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.

 

What's in a Name?

You can be creative in determining the names you'll assign to each membership giving category, but donors will be drawn immediately to "tags" specific to your organization and related to your mission. You can also employ familiar categories such as, Friends, Benefactors, Pacesetters, etc., or designations such as "Individual," "Family," "Associate," or "Sustaining.

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Dear Kim:

I have recently been appointed a development director and I am looking forward to developing this new skill (which I don’t have right now). One of the first things I must do is establish “levels” of donations. We are a pediatric facility that is part of a large organization. Is it appropriate to designate levels of giving that are related to kid themes, or do you suggest sticking with tried-and-true levels such as platinum, silver, gold, President’s Circle, etc?

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Although the total Eclipse in August is a thing of the past, funds and volunteers that the 37th Judicial CASA group raised are even now fueling forward  progress. The group exceeded their campaign goal by $5,000 raising a total of $25,000. Perhaps equally important is that a large amount of the money was raised from  new major donors who have a higher likelihood of becoming repeat donors. 

The "Eclipse Child Abuse campaign" had two parts:

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For many people, fund-raising is the stuff of myth and magic—a series of tasks rivaling the labors of Hercules and demanding the powers of a Merlin. Myth and magic, because they offer the balm of simple acceptance in place of the pain of comprehension, can be very comforting, and in no instance is this more true, than when the myth of fund-raising magic is used to excuse fund-raising failure.

“If,” goes the justification, “running a successful fund-raising campaign is an endeavor comparable to dredging the river Styx, and soliciting large gifts equivalent to pulling Excalibur from the stone, what mere mortal can be expected to succeed?” Given that attitude, let me add a corollary: “Why bother to develop a goal or start a campaign?” The answer to those questions is, because we have to, and because the myth of fund-raising doom can’t measure up to the basic truth that fund-raising success is simply hard work on the part of people who are thoroughly prepared.

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It’s very likely you may have more than one person within your organization who can view or work in FundRaiser. During certain times of the year, volunteers may be entering in data and gifts or pledges. One of the useful features of FundRaiser Software is the ability to be able to control the information that someone can see, or even if they can edit or delete items from your database.

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Dear Kim,

I have tried to follow the advice in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and from you, Andy Robinson, Stephanie Roth, and other grassroots fundraising experts. What you all say makes sense. Having said that, I hope you don’t find my question rude: where do you find the time to really implement all this advice? I am a relatively efficient person and I already work my 40 hours and then some every week. Being in touch with more donors, doing research on prospects, keeping our social media presence vibrant? Something is always not getting done. Any tips?

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In addition to our technical support and training departments, FundRaiser Software also provides an extensive library of how-to documents and training videos through the Customer Portal. The Customer Portal is available to customers with a current Annual Maintenance Plan. To log in visit http://www.fundraisersoftware.com and click on the “Customer Login” link in the upper right-hand corner.  If you don’t have your login information (It will be unique to the customer portal), call or email our support team and we would be happy to reset the password for you.

Once you’re logged in, the Contact Info tab allows you to update and change your organization’s contact information. There are bulletins and news available. And the Training Videos tab takes you to the library of training videos. On the Support Tools tab, there is a link to view support document and downloads, including several “how to” documents. 

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Dear Kim:

We are a 50-year-old social service agency mostly supported by government grants.  We do have about 600 donors who help us every year and we do a reasonable job keeping in touch with them.  We also have about 300 people who give us in-kind gifts and I have tried all kinds of solicitations to encourage them to give money as well as stuff, but I have had a really poor response. Someone said that you said in-kind donors often don’t become money donors. Is that true?  Should I stop trying to convert them? 

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When inputting donations into your database, it’s important to differentiate in-kind gifts (which are usually goods, services, or time) from the financial gifts you receive. You get help doing this through the GIFT MODE code, which allows you to indicate the way the gift was received by your organization. With that code, you’ll notice that there are four default modes in the program: cash, check, charge, and in-kind.

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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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Dear Kim,

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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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