by Larry Weaver
In our lead article this month, USLEAP gives some good examples of how they use FundRaiser to make multiple appeals: to their most frequent givers, their major donors, and even lapsed donors. They also make good use of the Automated Correspondence for Gift Thank You’s feature in FundRaiser for sending general gift thank you’s, among other things. What they have done to streamline their process and thereby utilize their resources (time, especially) is to join what they want to accomplish with the many features available in the software, and you can do it for your organization, too.
The key factors are
The other part of that equation is having a good blueprint of the finished product. When you can ‘see’ what steps have to be taken, and in what order, it becomes much easier to succeed.
In reading this month’s article, it is clear that USLEAP has done some groundwork to make this all happen as smoothly as possible. For instance, they create at least four appeal letters, each worded differently, that not only ask for donations, but also let people know what their money will do and what it has done recently. They’ve identified who their “target” donors are, and given some of them special coding (perhaps category codes or donor codes or a code-type spare field) to more quickly Group them together. They’ve used the Groupings section to pull lapsed donors for special mailings, too. And, while they hand-write thank you’s for major donors, they use the reporting capabilities to gather the pertinent information necessary to make that process more efficient. I have a feeling they are also making good use of the gift codes, so that they can get accurate reporting on appeal letter response, letter after letter.
So how can you accomplish your tasks more easily? Here are a few non-tech “tech” tips I think will help.
Just as your organization has a mission statement to define its purpose, each task, large or small, needs to be defined. You may not need to write down the definition, but at least get clear in your mind what you need to accomplish with the task.
This is especially helpful when creating groupings. Write a short statement that defines who will be in that group, so that you’ll be able to refer to it as you are choosing criteria.
What will it take to pull it off? Do you need a certain bunch of people from your database? If so, how will you Group them together? Do you need to show specific information on a report? If so, which report will work best? Is it a letter that needs to be done? If so, what personal information, like giving history, will be used?
FundRaiser is like a multi-function tool. There is much to learn. Taking the time to learn and, more importantly, understand various sections of the program will reward you in the long run. For instance,
Even though none of us has the time we need to do the job, we need to TAKE the time to learn the tool, which will, effectively, give us more time to do the job. Check out the training classes available by viewing the training calendar on our website. You can also view many training videos through the Customer Portal section of the website, and these videos do NOT require using your training credits
Regardless of how complex or simple your situation is, you need to have a good notion of how you want to identify people and how you to pull them into groups or segments.
This can be done through
You can make the process work time after time, if you are consistent in your approach to codings and gift entries, and general data entry.
Avoiding double work is an important aspect of this. For instance, there is no need to issue category codes based on giving, for the most part, since gift records themselves tell all we need to know to create groupings based on giving. Each gift record can be coded in several ways to identify them very specifically.
Also, it may not be necessary to fill in all the fields on a donor record to have the information you need. Don’t feel obligated to make up entries that serve no real purpose. Most fields are not mandatory so far as FundRaiser is concerned.
When you have identified the information that is most necessary to complete your goals, make sure it becomes a part of the “normal” data entry process from the beginning. Good habits in consistency will pay enormous dividends in keeping the overall database in shape, making it easier to accomplish whatever task is at hand.
Different people have different learning habits. You may get all you need from the built-in Help section, or just from the training sessions you attend. On the other hand, you may want more personal attention. This is why we have a Tech Support staff. They are not just for technical issues, but also to help “support” you in your efforts to learn the software.
If you are having difficulties accomplishing a task, call tech support , let them know the situation. They can help you with it.
Different people learn at different speeds. Don’t be shy about calling back for more help. That’s what the annual maintenance plan is all about. Keep in mind, too, that our Customer Portal section can lead you to many How-To articles and other valuable tools. We can even arrange on-site training, taking a couple of days (or as much time as you would like) at your organization, evaluating what you do now, and teaching you (and/or your staff) how to best use the program to your advantage
Larry Weaver leads online training for FundRaiser Select and Pro. In his free time Larry enjoys music, motorcycles and being a grandfather.