprofit organizations to produce campaign feasibility studies, I’m familiar with what often happens when you tell people what they don’t want to hear.

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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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Why Grassroots Fundraising?

When one neighbor helps another we strengthen our communities

Dear Kim:

You are well known as an advocate of individual donor fundraising, and many people admire you. However, you have your detractors, one of whom describes you as “the Queen of spending a lot of time to little result.” Others claim that you are simply not realistic and that real money is in foundation grants especially when you compare writing a proposal that yields $50,000 to the amount of time it would take to get that from individuals, unless you know a few really big donors. It does seem like the work of grassroots fundraising is out of proportion to the money raised. Can you comment? (And, please know that most people I talk to really love you and admire you.)~Wanting to be a fanDear Potential Fan:

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How Long Should Donors Have to Fulfill Fundraising Pledges?

Stay committed to your decisions but stay flexible in your approach

In my hands is a slick, well done brochure for a capital campaign. The nonprofit organization that has produced it wants to build a new $6.5 million facility. Dates are given for ground breaking, commencement of construction, building completion, and dedication of the new facility. It tells of several encouraging, pacesetting donations that have already been received. An impressive campaign leadership group is identified. Attractive naming opportunities are listed. Everything in the brochure speaks to a well thought out project.

It’s a great brochure touting a well planned project and campaign. All looks good, except for one thing—one sentence: “Pledged donations may be paid over three years.” Eight words, such a small thing, but those eight words are the seeds for potential disappointment, even failure.

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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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Creating a Culture of Fundraising at Your Organization

Our doubts are traitors and make us loose the good we oft might win by fearing to attemp

Dear Kim:. I was wondering what tips you have for engaging all levels of staff members in fundraising? I am being pushed to create a culture of fundraising within the organization, and while I’ve had moderate success engaging the department heads in major donor communication, I’m struggling a bit on how to engage the rest of the staff. Our structure is: one executive director, 5 department heads, and 7 other staff under the department heads.. ~Heads in gear, tails slow to follow.

Dear Slow Tails:

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7 key components for donor cultivation you should be tracking in your donor management software

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the daily details of life

Fund-raising has many engaging and inspiring sayings. Three that give insight into donor cultivation are:

People give to people.You don't raise funds; you raise friends.Fund-raising can be summed up in just three words - relationships, relationships, relationships.

At its heart, donor cultivation is about an organization's staff and leadership developing relationships with those capable of giving support and making them friends of the organization.I define donor cultivation as an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor.I can't stress enough how important this definition is - how important it is to the future of an organization's fund-raising efforts. Every successful fund-raising operation cultivates its donors - builds relationships with them. The most successful do it constantly and systematically.Let's parse this 48-word statement and examine its key components. Again, the definition, this time with its key components in bold type:Donor cultivation is an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor.

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How Much Foundation Funding?

Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.

Dear Kim:

Our organization is in the middle of finalizing our fundraising plan for the coming fiscal year. Is there any general rule about what percentage of our unrestricted funds should come from foundation grants?

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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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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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Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
targeted mailings operational costs Congratulations banquet Reporting to IRS holiday letters donor attrition rate Volunteer module giving history customer service event management data conversion letter backing up data tax summary letters planned giving welcome packet donor profile ROI spreadsheets merge notes accounting software Facebook donor contact information gift acceptance policy add ons major donors volunteering #GivingTuesday flash sales donor preferences brick campaign case study corporate sponsors Personalizing NCOA processing correspondance Importing Data the Ask phoning donors training tip operating systems Network for Good capital campaign large donations pictures increasing giving amounts appeal letters data entry small donations happiness auction publicity materials SYBUNTS gift notes field Constant Contact recurring gifts tech tip grants memorial giving change of address updating nonprofit fundraising holiday solicitors Excel appeal Thank You Facebook campaign prospects membership programs donor loyalty membership benefits donor retention rate data analysis ticket sales ticketsales how to handle auction gifts new leadership look and feel planning thank you letters new features End of Year Letters repeat donors understanding giving trends texting donors relationship tracking annual campaign community broadcasting motivation code pledges community supported gardens Groupings board members vacation user spotlights upgrading donors new donors upgrade budget salutation correspondence product news moves management importing csv donor targeting lapsed donor role of nonprofits online donations GivingTuesday general building donor relationships development director direct mail email personalizing letters raffle anonymous donors donation history office overview National Change of Address campaign GoFundMe project monthly giving new nonprofit security communications fundraising letters on site training fundraising letter templates disaster relief follow up segmenting donors Tickles spare fields animal rescue technical support alumni Cloud donor attrition membersip benefits donor motivation foundations charity golf tournaments how-to videos campaign management advanced tab endowment campaign donor relations government grants in honor of donations support community arts nonprofits social media LYBUNTS word processor Crowdfunding Campaign Donor Portal PayPal donor advised funds password protection custom page Resiliency Codes new version major gift prospects entering auction gifts Thanksgiving holiday giving training gift entry tribute gifts New Year reports updates FundRaiser Spark Snow Birds Reminders adding personal notes to letters features donor recognition premiums mailing user interface legacy giving customer portal annual maintenance plan arts donor slip mission driven mode code announcements grassroots campaign FundRaiser Hosted Company culture Alternative Addresses giving levels FundRaiser Basic volunteers donor source transparency merge fields Task List online donations In-Kind gifts

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