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Sustainable funding: From dream to reality

July 20, 2011
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Fundraising expert explains four-part, Benevon process as key to long-term success
Today, more than ever, organizations are pressed for cash—cash for payroll, cash for programs, cash to fill in around the edges, cash to try something new. And, because of dramatic cutbacks in funding from every source, more behavioral healthcare organizations are considering the idea of fundraising.

There is hardly a board member alive who hasn't had some experience with fundraising. And, when one considers how funds are typically raised, it is easy to understand those who blanch at the “typical” approach: entertaining, schmoozing, pressure and obligation, repeated phone calls, closing and collecting. Or, frantic one-time efforts to secure sponsors, sell tickets, and generate interest in the same event, year after year.

Isn't there a better way to do this? Yes, say a growing number of fundraising professionals like Terry Axelrod, president of Benevon, Inc. (Seattle, Wash.). To those who see fundraising as a painful obligation, she brings a different approach. She first asks organizations to “actually think the thought of creating sustainable, long-term funding” and then to “do the math” to see what it would take to create the pool of funds that would free your organization from the fundraising treadmill to concentrate on its real mission.

It's a comprehensive approach, she says, a continuous, four-stage cycle or process that, when followed, promises to fundamentally reshape an organization's planning, staffing, leadership, and culture over time. She says that achieving sustainable funding is possible, provided board and leadership make a firm, positive decision to go forward for years-perhaps a decade or more-and to evolve an effective fundraising team over time-and according to the “evidence based practices” for building a fundraising team and sustaining a fundraising program for the long haul.


Fundraising Software

Among the many software packages available to support fundraising, check out a few of the examples listed below.

Exceed! (Telosa Software)

Designed for use by fundraising, grant and volunteer professionals, the Exceed! software suite from Telosa provides organizations with a structured environment for storing, managing, and utilizing a wide range of information on donors, prospects, volunteers, grants and gifts.

With ease-of-use, power and affordability, the Exceed! platform features a built-in “navigator” and uses shortcuts to easily move between screens, while a “household” feature can manage multiple people within the same household (regardless of last name).

“When you search for a record to include in your reports, print mailing labels, or create a mail merge file, you can specify exactly what group of records you want to include through a simple point-and-click interface,” explains Susan Orr, founder and CEO of Telosa Software.

Able to be installed in-house or online, the basic and premier versions help organizations manage their donors, contacts, campaigns, membership, and events. In addition to organizing mailings and data imports/exports and email marketing, Exceed! also features comprehensive reporting and accounting interfaces.

Other options help manage guests, volunteers, and online fundraising, as well as grant making/seeking, recurring giving, and prospect research.

“Organizations can improve and streamline operations that impact the outcome of charitable giving,” says Orr. “The less time they spend on administrative tasks associated with tracking and managing donors-and the more insight an organization has into its donor base-the greater the opportunity to develop one-to-one relationships that positively impact their mission.”

DonorPerfect (SofterWare Inc.)

DonorPerfect fundraising solutions from SofterWare, Inc., help nonprofit organizations manage their most important donors-from their own solicitations to the time and monetary donations that donors make to their group. Using flags and codes, organizations can continually improve the success of their solicitations, and automate tasks associated with those contacts.

“Through automation, standard reports, integrated web forms, quick gift entries, broadcast email templates, DonorPerfect has spent over 20 years simplifying donor management and fundraising,” notes Jon Biedermann, vice president for fundraising solutions for DonorPerfect.

DonorPerfect is “known for its flexibility,” Biedermann says. Reports and screens can be customized to capture the unique data needs of any nonprofit. Many mental organizations use the system to capture their “unique” information, while the solution can easily handle tributes and a variety of gifts (including split, in-kind and “in honor of”).

Small and growing organizations can qualify for an Internet special that provides up to 500 donor records, support and training for one low monthly fee. Larger nonprofits can choose from three support plans, and best of breed third-party integrations for prospect research, accounting packages and more.

With both installed and online versions available, Biedermann states that DonorPerfect is the “only one that offers the same software in both a web-based and installed version.”

“Depending on their size, budget and needs, DonorPerfect has a solution for any nonprofit,” he adds.