by Larry Weaver
Keeping a handle on exactly what you need to know about donors and prospects, and staying consistent and complete with data entry will enable you to view and use your information in more ways, just as the folks at Menaul School have been doing.
The subject of this month’s case study, Menaul School uses a lot of the features of FundRaiser in order to make their fundraising as efficient and effective as possible. Reading the article, you’ll see that they track people in ways that go beyond donor gifts. Of course, they also use gifts and gift coding effectively to see why, when, and how people give, and they place a great emphasis on accurate data entry.
Nearly all the things that Menaul School is doing within FundRaiser Professional can be done using either Select or Professional, but it requires a little bit of study to learn how best to do them.
In order to focus on particular segments of your donors and prospects, as Menaul School does, plan on using non-gift-related codes to uniquely identify donors and prospects in ways that are meaningful to your organization.That’s all codes are, really: unique identifiers. They attach either to name or gift records, generally speaking. And the ones that attach to name records are found on the Codes tab of each name record. Donor Type, Source, and Solicitor codes are restricted to a single code per name record, but Category codes are a “many-to-one” type of code, in that you can assign as many of them per name record as you need. It makes them ideal to track most of the “constituencies” mentioned in the case study: Parents; Alumni; Churches; Presbyterian Church USA; Board members; Foundations; Grandparents. These are all non-giving aspects of the name records, and some may be more appropriate for organizations than individuals. And some name records will fall into multiple divisions or segments, which is exactly why Category codes work so well. Vocations, hobbies, interests, life situations, affiliations, and much more can be identified through Category codes.
Groupings allow you to divide your donors/prospects for purposes of analysis and evaluation, as Menaul School has done. Your interests may be along slightly different lines, but the idea is the same: identifying and viewing donors and prospects based on criteria that you choose. Groupings are simply gatherings of records that have one or more things in common with each other. That commonality might be based on gift codes, gift amounts, non-gift codes, information stored in spare fields, demographic information, or virtually any other information stored in the database. In order to get good results, of course, you need to be consistent in data entry and upkeep, but Groupings allow you to focus on one or more aspects of your data to pull people (and organizations) together so that you can run comparisons, evaluations, etc., to more fully understand your donors.
If you need to track relationships between donors/prospects, or need to store a lot of information in spare fields, then you may need FundRaiser Professional, as Menaul School uses, since it contains unlimited spare fields as well as the Relationships functions (along with all modules that would be optional in Select). If you’re currently using Select, remember that you can upgrade without having to re-purchase, because what you’ve paid for Select will be applied to the purchase of Professional.
You know what types of information are important to you, so it’s just a matter of determining how to record that data, recording it consistently and accurately, and then having the ability to pull the information out again for specific segments of your donors and prospects.The knowledge you need to put this into effect is waiting for you in video format through the Customer Portal. All the basics of the program are taught there, including Groupings, Coding & Spare Fields, Word Processing and Mail Merge, Reports, and several more subjects. And live training webinars are available on all “module-related” or “Professional-only” subjects, such as Tributes, Pledges, Campaign Management (Pro only), Relationships (Pro).
Use the videos and/or live webinars to get the training on how to use FundRaiser most effectively, and make sure that more than one person knows how it all works, if possible. And never hesitate to call with questions, for suggestions or help, or to offer us ideas on how we can make the program work better for your situation.