Fundraising Lessons From The DonorPerfect Community Network Conference: A Newbie’s Perspective

CNC Center City Philadelphia

I speak nonprofit.  It’s a language specific to those men and women who work in agencies around the world that deliver health, education,social welfare and other critically needed programs and services-services that improve, transform and often, save the lives of others.

This linguistic ability is one of the chief reasons that SofterWare hired me as a Content Writer. I have worked in the nonprofit sector for more than 20 years, sharing organizational stories of the phenomenal work that they have accomplished (despite a shoestring staff and woefully insufficient financial resources) in hopes of attracting additional donors and volunteers.

One of the highlights of my now four week tenure with SofterWare, has been my participation in its recent DonorPerfect Community Network Conference, September 19 and 20 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  More than 350 of my “people”–executive directors, administrative staff and other key staff from a broad spectrum of nonprofits–attended the program prepared to learn, network and be inspired.  They were on a mission to discover how to better use their DonorPerfect software to advance their mission, enhance their productivity and raise critically needed funds.

It was my privilege to sit beside them in several of the more than 40 workshops led by industry leaders as they asked presenters for suggestions on ways to: enhance their online fundraising appeals; recruit and retain board members; better communicate with volunteers and donors and other key concerns.  

They were impressed by the high caliber of such workshop leaders as: Jeffrey Bryne, board chair of The Giving Institute, an organization committed to developing extraordinary leaders in the field of philanthropy; Matthew Montoya, national product trainer for Constant Contact; Jodi Rosen, senior manager of Philanthropic Services for Vanguard and David Castlehano, Cloud Support Engineer for Amazon Web Services—–just to name a few. Many left these workshops excited to get back home and share their new knowledge and skills with their staff and stakeholders.

As a person who volunteers for a number of local nonprofits, I found the session on “Finding and Keeping Good Board Members” by Laura Otten, PhD, director of The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University, particularly meaningful.  She emphasized the importance of engaging people who are passionate about the mission of your organization and enjoy the collective decision-making process.  Otten advised us to bring in a class of new board members of similar ages and interests and invite them to serve together on a committee.  “This will ensure that their voices are heard and valued by those established board members,” she said, adding “The number one reason that organizations lose board members is that they do not feel welcome or engaged.”

Another powerful presenter was Robbe Healey, vice president for philanthropy of Simpson Senior Services, who stressed the importance of donor retention to the long-term success of an organization’s fundraising strategy.  She cited data from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, which analyzed year to year fundraising results for 2013-2014 from more than 8000 American nonprofits.  “The report shows that gains of $3.611 billion in gifts from new, upgraded current, and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $3.438 billion through reduced gifts and lapsed donors.” She advised organization executives to analyze their current donor base and focus their time and energies on those donors who have the potential for higher giving.  “Find meaningful ways to thank them and keep them invested in the great work you do,” she said.

Equally notable was the keynote address by Andrew P. Wyatt, the immediate past president and CEO of Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Conference participants were interested in learning more about this high-impact global network of more than 30,000 fundraising pros and 2500 nonprofits, and were excited to hear about the group’s advocacy work  on Capitol Hill, in the Canadian Parliament, and other legislative bodies around the world.

Between sessions, DonorPerfect trainers and support staff were on hand to address concerns, answer questions and graciously accept suggestions from conference participants on ways to make this donor management and fundraising software even more user-friendly.

I listened in to several of these conversations and learned a valuable lesson that will serve me well in my work with this visionary company.  SofterWare/DonorPerfect employees speak nonprofit fluently and understand and are responsive to their customers’ unique needs.  

Mark your calendars for next year’s DonorPerfect Community Network Conference, October 9-10, 2017 in Philadelphia.

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

by Emily Patz

Oct 7 16

Human Services Organizations are Looking for Love

human services organizations

Government agencies and foundations are withholding their love from Human Services Organizations (HSOs), severely reducing funding to these food banks, homeless shelters, sports organizations and providers of youth, family and legal services. This alienation of affections is particularly troubling to HSOs who often lag behind other nonprofits in private fundraising appeals.

This shortfall has come to light in a recent report and press release released by the Giving USA Foundation, in collaboration with the Growth in Giving Initiative. Giving USA Philanthropy Spotlight: Benchmarking Giving to Human Services analyzes millions of gifts made to more than a thousand human services organizations over the last 10 years.

The good news, according to this report, is that HSOs are now beginning to catch up, as more take advantage of technology to improve their fundraising efforts. This includes technology to help with online donations, monthly giving, donor management and other key areas.  

The Giving USA annual giving report for 2015 shows that HSOs constituted the largest percentage of all public charities (35.5 percent) in 2014. In the same year, they received only 11.7 percent of all charitable contributions.

For the first time ever, HSOs can truly understand where they rank against their peers in terms of metrics. This is critical because you can’t improve what you don’t measure.  By analyzing data, organization leaders can help improve fundraising and donor management. They can use this information to determine how best to fill the gaps in their budget so that they can fund the critical programs and services they provide.

All of this was initiated by the Growth in Giving Initiative, which was founded by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, The Urban Institute, and DonorPerfect.  In fact, Jon Biedermann, Vice President of DonorPerfect, along with Bill Levis, The Urban Institute, invented the database concept and launched the database in 2013.

Since then and with the help and collaboration from Bloomerang, Neon, and Abila- all competitors of DonorPerfect- the database has grown to more than 110 Million transactions of real, yet non-identifiable donation information representing billions of dollars that has been contributed over the last 10 years to more than 10,000 nonprofit organizations across the country.

The report will enable HSOs to benchmark themselves against their peers in several key areas, including:

  •         Average Gift Amount
  •         Overall Donor Retention Rate
  •         Repeat Donor Retention Rate
  •         Donor Retention Rate by Gift Size
  •         Donor Retention Rate by Size of Organization

By understanding these key metrics, organization leaders can make better strategic decisions based on data and prepare themselves for the future.

Get a discounted copy of the Human Services Spotlight.

Use this discount code to get 30% off: DPspot16



This post is part of DonorPerfect’s Thought Leadership Series, designed to keep nonprofit organizations informed and empowered by reporting on the latest statistics, strategies, and best practices in the philanthropic community. Vice President of Fundraising Products Jon Biedermann is a contributing author.

by Lynn Edelman

Sep 26 16

DonorPerfect Debuts New Reporting Features!

DonorPerfect’s powerful reporting and analysis features now include a Report Center and Easy Report Builder.
DonorPerfect’s powerful reporting and analysis features are about to get even better! Our brand new Report Center brings all standard and custom reports together in one place. Reports will be easier to organize, search, and run. You’ll gain valuable insights from your data to make better strategic decisions.

All Reports in ONE Place

Access your reports by navigating to Reports and selecting the Report Center. Standard reports are in the Financial Reports, Listings and Other Reports folders. We’ll convert any Custom Reports you had. These, along with those you create using the new Easy Report Builder are in the Easy Reports folder.

Quickly find a specific report by using the search bar or the arrows above each column to sort. Save time accessing routine reports by clicking the star icon. This adds them to your Favorites tab. To run a standard report click the Open button.

DonorPerfect's new reporting features include the ability to bookmark favorite reports.

Create Your Own Reports With Ease

If the standard reports don’t give you exactly the information you need, add a new custom report. Select the Add New Easy Report button from any screen in the Report Center. The Easy Report Builder makes it easy for you to create your own reports and get information in the way you want to see it. Simply choose the report type, then drag and drop desired fields to tailor it to your unique needs.

Easy Reports will give you the ability to open, edit, copy, schedule (coming soon!) or delete reports from the Report Actions column.

See the Easy Report Builder in action in this video preview!

When Can I Expect the New Report Center and Easy Report Builder?

Following the next DonorPerfect Release on 9/26, we’ll begin rolling out the new reporting features to clients throughout October. When the new Report Center is activated on your system, we’ll send you an email notifying you of the changes.

The Easy Report Builder is a replacement upgrade for our existing Customer Report Writer. So if you have that module already, you’ll see the new Easy Report Builder when your system gets the new Report Center.  If not, contact us to find out how you can create hassle free custom reports.

Attend Our Reporting Pre-Release Webinar

Register for our FREE Pre-release webinar to get a sneak peek at the new Report Center and Easy Report Builder. You’ll also get a preview of the improvements we’ve made to simplify the Import process. The webinar runs on Friday, September 23rd from 1 PM – 2 PM.

Release Notes

The improvements to Reporting are not the only changes in this release. There are also changes to Importing, Refunds & Adjustments and more! Read about all of the enhancements and fixes in the DonorPerfect 2016 Release Notes in the Knowledgebase.

by Stephanie Kanak

Sep 21 16

Charitable Giving Grew to $373.25 Billion in 2015

charitable giving

charitable giving

DonorPerfect is proud to be a member of The Giving Institute, an organization that has championed thought leadership on philanthropy and fundraising in the nonprofit sector since 1935. The Institute recently released Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, and reported record giving of $373.25 billion in the USA last year, up 4.1% (4.0 adjusted for inflation) over 2014.  Except for 2008-2009, the nonprofit sector has seen growth in giving every year since 1987.

The generosity of the American people continues unabated as all sectors of the nonprofit community are participating!

giving trends

The source of this giving breaks down as follows:

  • 71% from individual donors
  • 16% from foundations
  • 9% from bequests
  • 5% from corporations

Giving from all four of these areas was up in 2015.

Giving went to:

  • 32% Religion ($119.30 billion)
  • 15% Education ($57.48 billion)
  • 12% Human Services ($45.21 billion)
  • 11% To Foundations ($42.26 billion)
  • 8% Health ($29.81 billion)
  • 7% Public-Society Benefit ($26.95 billion)
  • 5% Arts, Culture, and Humanities ($17.07 billion)
  • 4% International Affairs ($15.75 billion)
  • 3% Environment/Animals ($10.68 billion)
  • 2% To Individuals ($6.56 billion)

All but giving to foundations and individuals went up in 2015.
I would encourage anyone who works for or with a nonprofit to read the Giving USA report. It provides the best data on the health of the US nonprofit community. To receive your discounted copy of the Giving USA report, please visit  and use this discount code: give21

by Lynn Edelman

Sep 15 16

WebLink's 2016.05 release for DonorPerfect Mobile Responsive forms

Mobile Responsive Forms Are Here!

Next week, a new version of WebLink will be released that makes mobile responsive forms available, changes how confirmation emails are formatted and improves discount codes.

Our new mobile responsive forms will resize to fit any size browser window or device.  This makes it easier for donors to make a donation from their smartphones and tablet devices. Here’s how your forms could be affected:

  • Any new forms you create after the release will be mobile responsive by default.
  • Existing forms will need to be converted by checking the “Make My Form Mobile Responsive” check box in The Basics >Style My Form.
  • You can set a form back after you’ve converted it. Simply uncheck the “Make My Form Mobile Responsive” check box. Your original version will be preserved as it was.
  • Any custom CSS code that’s been manually added to the form’s style sheet will not be converted.  You should re-add it to the mobile form’s style sheet if needed.
  • Once you convert a form, you may need to re-upload any header images for the form so they are optimized for mobile. We’ve included information on screen to help you with that process. You can also visit Editing the Header and Footer of a Page to learn how.

For complete instructions, visit Mobile Responsive Forms in the Knowledgebase.

Improved Email Receipts

A donor’s email confirmation receipt may be one of the first interactions you have with them. Making a positive first impression is key. Recent statistics show that 43% of Charity/Nonprofits emails are read on a mobile device. If your email receipt is too small to read, or not properly formatted, you could be discouraging donors from giving again.

This release of WebLink includes enhancements to ensure that your confirmation emails be easily read on a mobile device. In the new release, all of the fields on the form, except for those in the Item Detail section, will be presented in one column in the confirmation email. Using the one column format means confirmation emails will be cleaner and easier to read on a mobile device. It also helps ensure that your form’s labels and fields will align properly and will help stop Item Details from merging together.

sample confirmation email that is mobile optimized

100% Discount Available

Discount codes are a powerful tool to boost online donations, new and renewed memberships and event registrations. To make this feature even more effective, we’ve updated Discounts to allow for a 100% discount. This makes it easy to offer items such as a free t-shirt, bumper sticker, or other promotional item as a thank you for donating. Thanks for the great Suggest and Vote idea!

Attend Our Pre-Release Webinar

Want to know more about all of the changes coming in this release? Register for our FREE Pre-release Webinar, this Tuesday, August 30th from 2 PM to 3PM.

Release Notes

Mobile Responsive Forms, email receipt improvements and our new 100% discount code aren’t the only changes in this release. Read about all of the enhancements and fixes in the WebLink 2016 Release Notes.

by Stephanie Kanak

Aug 26 16

How Do You Keep Donors Engaged After Their First Donation?

Acquiring new donors is hard work. It doesn’t matter what type of nonprofit you are or what your cause is, getting people to make contributions is expensive and requires a lot of effort. When somebody gives to your organization and indicates that they want to be involved, how do you keep them engaged so that they give again?

You probably start off by thanking them for their donation and sending them either a personal handwritten note or an automated email that expresses your gratitude and gives the donor some insight into how their donation will impact your cause. But after that, what’s next? Blog

Reactivate Past Donors

You may add them to your newsletter list so that they get periodic updates about what you’re doing, but are you really doing anything to ask donors to re-up their contribution or telling them how the money they gave has impacted the people or ideas that your organization supports?

One of the best ways to re-activate past donors is to send them a personal email to follow up a few months later. We suggest sending a personalized, automated email that goes out 90 or 180 days after a donor last gave, updates them on the impact their contribution has made, and asks for another contribution (even referencing the last donation amount they gave).

You can update the content either every 90 or 180 days so it’s consistent with what’s going on at your organization, but the rest of the content can be dynamic based on who the person is, how much they gave and what campaign or program they gave to.

As an example, let’s say that over a 180 day period you have 500 donors who on average give $150. If 80% do not give again within 180 days, that’s potentially $60,000 of potential donations sitting out there. If you were able to capture 15%-20% of those people, that’s an additional $9,000-$12,000 of money you could raise and put to good use.

Setting up and sending a re-activation email should only takes 15-20 minutes and with the integration between DonorPerfect and Klaviyo, you can make that happen quickly and pain free.

To learn more about Klaviyo or to start sending your re-activation email today, feel free to request a demo.

We all know how difficult it is to acquire a new donor. How much relief would you and your organization feel if you could consistently generate recurring donations from more of your new or recent donors?

Daniel Esrig is part of the Growth Strategy team at Klaviyo. He and his team work to make great email accessible to all types of organizations. His desire to help marketers and their teams be smarter and more engaging in the way they communicate is what drives him not only to help Klaviyo grow but also to help marketers of all types to be more successful.

by sgoldenberg

Aug 15 16

Excel Exports Stop Working? Here’s the fix!

Even Microsoft can go too far. xlsdnldTrying to balance security with convenience, while not breaking things along the way, is a challenge for any company in the software space. Microsoft and DonorPerfect are no exceptions.

On July 12,  Microsoft released an update to Excel that attempted to improve its security by reclassifying what it considered to be a “safe” Excel document. Unfortunately, the change went a little too far, and blocked some perfectly safe Excel files from being opened when downloaded over the web – including those downloaded from DonorPerfect and thousands of other sites.  This change impacted Excel 2016, 2013 and 2010, and caused problems for many users, including users of DonorPerfect. We’ve been working with Microsoft trying to find an acceptable solution for several weeks.

Fortunately, today, Microsoft released an update to address this issue.  Excel may still warn about a mismatch between the file extension and HTML content, but will open the workbook in Protected View as an additional layer of security. If the download is from DonorPerfect, it’s perfectly safe to open. 

If you’ve had trouble recently opening Excel documents downloaded from DonorPerfect or elsewhere, use the links below to get the latest update for Excel.

How do I get the update?

It depends on which version of Microsoft Office you have.

Office 365 subscription (Click-to-Run)—install the latest updates

Windows Installer version (MSI)—you could wait about a week for the next security update for MSI, and it will update automatically.

Or, to get the fix today, use the Download Center to get the KB for your version of Office:

Office 2016:

Office 2013:

Office 2010:

If you have any questions about installing this or any other Microsoft update, please consult your IT support staff. 

by Tom Gimpel

Aug 9 16

How to Create a Monthly Giving Program Appeal

monthly giving program appeal
1. Ask often.

Just like anything in fundraising, ask and you’ll receive! It’s crucial that you start asking for monthly donations as often as you can.

2. Set sail with email.

Email is a great channel to use as you begin asking. It’s affordable, and donors can easily click right through to your recurring donation page.  

3. Give your current appeal messaging some tiny tweaks.

The messaging for your monthly giving program appeal is very similar to what you’re already doing for your one time donations.

Here are some modifications you may want to consider:

  • Tell the story of one person (or animal) impacted by a monthly donor’s gift.
  • Indicate that the best way for the donor to help other people or animals like you just described on an ongoing basis is by making a monthly gift and link to your recurring only page.
  • Include a video or a few pictures to draw the donor in and include at least three spots in the letter where you can link to the monthly giving page.
  • Use short paragraphs, large fonts, 100-200 words maximum and always include several thank yous.

Tell the donor how their monthly gift will make a difference to support your programs on an ongoing basis.

4. Stick with it!

Growing your monthly donor program takes time. It’s not a one-shot deal. Ask the first time, see what happens. Ask the second time, see what happens. Ask again. Keep expanding your monthly giving program appeals and stay on message. If you’re sending one email a month right now, consider adding one additional email asking for monthly donations that month.

What’s the worst that could happen? You’re making the donor’s life easier and raising money to support your programs, right?

5. Lean on fantastic free resources to steer you in the right direction.

Get all the tips you need in DonorPerfect’s free Monthly Giving Marketing Kit!

This blog post was written by Erica Waasdorp, DonorPerfect Expert and President of A Direct Solution.

Download our FREE Monthly Giving Marketing Kit!


by Emily Patz

Aug 3 16

How to Secure Private and Federal Grants

Record numbers attended our webcast on July 26, 2016. Darian Heyman Rodriguez, a prominent nonprofit expert, author and CEO, shared valuable tips for improving the rate of grant awards. In his webcast titled How to Secure Private & Federal Grants, Mr. Heyman provided tips that can result in a 50% acceptance rate of grant applications!

Mr. Heyman began with an explanation of various types of foundations. Understanding the type of foundation that provides the grants will allow you to identify if they are potential grantors for your programs. Research into the historical awards made and types of programs funded is one of the first steps. Next, elevator pitches should be developed for your organization including the programs you have already implemented and one for the new initiatives that will be undertaken if the grant awards are made. Follow-up after a pitch is made is key in getting the application approved.

As you cast your web amongst a larger, more suitable target of grantors, follow all the advice from Darian and your grant awards will have a higher rate of success.

To hear all of Darian’s tips, watch the video below with the accompanying slides. Enjoy!

by Arlene Berkowitz

Aug 1 16

Release Announcement: SideBar Gets a Facelift

DP2016.07_Release Announcementlogo

A new version of DonorPerfect will be released this weekend that paves the way for some exciting future changes coming to DonorPerfect’s Reports. For this release we’ve updated the SideBar and made some quick improvements to our SmartGive feature. While the changes may seem relatively small at first, they set the stage for greater enhancements down the line.

SideBar Gets a Facelift

Coming soon, maybe even as early as Fall 2016, DonorPerfect’s Reporting features will receive an overhaul. This will include a brand new Report Center, easy to use Report Builder and the ability to schedule reports to run and be emailed to you, your key employees, board members, and any other stakeholder- you just need their email address!  This release prepares for that by updating the Sidebar to support features like report scheduling and saving. We’ve also given the Sidebar a much needed facelift to match the styling in the upcoming Report Center and Easy Report Builder.

(Want a sneak peak and even some training on all of the new reporting functionality? Come join hundreds of other nonprofits at this year’s DonorPerfect Community Network Conference.)

SideBar Updates

Aside from the new modern look and feel (no more boring gray!), a few other items have been updated:

DonorPerfect SideBar

  • You can now edit a Selection Filter right from the Sidebar. Simply click the Edit icon to be taken to the Selection Filter’s Criteria.
  • Since most of you view the report on screen first, Run Report (formerly the “Screen” button) is now the default, replacing the Output Options divider found in the previous SideBar. Clicking the down arrow to the right of Run Report allows you to save and print the report as an Excel, MS Word or PDF file.

To see all the changes and learn more about using the Sidebar in your reports, visit Sidebar Reporting in DonorPerfect.

SmartGive Your Way to More Donations

SmartGive is a tool that allows your emails or printed letters to include a link to a WebLink online form for each donor. When the donor accesses the form link, it is pre-filled with their name, address, email, and phone number. SmartGive links streamline the donation process, making it more likely that the donor will complete the donation form. For this release, we’ve improved how to generate your SmartGive links, simplifying the process and making it easier to understand. You can learn more in this quick two minute video:

Release Notes

SideBar and SmartGive updates aren’t the only changes in this release.  Read about all of the enhancements and fixes in the DonorPerfect 2016 Release Notes in the Knowledgebase.

by Stephanie Kanak

Jul 22 16