French Camp Academy

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Memorial Gifts Program Boosts Fundraising for French Academy

French Camp Academy serves 170 students from Mississippi and the rest of the United States. Most of the students are from broken homes, and French Camp gives them a safe, stable place to call home from grades K-12. They also provide a world-class equestrian program, which helps character development and builds responsibility as the students train horses, maintain trails and learn to ride. As Lance Ragsdale, Vice President of Development, noted, “Horses and kids go well together!”

Business Challenge

Finding a solution that could handle a unique memorial gift program as well as other fundraising activities, while also integrating with third-party software.

The students live on campus in homes that look just like real homes, which is so important to the program. The French Academy embarked on a $24 million capital campaign to renovate these homes and other buildings, build their our endowment and program development, and create new facilities for their equestrian program.

We were using DonorPerfect successfully for these fundraising activities, but we thought all fundraising software was the same. So we decided it would make sense to merge our accounting software with our donor software. Since we use Sage’s accounting package, we figured we’d use their fundraising software. However, once we started using it, we realized we couldn’t accomplish what we wanted to – it wasn’t flexible enough, it couldn’t handle our memorial gifts, and it couldn’t do the reporting we wanted.”

– Lance Ragsdale, Vice President of Development


DonorPerfect Fundraising Software with the Accounting Interface

After realizing what they had lost in the switch, Lance said “We switched back to DonorPerfect, and now we just purchased the accounting interface to bring over the information we need from DonorPerfect to Sage’s accounting software.”

Key Results

Memorial Gifts

“We have a unique memorial program, which processes over 6,000 memorial gifts a year. DonorPerfect’s data entry process works well for this and is very user-friendly. For example, when a memorial gift is made, we need to notify next-of-kin, and that can be up to 10 people associated with each gift. DonorPerfect can handle this easily, where other programs couldn’t.”

Donor Management and Major Gifts

“We have over 29,000 records in our database and we depend on DonorPerfect to sift through all those records via reports and find just who we’re looking for, ‘like a bird-dog’ as we like to say down here in Mississippi. We look at giving histories, summaries of what donors have given, and similarly critical information. DonorPerfect gives us the historical knowledge, which is crucial to making solid decisions.”

“For our capital campaign, we rely on personal visits. We use DonorPerfect to determine giving patterns, and we base our “ask” amounts on what DonorPerfect suggests. For example, if the largest gift amount is $10,000, chances are this is the range they’ll feel comfortable giving. This has proven to be very successful.”

Direct Mail

“We have a large ongoing direct mail campaign for our annual fund each year, which includes 5 solicitation letters and 4 newsletters a year. We rely on DonorPerfect to pull the criteria we need. We even use it to determine who met our criteria to receive a special home-made loaf of bread each December as a special thank-you gift. All this information integrates with Word, Excel, etc. to make the process a snap.”


“I have found that our success with a software program is based on their support staff being responsive and helpful, and DonorPerfect’s is fantastic on both counts. I also like the frequent updates to the software, which shows that DonorPerfect listens to its constituents and works the feedback into the software. I give DonorPerfect really high marks for this – it’s awesome!”


When asked how all these activities are translating into achieving their fundraising goals, Lance said, “Our capital campaign is broken into four quarters and our first quarter goal was $3.5 million, and we surpassed it with $4.2 million in pledges. We’re also confident we’ll reach our annual fund goals as well by the end of the year. Switching from DonorPerfect made us realize how good it was, and we’re really glad to be back!”

Our capital campaign is broken into four quarters and our first quarter goal was $3.5 million, and we surpassed it with $4.2 million in pledges.

– Lance Ragsdale, VP of Development French Camp Academy

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