When BRING Recycling began their capital campaign it was a big jump for them. Kara Brinkman, Administrative Assistant at BRING Recycling and a FundRaiser Select user, says "The capital campaign was a major change in mind set for our organization. We started out very grassroots in 1971 as a recycling center. As the community has become more aware and involved in our mission we’ve also evolved. Raising money and courting donors didn't come naturally to us, but we've done well. The community here in Eugene has been really supportive."
Their key to Phase 1
BRING’s capital campaign started with raising the money to build a “Planet Improvement Center.” The Center is a resale outlet for used building materials; and a community learning and action center. BRING has successfully finished Phase I of their capital campaign, raising over a million dollars in the process and built the building. Pledges have been key to that success. "We had pledges ranging from $40 to $40,000. A lot of people wanted the option to make a pledge," says Kara.
Keeping pledge details in order
Pledge tracking is filled with details. Even if all pledges are relatively similar, for instance monthly payments of $50, there will always be late payments, missed payments, or payments that are larger or smaller than expected. Keeping track and following up can quickly turn into a mountain of details.
Getting a handle on reminder letters
For Kara, "the hardest thing was trying to get a handle on tracking the reminders." She got it under control with automatic reminders to herself set up on her computer. "I used the tickler system a lot, both within FundRaiser and on my own calendar set up. I had weekly, monthly, and quarterly reminders to check when pledges were coming due." The tickler notices made it "really easy." In FundRaiser, she can automatically link a particular reminder letter to a donor. Then, she comments, "I went in and said 'print reminder' and out went the reminder."
BRING Recycling used reminder and overdue letters when needed to keep donors informed and understanding the importance of their gift. Says Kara, "We updated all of our letters every month or so. They included progress on the campaign and updates on the new facility, which was important to keep donors feeling involved. We used the overdue letter as another way to remind them that they wanted to help us out. They had the same content as the reminder letters, and followed a general format. In every letter we said, ‘this is what we are doing, this is how we are progressing, and oh, by the way, (reminder or overdue).’ "
Keeping track of the where and why of donations
In FundRaiser, Kara likes the ability to track motivation, fund, purpose and solicitor on pledges.
"We have several different funds that are all related to the capital campaign, and which we separate out, particularly if there is a matching fund. We also like to track the motivation. For instance, was an appeal done through direct mail or through the newsletter? We have many different tracking requirements to find out where the donation is coming from and
the gift codes allow us to easily do that."
New challenges in Phase 2
Moving into Phase 2 of the campaign, they are facing new challenges. “It’s a more difficult sell, because we are in the new building now,” says Kara.
One challenge is being able to see which are the most important sources of donations. That is more difficult because the sources are even more diverse. BRING has donations of money coming from all of these sources:
- Appeal letters
- Newsletter donation envelopes
- Workplace giving programs like United Way and EarthShare
- BRING’s website
- Giving websites, like JustGive.org
- Memorial gifts, given to honor or remember a loved one
Understanding the value of these various sources would be extremely difficult without help from FundRaiser gift tracking. Using FundRaiser, they can see what is working best. “We can tell that what’s coming in now is mostly responding to the newsletters. We get a good response for two to three months when we send out the newsletter. That is steady and consistent,” says Kara. BRING can also see that few new donors are attracted with every newsletter, along with regular donors.
Responding to the economy : In-Kind donation
“The economy has affected the donations,” says Kara, “but our sales center is just booming. We are getting many more donations of materials to the store and lots more shopping. People are coming who haven’t been here before. With the slow economy, people are looking for alternative ways to fix up their houses.”
“We also get in-kind donations for the capital campaign, anything from discounted or free services, to materials needed for a particular project. In FundRaiser, we record the value as the donor quotes it It works really well.” says Kara.
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