Big Upgrades for 2017

As always we are making upgrades to the FundMonkey campaign management platform to provide more services and to make it easier to use.

Here are a few of the upgrades implemented for the 2017 season.

  1. We added new language to the animation overlay when sending emails and donation codes from FundMonkey.   The new overlay reminds users that sending hundreds of emails can take a few minutes and navigating away from the sending screen will stop the process.  So, the new language reminds users to sit tight and wait for the process to finish.
  2. We changed the language for credit cards that are declined.  Credit card donations require the donor to input accurate information.  If the card information is inaccurate, the credit card gateway will reject the transaction. FundMonkey would report back with a message that said “Credit Card Declined” when in fact it may have not been processed.  Last year we had 6 or 7 donors call us with the complaint that we were declining their cards.  And when we entered the donation manually, the card went through.   The new message says “Oops, something went wrong” and provides options for donors to retry, by turning off autofill in their browser, or switching to a different browser.
  3. We add proceeds from online registration fees to the Fundraising page thermometer.  Before they had to be added manually.
  4. We made a slight change to the online registration capabilities so when participants select an event.  If the second event is enabled, the second event, won’t auto-populate the adult or student section.   It worked fine, it was just confusing to users.

New Feature:

We’re pretty excited about our newest feature.  Many fundraising parents think that their unique code should allow them to log into the site, but the code is only for managing online donations.

Even though we send donation confirmation emails to both the donor and the participant, sometimes that isn’t enough.  Or sometimes, those emails may end up in a spam folder or the parent has a wrong email address on file.

Now Your fundraising administrator can Select “Lookup Online Donations” in the “Edit Your FundMonkey Page” menu and select “Yes or No” on “Enable Donation Code Lookup”.

Selecting “Yes” will create a new blue button “Look Up donations or codes” Using your email address, you can lookup your donation codes and amounts for all participants that share your email address. Entering the donation code will also show donations for that participant.

Typing in your donation code or email address will result in the following information being displayed.

This tool should answer a lot of questions from parents and make the campaign portion of your fundraiser MUCH smoother.

 

 

 

 

Fall 2016 – A Fundraising Season of Firsts!

With the fundraising season winding down, we only had a few hiccups.

  1. Early in the season a DNS server at the hosting facility had some problems talking to the Internet which meant our servers couldn’t communicate to the Credit Card gateway.  Our engineers diagnosed the problem and created a permanent solution. Since it was early in the season only a few customers and a few donations were affected.  We sent emails to the affected customers explaining the problem and to the donors asking them to try again.
  2. While improving the email sending experience with an animated overlay, some customers experienced a bug in the code, the bug was fixed within a few hours of it being reported.  In addition we increased the server timeout when sending emails.

Thank you to all of our loyal customers. Yes, because of you we had to make these upgrades, but without you we wouldn’t be here to help you and to help other schools with their fundraising needs.

Hopefully with the new upgrades, we should minimize future growing pains.

Thank you,

The FundMonkey Team

FundMonkey Helps Central Iowa Schools to Raise $240,000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/5/2016

CONTACT:
Shannon Godwin
Executive Director
515-371-7321
shannon@empowermentsolutions.net

FundMonkey™ partners with central Iowa schools to help PTO/PTA groups raise over $240,000 dollars.

Launched in 2012, FundMonkey is the second generation of campaign management software designed to help fundraising groups raise more money with event-based fundraisers such as Walks and Fun Runs.

Typical fundraisers consist of food and product sales where schools keep from 40 to 45% of the proceeds.  FundMonkey customers typically keep between 90 and 95% of their fundraising proceeds (after expenses) and usually double or triple their total fundraising revenue.  FundMonkey helps schools raise more money for technology, field trips and learning materials.

Shannon Godwin states, “The events by themselves, don’t raise money, it’s the fundraising campaign behind the event that raises money.”

“Parents and friends usually prefer to donate money rather than buy food and products from school children.  FundMonkey shows fundraising groups the process for raising money in a campaign with our proven software, social media, emails, in-person donations, a fundraising web page and tracking online donations by student, teacher and grade level.  PTO/PTA leaders can log into their management screen and see which classroom has raised the most money online and motivate students through prizes or special privileges”, Godwin concludes.

FundMonkey wants to thank all the parents and volunteers who invest their time and talents to help the children in their local schools.  FundMonkey was created for them.

 

School Fundraising Page Event Date
Norwalk Elementary Schools – Norwalk, IA http://warriordash.fundmonkey.com/ 9/20/2016 & 9/27/2016
Prairie Trail Elementary – Ankeny http://prairiedogdash.fundmonkey.com/ Wednesday – 10/5/2016
Webster Elementary – Urbandale, IA http://websterelementarypto.fundmonkey.com/ Thursday – 10/6/2016
Woodland Hills Elementary – West Des Moines, IA http://woodlandhills.fundmonkey.com/ Friday – 10/7/2016
Clive Learning Academy – Clive, IA http://cla.fundmonkey.com/ Friday – 10/7/2016
Grant Ragan Elementary – Waukee, IA http://grantragan.fundmonkey.com/ Friday – 10/14/2016
Woodward-Granger Elementary – Granger, IA http://wgpto.fundmonkey.com/ Friday – 10/14/2016

FundMonkey Celebrates Milestone

FundMonkey processed it’s ten thousandth online donation on October 4th, 2016 at exactly 9:50pm.

“10,000 individual donations just kind of snuck up on us”, stated Shannon Godwin. “It was only a few years ago we were testing the online donations and the credit card capability for the first time.  We would like to thank the PTO groups who spend their time and talents with their schools in supporting the children.  We are very humbled to play a part in your fundraising success.”

2016 Fundraising Campaigns are Underway!

We are excited about the start of the 2016 Fundraising season.  Customers from the previous year continue to come back and we’re also signing up new customers every Spring and Fall. FundMonkey makes it so easy for your parents, friends and family to donate online.  More and more schools are using FundMonkey to manage their fundraising campaign.  We help them promote their generous sponsors on their fundraising page, communicate with parents and process online donations.

Thank you to all of our customers who’ve helped to make FundMonkey a success and we promise to continue improving FundMonkey and helping our Fundraising customers continue to double or triple their fundraising proceeds.

 

Change Log: 7-1-16 – New Virtual Servers

Over the summer, FundMonkey engineers were working on a major upgrade to enhance security, scalability and performance.  To that end, we not only moved our servers to a new data center, we also moved the software over to the most recent Windows Server application on a virtual platform.

The new platform will allow us to add processing and storage capacity as needed without further upgrades.

After the transfer, we flipped the switches and turned everything back on. We started testing the software and the many variables offered in FundMonkey.  There are two types of testing:

  1. We test assuming everything is correct.  We do everything right to see if we get the desired result.  This test is easy.
  2. Next we test the software doing different things WRONG along the way to see how the software reacts to mistakes.   This set of testing is even more important than the first set and believe me, it is also more difficult.

While we can test sending a couple emails and processing donations, we can’t test, processing thousands of donations per day and sending hundreds of emails at a time.

The Geeks at FundMonkey are both confident and nervous heading into the Fall 2016 fundraising season. We were excited about pushing the limits of our new servers in the new hosting environment and monitoring the results.

 

Change Log: 3-17-16 – Moved Servers to new Data Center

Late this Winter, the engineers at FundMonkey started the process of moving our servers to a new data center in Altoona, IA – hosted by LightEdge Solutions.   The new data center provides several redundancies including power backup, environmental controls and is able to withstand winds up to 200 mph.

This upgrade is part one of a two part upgrade with the second part requiring an upgrade of our current servers to a virtual environment using the latest Windows Server operating systems and unlimited storage, processing power and bandwidth.

Please bear with us as we complete these upgrades in order to meet the growing demand of new customers to the FundMonkey family.

Revenue vs. Profits

Since most of our customers are volunteer fundraising groups, there is often confusion about how they should report fundraising results.  Should they report total fundraising revenue or total profits?

Many of our customers have the majority of their experience with sales of candy, food and products as a “fundraising” mechanism.  In this environment, the fundraising “profits” is the money you keep after the cost of the “sold products” and sales commissions (already built into the cost of the products) are deducted from your total proceeds. Profits for this type of fundraising are usually around 40 to 50% and they are shrinking every year.

ThermomterFor event-based fundraisers like walks and runs, each fundraiser starts with 100% profit. But then, of course, each fundraiser will have expenses and those expenses can be variable from year to year. Fundraising participants don’t have control of expenses. In fact the only aspect of the fundraiser the participants, as a group, have control is the amount of money they raise and the amount of work that goes into meeting fundraising goals.

Therefore, many professional organizations which sponsor fundraising events will stick to reporting total fundraising revenue to their participants and donors. National organizations with highly paid CEO’s with expenses as high as 50 to 70% will still report total fundraising revenue.

At FundMonkey, we know that our fundraising customers are MUCH more efficient than many national organizations and will typically realize total fundraising profits of 90% or more after all expenses.  Therefore, go ahead and report your total fundraising proceeds and give your fundraisers and their families a big pat on the back for all their hard work.

And remember, rely on your responsible event planners and campaign managers to use best practices and make the right choices when making spending decisions for your fundraising activity.

Assumption Celebrates 10th Anniversary Bike Ride

A little k-8 school in Granger with around 65 students held another successful Bike Ride Around Granger (B.R.A.G.), raising over $30,000 in total donations on what happened to be their 10th anniversary of the ride.

At FundMonkey, this was our first school, as a matter of fact, Cindy and I built the FundMonkey campaign management software after being on the B.R.A.G. committee in 2008 and hosting a successful fundraiser.  Somebody came to us and said, “we should find a way to help other schools do this”.  That encouraging phrase led to a startup software company Empowerment Solutions, LLC and FundMonkey was born.

In 2009 we beta tested our original platform at Assumption School and a few weeks later at Nodland-Sunnyside in Sioux City.  After a shaky start, we started seeing the true potential of our unique, campaign-management approach.  We learned several lessons from our own event and we continue to learn from our customers resulting in new upgrades every year that enhance our service and better serve our customers.

The most important lessons, however, were the following….

  1. The event is for fun and it’s the campaign that actually raises money with this formula… Communication + Motivation = Participation = Donation
  2. The event planning and the campaign management are TWO different activities.   Fundraising committees need to split into two teams, the event team and the campaign team and approach each of their respective duties with the end in mind – a fun interactive campaign followed by a fun event.
  3. Schools that switch from food and product based fundraising have been known to double and triple their fundraising proceeds – we continue to be blown way by your success.
  4. Schools that add FundMonkey to their existing fundraising event will make donating easier for donors and safer for participants while adding as much as 30% or more to their total fundraising proceeds.

So, congratulations to Assumption Elementary School in Granger, Iowa and thank you for being our inspiration, our initial “guinea pig” and for letting me be the DJ for the last 8th years of the bike ride.  It’s not everyday I get to play my favorite music outside on my loudest speakers, at full volume and get a thumbs up from the police officer controlling traffic at the intersection.   We’re very blessed here at FundMonkey!

Way to Go Pine Creek Elementary

A shout out to Pine Creek Elementary.  They added FundMonkey to their already successful Walk-a-thon and collected 30% of their total donations online through our secure transaction server.   Final count’s aren’t in yet, but rumor has it they will beat their goal.  Visit their fundraising website to see how they did it!