Email by email, for 20 years, the FundSvcs discussion list has been uniting and empowering the people who never ask for donations yet are instrumental to the success of any non-profit or academic institution's fundraising and development. It's the largest subscription-based LISTSERV® list serving the non-profit community, with more than 3,500 subscribers across 24 countries.
Helping non-profits and universities get the donations they need while helping to shield organizations from legal or regulatory snafus in the course of their fundraising efforts, advancement services professionals are at the heart of the "back office" operation of any development program. Their responsibilities include gift processing, database updates, technical support, compliance assurance and more. FundSvcs, conceived and created by John H. Taylor in 1994, is a daily information exchange resource for the advancement services profession.
Taylor transitioned the email list to L-Soft's LISTSERV software in February 1999. "Shifting to L-Soft likely saved the life of FundSvcs. The options and web-based functionality made the decision a no-brainer."
Taylor notes that since 1999, the FundSvcs LISTSERV list archives have been offering an extremely helpful body of knowledge to the profession and answering many questions that subscribers would otherwise have to post to the list. But with the ongoing evolution of technology and regulations that impact the profession, FundSvcs subscribers can still rest assured that that they will receive emails immediately, informing them of any changes that affect their work.
As both the foremost resource and place to call home for advancement services professionals, FundSvcs provides information on topics including fundraising software options, IRS and other rules and regulations, professional development and virtually any other topic relevant to the operations of a fundraising program – and even helps influence policy when needed. As Taylor describes, "The LISTSERV list gets new information out instantly to over 3,500 advancement services professionals worldwide, while also serving as a platform for informing regulatory and administrative authorities of where changes, or reinterpretation, of legislation are needed."
In its two decades, FundSvcs has enjoyed pro bono hosting services with every organization Taylor has been employed by, including Duke University, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), RuffaloCODY and North Carolina State University.
"Every one of these organizations saw and respected the value FundSvcs provided to the advancement services community," Taylor says.
In mid-2013, when Taylor left NC State, he determined that it was time to transition FundSvcs to a permanent home. The result: The Association of Advancement Services Professionals (AASP), the preeminent advancement services association that Taylor helped to form, hosts the list, with Taylor continuing as list moderator and administrator.
Reflecting on the grand prize award in The Mailys, Taylor says: "FundSvcs has been a labor of love for me ever since I conceived it back in the mid-1990s. I am passionate about the work that advancement services professionals do, hence the creation of the email list and AASP. It gives me great pleasure to accept this award on behalf of all that we have done, do, and will be accomplishing in the future."
As for the success of FundSvcs, Taylor offers a few key tips:
"Make it relevant, make it timely, and make it appealing to the membership. Do these things on a regular basis and membership will grow on its own," he says, adding: "The profession is limited in size. So at some point subscribership will slow. And that's okay as long as it continues to meet the needs of the community."
"Adherence to our netiquette rules is key."
"Subscription options and ease of access clearly make a huge difference compared to other forms of lists."
"List management is just that – active management. You cannot just start a list and let it run itself. Monitoring error messages – inactivating accounts when the individual sets up a vacation message that runs amok – sending messages to posters when content is not entirely appropriate – advising subscribers when changes or outages (when changing hosts) might occur – are all key. But I cannot emphasize more the importance of establishing list protocol, and publishing it at least twice a year."
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