by Sasha Daucus
When schools focus their donor cultivation on parents, alumni, and the close relatives of students and alumni, they are likely to see a very positive return. Knowing this has led to increased donations for several schools who are FundRaiser users. They know for a fact that these groups are their most generous because they clearly identified this trend in FundRaiser. Using these same techniques to identify common giving trends, your school – or other non profit— can clarify which of your constituent groups are most supportive.[h2]Beginning to locate your most generous donors[/h2]
Tracking donations for donor cultivation is easy to start. “It’s a simple matter of entering your checks into FundRaiser. Then all that information is there. If you enter it once, it’s there forever unless someone moves,” says Ellen Bouye, Administrative Assistant of Oklahoma Christian Academy and a FundRaiser Select user.
Once the basic data is entered, running some simple reports through FundRaiser, can help you locate your most generous donors and focus your fundraising efforts more fully on them.
Increasing donations through focusing on your most important constituents
Menaul School is one school that has used FundRaiser to help identify important constituent groups and, as a result, is experiencing increased donations. “This has happened because we changed who and how we are approaching things,” says Troy Williamson of Menaul School. “FundRaiser has helped by tracking where the money is coming from. Then you know who to cultivate, and can focus your attention where it will benefit you the most.” Troy is Director of Institutional Advancement, and a FundRaiser Professional user.
Troy has discovered that Menaul School’s most important donors are parents and alumni. and, as a faith-based school, churches. The most important of these constituent groups are parents. “They are our most significant donors,” says Troy. “Lately, we’ve been bringing small groups of them into the president’s office for coffee parties and telling them what needs to happen.” The parents are responding with increased donations.
Individual donors who have a strong bond
Another school that is experiencing increased donations is Mariemont. The increase is coming from many individual donors, says Mariemont Trustee and board member, Ann Pardue. Donations are tracked in FundRaiser, so that Mariemont can see where the money is coming from. “We’re not getting as many big donors and they’ve cut some of their donations, but we’ve seen more donors giving smaller amounts.” Ann is a FundRaiser Professional user.
Focusing on individual donors keeps donations high for Lansing Christian School, too. “We have received gifts to pay off our building. We have never depended on grants and organizations. It has always been private donors,” says Carol Feuss, director of the Lansing Christian School Foundation in Michigan, and a FundRaiser Professional user.
Alumni tracking increases donations
“Alumni are hugely important to us,” says Troy of Menaul School. He’s also discovered through the data in FundRaiser that some classes of alumni are more generous than others. At Menaul School, the most loyal and generous class years are currently from the 1940’s – 1960’s.
Mariemont School also has found that tracking alumni donations by graduation year has helped increase donations. “We are doing more segmentation with the alumni data, too, for development, mostly by graduating class.” says Ann. “Representatives of specific graduating classes come to us for data. The more we can refine the data, the more they come to us, and are motivated to donate.”
For Bishop McDevitt School , the most generous alumni classes are from the 1960’s – 1970’s. However, tracking has also shown them that classes 2004 – 2009 are now giving in higher amounts. Regarding the upswing in giving from recent classes, Kate Hagerty, Director of Institutional Advancement at Bishop McDevitt, has cultivated online giving as a way to engage the newer graduates. Bishop McDevitt School is a FundRaiser Hosted user. “People are more aware of philanthropy now, and they like to give online and to receive notices online.”
Increasing Online Giving
“We send out a notice which they receive online,” says Kate. “We also tried something new in last year’s annual fund drive that helped increase online giving. In the written materials, we included just the first paragraph of student testimonials, and said ‘for an extended version see online’. We had dozens and dozens of amazing testimonials from the students, which answered questions like, ‘what do donations mean to you?’ This got people to go to the website and once there, then it is an easier jump to give online.”
“Our online giving is up this year, to 7% of total donations. That is compared to last year, when it was at 5% and to 6 years ago when no donations were coming in online. We’ve also added a recurring donations option with online giving. The income is steady and it’s starting to increase,” says Kate
Relationship tracking contributes to the ability to make good contact with donors. Troy of Menaul School uses it regularly. “We use the relationship feature in FundRaiser, in particular as relates to alumni. It lets me know who knows who. I almost always go to the relationship section to find out who a person is related to before we do a face to face meeting. I may have met their brother, sister or daughter, and then I can mention that connection. It creates a place to start.”
“We love the relationship tab,” says Carol of Lansing Christian School. “We have someone who pays attention to current families and keeps that updated.”
Experience with tracking relationships has helped Jim Hodges, a volunteer for Menaul School who helps maintain the database, create a good system for getting them entered into FundRaiser. “New students come in every year. I get the sheets on those with the contacts/relationships to enter. For instance we might have the mother, father, or grandparents in the database and then we will want to mark that connection. Relationship tracking can be time-consuming. It’s not easy to do at the same time as entering donations. I set aside specific time for it. Sometimes one record will take 15 minutes to do one and the next might take me 5 minutes.”
Good tracking of memorial funds
Another important piece of FundRaiser, related to alumni giving, is memorial donations.
Schools such as Bishop McDevitt, with several memorial funds, may be faced with quite complex tracking needs. “Each memorial fund has certain bylaws that we have to follow. Any money disbursed from a particular fund is dependant on how much is in the fund that year. These funds cover a lot of different needs. We depend on them, not just for tuition assistance, but also for other needs like sports activities.” says Kate.
FundRaiser makes sure that sections of the pot are clearly labeled. “In FundRaiser, I can clearly designate gifts going into a fund and I know how much is in each fund. Any money disbursed from a particular fund is dependant on how much is in the fund that year. Someone else does the accounting, but my job is to know how much of the larger pot belongs to the smaller sections,” says Kate.
In addition, FundRaiser can help with direct memorial gifts given in honor of someone related to the school. “When a friend or family member passes away, we start getting donations from their family and friends in memory of so-and-so who passed away. In some cases they even set up a scholarship fund,” says Jim of Menaul School. “For awhile there can be a flurry of memorial of donations.” FundRaiser helps makes sure that the correct acknowledgements are made to the donor, and the family of the deceased person.
Help when you need it
To help users get up to speed, FundRaiser specializes in excellent support, including training classes (both online and on-site), online help articles, and telephone support. “I’ve taken some of the training classes and they’re very helpful,” says Ann of Mariemont School Foundation. “In addition, if I need more help and call tech support, everyone I talk to is as nice as can be. FundRaiser Support does a great job.”
“FundRaiser is very user friendly,” says Kate of Bishop McDevitt School. “Just dive in and try the different functions. If you need it, customer support is very helpful. Any question I had at the beginning was a phone call or email away. I know how much FundRaiser support can help, because we depended on it at the beginning. The person who was filling in on the job before I got here had never used fundraising software before. Customer support helped her through all of that.”
Keeping up the data requires some time and attention, but it pays off in real support. “It’s important to keep it up is because that is where we get a large part of our donations. If we don’t keep this accurate we will fall short of our goals. That’s the bottom line,” Jim of Menaul School.
Alumni Tracking in FundRaiser Software by Larry Weaver
FundRaiser Online and/or Hosted by Larry Weaver
The Right Tool for the Job: training options for FundRaiser by Larry Weaver
Tracking your most important constituencies by Larry Weaver
FundRaiser Software offers non-profit organizations intuitive donor management software that is easy to learn and easy to use. Three programs, ranging from simple to sophisticated, let you choose the features you need now, while guaranteeing a built-in growth path for the future. Software flexibility, budget options, and superb technical support make FundRaiser Software uniquely adaptable to the needs of non-profit organizations - whatever their mission.