MaineShare Shares Tips
I contacted MaineShare to talk to them about how they celebrate Happiness Happens Day, which I posted about here in Happiness Happens Day at MaineShare. I wasn't expecting when I talked to them to learn about a unique way of fundraising, but that's also what happened. MaineShare is part of a national organization called Community Shares. Each Community Share organization, in this case MaineShare, acts on behalfof local nonprofits who belong to it as members in order to participate in workplace giving programs. his organizational model creates some unique tracking challenges, which MaineShare is meeting in outstanding fashion with some help from FundRaiser Professional. Here's how it works:
Acting on behalf of their member organizations, MaineShare raises funds for 43 local nonprofits groups. The structure created by the Community Shares model that they follow works well. It also creates the need for highly accurate tracking of many different and sometimes complicated fund pools. MaineShare relies on FundRaiser for help. With the skillful use of codes and reports, MaineShare keeps their records accurate and their funding distributions to member groups on-target.
“There is a tremendous amount of tracking in this set up,” says Sarah Fagg, Campaign Coordinator and the main user of FundRaiser at MaineShare. “It has to be accurate and we have to be able to access it easily. I love all the coding that I can do in FundRaiser. It helps a lot.”
“We have a campaign season in the fall. At that time, we go out to our workplaces and deliver pledge forms to employees. They fill them out and then I get the information. When those forms come in, I start entering in the data. I’ll start with a whole folder with lots of pledges. I enter in one workplace at a time," explains Sarah.
Details of how it works in FundRaiser
“I pretty much run everything off the gift page. There I track where the money is going and use the motivation code to track which workplace that donor works at. What is most important for us to track on funds is:
I am also able to note if a donor doesn’t want to receive mailings,” says Sarah.
Tracking by Individual Donor
“We track individual donors. In fact most of our records are individual donors. Tracking all donors as individuals gives us the flexibility we need to keep the records on all our donors, including people
• who change their workplace
“We have some very dedicated donors who are not giving through a workplace who have been giving for a long time. We track all of them the same way, and handle the gifts the same way in FundRaiser. This way, no matter what happens, I have their complete giving history in FundRaiser.
Donor reports also help see the complete giving history. “I love some of the donor reports that give the whole history of one person. When we are doing donor work, making phone calls, it really helps us to have all of the donor history on one page,” says Sarah.
Crucial role of reports
“I run all my reports off the gifts page, by campaign years. I also run a detailed summary report to check for data entry mistakes. I can quickly see how I have things coded. If the codes don’t make sense or I’ve put something in wrong, it will stick out on that report.
Helpful features to clean up ‘dirty data’
“One of the things I really like about FundRaiser is that there are a lot of helpful ways to clean up the database and get rid of codes that aren’t useful anymore. I’ve been working to clean up inconsistencies that have accumulated over the years. Features in FundRaiser let you easily see which codes are inactive and how many records are actually using a code.
FundRaiser really helps
MaineShare heard about FundRaiser from another Community Shares group. “We are very happy with our choice. Last year, we had a solicitation call from Blackbaud, and we told them that they are very happy with FundRaiser. We recommend you,” says Hildie Lipson, Executive Director.
Most important piece of advice for people just starting out
“I’ve worked with a lot of different databases, and the most important tip I always have is that you need to think about what information you want out of a database in order to input the information correctly. What reports do you want from it? A database will only give you what you put in. So when you set up your codes, think of that. Look at the reports and see what field it can draw information from,” says Sarah. “If you know what kind of reports you want and what kind of fields it draws on, then that is going to help you know on the gift page how you want to set up your codes.”