Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre makes the case for a winning fundraising formula.
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 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.
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.
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:
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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.
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 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.
This post was written by Lynn Edelman, Content Writer at SofterWare.
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.
Happy New Year! I hope that you did fantastic and exceeded your year-end goals.
Now it’s back to reality. You’ve processed all of your donations for 2016. You’re current with your thank you letters. That should suffice, right?
Then a monthly donor calls and wants a tax-receipt for all of her donations for the year, even though she gets her monthly thank you emails.
Should You Create a Tax Receipt for Monthly Donors?
You have a choice to make. You can wait till a donor calls and asks for at tax receipt. Or you can make it really easy for her by providing the monthly giving tax receipt she deserves.
I recommend you send your monthly donors a special tax letter, ideally by January 31st.
How to Create a Monthly Donor Tax Letter
- Simply tally ALL of the donations the donor made during the year.
- Download this easy free tax-letter template (and other free templates) right here on the Monthly giving site and adapt to your heart’s content.
- Make it as warm and fuzzy as you can, as long as long as you give the official tax information with your tax-id, so the donor really has everything together. You don’t need to break out every individual donation, but just one total amount is adequate.
- I recommend you send the monthly donor an online version of this AND a hard copy. If you have a little update or a story on the impact the donor has made, now’s the time to include it.
That’s all there is.
But, but, but… You may ask: aren’t you afraid that the donor will cancel when they see how much money they’ve given on the tax receipt?
My experience is that this rarely happens, especially not if you provide a great thank you, a story and you tell the donor the tremendous impact his or her monthly gifts are making.
You’ll provide a great service and another opportunity to tell your donor how grateful you are.
And if you have any questions, simply contact me at Erica Waasdorp, DonorPerfect Expert.
Don’t Have a Monthly Giving Program? Start One in 2017 with a FREE Monthly Giving Starter Kit!
The new version of DPMobile Android was released earlier this week. This release brings all of the great features found in the iOS version of the app up to date in the Android version. One feature still missing from this new Android version is the ability to accept payments. This is planned for a future release. Even without payment processing, this new version will streamline the donor management process for Android users on the go. We’ve updated the app’s look and feel, provided better donor information, given you the ability to add new donors and added additional help resources and video accessible right from within in the app.
Here’s What’s New in the DPMobile for Android Version 3.2.4a
- DPMobile for Android users now have feature parity with iOS for all functions except for Payment Processing/Mobile Swipe.
- Ability to add a new donor right from DPMobile’s search screen.
- Expanded help resources accessible via a new menu within DPMobile, including our brand new Online Help website, DPO Video Library and FAQ.
- You can now select the number of entries returned during a search.
- Improved the Comprehensive Donor Analysis Report, including new metrics for Donor Attrition and Retention.
- Enhanced functionality to view Tribute gifts.
- Improved UI Experience – including a new collapsible menu that provides more space for important donor information.
- Added new controls for coded fields, notes, and dates so you can edit them while in the constituent’s record.
Ready to download DPMobile for Android? The app is FREE and only requires your DonorPerfect login and password.
Read about all of the enhancements and fixes in the DPMobile 2016 Release Notes in the Knowledgebase.
In a blog post that we published the morning after the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, we strove to reassure readers that “Philanthropy Is Apolitical” and that research indicated that the vast majority of Americans-regardless of party affiliation-planned to support their favorite nonprofits at the same level or higher in 2016 and beyond.
On behalf of the nonprofit clients that SofterWare serves, we are happy to report that our best hopes were realized! (We wanted to proclaim that we were right, but our editors suggested that we be a bit more modest.)
A new article from the highly respected publication The Nonprofit Times, documents that 25% of Americans have either already increased their philanthropic contributions or plan to do so by the end of the year. The Nonprofit Times’ data was based on an online survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted by the Harris Poll on November 28-30. The survey was commissioned by CARE, a Georgia-headquartered charitable organization that provides humanitarian aid and fights poverty in more than 95 countries around the world.
Making A Difference Through Donations of Time and Dollars
The Harris Poll survey reveals that 40% of respondents are increasing their financial support by an average of 31% because they are concerned that their favorite charity won’t receive government funding in the incoming presidential administration. Half of those surveyed said their increased support will go to children’s charities, while organizations that support global humanitarian aid, protect the environment, prevent discrimination, provide access to health care, and other key social issues are also of concern to donors.
Economic Growth Makes Americans More Charitable
And, while a percentage of this rise in charitable donations might be attributed to the election results, it is not the only factor. Many fundraising executives credit the surge in charitable giving to a thriving economy and a stock market that is performing well at the end of the year.
Jon Biedermann, Vice President of Fundraising Products for SofterWare, Inc. and a board member of the Giving USA Foundation, predicted that charitable giving will continue to spike through the end of 2016 for two major economic reasons. “First, the stock market bump that began with the election is still occurring,” Biedermann said. He then explained that it’s very beneficial for donors to give appreciated stocks as gifts to nonprofits because donors get the tax donation for the full amount of the stock without having to pay capital gains tax. “This has the effect of adding incentives for people to give.”
Another incentive to donate before year’s end is the opportunity to lock in the current income tax deduction, which is now nearly 40%. “There seems to be a consensus that, in the incoming presidential administration, the top rate of the Federal Income Tax will drop significantly,” said Biedermann, adding that this change may take place as early as 2017.
#GivingTuesday Fuels The Fires of Optimism
Need proof that philanthropy is still a cherished American value? Just look at the tremendous success of the recent #GivingTuesday, a day devoted to charitable giving. Biedermann remarked, “The thousands of nonprofit organizations that used DonorPerfect fundraising software to track, manage, and collect donations on this day processed gifts of $18,912,403. This represents a staggering 27% growth over 2015’s $14.9 million total.”
Globally, #GivingTuesday’s growth has been equally impressive. The November 29 event generated 1,560,000 gifts, with $168,000,000 raised online in more than 98 participating countries, up more than 20% over 2015 totals.
Share Your Thoughts and Experiences
Does this analysis of the current philanthropic climate jive with your organization’s experiences? Did your nonprofit gain visibility and revenue due to #GivingTuesday? Are you seeing a surge in contributions to your end-of-year giving campaigns? We encourage you to share your stories, observations, and success strategies with us by posting your comments below.
Make the Giving Trend a Mainstay by Starting a Monthly Giving Program
On average, DonorPerfect clients who rely on monthly giving programs to keep their donors’ support have a 90% retention rate. You can, too! Get a FREE Monthly Giving Starter Kit by filling out the short form below. It’s packed with tips, tools, and proven strategies to help you succeed at setting up a monthly giving program that’s bound for success.
Download our FREE Monthly Giving Starter Kit!
Beam Me Up, Laura Beth!
SofterWare, Inc., the parent company of DonorPerfect and EZCare software, has clients all over the world. BeamBot enables those who live far away from the company’s suburban Philadelphia headquarters to make a virtual connection with their trainers, support and sales staff using the latest advances in robotic technology.
BeamBot deepens the connection between clients and staff.
At our 2016 DonorPerfect Community Network Conference in Philadelphia, SofterWare’s President Dr. Nathan Relles, guided our BeamBot around, enabling several members of the SofterWare team to chat with participants. Their faces and voices were projected onto a rapidly moving, stealth-like robot, which moved throughout the crowd, enthralling and engaging Conference participants. Several clients who Nathan spoke with said that they would like to one-day visit the company’s headquarters and meet those individuals with whom they have worked throughout the years. The BeamBot can make this dream a “virtual” reality.
It’s the next best thing to being here!
Invitations have been emailed to clients who have expressed interest in taking a 30-minute virtual tour of headquarters with opportunities to meet and greet the men and women who have helped them to understand their software and effectively use it to achieve their goals.
Those who accept the invitation will maneuver throughout the building, using the arrow keys on their laptop. They will use the webcam and microphone features to broadcast their faces onto the BeamBot’s screen and throw their voices over its speakers. Nathan, and his able assistant, Laura Beth Bigelow, will serve as the client’s virtual tour guide, navigating him or her safely throughout the building.
Madeline Bergman, Director of Development at the Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types, Inc. took her virtual tour last week. She described using BeamBot as “a wild experience” and expressed great pleasure at virtually meeting the sales representatives and support team members who she has so enjoyed working with through the years. “Everyone is so incredibly helpful when we call for assistance,” she said, adding “Your input has helped us to increase our fundraising capabilities here at FIRST.”
If you would like to set up a tour, email Laura Beth at email@example.com.
The year-end fundraising season is a time when nonprofits earn the majority of their donations. Because so many people are giving during this time, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of new and recurring donors.
Without a proper strategy, you’re losing out on the opportunity to build relationships with your donors and receive larger, recurring donations. That’s why it’s vital that you use donor data so that you can capitalize on the information you already have.
Specifically, you can:
Identify prospect potential.
Target your appeals.
Build multi-channel marketing.
Donor data can help you better engage your donors, leading to more dollars for your cause! Together, these strategies can help you do just that.
Let’s get started with the first.
1. Identify prospect potential.
When it comes to your donor data, you have information on who your donors are and what they’ve contributed to your organization in the past.
You also have insights into their giving potential.
When sending your year-end appeals, you don’t want to think about solely receiving a donation. You want to work on transitioning your current donors to higher giving levels.
To do so, you can perform prospect research on your existing contributors. Prospect research is the comprehensive analysis of your data to determine a donor’s potential.
Prospect research can analyze:
Past giving history.
Real estate ownership.
The point is that you can use your donor data to gain a holistic picture of who your donors are. Then, you can craft your year-end appeals based upon the potential that these donors have.
You may, for instance, want to include planned giving appeals to donors with planned giving potential. Framing your year-end ask around a legacy program can show your donors how they can continue to contribute to your organization and increase their individual impact.
The bottom line: Researching your donors can help you create year-end appeals based on their potential, so that you can transition them to higher giving levels.
Target your appeals.
Throughout your year-end giving season, it’s important that you communicate with donors effectively. You’ll want to personalize your appeals based on your donors’ giving levels and potential, as discussed in the previous section.
With your donor data, you can use what you know about your donors to craft targeted asks and promotions that your donors will respond to.
In the most basic sense, you can:
Personalize all promotions by using the donor’s preferred name and title.
Send donors materials through their preferred communication channels.
Thank donors for past gifts.
Include personal notes from board members or frontline fundraisers when sending appeals to major donors.
While nailing down these basics is important, you can really capitalize on your donor data by creating targeted giving tiers.
Deciding how much to ask for is one of the biggest challenges for nonprofits. At the same time, direct asks tend to be the most effective.
You can craft recommended gift amounts by segmenting your donors and calculating average giving sizes for each group. Then, you can increase the size of each amount slightly and create tiers.
Your giving tiers will be even more effective if you pair them with a specific project (i.e. $50 will keep a homeless person warm during these cold winter months, $100 will feed a homeless person for the holiday season, etc.).
You can incorporate your giving tiers into your promotional materials and into your online donation form.
The bottom line: Use your donor data to send personal, targeted appeals that speak to your donors and ask them for specific amounts of money.
3. Build Multi-Channel Marketing
Your donor data can provide insight into which aspects of your fundraising are receiving the best response.
Most CRMs offer communication integrations so that organizations can track email open rates and other engagement along these channels.
The benefit of this information is that you can identify your strengths and weaknesses in marketing and create strategies to boost all of your channels.
After all, multi-channel marketing will allow you to reach more donors and maintain a firm base of communication as technology develops.
For example, #GivingTuesday is one of the most prominent giving days in the year-end season, and it primarily takes place over social media and online giving channels. If your donors aren’t particularly receptive to online appeals, you can advertise #GivingTuesday through mailed materials, directing donors to your social media pages.
Doing so can help you reach donors where they already are while providing them with more opportunities for engagement.
The bottom line: Knowing your donors’ affinities for certain communication channels can help you create a strong and diverse marketing strategy for your year-end appeals.
Are you ready to tackle the year-end season? Follow these tips to capitalize on your donor data so that you can raise more.
Learn How to Use Donor Data to Get Major Gifts!
Download our FREE 8 Best Practices for Major Giving E-Book
If you’re like most nonprofits, you’re probably using email to send out most of your receipts. How much easier would it be if you could easily send your annual gift listings to donors via a year-end email as well? With this weekend’s release of DonorPerfect, you’ll be able to send one email that contains a list of every gift given by a donor over a specified date range, thanks to this awesome suggestion. Here’s how:
1. Check Permissions
Before you start, make sure you have permissions to use this new feature. Navigate to Settings > Parameters > Acknowledgements/Receipts and check the boxes next to “Activate Receipting” and “Activate Consolidated Receipting”.
2. Customize your Consolidated Email Template
We’ve provided an email template for you to use when sending out your year-end email. Head over to Mailings > E-Mail Templates and click the edit icon next to “Sample Email Template – Annual Consolidated” to customize it for your organization.
Here’s a preview of how a sample year-end email might appear.
3. Send Your Year-end Email to Donors
Once your template is set up, you’re ready to email donors their year-end list of gifts.
- Start by selecting Annual Consolidated Email on the Receipts tab.
- Enter your criteria and click Generate Receipts.
- Be sure to select the Annual Consolidated Template you just edited as your Email Template.
- Once your emails are sent, don’t forget to follow up on any emails on the Email Results screen that came back as missing or invalid.
Visit Sending an Annual Consolidated Gift Email for full instructions on using this new feature.
Attend Our FREE Tax Letter Tips Webinar
Register for our FREE Support Spotlight webinar for some great tips on providing your donors with itemized lists of their donations for their tax purposes. In this Support Spotlight, we’ll take you step-by-step through:
- Creating year-end tax letters for a mailing
- Creating year-end tax emails
- Using calculated fields to make a smart Tax Deductible Amount
The webinar runs on Tuesday, December 13 and Wednesday, December 14 from 2 PM – 3PM ET.
Our new year-end email receipting feature isn’t the only change in this release! Read about all of the enhancements and fixes in the DonorPerfect 2016 Release Notes in the Knowledgebase.