Online Fundraising Academy: Building the Foundation for Successful Fundraising

Fundraising toolboxIn GlobalGiving’s second session of the 2014 Online Fundraising Academy, we invited a panel of fundraising professionals from GlobalGiving’s partner organizations to answer questions about the fundraising tools that their organizations use to manage and engage their individual donors and track their fundraising activity.

Meet our panelists:

Kathy Baczko, Vice-President, Chief Development Officer and Diana Corrales, Director, Marketing & Communications, Fabretto

Beth Eisenstaedt, Chief Development Officer, Wildlife Alliance

Kay Helm, Executive Director, Friends of TOUCH

Session Recording:

Session Notes:

What donor database do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?

Fabretto: DonorPerfect

  • Pros: User-friendly; you can create pledges for monthly donations; you can segment donors and you can create as many relevant tags as you want.
  • Cons: It only has space for up to 6 sponsorships per donor;
  • Price: $60-265 a month. Fabretto pays $265/month

Wildlife Alliance: eTapestry

  • Pros: Built to capture info for fundraising; user friendly; excellent reporting capabilities to analyze and segment your donors
  • Cons: With greater sophistication, comes greater expectations and analysis doesn’t always meet that; must use their software for online donations and mass emails, can’t integrate own services
  • Cost: $99-399 a month. Wildlife Alliance pays $4,300/year for 15,000 records and 5 user licenses

Friends of TOUCH: NeonCRM

  • Pros: Web-based; versatile; lots of reporting options and capabilities; provides security.
  • Cost: $49-324 a month. Friends of TOUCH pays $49/month for less than 1,000 records

Q: What is the value of having a database?

A: A database is the only way to know anything about donors. It is great having it in all one place and for targeted approaches. You can reach out to donors based on their specific interests to turn them into bigger donors or recurring donors.

Q: How do you gather contact lists? Are your contacts gathered through donations or do databases provide contacts? What about security? How are contacts used in terms of privacy?

A: Contacts are gathered over the years. You can purchase lists from other services but not database services. As for security, no one has access to information except for staff users.

What donation information do you track? How?


  • Destination: where donation is going
  • Type of donation
  • Donor background: DonorPerfect has a bio and narrative section where you can track how they came to Fabretto, who referred them, if they attended an event, FOF, etc.

Wildlife Alliance:

Beyond the typical name, contact information, and gift amount, we track:

  • Fund: Which program they gave to, what they’re interested in
  • Campaign: Is the gift for a specific project under a program umbrella? Know where money is going to go and what it’s going to pay for
  • Approach: Is this gift in response to our last appeal? Annual report? Event they attended?
  • Acknowledgement: Sending acknowledgement
  • Overall Giving: Track the last time they gave and lifetime giving
  • Personal Info: Where do they work? Are they married? Do they have relationships with other donors? What part of the country (or world) do they live in?

Friends of TOUCH:

  • Personal Information, relationships, employment, notes (hobbies, interests, etc.)
  • Donation Amount, payment method, overall giving
  • Fund (account), purpose, campaign (tie donation to campaign), source (specific “ask”)
  • Communications – can see other users’ activity and communications with donors
  • Wealth Rating (based on zip code) – 5 star rating, shows potential giving capabilities –

Q: Can you track emails with each donor?

A: eTapestry and DonorPerfect can track emails. NeonCRM allows for material tracking as well if you mail packages.

Q: What is the ideal donor profile?

A: A profile that is updated and has a complete history. Track as much information as you can. The narrative is as important as the numbers, so you can better tailor your outreach to your donors’ interest and needs. Databases are only as good as the data entered.

What newsletter provider do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?

Fabretto: Constant Contact

  • Pros: Several templates to choose from; excellent tracking on opens and clicks; link to ¨like/follow¨ on social media; can send emails to more than one list; can schedule emails to go out at appropriate times for all time zones; user friendly; used for internal communication too
  • Cons: It´s not mobile friendly; cannot embed videos; edits to template designs are very limited. Final design always gets distorted. It doesn’t have direct link to ¨share¨ to social media; cannot target segments within lists.

Wildlife Alliance and Friends of TOUCH: MailChimp

  • Pros: Useful and unique templates to choose from and can make your own; excellent tracking on opens and clicks; integrates social media; can create targeted segments within lists; can schedule emails to go out at appropriate times for all time zones; won’t keep emails on the list that bounce; mobile friendly and can see what it will look like on the mobile device when creating it; collaboration tools allow multiple people to edit at the same time; mobile apps like Golden Monkey allows you to flag people as VIP so you get notified when they open their email
  • Cons: Can’t send one email to multiple lists at once, must replicate emails for every list to send to; can’t embed videos in emails; not the cheapest mass email option

Q: Is there a way to get around emails marked as spam in Gmail?

A: Try looking at content and subject line of email. Gmail looks for spam identifiers like a lot of exclamation points, bold text, etc. MailChimp has a spam detector called Inbox Inspectors to see if your emails are going to spam. Here’s an article from MailChimp with advice on avoiding spam:

What is one important lesson that you have learned about online fundraising?


  • Don’t provide all the information in the email. Provide a link to “read more” to your website – increase number of visits to websites and integrate all platforms
  • Choose an attention grabber E-mail subject line.
  • Provide information on donation impact and give donors opportunities to take the next step

Wildlife Alliance:

  • Give a short call to action
  • Follow up with donors

Q: Do you send a personal message to donors as follow up?

A: Wildlife Alliance doesn’t send to every individual donor. But we use the database to send a quick thank you for certain circumstances

Friends of Touch:

  • Being personal and friendly is important to cultivate relationships
  • Address “Dear first name” for all communications.

Key lessons across the board:

  • Online fundraising is just as important as offline fundraising
  • Grab people’s attention and draw them in emotionally through high quality images or videos and short messages
  • Target communication based on your audience, make it personal
  • Sending an email sent from a personal organization email instead of general organization email increases number of opens

Q: What do you do or say first to cultivate and target donors?

A: It depends on how they respond to what you’re doing, so you can personalize it. You want to tap into what that person is interested in to keep the conversation going.

Q: How do you attract new donors? How do you move to a bigger donor list beyond friends, family, and the board of directors?

A: Be intentional about meeting more people. Be involved in the community in different ways. Events are another great way to build contacts. Make sure to provide ways to continue the conversation at events by integrating platforms. You can broaden your contacts by joining coalitions or forming more partnerships to work together.

Q: How often should you contact donors? What is the value of newsletter communications?

A: Email and newsletters are larger drivers towards donations than social media. Wildlife sends monthly newsletters, and sends mass emails once a week or less. They send out personal emails whenever it’s important. Fabretto sends a monthly newsletter and specific emails targeted to audiences once a week. Friends of TOUCH sends a newsletter 6 times a year. They have a separate plan for email group, social media group, and print group. Know who people are, how they want to hear from you, and how often they want to hear from you. MailChimp allows you to see how people respond to your communications.

GlobalGiving tools – How to apply these lessons on GlobalGiving’s website

  • Donation Manager – You can look at donors, where they’re coming from, payment methods, TRBT (made in tribute, or a gift), recurring donation, payment date. Can use filter to search by donor name or email. Can also export donation manager info to excel to do additional analysis/filtering.
  • Send thank you emails through donation manager – can follow up and build relationship with donors. Have a catchy subject link, thank the donor, talk about the impact of the donation, provide additional ways to get in touch, and give donors a chance to tell you their story.
    • GlobalGiving policy that organizations cannot add donors to your communications lists. You can integrate donors if they independently choose to be added to your communications list
  • Project reports – quarterly reports required. Emailed out to all donors automatically. Intended to be a communication tool to share impact. Share stories, close up, high resolution photos, and include ways donors can get involved.
  • Donating to your own project on GlobalGiving allows you to experience what your donors go through.

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