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In a recent survey of FundRaiser Basic users, 90% of respondents indicated that Basic has solved their fundraising problems!

by Gene Weinbeck

Let's assume you have a stack (a BIG stack) of contributions in front of you. It is your job to record each one, print receipts or thank you letters, and then make a deposit at your bank. Remember, "Thank before you bank."

There are 4 basic steps for Basic users to follow that will ensure that everything goes smoothly:

Timely thank you letters, sent within a few days of receiving a check, are one of the single most important ways you can encourage donors to continue donating and at higher levels.

  1. Enter Contributions and add new donors as needed
  2. Check your Work
  3. Print Thank You's
  4. Mark Thank You's as Done

1. Enter contributions and add new donors as needed

  • Add new donors, or for an existing donor make any necessary changes to name, address, or phone number. Compare the return address on the envelope with the address on the check. If there are any discrepancies, make a note of them in Donor Notes.
  • Enter Gifts. Enter the amount of the contribution and the date of the contribution. In the US, the IRS uses the postmark on the envelope for the contribution date. This is most important at the end of the tax year, when the donor may write a check in January that is dated December 31, hoping to have it included on last year's tax return. (As you might expect, many nonprofits give the benefit of the doubt to their donors.)
  • Optionally, enter a Source Code to indicate what activity (if any) prompted the donor to give this donation.
  • Check "Send a Thank You Letter or Receipt" if you want to print a thank you letter or receipt (highly recommended -- in order to help build a relationship with the donor).

2. Check your work

  • Run a donation report in Basic to make sure that the total recorded on the computer matches the total when you added up the checks. This report lists donations entered during the specified date range, typically the current day.
  • To check the accuracy of your donation report, look at the Date of Entry.
  • Next, manually add up the amounts on the checks. The total given by the report should equal your total. If it doesn't, find your error on the report and make corrections in the Donor's Screen. Then print another Donation Report for your files, or to hand to your bookkeeper.

3. Print Thank You Letters or Receipts, and matching labels or envelopes as desired.

Once you've determined that the checks have all been entered accurately, it's time to print your thank you letter.

  • There is a check box for whether to print a thank you letter or not. Every gift that has a check mark on the gift for printing will be printed.
  • If you need to reprint a single letter or envelope, that is easily done. Simply choose "current donor" instead of "marked gifts."

4. Finally, Mark Thank You's Done in the Print Menu and deposit the contributions in the bank.

  • Once the thank you letters all look good, and you have printed the labels or envelopes, the next step is to "mark the thank you letters done" (do so in the same place where you batch-printed the letters). That removes the check mark from each gift so that it is not there the next time that you print letters.
  • After your thank you letters are ready to go, deposit the donations, following the often repeated fundraising advice: thank before you bank. Timely thank you letters, sent within a few days of receiving a check, are one of the single most important ways you can encourage donors to continue donating and at higher levels. See yourself dropping your thank you letters at the post office on the way to making your deposit at the bank.

5. Optional­ Posting to QuickBooks®

After you have checked your work, and made sure that everything is correct, post the donation information to QuickBooks®. That should always be done as final step, so that no editing is needed after the posting.

Gene Weinbeck is founder and CEO of FundRaiserSoftware. In his free time he enjoys drumming and geocaching.