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

Change Log: 10-10-16 Added Animation Overlay When Sending Emails

When sending emails some users would get concerned when the process took over a few minutes, so they would click the send button again, causing the system to send out a second or third set of emails causing extra load on the server resulting in a timeout followed by a “Server Script Error”.

In order to minimize these occurrences, we added an animated overlay that would confirm the sending of emails and spin until all the emails are sent.  This process usually takes from 3 to 6 minutes depending on the quantity of participants and emails.

Some users were negatively affected by a bug in the new code and the problem was fixed within 12 hours of FundMonkey being made aware of the error.   We apologize for any inconvenience or frustration this may have caused.

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.

One Part Campaign – One Part Event

Every ‘thon based fundraiser whether it’s a fun run or a walk-a-thon consists of two major planning components – the campaign and the event.  There may be slight overlap between the two, but usually these two important activities are fully capable of operating independently.

Sometimes when explaining the fundraising process, we remind our customers that the campaign is the part that raises the money and the event can be thought of as the reward for a successful campaign because, let’s face it, it is the funnest part of the fundraiser.

Both parts are equally important because…

  1. If your campaign is poorly executed your fundraiser will struggle financially and give voice to the “I Told You So” crowd who didn’t want to make a change and…
  2. If your fundraiser isn’t fun, well, let’s face it, that’s just sad.  All it takes is some music, food, drinks and games. We joke that kids get excited about a fire drill, so of course it will be fun.

That puts most of the pressure on the campaign managers, but that’s okay, we know how to run a campaign, and we’ll share our secret. Start with this simple formula in mind…  Communication + Motivation = Participation = Donation

Communication: Communicating important campaign and event information to hundreds of participants (or their parents) can be a daunting task. FundMonkey’s campaign management platform utilizes email addresses for participants.  If you don’t have a list, we’ll provide online registration to help you get an updated list and create donation codes for each student and provide the tools for mailing your participants.  We’ll also help you with take-home fliers and provide insight on how to increase the number of online registrants for your fundraiser.   Once participants are registered we make it easy to send emails and donation codes to collect online donations and motivate participants with contests and prizes.

Motivation: Nobody has more experience in motivating fundraising participants than our customers who use our campaign support page. We encourage our customers raising money for school children to invest in awesome prizes for top earners.  We provide several ideas for great prize packages and contest ideas that will motivate grade levels, classrooms and individuals to raise more fundraising dollars.

Participation: With event-based fundraising in schools, participation in the event is usually mandatory however, participation in the campaign is completely voluntary. With the proper communication and motivation, we’ll show you how to increases campaign participation. With the proper resources, you can make the campaign as much fun as the event, we’ll show you how!

Donation: Fundraising is a numbers game. By increasing participation by just a small percentage, you can add thousands to your fundraiser. FundMonkey will provide the best strategies and resources to maximize your fundraising campaign and help you earn more in overall donations than ever before.

At the end of your fundraising event and awards ceremony both event planners and campaign managers can high-five for a job well done and start planning for next year!

 

 

Change Log: 10-14-15 Changes to Sent Emails from FundMonkey

We launched our first production software in 2009 and since then the rules for sending email have been changing.  Sending email is the backbone of FundMonkey and when sending email through our campaign management interface, in the past we would spoof the receivers with our customer address in the FROM: section of the email.

Email providers such as Yahoo, AOL, Gmail and Hotmail are ever vigilant against SPAM and it has come to our attention that some of these companies are labeling our email method as potentially Spammy and some of them are detouring some of our emails into junk mail boxes.  Since we’re not spammers, we decided to change the methods in which we send email on behalf of our fundraising customers.

On October 14th, we changed all outbound email from the FundMonkey server to be FROM: info@FundMonkey, with a  REPLY TO: field containing our customers’ email address.   Every email that originates from FundMonkey will be from Info@FundMonkey.com and include the sender’s email in the REPLY TO: in the email header.  If participants or fundraising parents need to ask questions with a reply, their email will automatically reply to our customer’s email address in the REPLY TO: field.

With this change, we only have one outbound email address to worry about, OURS, so we’ve also engaged a 3rd party mail monitoring service to help us provide best practices with regards to Spam and Blacklists and to keep our domain free from those blacklists to ensure the smooth delivery of your emails.