Hundreds Gather on Capitol Hill to Protect and Celebrate 100 Years the Charitable Tax Deduction

On the 100th anniversary of the charitable tax deduction, nonprofit leaders from around the country are meeting with lawmakers to promote and protect it, as looming tax reforms could limit the amount of gift money donors can claim on their taxes.

As Vice President of Fundraising Products at SofterWare and Member of the Board of Directors for Giving USA, Jon Biedermann is speaking with Senate and House representatives on Thursday to reinforce the charitable tax deduction and in turn, influence policy.

Jon Biedermann meeting with Senator Bob Casey's staff to preserve the charity tax deduction

Jon Biedermann meeting with Senator Bob Casey’s staff to preserve the charity tax deduction

According to Giving USA, Americans contributed an estimated $372 billion to charity in 2015 (almost a billion dollars per day!) and that trend isn’t going away. At a time when our country is so divided, we Americans continue to maintain our country’s spirit of philanthropy, leveraging our good fortune to bring opportunity to those in need by supporting nonprofits. That’s why it’s no surprise that a 2016 national survey by Independent Sector revealed that 88% of voters believe Congress should charitable deductions easier to claim.

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the charitable tax deduction, we hope our voices will influence tax reform in a way that incentivizes all Americans to give and keep giving, regardless of income. 

We’ll keep you posted here on the DonorPerfect blog as this story develops.

 

 

by Emily Patz

Feb 16 17

New Feature: Scheduled Reports

DonorPerfect's Scheduled Reports lets you schedule an Easy Report in seconds from the Report Center.

Do you spend time each day, week or month running the same report? Do you wish DonorPerfect would share reports with your key stakeholders for you? Scheduled Reports, released this week to a small group of clients, can do all this and more!

Now, you can select to run reports at a later time and date. You can also run them on a recurring schedule. Scheduled Reports will email your selected report to you (or someone you choose). Receive progress on your campaign, status updates, or giving trends without having to log into DonorPerfect! Any member of your team can wake up with the information they need to start their day already in their inbox.

Scheduling an Easy Report

Scheduling a report is quick and easy. Simply open the Easy Reports folder in the Report Center and click the Schedule icon in the Report Actions column for the report you want to schedule. Next, enter your scheduling details, such as who should be emailed a copy of the report and when it should run. That’s it!

DonorPerfect's Scheduled Reports lets you schedule an Easy Report in seconds from the Report Center.
 

Need to see this step-by-step? Visit Scheduling an Easy Report in our Knowledgebase.

 

Take a Tour of Scheduled Reports

Watch this quick one minute video tour of our new Scheduled Easy Reports.

When Can I Expect to Schedule My Reports?

Scheduled Reports is being rolled out over the next few months to DonorPerfect systems that have Scheduled Reports included their package. We’ll notify you via email when your system receives this time-saving new update. The number of scheduled reports available to your organization depends on your DonorPerfect subscription level. Currently, only Easy Reports can be scheduled, however we plan to add other reports in the future. If you don’t have the Easy Report Builder or Scheduled Reports, contact your account manager to find out how you can create hassle-free custom reports and schedule them.

by Stephanie Kanak

Feb 14 17

SHOW YOUR NONPROFIT MORE ONLINE L❤VE

online giving

How would you like to double your online donations in just two months? Darian Rodriquez Heyman, the editor of “Nonprofit Management 101: A Field Guide for Social Sector Professionals,” shared powerful online success strategies gleaned from his conversations with 50 of America’s most accomplished nonprofit leaders during a recent DonorPerfect Expert Webinar—one of our most popular online presentations!
In recognition of Valentine’s Day, we want to show our blog followers some love, by giving all of you the gift of Darian’s significant expertise in transforming your digital fundraising campaigns to promote online giving.

Attract New Donors Across Generational Lines
Americans give more than $300 Billion to charities each year, and 10% of these gifts–a steadily growing percentage- are made online. “Both millennials and baby boomers are equally at ease with online giving,” Darian said, adding that ⅓ of these gifts are being made on iPhones and other mobile devices where “space is at a premium.” He advocates using the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) rule to make it easy for prospective supporters to come to your website, learn about your cause, and make a donation “in the fewest possible clicks.” Darian maintains that ⅓ of all people who are forced to click more than three times to make a donation will give up, and give elsewhere. He equated it to long lines in a store at check out that force people to abandon their shopping.

He advises organizations to offer 4 to 5 giving levels, and clearly indicate what program or service can be provided at each level. “People give through you because you meet needs,” Darian said, emphasizing that it is very important that millennials know the impact of their gift.

Updating your website to make it easier to donate online is definitely worth the investment. “ Every dollar you expend in website improvements yields $40 in online gifts,” Darian commented.
Even a relatively simple design tweak can make big difference in online revenues. One nonprofit that Darian worked with received 30% more donations when they changed the color of their DONATE NOW button from gray to red. The secret is to constantly be testing different variables (color of button, size, location, messaging, etc.)

Recruit and Retain Monthly Supporters
The average one-time online gift is $82, while monthly donors average $22 each month, or $264 over the course of a year. Studies show that 87% of monthly donors will remain loyal to your nonprofit, providing a welcome and stable source of support! Darian suggests that organizations design their donation pages to give monthly giving far more prominent placement than one-time gifts.

Turn Your Donors Into Fundraisers
Darian advises nonprofits to drive traffic to their Facebook page where donors can make a personal gift, then share their generosity with their friends and family, and encourage them to make gifts of their own. “There are currently two billion people on Facebook, making this social media site an excellent source for new donors,” Darian said, adding “the fastest growing group on Facebook is women, ages 45 and older, an attractive demographic group for fundraisers.” (Don’t have a monthly giving program, get our Monthly Giving Starter Kit to learn how).

Use These FREE Tools
Facebook offers nonprofits free online tools to help them mobilize, organize, raise community awareness, generate funds, and reduce costs. Learn more about how Facebook’s connects nonprofits with prospective supporters.
Like Facebook, Google also offers free tools to help nonprofits maximize their online presence and achieve fundraising success. Qualifying organizations receive $10,000 in in-kind text-based ads each month! These ads appear on Google search results pages, just below the ads of paid advertisers. Click here for more information about this valuable promotional tool.

If you missed Darian’s webinar or would like to see it again, Here’s the recording, and here are the presentation slides to help you maximize your online giving revenues.

This post was written by Lynn Edelman, Content Writer at DonorPerfect.

by Lynn Edelman

Feb 8 17

New Feature: Measuring Donation Form Performance

Measure your form's donation conversion rate and other form performance metrics in this new release of WebLink.

Last night, new version of WebLink was released that will give you quick insight and provide important metrics to measure how well your donation forms are performing, beyond just the hard data of total dollars donated. From within WebLink, you can easily see how often a specific form was viewed and completed. You can also see what your donation conversion rate (or how often a donor completed a donation) was for each form. These metrics will help you troubleshoot potential issues if you’re not getting the results you want with your donation forms.

How to Use This Information

Your conversion rate measures the effectiveness of your donation page in your donor conversion funnel. Typically, you’d have a donation web page, email, social media post or other means to direct donors to your donation form. Once donors get to your form, they will either complete the form or abandon it. How often they complete the form is your form’s conversion rate.

Measure your form's donation conversion rate using WebLink.

 

If you find your conversion rate is lower than expected, consider the following:

  • Is the content on the donation page compelling enough?
  • Do you need to adjust the call to action in your fundraising emails?
  • Maybe the form itself is too lengthy to fill out or confusing?
  • Is your donation form themed the same as your website? If not, consider having some common elements, like your organization’s logo, to inspire trust.
  • When you drill down into your data are there any errors such as a failed payment method?
  • Investigate the possibility of any technical glitches that might prevent form completion.

Need ideas on how to improve your conversion rate? Visit our demo website, Coral Acres, for form examples and sample donation pages.

Viewing Your Metrics

Within the WebLink RAC, simply toggle the Statistics button to “ON”. The Views column is a count of all views, determined from page load of the first page of form. This tracks all links (normal, friendly and bit.ly links) for any WebLink forms with an ACTIVE status. For more accurate results, page views aren’t counted when you view or preview the form via the WebLink Admin/RAC. A form’s conversion rate is determined by the number of successfully processed entries (including any no payment required ones) divided by the count of page views.

 

Toggle the Statistics button to "ON" to see your form's donation conversion rate and other form performance metrics.

 

For full instructions on how to use these new metrics, please visit Tracking WebLink Form Performance in the Knowledgebase.

Release Notes

WebLink’s ability to track donation form performance isn’t the only improvement in this release. Read about all of the enhancements and fixes in the WebLink 2017 Release Notes in the Knowledgebase.

by Stephanie Kanak

Feb 1 17

Here’s How to Find Five-Figure Gifts Hiding in Plain Sight

Hope Happens in Florida
Hope Happens in Florida

HOPE Helps enables Central Floridians to begin new and better lives.

The goal of HOPE Helps, a Central Florida-based nonprofit, is to bring light to the lives of homeless individuals and families and help them to become self-sufficient. Through a comprehensive network of housing, outreach, prevention, and education programs, this small, yet powerful organization,  gives clients hope for a better tomorrow!

The organization began its capital campaign with a lofty goal: $1.6 million to provide a new resource center for families in crisis. The resource center would provide space for partner organizations and agencies, a food pantry, counseling, after-school programs, financial support, emergency assistance, and much more. The organization’s current facility is too small, difficult to access, and, is scheduled for demolition due to highway construction.

Setting the Goals

HOPE Helps tended to think small when asking others for gifts. Previously, the organization would have considered $500 a large gift. Board members and volunteers lacked the confidence to ask for more and were limited in the ability to determine a prospect’s capacity and inclination to give.  Leadership authorized a feasibility study which showed that $1.6 million was a realistic goal if the organization pursued larger gifts.

Doing the Research

HOPE Helps used DonorPerfect, a leading Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), to manage contacts. DonorPerfect recommended DonorSearch to screen and research prospects to find those with the inclination and capacity to make major gifts.

For the first time, HOPE Helps researched potential donors who attended events or toured the existing facility and reached out to these qualified donors with confidence.

Realizing Great Results

The group identified a number of small, loyal donors. One who had given $25/year was asked for and gave $15,000. Another gave $75,000. With the philanthropic data that DonorPerfect and DonorSearch provided, HOPE Helps developed a strategy that enabled them to confidently ask for five-figure gifts.

HOPE Helps has raised 75% of its capital campaign goal and expects to exceed that goal in time to begin construction of its new facility.

“Without DonorPerfect and DonorSearch, we would have left money on the table. It would have been hard to ask for a five-figure gift without the data to back it up.”

-Stephanie Govatos, Development / Special Events Manager

by Lynn Edelman

Jan 30 17

ReadySetAuction and DonorPerfect Help Timothy School Raise More Than $130,000

auction

auction

2017 is off to a good start for The Timothy School in Berwyn, thanks to the revenue that the School received from its November 2016 auction—the centerpiece of its 50th Anniversary gala celebration.

Gene Sirni serves as Director of Development for The Timothy School, Pennsylvania’s oldest nonprofit school dedicated exclusively to the education and development of children with autism. A DonorPerfect client since 2013, the School was one of the first to successfully use ReadySetAuction (RSA), DonorPerfect’s newest product, to manage the auction, which proved to be a highly successful fundraiser. 200 guests attended the black-tie, formal dinner, and their spirited bidding helped net $133,000.00 in new revenues.

The Timothy School used a Master of Ceremonies to help spur auction bidding.

The Timothy School used a Master of Ceremonies to help spur auction bidding.

Both attendance and proceeds were up significantly from the School’s 2015 fundraiser, a more casual affair with pick-up appetizers and drinks, which attracted 110 people and netted $65,000.

Sirni believes that the addition of a Master of Ceremonies, who drew the guests’ attention to scrolling auction items and encouraged them to bid, helped to boost revenues. “I also feel that the inherent peer-to-peer encouragement of an auction environment inspired our guests to engage in friendly bidding competitions, driving up the price of desirable items, as well as live, direct contributions through RSA for our Teachers’ Wish List, which netted over $50,000 for school projects and classroom needs, ” Sirni said.

Timothy School students were big beneficiaries of the auction proceeds, with the Wish List supporting vocational training supplies, computers and funding for curriculum development.

Sirni used 501 Auctions to run prior events and was pleased with the product, but found the cost to be prohibitive. He was happy to discover that RSA was competitively priced and could be used to run multiple events in a calendar year. “We split the RSA purchase price evenly between the fall gala and our spring golf outing,” said Sirni, who is particularly pleased that RSA integrates seamlessly with DonorPerfect software.

The School used email pushes from DonorPerfect’s partner, Constant Contact, which is integrated with DonorPerfect, and direct mail to promote the event and drive traffic to the school’s website and to RSA’s online auction pages. Sirni explained that “We use Constant Contact for pushes to both existing constituents, as well as to new prospects. We do pushes to prospects to help them learn more about the school and make more informed decisions.” Sirni said that the school began promoting the gala and auction last June, with a Save the Date Reminder.

For more information about using ReadySetAuction as part of your organization’s fundraising campaign, visit or call 1-800-824-0490 to schedule a group demo.

Free Webinar: 5 Secrets for Improving Your Charity Auction Timeline

Do you want to replicate The Timothy School’s success at your nonprofit organization?  Then sign-up now for a free webinar on Tuesday, January 31st,1 pm. ET.  DonorPerfect has partnered with guest experts Ian Lauth of Winspire and renowned benefit auctioneer Scott Robertson for an insightful hour-long presentation on conducting a “Fund-A-Need” auction. Learn how to capture donations from those who are passionate about your mission and develop a foundation for successful events for years to come!

 

auction

 

Can’t make it? Register anyway and we’ll send you a recording of the webinar shortly after it’s over!

by Lynn Edelman

Jan 23 17

A Happy New Year’s Eve, Eve and Eve and Eve!

At DonorPerfect, we refer to New Year’s Eve as our “Super Bowl” – traditionally the busiest day of the year for online donations. Despite load tests on our servers and lots of preparation, there’s always a bit of nervous excitement throughout the day, as our staff monitors systems to ensure your DonorPerfect and WebLink donations go through smoothly. By midnight, we’re ready to celebrate with everyone else, and the reward is seeing how well our clients did the next day. For the past few years, my New Year’s morning ritual has become coffee and data queries (I’m odd like that), looking at the donation activity and trying to identify trends. This year was particularly interesting.

Typically we will see daily donation activity build daily throughout the last week of the year, but December 31st has historically been substantially higher – some years double or more the activity of the previous days. When graphed, this creates something closer to a “hockey stick” than a straight line. That pattern has held true for a number of years as you can see on the chart below. This year, however, we saw a different trend.

Perhaps due to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays falling on Sunday, we saw a more progressive, more linear increase in donation activity that far exceeded the previous years. In fact, while December 31st was 5% higher than last year, WebLink donation activity for the last 5 days of 2016 was up 34% over the same period in 2015! And some of the individual days were record-setters as well.

2017WebLinkYearEndActivity_forBlog_v3

Looking more closely, we see December 27th was up 125% over the same day in 2015 – again, perhaps, because in 2015, December 27th fell on a Sunday. Further, we also see December 29th was up 48% over last year, and the last weekday of the year, December 30th, was up 47% over the same day last year.

Whether this is truly related to the day of the week, to a change in giving trends, or some other factor, is a question that would require more analysis. But we’d love to hear your thoughts. Either way, it’s probably worth bearing this trend in mind if you plan to send out last minute appeals for end-of-year donations to your clients – particularly if you’re using email. In 2017, New Year’s Eve will fall on a Sunday. Will that mean that the Friday the 29th (the last business day of the year) will be busier than the 30th? We’ll have to wait and see together. I’m sure we’ll always be able to count on New Year’s Eve being a busy day, but this year at least, it seems donors weren’t waiting until the very last minute to donate.

by Tom Gimpel

Jan 16 17

How An Art House Fundraiser Turned Members and Ticket Buyers into Donors

art house fundraiser

Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre makes the case for a winning fundraising formula.

art house fundraiser

Photo by F. Clark Williams Jr.

The Organization

The Belcourt Theatre, which opened in 1925 as a silent movie house called the Hillsboro Theatre and later became the Nashville Community Playhouse, is now Nashville’s home for the best of independent, documentary, world and repertory film 365 days/year. After multiple owners and a period of steady losses which resulted in the theatre’s closure, a grassroots group called Belcourt YES! formed and reopened the theatre as a nonprofit in 1999. The group later purchased the building in 2007 formalizing the name as Belcourt Theatre Inc. It is the only nonprofit theatre of its kind in Nashville.  

The Situation

The organization’s attendance and cultural and educational programs were growing as the facility was crumbling. With no major work done for over 50 years, the building lacked critical safety and accessibility features, and could no longer accommodate the growing needs of its patrons. Though attendance and membership had increased steadily, the organization had done little to pursue major gifts.

The Campaign

Previously, the organization never had a full time fundraiser and only generated 25% of its income from small donations, relying on program fees for most of its revenue. That revenue covered operational expenses, but didn’t support major renovations. A feasibility study by consulting firm Marts & Lundy led to an ambitious goal of $4.5 million for the campaign.

The Formula: DonorPerfect + Agile Ticketing + DonorSearch

The theatre screened its list of 9,000 members, donors and patrons which it had collected in Agile Ticketing with DonorSearch, and discovered more than half were potential major donors. The screening uncovered a number of connections between Belcourt board members, supports and staff and potential major donors, as well as projected ask amounts. That data was loaded into DonorPerfect to manage. The theatre also rebranded itself to raise awareness of their status as a nonprofit.

The Results

Over $2.2 million alone was raised from 50 donors. The theatre began the renovations when it raised 80% of its original goal; the goal was later increased to $5 million. Reconstruction was completed in 2016. The theatre also reinvigorated its sustaining annual giving society, the Hillsboro Society, as a way to recruit and further cultivate new major donors as discovered through extensive research from the capital campaign.

This case study was written by Brooke Bernard, Development Director at Belcourt Theatre. 

Learn more about DonorPerfect Fundraising Software, Agile Ticketing, and DonorSearch:

At Art House Convergence

Visit our table to see why DonorPerfect, Agile Ticketing, and DonorSearch can help you see success for your art house! We’d love to meet you and learn about your unique organization.

Online or Over the Phone 

Fill out the form and we’ll reach out to you.

by Emily Patz

Jan 10 17

DonorPerfect Helps Photography Museum Develop an Efficient Data Management System

mopa

mopa

Heather Sheaffer is the resident data guru at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in San Diego, California. Founded in 1983, MOPA is one of the first museums in the United States designed exclusively to feature high-quality exhibitions, lectures, publications and films about the photographic arts. Its permanent collection consists of more than 7,000 images, including works by Margaret Bourke-White, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and Ruth Bernhard, and 850 other photographers. Throughout the year, MOPA connects with community residents, offering innovative programs for adults with dementia, youth photographic arts competitions, and summer camps for children of all ages.

MOPA

When Heather came on board as the Museum’s database specialist in 2012, she made it her mission to make certain that all membership and development data is current and accurately recorded. She uses DonorPerfect every day to realize these goals. This is a return engagement for Heather, who served on MOPA’s Client Advisory Board several years ago before moving out of state. When she returned to California, she learned about the staff opening and applied. Armed with a Master’s degree in Information Sciences, she felt confident in her ability to tackle this career challenge. “I understand how databases work, know their limitations, and know how to fix them,” she said. Human Resources apparently agreed with Heather’s self-assessment and hired her on the spot.

MOPA uses DonorPerfect Online Forms for donations, events, and volunteers.

“I do everything on DonorPerfect,” said Heather, who particularly “loves” DonorPerfect Online Forms (WebLink). She uses DonorPerfect Online Forms to create application forms for volunteers, and enable them to chart their hours without logging on to the museum’s database. The integrated online forms also allows members to easily sign up online for programs and classes and RSVP to invitations for special events.

Heather believes DonorPerfect Online Forms to be of great value in monitoring participation in MOPA’s brand-new Pay What You Wish program, which allows visitors to make a voluntary contribution rather than pay a set membership fee. “This program has resulted in additional online donations from people who visit the museum and like what they see,” she explained.

donorperfect online forms

DonorPerfect saves time, ensures efficiency.

Heather has found DonorPerfect to be a real time-saver, enabling her to enter data like event RSVPs, and program registrations in batches, rather than inputting them individually. “The process is three times faster than manual entries,” she said.

She credits DonorPerfect with helping her to more effectively track and update important information about members, donors and volunteers. “Address changes, donor interests, frequency of visits, attendance at programs and events, and other important data is accurately recorded in one central database, which can be accessed and updated at any time, day or night,” she concluded.

Check out DonorPerfect Online Forms! Click the button below.

online forms

 

This post was written by Lynn Edelman, Content Writer at SofterWare.

by Emily Patz

Jan 9 17

3 Important Ways Online Fundraising Systems Differ

fundraising systems

It’s easy. Click a few buttons and set up a fundraising page to solicit friends and family to give to a cause. There are dozens of different companies that offer this type of peer-to-peer fundraising tool, and in many ways the products seem pretty similar — but there are actually some very significant differences that both nonprofits and donors should really understand.

Difference #1: Fee Structure

There is a cost to developing software, as well as for processing electronic payments, so there are always fees that someone is paying for these tools.

Fees can be charged in two ways:

  • The person or nonprofit who sets up the fundraising page pays the fees.
  • The donor pays an additional donation amount or “tip” to cover the fees.

Either method can be reasonable, but many sites misleadingly promote themselves as free tools. Others don’t present all the costs clearly. A common cause of confusion is when there is a fee for using the system (usually 3-8%), plus another percentage for processing (another 2-5%).

Some products charge the fundraiser/nonprofit those fees and ask the donor to “contribute” to cover the costs, but that “contribution” is usually going to the system provider and doesn’t always lower the costs deducted from the donation. In contrast, the Donors Cover Costs feature in DonorPerfect provides 100% of the additional contribution to the non-profit.

Difference #2: Overall Processing Costs

As a result of the above fee structures, the true cost of donations can be as high as 10-15% of the transaction, depending upon the fundraising system you choose. That’s a lot higher than the 2-3% processing expense that is possible through DonorPerfect’s integrated online donation forms (Weblink), where a nonprofit only incurs the fee for the credit card processing.

Difference #3: Distribution of Funds

Perhaps the most important difference, and one that is often not understood by donors is, where do the funds go?

To a nonprofit organization
Some vendors, such as ourselves, offer systems that are set up and managed by the nonprofit, and all funds raised go directly to the nonprofit organization. That means that the donation is normally tax deductible to the donor. It also means that a donor can be confident that the use of the funds is being directed by the nonprofit.  As an additional benefit, the non-profit receives the funds with 48 hours and also receives information about the donor, allowing them to provide prompt acknowledgement of the gift.

The individual who set up the campaign
Popular websites like GoFundMe and YouCaring are not run by or affiliated with bona fide nonprofits.  They allow anyone to set up campaigns, for almost any purpose. Campaigns are often set up to benefit an individual, which can be the campaign creator.  As such, there is typically no real vetting process involved, so sites like this can, and are, being used for fraudulent fundraising efforts. Donations via sites like these are considered personal gifts and are only tax deductible if the donation is made to what GoFundMe calls a Certified Charity. Although GoFundMe provides this information in their FAQs, it is very likely that most donors do not understand this important distinction.

Does it matter?
I assume that the vast majority of GoFundMe campaigns are legitimate efforts to raise funds for people in real need, and I certainly believe all generosity should be encouraged. But I do worry that a proliferation of solicitations from and for individuals may siphon donations that might be more effective if they were directed to established nonprofits working on behalf of a well known or verifiable cause. I also worry that publicity around fraudulent fundraising efforts could hurt similar fundraising efforts initiated by nonprofits.

What should nonprofits and donors do?

For starters, don’t assume that all online fundraising sites are similar. Do your due diligence.

  • Determine what are all the fees, regardless of who pays them.
  • Nonprofits should encourage supporters to use their direct online giving page if they solicit on the organization’s behalf.
  • Donors should make sure they understand where their gift is going and how much of the donation the fundraiser or charity actually receives.
  • Donors should consider directing their giving to nonprofits rather than individuals, unless they really know the individual recipient.
by Doug Schoenberg

Jan 3 17