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Key Takeaways from Dr. Rooney’s KC Presentation of Giving USA 2017

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JB+A was proud to join U.S. Trust and Nonprofit Connect in hosting Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016 in Kansas City on June 16 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center.  2017 marked JB+A’s 12th year of bringing Giving USA to Kansas City, and this year’s report was presented by Dr. Patrick Rooney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research and Professor of Economics and Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Here are some Key Takeaways from Dr. Rooney’s presentation of the Giving USA 2017 report:

Philanthropy and Politics
“More people donate each year than vote,” explained Dr. Rooney, “and the issues most spoken about in 2016 political dialogue were the recipients of the most giving: arts/culture/humanities, environment/animals, health and international affairs.”  Dr. Rooney stressed this may or may not be a “causal” relationship, but pointed out the correlation was hard to ignore. And we may see more clearly the true impact of this “politically-motivated” type of giving in 2017 data.

Giving by Foundations and the 5% Payout Rate
While giving by all three types of foundations – independent, operating and community – increased, the growth was more moderate in 2016.  “Giving by Foundations is more predictable, because of the 5% payout rate*,” said Dr. Rooney, “And independent foundations provided the majority of grantmaking in both 2015 and 2016.” This moderate rise in giving may be attributable to a two-year lagged effect from S&P 500 performance.

But in the midst of ongoing scrutiny and debate about whether private foundations distribute a big enough portion of their assets, Dr. Rooney shared his analysis on increasing the payout rate: “We ran some numbers, to see if increasing the payout rate to 10% would bankrupt foundations.  It would take more than 100 years for that to happen, so in short, the empirical evidence is that increasing the payout rate would not bankrupt foundations.”

*Refers to the payout requirement that is the minimum amount private foundations must spend each year for charitable purposes. By law, private non-operating foundations must distribute five percent of the value of their net investment assets annually in the form of grants or eligible administrative expenses.

Public-Society Benefit and Donor-Advised Funds
Dr. Rooney recognized that “not everyone understands the composition of the Public-Society Benefit subsector.” Organizations within this category include those related to voter education, civil rights, civil liberties, consumer rights and community/economic development as well as free-standing research institutions (for the sciences and public policy.)  This subsector also includes organizations that raise funds to distribute to nonprofits, such as the United Way, Combined Federal Campaigns and Jewish Federations.

National donor-advised funds (such as Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard) are also included in Public-Society Benefit, and Dr. Rooney noted we are seeing strong increases in contributions to these types of giving vehicles.  “For only the second time since The Chronicle of Philanthropy initiated the Philanthropy 400 in 1991, United Way Worldwide was not listed as the top charity,” explained Dr. Rooney. “Fidelity Charitable took the top spot. In 2015, contributions to Fidelity Charitable grew 20% over 2014, while United Way saw a 4% drop in charitable receipts.”

Dr. Rooney offered that being able to continue to disaggregate donor-advised funds data in this category will shed more light on this topic.

Individual Giving and its Share of the Pie
Individual giving has declined from 84% of total giving in the five-year period ending in 1981 to 72% of total giving in the five-year period ending in 2016.  But Dr. Rooney reassured us individuals/households are still giving, they’re just doing so in more formalized ways (such as through private foundations and donor-advised funds) and reminded us that the single largest contributor to the increase in total charitable giving in 2016 was the increase of $10.53 billion in giving by individuals. He also pointed out the “democratization of philanthropy in 2016,” explaining that “The strong growth in individual giving may be less attributable to the largest of the large gifts*, which were not as robust as we have seen in prior years – suggesting this growth may have come from donors among the general population.”

Dr. Rooney stressed the power to increase giving is in our hands: “If every American household reallocated $5 a day of frivolous consumption to philanthropy, that would double household giving overnight.”  Dr. Rooney added, “It’s up to us as donors, but also as nonprofits – we need to make the case for philanthropy.”

*Giving USA refers to very large gifts as “mega-gifts” and sets that threshold every year.  In 2016, gifts of $200 million and above were tracked as mega-gifts.

Be sure to check out Jeffrey Byrne’s Top Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA to improve their fundraising and JB+A’s recap of Giving USA 2017  findings.

Download the two traditional pie charts illustrating 2016 source contributions and recipients and share with Board members, your CEO and development staff.

Top Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Capacity Building, Commentary, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Giving USA, Insights, Stewardship, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Giving USA is a powerful tool:  it is the most trusted annual report on the sources and uses of philanthropy in the U.S., but it’s also a valuable resource in helping us improve philanthropy.  Nonprofit organizations can (and should) use Giving USA to help identify trends as well as opportunities to strengthen resource development efforts.

Here are my Top Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA to improve their fundraising:

5. Understand the correlations between giving and economic factors
The stock market, personal wealth, personal income, GDP, corporate pre-tax profits and unemployment rates impact giving by all four sources (individuals, foundations, bequests and corporations). Trends are closely monitored by people “inside” and “outside” the philanthropy sector.
Be aware of changes in these indicators, anticipate how changes will impact donors and adjust fundraising strategies accordingly

4. Confirm or dispel myths about giving
Economic and political scenarios, complex societal issues, diverse giving platforms, wealth and capacity are just some of the drivers behind philanthropy.
Understand the context of these drivers, help manage expectations about giving and set realistic and achievable goals

3. Educate Board members, volunteers, donors and staff about the broad context of philanthropic giving
Help stakeholders better understand your organization’s funding patterns and potential

2. Be nimble in your fundraising and stewardship
Nonprofit fundraising must evolve as philanthropy evolves.  We are seeing an increase in the popularity of non-traditional giving vehicles (such as donor-advised funds and non-cash assets) and donors want more evidence of the impact of their gifts.
Listen to your donors and prospective donors – and tailor your strategies to match their needs and expectations

1. Recognize the “individual giving effect”
An estimated 87% of total giving in 2016 came from individuals, bequests and family foundations.
There are human beings involved in every gift; focus on developing and maintaining meaningful relationships

And remember:

Strengthen your case for support:  the best cases are realistic, relevant and compelling while being supported by the facts and clearly communicating the purpose, programs and financial needs of your organization.

Celebrate your impact: Americans give an average of more than $1 billion a day to help others.  Nonprofits and donors are doing great work.

Giving makes a difference, to both giver and recipient, but we can do more.  So spread the word about the good philanthropy has done – and the good it will continue to do.

I encourage you to download the two traditional pie charts illustrating 2016 source contributions and recipients and share with Board members, your CEO and development staff.

View JB+A’s recap of Giving USA 2017  findings here.

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

About Giving USA
For over 60 years, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America, has produced comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to all charitable organizations across the United States.  Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA FoundationTM and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA FoundationTM, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources, including free highlights of each annual report at its online store at www.givingusa.org for more information.

About The Giving Institute
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. Serving clients of every size and purpose, from local institutions to international organizations, The Giving Institute member organizations embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. For information on selecting fundraising counsel, visit www.givinginstitute.org. Jeffrey Byrne has the honor of Chairing The Giving Institute Board of Directors (2015-2017).

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.

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.

Welcome Bruce Broce, JB+A’s Newest Team Member

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Bruce Broce, M.A., complements the consulting team at Jeffrey Byrne + Associates with international experience in nonprofit fundraising and an extensive development background in higher education. Throughout his career, he has shown a commitment to building comprehensive development operations and creative funding vehicles tailored to each institution’s unique objectives. A hallmark of Bruce’s work is fostering effective advisory boards, and engaging staff and constituents to further an institution’s mission.

“Bruce brings expertise in uniting staff, volunteers, donors and advocates around a nonprofit’s mission to achieve resource development goals – and this will greatly benefit our client partners,” says Jeffrey D. Byrne, JB+A President + CEO. “His substantial fundraising experience complements his passion for nonprofit success. I am excited to welcome Bruce to the JB+A team.”

As an Executive Director for the Truth Commission of Panama, he worked closely with embassies, foundations and individuals to fund the Commission’s investigation of human rights abuses carried out by the Panamanian military regime, which ruled the country from 1968-89. At K-State’s College of Architecture, Planning & Design, he was responsible for creating the College’s $75,000,000 building campaign. His time at KU Med was distinguished by building the first grateful patient program for the Department of Internal Medicine. Most recently, he oversaw efforts of the University of Missouri to reengage Kansas City-area alumni and deepen donor pools.

Bilingual in Spanish, Bruce received his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Kansas State University and an M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Temple University.

You may reach Bruce at BBroce@fundraisingJBA.com or at 816.237.1999. Welcome, Bruce!

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.

Join JB+A and SH Marketing for the “Google Ad Words for Nonprofits Webinar” June 22

By | All Posts, Events, Grants, Social Media | No Comments

Among the many benefits of using Google to advertise, the most significant benefits are user accessibility and reach. Google processes over 40,000 searches per second all around the world. Imagine having this potential at your fingertips! As daunting as it may be, you can customize your campaigns to reach as far or as near as best fits your organization. Now that millennials are the largest living generation, and given how tech savvy they’ve proven themselves to be, to not take advantage of digital marketing is to largely ignore a very significant volunteer and donation pool.

You won’t want to miss this valuable webinar on June 22 from 12- 1pm. Register here!  

What is the Google Ad Grants Program?

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Fundraising, Grants, News You Can Use, Social Media | No Comments

 

What is the Google Ad Grants Program?

Guest Contributor Stephanie Higinbotham of SH Marketing shares her insight.

 

Let’s start with the basics before jumping into any how-to-get-started guides. Google Ad Grants is a program offered exclusively through Google that provides qualifying 501(c)3 organizations with $10,000 of in-kind spend per month to spend on advertising. Nonprofits enrolled in the program are subsequently eligible to show their ads on the Google Search Network and, given they make at least one change to the account per month, the allowance will continue to renew at the start of each month.

How does this help my nonprofit?

Among the many benefits of using Google to advertise, the most significant benefits are user accessibility and reach. Google processes over 40,000 searches per second all around the world. Imagine having this potential at your fingertips! As daunting as it may be, you can customize your campaigns to reach as far or as near as best fits your organization. Now that millennials are the largest living generation, and given how tech savvy they’ve proven themselves to be, to not take advantage of digital marketing is to largely ignore a very significant volunteer and donation pool.

What types of campaigns can I run?

First and foremost, Google Grants participants are only eligible to run campaigns on the Search Network, so no Display Network, YouTube, e-commerce, etc., but if you set the account to run as such, the possibilities are endless. To get started, I recommend setting up the following before branching out into anything more complicated:

Branded campaign

This is where you can include any search terms related to your organization’s brand name. For example, if I am working on a campaign for the Kansas City Humane Society, I’ll want to include any search terms that include that phrasing. Here are some ideas:

  • Volunteer with Kansas City Humane Society
  • Donate to Humane Society
  • Adopt animals Humane Society
  • …and so on!

Volunteer campaign

  • This is self-explanatory, but you can use your Google Grant to help drive volunteer outreach.

A campaign related to your primary objective

  • If you’re an organization who works to rehabilitate homeless individuals, then include keywords as such. Customize this step to fit your organization’s purpose and needs.

Have more questions? Feel free to contact me! I love making new friends and teaching nonprofit professionals about AdWords. You can reach Stephanie at stephhigmarketing@gmail.com or at 816-787-1941.

Eager to get started with your Google Grant? JB+A and SH Marketing are hosting a Google Ad Words Webinar on June 22 from 12-1 pm.  Register here for the webinar and we’ll send you a free set-up guide for Google Ad Words with simple step-by-step instructions!

Women in Philanthropy: Where Are We Headed?

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By Katie Lord, Vice President

What are some of the complexities, challenges and contradictions you see in women’s philanthropy today? What do you want this narrative in the 21st century to include?

On March 14th and 15th more than 300 women congregated in Chicago to address these very issues, and I was one of them.  My participation in the 2017 “Dream. Dare. Do. Women, Philanthropy and Civil Society” Symposium made me very aware of the diverse array of women participating in philanthropy, and even more committed to strengthening our role in the sector.  This event is hosted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Dr. Deborah Mesch was the chair of this year’s event. Dr. Mesch presented “Women in Philanthropy” last year at the JB+A-sponsored Nonprofit Connect 501 (c) Success National Speaker Series.

Held every three years, this two-day symposium brings women philanthropists, fundraisers, funders and organizations together to discuss advancing women-related fundraising causes, women working in the field of philanthropy and raising the profile of women donors and philanthropists.  As part of this year’s focus, attendees were exposed to ways women can dream, dare and do more to advance women at all levels of the field through specific channels of change.

As part of the “dream” section, discussions centered around organizational flexibility to change, including addressing gender and generational differences head on with our donors and constituents, embracing risk-taking in our organizations through venture philanthropy, innovative programming and collaborations with other nonprofits as well as public organizations.

Next, participants were asked to “dare” to think outside the box of traditional philanthropy through emerging nontraditional verticals, including pursuing social entrepreneurship partnerships in business and startup communities, social impact investing partnerships within the financial sector, and the rise of giving circles and collaborations through community foundations and special interest/affinity groups.

Finally, we were challenged to go back home and “do more.” This includes bringing women philanthropists and organizations to larger audiences and making sure we are having a seat at the table at all levels of organizational involvement.  Women still are underrepresented on nonprofit boards, in executive positions within foundations and nonprofit organizations and are often left out of the donor cultivation process, even though most are the key decision makers for financial and philanthropic decisions within their households.

This conversation is timely. With access to more wealth than ever before—some say as much as $13.2 trillion in North America alone—women’s voices, leadership and resources are needed more than ever to address the pressing challenges in our country and around the world.  I know the conversation will continue with this Symposium attendee.  I am grateful for the support of the Women in Philanthropy Institute and the research it provides to help cultivate women donors and to help move the needle.  If you would like additional information on the topics discussed at the Symposium, or are interested in moving the needle, please contact me at klord@fundraisingjba.com or at 816-237-1999.

The Customer (Donor) Is Always Right!

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Nonprofit professionals will tell you that nonprofits exist to meet the needs of our constituents. While that is absolutely true, we also have to maintain strong relationships with our donors who fund the programs that serve our constituents. When you think about it, customer service and donor stewardship are not so different. So how can we utilize the key principles of customer service to develop better relationships with our donors? Here are JB+A’s “Top 5 Customer Service Tips” to make every donor feel like your only donor.

1. Communication is Key
In the for-profit sector, effective and regular communication ensures that customers come back. Why should the nonprofit sector be any different? In fact, there’s an added challenge for nonprofits in that their donors do not directly experience the services they are paying for. For-profits can sometimes get away with a lack of communication through effective branding, word of mouth, etc., but nonprofits don’t have that luxury. The promise of the next gift can only be cultivated through effective and regular communication with your donors.

2. Consider the Competition
Lots of for-profits do a competitor analysis to distinguish themselves from the competition and snatch up the market share. For nonprofits, that market share is the donor pool. There are thousands of organizations for donors to choose from – so what is your organization doing to attract and retain your donors? Outstanding customer service is an effective way for for-profits to keep customers coming back and nonprofits can do the same. Consider how you can set yourself apart. Make donating to your organization more than a pleasant experience for your donors  – an experience that goes above and beyond the organic, emotional satisfaction they get from donating. Create a stewardship program that compels your supporters to stay involved and spread the message about your organization.

3. Embed Customer Service in Your Culture
Many for-profits reward their employees for exceptional customer service and satisfaction. The most effective employee incentive programs reward creativity and initiative when going above and beyond to please the customer. Make sure your organization’s staff are committed to serving your donors as much as you – the fundraisers – are. Give them the tools and space to build their own relationships with key individuals and your donors will feel loved and recognized by the entire staff, not just the fundraisers.

4. Go Directly to the Source
For-profits utilize customer feedback in order to improve their services. Approach your donors in the same way a for-profit looking to improve its services would approach a customer. Does your donor feel properly informed about where his/her donations are going? Do they understand how their gifts are making an impact on the organization’s overall goals? Are they aware of the progress and results of your campaigns? Enhancing your donors sense of access gives them a feeling of ownership in your organization’s activities.

5. Stay Organized
Some of the best fundraisers make their supporters feel like they are the organization’s only donor. Despite the fact that nonprofit fundraisers typically juggle large portfolios of major donors simultaneously, they must be encyclopedic in their knowledge of each and every one of them. A good central donor database is key to effectively managing your donors. A  good system will ensure they aren’t contacted multiple times by different departments and your relationships with them can be tracked clearly. Most of them have built-in alert systems so your fundraisers and Executive Director can stay on top of their relationships. It’s a simply step, but it makes all the difference.