Category

Annual Giving

#GivingTuesday Is Right Around the Corner

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A little more than a month away, #GivingTuesday falls on November 28th this year. In 2016, #GivingTuesday raised more than $177 million through $1.64 million gifts in 98 countries around the world. Be sure to watch for #GivingTuesday billboards throughout Kansas City: for the sixth year in a row, Lamar Advertising  is collaborating with JB+A to support this global day of giving, by generously providing pro bono digital billboards throughout the Greater Kansas City Metro.

Here are three important steps to take now for a successful #GivingTuesday this fall:

  1. Identify your #GivingTuesday Program/Theme Focus
    Highlight a specific program or immediate need to create your communications talking points and grab donors’ attention. Setting a fundraising goal that is attainable and clearly ties back to what it will help your organization accomplish increases excitement and participation.
  2. Create your #Hashtag
    Identify your unique #hashtag for your #GivingTuesday campaign based on the program or theme you have selected. Be sure to make it short and relevant to your organization and something easy for people to remember.
  3. Alert donors, volunteers and other constituents
    Let folks know via email and your website (and in any already scheduled correspondence) about your #GivingTuesday plans and educate them about the social media channels your organization will be using.  Don’t forget to arm them with your #hashtag.

For more tips about creating a solid #GivingTuesday campaign, download your own “JB+A #GivingTuesday Guide.”

Summer + Planning = #GivingTuesday Fundraising Success

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Social Media, Uncategorized | No Comments

Katie Lord, Vice President

It’s officially summer and you know what that means: “special summer deal” ads are bombarding us on TV and reminders that it’s time to start thinking about the year-end holidays are already starting to pop up on social media.  As consumers, we either love or loathe these very early reminders of the impending holiday season; for nonprofits, it is a reminder we need to begin thinking about something else associated with the holiday time of year: #GivingTuesday.

Celebrating its 6th anniversary, #GivingTuesday falls on November 28th this year. In 2016, #GivingTuesday raised more than $177 million through $1.64 million gifts in 98 countries around the world. November may seem like a long way away with countless other deadlines in between for you and your organization, but there are three important steps you can take now to get a jumpstart on a successful #GivingTuesday this fall:

  1. Identify your #GivingTuesday Program Focus

When crafting a #GivingTuesday campaign, it is best to highlight a specific program or immediate need with in your organization to grab donors’ attention. Granted, we all need general operational support, but your annual appeal supports that. Since social media is the main vehicle for #GivingTuesday, your #GivingTuesday campaigns need to be targeted and more specific, enabling the goal of the day to be reached through viral sharing and support of your followers and donors.  Examples include a special project in your facility or purchase of technology or supplies.

  1. Find a Matching Gift

It’s been shown that #GivingTuesday and year-end appeals with matching funds have better results.  Now is the time to look through your donor database and current major gift relationships to identify, cultivate and solicit a short list of prospects for matching funds to your #GivingTuesday project and goals.

  1. Create your #Hashtag

It is not too early to create your unique #hashtag for your #GivingTuesday campaign based on the program or theme you have selected. Be sure to make it short and relevant to your organization and something easy for people to remember.  Not only will this allow you to stand out on the actual day by having a unique hashtag, it also provides increased opportunity for your specific campaign to “trend.”

It is not too early to start “pre-sharing” your plans for #GivingTuesday, and building the anticipation and excitement that will keep your organization’s campaign top of mind for donors, volunteers and staff who will be involved in planning and executing a successful #GivingTuesday.

For more tips about creating a solid #GivingTuesday campaign, download your own “JB+A #GivingTuesday Guide.”

And a special thank you to Dave Halpin and Lamar Advertising for donating several billboards promoting #GivingTuesday around greater Kansas City.

Giving USA 2017: An Estimated $390.05 Billion to Charity in 2016

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Current Events/News, Fundraising, Giving USA, News You Can Use | No Comments

Giving by American Individuals, Foundations, Estates and Corporations Reaches a New High for the Third Straight Year
Giving by individuals drove the rise in total giving; all nine major philanthropy subsectors experienced giving increases–
for the sixth time in the last four decades

Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc., U. S. Trust and Nonprofit Connect recently presented Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016 in Kansas City. Special guest Dr. Patrick RooneyAssociate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research and Professor of Economics and Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy shared highlights from the report to a full house at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. 

Americans donated an estimated $390.05 billion to charity in 2016, achieving an all-time high for the third year in a row. This figure also represents a 2.7 percent growth in current dollars (1.4 percent when adjusted for inflation) over the revised estimate of $379.89 billion for total giving in 2015. Total giving cumulatively grew 6.8 percent between 2014 and 2016.

These findings are contained in Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016.  The seminal report on charitable giving, Giving USA is the longest-running and most comprehensive evaluation of philanthropic trends in the United States. Giving USA is published by the Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

The single largest contributor to the increase in total charitable giving was an increase of $10.53 billion (3.9 percent over 2015) in giving by individuals. “Despite three quarters of stock market volatility in 2016 and a turbulent election season, individual giving continued its incredibly important role in American philanthropy,” said Jeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc. “In addition, this strong growth in individual giving appears to be less attributable to ‘mega gifts,’ which were not as robust as in previous years, suggesting more of that growth came from donors in the general population.” Byrne is also Board Chair of The Giving Institute, sister organization to the Giving USA Foundation, a public service and public trust dedicated to providing the highest-quality information about philanthropy.

Giving to all nine major categories of recipient organizations grew, making 2016 just the sixth time in the past 40 years that this has occurred:  religion, education, human services, giving to foundations, health, public-society benefit, arts/culture/humanities, international affairs and environment/animals. “This growth in every major sector illustrates the resilience of philanthropy and the diversity of donor motivation,” said Byrne. “It also reinforces the importance of getting to know our donors better.”

As has long been demonstrated, there continued to be a link between the economy and charitable giving trends in 2016. National-level economic indicators include personal consumption, disposable personal income and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index – all of which are associated with households’ permanent and long-term financial stability and affect giving. In 2016, both personal consumption and disposable personal income grew by nearly 4.0 percent over 2015. The S&P 500 finished the year up 9.5 percent after uneven performance for much of 2016 and a mixed economic picture in 2015. Total giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to hover around 2.0 percent as it has for the last six years.

Download the two traditional pie charts illustrating 2016 source contributions and recipients here.

Be sure to check out Jeffrey Byrne’s Top Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA.

Check out key takeaways from Dr. Rooney’s 2017 Giving USA presentation in Kansas City.

The Numbers for 2016 Charitable Giving by Source
Three of the four sources that comprise total giving—individuals (72 percent of the total), corporations (5.0 percent) and foundations (15 percent)—increased their 2016 donations to America’s more than 1.2 million charities, according to the report.

 Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $281.86 billion, rising 3.9 percent (2.6 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2016. Giving by individuals grew at a higher rate than the other sources of giving.

  Giving by foundations increased 3.5 percent (2.2 percent adjusted for inflation) to an estimated $59.28 billion in 2016. Giving by foundations rose more slowly in 2016 compared to the stronger increases seen in recent years. Data on foundation giving are provided by Foundation Center.

  Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 3.5 percent (2.3 percent adjusted for inflation) in 2016, totaling $18.55 billion. Corporate giving increased modestly in 2016, in the wake of slower GDP growth and little movement in the share of pre-tax profits directed to giving.

 Giving by bequest totaled an estimated $30.36 billion in 2016, declining 9.0 percent (10.1 percent adjusted for inflation) from 2015. Gifts from bequests frequently fluctuate from year to year and are less influenced by economic factors.

The Numbers for 2016 Gifts to Charitable Organizations
Giving USA’s research also examines what happens within nine different recipient categories of charities.  In 2016, giving increased to all subsectors, but there were deviations from patterns seen in recent years. Giving to education saw relatively slower growth than in previous years and giving to international affairs, humans services and public-society benefit organizations grew despite few widely publicized natural disasters, which often drive contributions to these types of organizations. Environment/animal organizations experienced the fastest rate of growth of the nine subsectors in 2016, at 7.2 percent.

 Giving to religion increased 3.0 percent (1.8 percent adjusted for inflation), with an estimated $122.94 billion in contributions.

 

 Giving to education is estimated to have increased 3.6 percent (2.3 percent adjusted for inflation) to $59.77 billion.

 

 Giving to human services increased by an estimated 4.0 percent (2.7 percent adjusted for inflation), totaling $46.80 billion.

 

Giving to foundations is estimated to have increased by 3.1 percent (1.8 percent adjusted for inflation), rising to $40.56 billion.

 

Giving to health organizations is estimated to have increased by 5.7 percent (4.4 percent adjusted for inflation), to $33.14 billion.

 

 Giving to public-society benefit organizations increased by an estimated 3.7 percent (2.5 percent adjusted for inflation) to $29.89 billion.

 

 Giving to arts, culture and humanities is estimated to have increased 6.4 percent (5.1 percent adjusted for inflation) to $18.21 billion.

 

 Giving to international affairs is estimated to be $22.03 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.8 percent (4.6 percent adjusted for inflation).

 

 Giving to environment and animal organizations is estimated to have increased 7.2 percent (5.8 percent adjusted for inflation) to $11.05 billion.

Giving to individuals is estimated to have declined 2.5 percent (3.7 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) to $7.12 billion. The bulk of these donations are in-kind gifts of medications to patients in need, made through the Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) of pharmaceutical companies’ operating foundations.

New to this year’s edition of Giving USA is a special section on donor-advised funds, which provides analysis of major trends in both giving to and from these charitable vehicles.  Contributions to national donor-advised funds (such as Fidelity Charitable Fund, Schwab Charitable Fund, Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program and National Philanthropic Trust) are counted in the Public-Society Benefit subsector, and the proportion of giving to these funds as a percentage of giving to Public-Society Benefit has increased dramatically in recent years. Giving to donor-advised funds held in community foundations is counted in the Giving to Foundations subsector. Charitable giving to Foundations recovered in 2016 after a decline in 2015.

“As philanthropy is evolving, so are the tools and platforms through which people give,” says Byrne.  “As giving in America continues to reach new heights, I hope everyone can find ways to give that are meaningful for them, and feel confident that their giving is making a powerful difference and improving the way we all live.”

Explore Giving USA products and resources, including free highlights of each annual report at its online store at www.givingusa.org for more information.

The Giving Institute, the parent organization of Giving USA FoundationTM, consists of member organizations that have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence and leadership in advancing philanthropy. The Giving Institute member organizations embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. For information, visit www.givinginstitute.org.

For more information about the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy visit www.philanthropy.iupui.edu.

Donor Relationships: transform donors into partners

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

Bruce Broce, M.A., Vice President

 A Board member once asked me if I considered our philanthropic supporters to be “donors” or “partners.” I answered by saying they ideally should be both. Every nonprofit has donors, but the really successful ones expand their relationship with their constituents beyond the financial plane and nurture them as partners who can help move forward the organization’s mission.

When it comes to fundraising, nonprofits tend to allocate the majority of their time and energy on acquiring donors. But let’s be honest, not nearly enough time is spent thinking about how to retain donors, and that’s a missed opportunity. Being a donor has become part of our daily lives; think about how frequently you’re asked to support something. Whether it’s donating $1 at the pet store when checking out, or buying a begonia to help your neighborhood school, charitable giving is often reduced to a transaction instead of being a meaningful, participatory and ongoing experience. Oftentimes, what distinguishes a philanthropic experience is what happens after a donation is made.

Your organization would be well served to review what processes are set in motion when donors make gifts. Because donors can feel like an organization’s checkbook, use the stewardship phase to further educate and engage donors. This helps them better understand the impact of their gift and prepares the groundwork for them becoming partners the next time they enter the donor cycle. Impactful and transformational giving occurs when a donor sees a partnership as the natural outcome of your relationship and the basis for how their philanthropic investment will meaningfully impact your organization.

Keep in mind that the tools that were initially used to attract and cultivate prospects tend to be set aside once they’ve become donors. You would be surprised how a donor’s perspective changes once they understand how their gift has impacted your organization. I once gave a “thank you tour” of our program, which was essentially the tour we gave prospective donors at the onset of cultivation. However, because the donor now possessed a deeper understanding of our services being offered, she said she could better appreciate the work being accomplished by our staff. As a result, her giving increased and she became an advocate of our organization within the community, championing us to potential new donors. In other words, she transitioned from being a donor to becoming a partner who was vested in the success of our organization.

A comprehensive fundraising program is as strategic and genuine in its thanks, appreciation and ongoing engagement as it is in its solicitation. Make sure your organization has a carefully designed program of acquisition, retention, stewardship and ultimately involvement of your key donors. These elements are critical to strengthening relationships with the donors you already have, and ultimately, creating lasting partnerships from which your organization will benefit.

Just Ask.

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research | No Comments

Saber Hossinei, Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

Have you seen those shirts with JUST DO IT across the front? It certainly makes for a catchy phrase, but the meaning behind it is so much more than that. It’s a message of action. Regardless of one’s condition, level of experience or ability, don’t forget what’s truly necessary: action. And with action, come results.

In my background with sales and sales training, the recurring obstacle for many of the trainees I worked with (rookie and veteran salespeople alike) was “making the ask.” How is it that most folks can be trained to do an excellent job with all aspects of the sales process, yet drop the ball when it comes to asking for the sale? Anecdotally, I can tell you that the best sales reps had the opposite problem. They weren’t great planners or polished presenters, but they asked for a sale with each and every visit, and as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Recently, I had the privilege to serve on the silent auction subcommittee for a nonprofit’s annual gala fundraiser. It was my first time in such a role, and in fact it was my first time ever asking for donations. Armed with just a letter about the event and a donation request form, I hit the street and went door to door in a shopping center to ask for donations. Of course, I was very excited to receive a nice item from the first business I approached, and by the end of my walk, I had received not only merchandise and gift cards for the silent auction, but also referrals to other businesses to solicit for donations! The bottom line is, I might have felt poorly prepared, but by showing up and asking for donations, I received them.

I am certainly not making a case against proper and thorough preparation for solicitations. The qualification, cultivation and solicitation process with prospective donors is critically important, and today, we have many valuable resources readily available to help us develop strong strategies for relationship-building with our prospects/donors. (Check out Jeffrey’s article “Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice” about how nonprofits should “do their “homework” on prospective donors.)

But nonprofits suffer when leadership, staff and volunteers are reluctant to “make the ask,” or want to wait until everything is “perfect.” Don’t get “paralysis by analysis.” Your Boards, staff and volunteers should be taught that making an “ask” is not only the most important element in obtaining donations, but it is also the right thing to do. You owe your supporters action, your potential donors the opportunity to support your cause and you owe those who benefit from your nonprofit your best work! JUST ASK.

The Results Are In: 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Education, Fundraising, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use | No Comments

ustrust_bulletinlogo_140820Editor’s Note:  The 2016 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, reports the giving patterns and priorities of America’s wealthiest donors and provides valuable insights into the strategies, vehicles and approaches that can make giving more effective. This Study is a continuation of the 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 reports. 

Results are based on a nationwide sample of 1,435 responding households with a net worth of $1 million or more and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more. For the first time, the study includes a deeper analysis based on age, gender, sexual orientation and race.  The Study offers comprehensive information on the charitable giving and volunteering activities of high net worth households that will apply directly to our Kansas City philanthropic endeavors. 

This past June, JB+A partnered with U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to present Giving USA 2016:The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.  We are pleased to continue to share valuable information that complements Giving USA data and can be used by nonprofit professionals, donors, volunteers and others interested in promoting philanthropy.

What did we learn?
The Study reveals that giving levels remain high and the future looks bright, supported by several findings:

  • The vast majority are giving: Last year, 91% of high net worth households donated to charity compared to 59% of the general population of U.S. households.
  • They are spreading the wealth around: on average, wealthy donors gave to eight different nonprofits last year with donors over the age of 70 giving to an average of 11 organizations.
  • These households plan to give as much or more in the future: 83% of wealthy donors are planning to give as much (55%) or more (28%) in the next three years than they have in the past.
  • Time is also treasure: these high net worth households also demonstrated their commitment to charitable causes through volunteering.  50% of wealthy individuals volunteered their time to charities they support. This is twice the rate of the general population (25%).

Motivations to Give
While there is an assortment of reasons motivating high net worth philanthropy, the following were cited as the top motivators for giving in 2015:

  • Believing in the mission of the organization – 54%
  • Believing that their gift can make a difference – 44%
  • Experiencing personal satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment – 39%
  • Supporting the same causes annually – 36%
  • Giving back to the community – 27%

Only 18% of the respondents cited tax advantages among their top motivations for giving compared with 34% who cited this as a motivation in 2013.

What do high net worth donors want?
Donors have strong feelings about how their donation should be used. They feel that nonprofit organizations should:

  • Limit the amount of the individual’s donation that is spent on general administrative and fundraising expenses – 89%
  • Demonstrate sound business and operational practices – 89%
  • Acknowledge donations by providing a receipt for tax purposes – 88%
  • Not distribute their names to others – 84%
  • Send a thank you note – 61%

“This year’s Study reinforces that our wealthiest donors are engaged, willing and eager to give,” says Jeffrey Byrne, President + CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc.  “with nearly half the wealthy individuals surveyed indicating that charitable giving has the greatest potential for impact on society, it is up to us – the fundraisers and nonprofit professionals – to connect, cultivate and steward these individuals.”

The study also highlighted several key findings regarding volunteerism amongst high net worth individuals.

“A significant finding from this year’s study is the correlation between volunteerism and giving” said Lewis Gregory, CAP, Senior Vice President, Institutional and Private Client Advisor for U.S. Trust in Kansas City.  “A high percentage of wealthy individuals give financially to the organizations with which they volunteer. They also give 56% more on average than those who do not volunteer. I hope this inspires nonprofits to appreciate and cultivate their volunteers on a whole new level.”

Other Key Takeaways
And the winner is:  basic needs organizations.  While many of the nonprofit subsectors benefited from increased contributions from high net worth donors in 2015, basic needs was the clear front runner.

  • 63% of high net worth households gave to basic needs organizations
  • Religion received the largest share of dollars (36%) – more than basic needs (28%), higher education (8%), health (7%) or the arts (5%).
  • The highest share of high net worth households also prioritized education as the most important current policy issue (56%) ahead of poverty (34.6%) and healthcare (33.8%).
  • New research: There’s no better time than election season to study the political giving behavior of high net worth individuals.  The study found:
    • One out of four wealthy individuals contributed to a political candidate in 2015 or planned to do so in the 2016 election cycle
    • Donors over the age of 70 (40%) and LGBT individuals (38%) were more likely to give to a political candidate or campaign
    • The top three public policy issues that matter most to wealthy individuals are health care (29%), education (28%) and national security (27%), closely followed by the economy (26%)

To access the full 90-page report, visit www.ustrust.com/philanthropy.

Register Now for JB+A’s Latest Workshop

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Campaign Planning + Management, Events, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving | No Comments

Register now for

Tools for Fundraising Success
Building an Integrated Fundraising Program

Friday, August 26, 2016 

This hands-on workshop will detail best practices and step-by-step techniques for creating and implementing an integrated fundraising program that will transform your organization.

**All attending organizations will receive two hours of complimentary fundraising consultation from JB+A.**

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Friday, August 26, 2016
Bishop Spencer Place, Westport Room
4301 Madison Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri

This workshop is intended for Executive Directors, Development Directors, Chief Development Officers, Board Members and Fundraising Volunteers.

The workshop price of $99 admits you and one guest.

Call 816.237.1999 or click here to register.

NRC Survey Reveals More Nonprofits are Conducting Campaigns – with Greater Fundraising Success

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Current Events/News, Fundraising, Giving USA, Major Gift Solicitation, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Compared with 2011, significantly more nonprofits are conducting campaigns, and they are more likely to be receiving higher amounts in charitable gifts.  More than half of charities surveyed reported growth in charitable receipts.

NRC logo

These findings are part of several in a special report recently released by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC). The Special Report on Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns is based on results from 1,071 nonprofits surveyed during the summer of 2015. The report also shares information obtained about fundraising results and overall charitable receipts in early 2015 with regional, sector and organizational size comparisons.

In the survey, 27 percent of organizations reported being in a capital, comprehensive or combined campaign as of the summer of 2015.  And 19 percent reported being in a special campaign, meaning nearly half of all organizations responding to the survey had a focused effort to raise funds. This compares to just 12 percent from the 2011 study.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents saw fundraising receipts increase from January through June 2015, compared with the same time last year. This is an increase from 52 percent in 2014. Charitable receipts rose at 71 percent of Education organizations, much higher than the 58 percent seeing increases as of mid-2014. This subsector had the highest percentage of survey participants reporting growth in charitable gifts received. Sixty-three percent of Human Services organizations saw charitable receipts increase, much greater than the 48 percent reported in 2014. This is the first time that more than half of Human Services charities have seen an increase as of mid-year since tracking began in 2011.

View the full report here for more insights on campaigns and fundraising results in 2015.

JB+A is a proud member of The Giving Institute, which, since 1935, has championed thought leadership on philanthropy and fundraising in the nonprofit sector. Through the Giving USA Foundation, The Giving Institute produces the Giving USA Annual Report and partners with other groups to provide valuable research and data about charitable giving.

No Matter the Measure, Giving is Good

By | Annual Giving, Commentary, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use | No Comments

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO

By now we’re all aware of #GivingTuesday. Just wrapping up its fourth successful year, this incredible phenomenon has tapped into the brushfire energy of social media to successfully unite nonprofits, individuals, families, businesses and other organizations into a global giving movement we’ve not experienced before.  Since its inception in 2012, this annual day of giving back has generated more than $203,900,000 in gifts.  (See the preliminary recap of #GivingTuesday 2015 results and more cumulative data here.)

This year’s #GivingTuesday was punctuated by a stunning announcement from Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, who made an extraordinary pledge to distribute 99 percent of their Facebook shareholdings to philanthropic causes over the course of their lifetimes. In an open letter to their newborn daughter Max, Chan and Zuckerberg outlined their purpose for giving—including specific areas of focus in personalized education, medical technology and global connectivity— and their dedication to changing the world in which their child will grow up. (You can view the full letter here.)

As I visited clients on Tuesday, December 1, I spotted several billboards showcasing #GivingTuesday — part of a partnership between JB+A and Lamar Advertising Company. For the fourth year in a row, Lamar generously donated 12 digital billboards over a two-week period throughout the Greater Kansas City area to promote #GivingTuesday, resulting in an estimated 3,156,782 viewing impressions.  Lamar has donated 43 billboards over the last four years with a value of more than $129,000.

I am also Chair of the Board of Directors for The Giving Institute, a consortium of top consulting firms to nonprofits that is a #GivingTuesday founding partner. JB+A provides fundraising and financial development services to nonprofits, and that includes sharing resources, best practices and research to help nonprofits benefit from the power of #GivingTuesday.

And as I sat at my computer late #GivingTuesday night, with rapid-fire clicks of the mouse, I joined Chan and Zuckerberg and hundreds of thousands of other participants in supporting the causes that are important to us.

Last year, Americans gave an astonishing $358.38 billion to charity, surpassing levels not seen since before the Great Recession (according to the 60th Anniversary Edition of Giving USA), and 64.5 million adults volunteered 7.9 billion hours of service, worth an estimated value of $175 billion (according to the Independent Sector).

Donors today are gifting their time, talent and treasure with purpose and the way that people engage in philanthropy is evolving.

Many donors are choosing to give through mechanisms that allow for thoughtful, long-term giving, such as donor-advised funds. (We’ve seen significant growth in this trend.) Other donors simply want to give what they can, whenever they can—as illustrated this past #GivingTuesday, in which the mean gift size was $107.47, suggesting donors feel they can make a positive impact with any size gift. And over the past four years, the #GivingTuesday campaign has had double-digit, year-over-year growth in donations.

I have been in the nonprofit fundraising industry for more than 25 years. I am sincerely heartened by these new giving trends. They represent an increased understanding of the importance of giving. I am also continually humbled by the generosity of the donors who support nonprofits—even despite times of tumultuous economic climate, our country continues to prove itself one of the most generous in the world.

While I did not pen an open letter or create a sophisticated construct for my gift, I still gave. In comparison to the mega gifts given by the likes of Zuckerberg, Gates and Buffett, the contributions from me and my firm may seem inconsequential. But that’s not the point.

The point is, giving is good.  No matter the size, no matter the mechanism and no matter what new methods we create to measure giving, the intangible, pure goodness of giving remains. I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to truly measure the impact of that.

What will 2016 hold? I am confident that the year ahead will be marked by significant giving. We will feed those who would otherwise go hungry. We will provide safety, shelter and counseling to victims of domestic violence. We will increase access to quality education and employment opportunities. We will advance medical research and technology to treat and prevent disease. We will preserve historically and culturally significant works for generations to come. We will give those living with cognitive or physical disabilities new purpose through recreation and competitive sports. We will allow seniors continued independence, wellness and fellowship.

I see incredible potential for the future of philanthropy.

But to bring this vision to reality and support this growing culture for giving, those of us who are volunteers, advocates, donors, philanthropists and nonprofit professionals must play our part.

We must maintain the conversation about charitable giving, keeping abreast of movements in local and federal government around this topic, and advocating for policy that supports giving.

We must continue to evolve the mechanisms for philanthropy by offering alternative and innovative vehicles for giving, facilitating the process with new ideas and technologies for maximum giving and impact.

We must share the stories of nonprofits and other charitable enterprises and all the good works they do.

And, most importantly, we must continue to give what we can, when we can, how we can. We must remember that each and every one of us possesses the ability to create positive impact in the world, and that each and every gift propels us towards the realization of our hopeful vision for a better tomorrow.

Here’s to 2016!

JDB Signature Full
-Jeffrey

Donor-Advised Funds: Parking or Philanthropy?

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Grants, Insights, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Prospect Research, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Jeffery Byrne

Jeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO

The Giving Institute recently hosted its Summer Symposium in Boston, and I attended a very informative session on “The Charitable Landscape and Donor-Advised Funds” presented by Matt Nash, a Senior Vice President with Fidelity Charitable. I felt the presentation made a good case for donor-advised funds, and has helped me re-shape my thinking around this giving vehicle.

As fundraisers and nonprofit managers, we know donor-advised funds (DAFs) have been a part of American philanthropy for decades. We’ve also undoubtedly noticed (perhaps with some chagrin?) that DAFs are quickly becoming more and more popular vehicles for charitable giving. Their role in shaping the charitable landscape has grown dramatically over the past two decades and we can only expect this trend to continue. Many of us have probably also wondered how to “crack the DAF nut” – how to successfully secure this type of funding and connect with the seemingly anonymous individuals behind the mechanism. Since 1991, Fidelity Charitable has operated as an independent public charity and currently sponsors the nation’s largest DAF program. Its mission includes programming to make giving simple and effective. So how do they do that through a funding mechanism that feels like an enigma, and what are the benefits – to both donors and nonprofits?

I learned a lot about the state of DAFs from Matt’s presentation. For example, Fidelity Charitable holds nearly $15 billion in assets in more than 72,000 DAFs (Fidelity Charitable calls them Giving Accounts) which are held by more than 119,000 individuals (known as donors). The average age when opening a DAF is 54 and the current donor age is 62. Donors establish Giving Accounts as they approach retirement age, and 62% of Fidelity donors say they are using these donor-advised funds as a way to sustain giving through retirement. It is also interesting to note that more than half of Fidelity’s donor contributions were non-cash assets and 3/4 of donors say the ability to donate such assets is a reason for setting up their fund. In 2014, more than half of contributions were made with non-cash assets.

Fidelity Charitable is the second-largest grant making entity in the United States, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2014, it awarded $2.6 billion in donor-recommended grants to 97,000 charities. The total amount granted by Fidelity has tripled over the past 10 years, as has the number of grants of $1 million or more. In the first six months of the 2015 calendar year alone, Fidelity has set a record with its 310,000 donor-recommended grants.

Once assets have been contributed to a Giving Account, they can be invested for short- or long-term giving goals. Donors can recommend an investment strategy that aligns with their own charitable goals and time frames, and potentially grow their charitable dollars tax free. And most DAF participants list tax benefit as a motivation for using a DAF. Is this “parking” funds? Perhaps. But isn’t it also empowering philanthropy? Absolutely! There is a correlation between investment growth and grant making. Fidelity reported its assets rose from $12.8 billion to $14.9 billion in fiscal year 2014. Grants rose 32% over the previous year. While the average grant size remains consistent, the number of grants per Giving Account continues to grow. And most contributions to Fidelity Charitable are granted out to charities within 10 years.

The median Giving Account balance is just over $16,000, and 60% of Giving Accounts have balances under $25,000. But more than 5,500 accounts have balances upwards of $250,000. The majority of grants were recommended online and Fidelity offers a free, online tool (the DAF Direct Widget) that nonprofits can add to their websites, helping donors recommend grants directly from the charity’s website. Donors are also taking advantage of being able to pre-schedule their giving, and pre-scheduled grants make up about 1/5 of outgoing grants from Fidelity. And contrary to some perceptions, most grants–92% of them–are not anonymous, but include names and addresses for acknowledging the gift.

Consider these takeaways when navigating the world of DAFs and meaningfully engaging DAF (and ultimately your organization’s) donors:

  • Flag the DAF and gifts in your donor database
  • Recognize the donor in stewardship, not the DAF sponsor
  • Seek to engage the donor, even if the initial gift is small
  • Be sure to include DAFs in your organization’s “Ways of Giving”

And remember, most donors complement their DAF giving with cash giving; often times, the DAFs are used in strategic and larger giving, while cash or cash equivalent gifts are used for smaller donations and more casual giving. DAFs are becoming increasingly more popular and nonprofits should recognize and work with DAFs and their donors as ways to strengthen philanthropy.