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.

For this month's total eclipse, Missouri is one of the prime viewing spots. Local media are in love with the eclipse, and one nonprofit group is using that to boost their fundraising campaign. The 37th Judicial CASA, who are FundRaiser Select users, have created an entire campaign around the eclipse, called Eclipse Child Abuse with Child Advocacy.

The campaign has three efforts tied to it:

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in Customer Highlights 75
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1.  Mode Code Denotes In-Kind or Monetary

When entering a gift in FundRaiser, the Mode Code is used to differentiate not only between methods of payment (cash, check, charge, etc.) but also between monetary or in-kind donations. When you create a Mode Code you must specify whether that code will be monetary or in-kind. A Mode Code is always one or the other, and each gift requires a Mode Code. You may have multiple codes, as is usual in FundRaiser, which allows for specific types of in-kind donations. For instance, one of our users is a diaper bank, and, while they accept many infant-related types of in-kind donations, they need to keep diaper donations separated from others. The easiest way was to have, simply, a "diaper" Mode Code. When running various reports, you can specify to include monetary, or in-kind, or both types of donations. Use these codes to your advantage.  And check out the Coding & Spare Fields training video in the Customer Portal section of our website.

2.  Use the Merge Notes for Descriptions

On each gift record is a "Letter Notes for Merging" section. It is primarily used for notes that will then be merged into thank you letter templates. And for monetary gifts, these are usually personal greetings, of sorts, like "Gee, it was great to see you", or "Glad to see you've recovered from surgery", or something else to more personalize the thank you letter. For In-Kind donations, this is a great place to put a description of the items (or services) that were donated. It makes a permanent record as well as an easy way to pull that description in to a thank you letter.  More information on entering gifts is available in both the FundRaiser Overview and Recurring Gifts training videos available in the Customer Portal section of our website.

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in Trainers Blog 3356
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Every year for more than 2 decades, FundRaiser staff get a day off at the beginning of August to celebrate Happiness Happens Day. In the tradition of the founders of FundRaiser, Gene and Marcy Weinbeck, at least once a month, the company has a three-day holiday weekend. In August, when the US has no official holiday, Happiness Happens Day creates that 3-day weekend. The week before Happiness Happens Day, it was fun to speculate about what each one of us might do to celebrate. Here's what we intend... 

Autumn Shirley, CEO- I'm going to visit Crystal Bridges Art Museum. I was there last month and I want to go again. I loved the Chihuly Glass Exhibit. 

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in About us 111
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When you receive gifts of products, time and services, be aware that your organization can be held in even greater regard by donors of such In-Kind gifts, should you express your gratitude in a meaningful way—in a manner far and above how these contributions are usually acknowledged by non-profit organizations. This can be accomplished in strict keeping with the applicable IRS rules and regulations, which are especially explicit when it comes to In-Kind gifts and how non-profits handle them.

By law, non-profit organizations cannot provide a donor with the dollar value of an In-kind gift. Such valuations when applicable, relative to "fair market value" of In-Kind gifts, need to be professionally assessed and certified elsewhere—if they can be—and that is the responsibility of the donor. This certification subsequently needs to be resolved with the professionals and others who prepare the donor's tax forms—whose work in turn will need to be reconciled with IRS regulations. In instances where time and service are donated, no tax break whatsoever is allowed, as the IRS Publication 526 clearly states, "You cannot deduct the value of your time or services…"

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 1962
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In a capital campaign it's important to know how much money you raised and from which donors. You can do this by coding the gifts. Within FundRaiser there are several places you can code your capital campaign donations.

The MOTIVATION CODE is what motivated a donor to give. Most often this is a specific campaign, and this is a great place to create a specific code to use with these gifts. If you are using our Campaigns Management Module available in FundRaiser Professional, you can set specific codes for each event of the campaign, as well as the overall campaign.

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in Tech Blog 111
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Dear Kim:

Our church needs make a number of renovations.  These are not cosmetic—the roof leaks, the basement floods and many of the pews are falling apart and have splinters.  The congregation is small, but the church is historic and right downtown.  Of course we would rather wait until the economy improves, but we simply can’t. We are in danger of being shut down for being unsafe.  Everyone says you can’t launch a capital campaign right now, but what else can we do?

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 91
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Tony Poderis suggests that, in a capital campaign, fully one third of your goal should be met by only 10 to 15 donors, and that the next third will be met by another 75 to 100 donors.  While you may have a good idea who those top donors are, it would be asking a bit much that you also, off the top of your head, know who those next hundred top donors might be.  So here are a few ideas that can help:

1.  Use the Donor List Report in Amount Order

The Donor List report can be set up to list donors in order of their giving amounts, with the largest donors always at the top of the list.  You can limit the range of gifts in many ways, to consider only monetary gifts, for instance, or to look at just a certain time period in the recent past.  And, when you are previewing the report, you can choose to print only the first few pages (or whatever number you need) to get the top 115 or so donor names, based on your selection criteria.

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in Trainers Blog 1295
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A capital campaign raises money that will be spent to acquire or improve a physical asset. The most common use of a capital campaign is for the purchase, construction, or renovation of a building (commonly referred to as “bricks and mortar”). However, an organization can conduct a capital campaign to purchase machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, or any physical asset that can be reflected on its balance sheet.

The purpose of a capital campaign differs from that of an endowment campaign in that the money raised will not be used to cover ongoing, operational expenses, or to fund special projects. Capital funds are spent on one-time or seldom recurring expenditures. The primary difference between capital and endowment funds is that capital funds are not retained and invested to yield income. However, capital and endowment campaigns are very similar in their planning and management.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 2086
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When updating a previous letter, it's important to review the criteria for the merge fields. This is especially true when using merge fields that input a total of all gifts or a list of gifts which meet certain requirements. For example, you may want to make the total of the gifts include the current year to date, rather than the date range used previously.

You can remove and then insert the merge field again to bring up the list of criteria to make those changes; however, there's an easier way to do this. Double click on the capital letter or symbol preceding the field name in brackets. This will open up the criteria window where you can make changes to the criteria and click okay to save it. Then, save your letter again.

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in Tech Blog 208
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Dear Kim,

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 176
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Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks, part 3

Since experiencing the massive flooding in Southern Missouri, I've run into the concept of 'resilience' linked to disaster recovery. It's a great concept. It easily applies to good recovery on the part of  any individual or organization that experiences stress, especially stress that is game-changing. I'd guess that many if not most of the organizations that FundRaiser works with can relate directly to the concept of resilience at this time of great change in our society.

In the case of Autumn Shirley, CEO of FundRaiser, fundraising has been a part of her resilient response to the extraordinary experience she and her husband Joshua Shirley, who is CFO of FundRaiser, and other members of the Shirley family went through. Their dramatic story was publicized widely when they survived the flood that unexpectedly forced them to the roof of their river house. 

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 212
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1.  Be personal, share success, and Thank Them

It doesn't take much to include personal touches in a thank you letter template.  You could mention the last gift they gave (date and/or amount), or the first time they gave, or the amount of support they've provided over the years.  Different situations may call for different letter templates, and different groups of donors, but it's all possible in FundRaiser.  And while you are thanking them, let them know what their contribution has done.  What has your organization done since their last gift?  How many people (or animals, or communities, or ??) has the organization helped in that time?  This takes a bit of planning, so that you might have, for instance, a group of donors who have given, but not in the past 2 years, and another group who have given in the past 2 years, but not the past 6 months, and maybe another group who gave for the first time in the past 6 months, etc. You'll want different messages depending on the situation, but it's not that difficult to do, and the results will be a more personal approach to that "ask" for additional donations.

2.  Thank Often

Many non-profits are vying for the same donor dollars, and showing appreciation for past donations is important in ALL interactions with your donors.  If you are sending an invitation to an event, THANK them for their previous gifts.  If you are sending a newsletter, THANK them for their ongoing support.  If you have a special funding need and are sending an appeal, THANK them in advance for their consideration and for sharing your needs with their friends, family, etc., but THANK THEM.

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in Trainers Blog 1530
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My nonprofit experience has been limited to membership groups, and in my training, I’ve discovered this is an area in which FundRaiser excels. All three versions of FundRaiser (Spark, Select, and Professional) have the ability to manage members, though in Select it is an optional module. The process is very similar in all three versions as well.

When you enter a gift the type can be marked membership dues. This triggers the system to set up a new membership where you can input the type (family or individual), any benefits, and double check the renewal date. As an organization, you can choose how you want the memberships to renew and any default benefits as part of the settings. In fact, you can print membership cards.

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in Tech Blog 1051
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Dear Kim,

We receive a significant number of donations in honor/memory of individuals. Most are one time donations. Is it proper to add these donors to our ask list?

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 294
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Helping with Disaster Recovery in the Southern Ozarks, part 2

I usually report about nonprofit activity from the sidelines, but earlier this month massive flooding hit the area where I live. Over a period of 2 weeks, I experienced what it is like to live in a community affected by out-of-control weather.  Due to the efforts of compassionate and resourceful people in my community, a relief effort began immediately. I was fortunate to experience only minor direct effects from the flooding and so was free to volunteer. Now, three weeks later, I've learned many precious lessons about the blessings offered by rolling up your sleeves to volunteer where you can. I know that many of our FundRaiser customers are the front line in making this possible for people all over the world. Here are some key experiences things I learned that I'm grateful for: 

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 339
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When your organization takes in donations of good or services, how do you record that donation? On the Gifts tab, when you enter in a donation, the Gift Mode code reflects the form that the donation took—how the money was received or if it was an In Kind donation.  When you choose “In Kind” for your gift mode, this tells the database that the donation was received not as a financial transaction, but rather a donation of goods or services. The amount field can be the approximate value of those donations, and you can use your motivation and purpose codes to further categorize the donation.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 201
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The water has swept on from the floods that raged through this region less than 2 weeks ago. It took with it all that it had the power to carry away. It left behind not just confusion and debris, but also an opportunity for communities to rise higher than the water ever did, and they are doing so. All members of the FundRaiser staff were touched directly by the impact of the floods which spread over the entire region where the FundRaiser office is located. Each responded with energy and courage as matched their situation, and all have been left with a deeper understanding for customers involved in disaster relief.  

Tamara Lovan of Technical Support went right to work volunteering. "Heading to Carmichael Field to assist with sorting flood debris starting at noon. This evening we will be helping gather donations at the Civic Center," she wrote us after being one of the first to track down where the volunteers were gathering. 

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in About us 234
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Feel like you need a refresher on the software? Do you have a new employee or volunteer who will be helping your organization with FundRaiser Software? Our FundRaiser Overview Class is the perfect resource for this - and it is offered every week.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 196
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So, how do you know from within an organization when and if you should hire a development director? The answer is simple, and it starts with knowing the costs of running the organization as it carries out its mission as set out in the its long-range strategic plan. It continues with the development of a fund-raising plan.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 268
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The short answer is sooner rather than later! If a non-profit organization is beginning to ask whether it needs a professional development director, it probably should have hired one months, even years ago.

The biggest mistake non-profits make in hiring their first development director is waiting until the board, executive director, and other key personnel have arrived at a consensus that one is needed NOW. An organization that waits until it is necessary to hire a development director has waited too long.

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in Non-Profit Fundraising Tips 367
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