Category

Donor Cultivation

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).

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 “Case” for the Case for Support

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, News You Can Use | No Comments

By Heather Ehlert, Vice President of Client Services

For most of us, speaking confidently about our organization’s mission comes naturally. But we can best respond to the question “Why should I donate or support your organization?” after we’ve gone through the process of developing a Case for Support.  Good advocates for any organization – Board members, Executive Directors, fundraisers and program and administrative staff – will not only fully understand the Case for their organization, but will be able to eloquently share it.  This is just one reason why a strong, well-developed Case for Support is essential to your organization’s fundraising success.

Case for Support – just what is it?

The Association of Fundraising Professional’s Fundraising Dictionary defines the case for support as “the reason why an organization both needs and merits philanthropic support, usually by outlining the organization’s programs, current needs and plans.”  “Case for Support” is also a broad term, often encompassing many different end uses. Variations of an organizational Case for Support can be developed for specific types of fundraising activities – such as a Fundraising Feasibility Study (concept paper) or Capital Campaign (campaign brochure). These pieces incorporate the general summary of the organization’s activities and purpose plus items that are specific to the fundraising effort in which it will be used.

What’s your “Case” for the Case?  

A Case for Support is much more than an informational brochure that you leave with donors. It should be required reading for every one of your organization’s advocates. This includes your staff, Board members, volunteers and anyone else who could be speaking on behalf of your organization.

Aside from functioning as an educational tool, the Case for Support is the foundation from which all marketing and development collateral is based. It could be used for developing materials for an annual campaign, special event or as supplemental information for government grant and foundation proposals.

The Case for Support should be used as part of the recruitment process for new Board members and other key volunteers, in staff orientations and training events, for internal committees who may be looking at expanding or changing the types of services offered to the community and as part of the strategy when educating public officials about the organization’s role in the community.

These are just a handful of ways that a Case for Support can enhance your organization.

What goes into a Case for Support?

Before you get started, ask yourself  – Why does your organization exist? What do you do? Whom do you serve? What makes your organization unique? Your answers provide the core elements for your Case that will define your role in the community. Some critical elements that should be included in the “Case for Support” include the following:

  • Your mission (or purpose statement) and how it creates passion in your staff, Board members and volunteers
  • Your organization’s vision, values and long-range plans; your goals
  • A history of your organization, including “founding families” and other milestones
  • A listing of programs and services that you provide to the community
  • Descriptions of your programs/services stated in terms of the impact they have had in your community over the last three years, and your projected impact in the near future (number of people served, outcomes achieved, economic impacts or impacts stated in other terms that are consistent with the mission and goals of your organization)
  • Your financial strength, or capacity to do the work you do – this demonstrates your financial stability and good stewardship of donors’ funds
  • A list of board members, other key volunteers, staff and donors

The first of JB+A’s Six Criteria for Success in fundraising is A Case for Support that is Realistic, Relevant and Compelling. A fact-based and compelling story will have urgency, significance and appeal.  An effective Case for Support is specific in scope and will clearly communicate the purpose, programs and financial needs of the organization.  It will explain why the organization seeks funding and will demonstrate potential benefits to stakeholders.

Facts are all well and good, but be sure to use these facts to tell a human story that moves people to get involved. Speak to a supporter of your organization and find out what they love about your mission. Interview an individual served by your organization – what does it mean to them to have this resource in the community?

A short, sweet and compelling Case is your key to success. Put yourself in your prospective donors’ shoes and ask yourself, “What would YOU want to know in order to drop everything and help them make a difference?”

Time, Talent, and Treasure: Part Three of a Three-Part Series

By | Boards + Leadership, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Stewardship, Volunteers | No Comments

By Katie Lord, Vice President 

In this series we have examined both “Time and Talent” as it relates to the “Time, Talent, and Treasure” paradigm in nonprofit donor management and cultivation.  This final segment of “Treasure” is often the one that we, as nonprofits, are most interested and influenced by because it affects our pressing financial goals.  It can often be to our detriment to focus too much on “Treasure” and, in so doing, approach our donor’s “treasure” in a transactional way, without respecting and acknowledging generational differences and preferences of how to cultivate the gift of “Treasure.”

When approaching our donors about giving their “treasure,” remember that in order to create lasting bonds and build solid, long-term relationships we must have conversations with our donors about their “time” and “talent,” which they may also be willing to give.  Research has consistently shown that donors who give treasure combined with time or talent are much more engaged for longer periods of time.  Through the combination of treasure, time and talent, it becomes easier to steward our donors through extended communication and demonstrations of their efforts and how it impacts the overall mission of our organizations.

What is Treasure?

“Treasure,” as it relates to the big three of “Time, Talent and Treasure,” often seems to be the easiest to define and measure by most common practices.  What is treasure, if not the dollars that our donors donate to us and invest in our cause?  Treasure is the easiest to track, as most of us have systems and processes in place to receive, acknowledge and report donations to our organizations and Boards.  It is important to note that the very experience of giving treasure can make or break repeat donations, but that is for another article.  As we take a closer look at “treasure,” the generational differences about how treasure is given are vast.  By acknowledging these differences, we are better able to meet the needs and expectations of all of our donors which ultimately benefits our organizations in the broadest and best possible way.

Generation to Generation: The Boomers

When beginning to examine the generational differences in the giving of “treasure” it is easier to look first at the Baby Boomers.  We have the most experience and data for this generation to date and their giving habits have influenced our sector greatly. However, the giving of this generation, and its long hold as our most generous treasure givers, has not prepared us for the shifts we are seeing in the giving habits of other generations.

Boomers often give their “treasure” first and their “time” and “talent” second.  This post-war generation grew up knowing about the sacrifices their parents made for the war effort.  Sharing their “treasure” with their neighbors and country was ingrained in them from an early age.  Giving was an accepted expectation and giving on any level was appreciated.  This is a generation that does not expect major fanfare for their giving efforts, but who do value the donor acknowledgement in a timely fashion

For many Boomers the motivation to give to organizations that matter to them is “because they always have,” often to the point they may not even know why they continue to donate years later.  A perfect example of this is my own mother.  My mother gives to an organization that was important to her mother and she has kept up the tradition.  When I asked her why she still gives to them, even though her own giving priorities are different, her answer is “because it was important to my parents and I just always have.”

Boomers have been your most loyal annual fund donors by focusing their “treasure” on annual gifts.  Many Boomers are past the prime of their peak giving years, but many continue to work and still have large amounts of “treasure” to give and share.  Boomers appreciate being “cultivated” for their gifts in traditional ways with personal visits, on site tours and communication from staff.  As Boomers are starting to age and to live on fixed incomes post retirement, now is the time to focus on planned giving and legacy contributions with this generation.

The Gen Xers

Gen Xers, on the other hand, are truly in the middle between Baby Boomers and Millennials and exhibit far more balance in their “treasure” giving.  They usually have three to five causes that are important to them based on personal experiences or interests.  They give to organizations not only their “treasure,” but also their “time” and “talent.”  Gen Xers are a generation where all of their treasures and giving work together to make the biggest impact they can in areas of greatest interest and need.  They saw the giving of their parents, but want to be less passive in the giving of their “treasure.”  Therefore, Gen Xers combine their dollars with time and board service; staying longer term with their organizations than the Millennial generation.  Your Gen X givers will want to see their impact of “Time, Talent, and Treasure” in different ways through annual reports, metric measurements against goals and objectives and how it all relates to a long term strategic plan.

The Elusive Millennial

Millennials, on the other hand, give completely differently than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers.  They first like to give their “time” and then, if they see an impact, their “treasure.”  This is partly because Millennials are not currently in their highest earning years, but also because they value their “time” as a commodity and therefore part of their “treasure” to give.  Through stewarding Millennials to give “time” and then a follow-up with a small gift solicitation, you have a better chance of slowly upping their giving over time with incremental moves illustrating their impact and value immediately, while simultaneously capturing their longer-term attention.

Another unique trait of Millennials is that they are very social in their giving; supporting causes of friends and expecting their friends to support them and their causes in a reciprocal way.  Thus, Millennials are perfect for peer-to-peer giving campaigns.  They usually have large social and business networks that they are comfortable tapping into and their competitive nature is a strong incentive.  When soliciting “treasure” from a Millennial, more weight is given by them on who is making the ask of them at the beginning of cultivation and how it makes them feel versus the facts and figures of a campaign.  Due to their lower disposable income at this time and their social giving tendencies, Millennials disperse their “treasure” to many organizations in smaller gifts.

A word of caution when working with Millennials; even though they are not currently in their highest earning years, they will be at some point.  Millennials have a short attention span, but a long memory.  They often devote themselves to organizations for several years and then switch causes.  It is important to show them appreciation through acknowledgement, an opportunity to become more involved through junior board service or the achievement of higher levels of knowledge and responsibility in service to the organization.

Conclusions

In closing, as with “Time” and “Talent,” the giving of “Treasure” differs among the three current generations and each has their own unique nuances.  By understanding and recognizing that solicitations and approach for each generation should be different, you allow your organization to cultivate and steward your donors by meeting them where they are.  Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials have differing interpretations of the nonprofit paradigm of “Time, Talent, and Treasure.”  We, as fundraising professionals for our organizations, must adapt to the expectations, current economic state, and personal interests of our multi-generational donor base in order to cultivate long-term, consistent donor relationships and financial growth for our organizations.

 

 

 

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.

Growing Popularity of Donor-Advised Funds: Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund Tops Philanthropy 400

By | All Posts, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, News You Can Use | No Comments

photo_73754_landscape_370x247This year’s release of the Philanthropy 400 confirmed what many nonprofit professionals have suspected over the past few years – the way we give and the way we raise money is changing. In The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual ranking of nonprofits that raise the most from individuals, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund claimed the number one spot collecting $4.6 billion in 2015. Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund is an arm of asset-management firm Fidelity Investments. In the 25 years since its launch, it has become one of the biggest grantmakers in the country awarding $3 billion to nonprofits in 2015. In the last year alone, Fidelity donors have recommended grants to over 106,000 charities, with over 220,000 nonprofits supported since its inception in 1991.

A year ago, as we celebrated our 15th anniversary of nonprofit fundraising success, JB+A hosted speakers Matt Nash, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Client Experience at Fidelity Charitable, and Debbie Wilkerson, President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, in exploring the role of donor-advised funds in the powerful future of philanthropy.

Jeffrey, Matt and Debbie “unshrouded” some of the mystery surrounding donor-advised funds by explaining the dynamics of donor and fund relations, the benefits to donors who use donor-advised funds and the continued need for donor stewardship. (Check out the JB+A anniversary event here.)

Fidelity’s top standing in the annual ranking is significant:  it is the first time an organization that primarily raises money for donor-advised funds has held the top spot. It’s also worth noting United Way has consistently held the top spot and has been usurped only twice since the list started in 1991. This year, United Way saw a 4% drop in funds raised while Fidelity saw a 20% increase.  Fidelity credits its rise to the top to investments in technology, claiming its online platform has turned charitable giving into an easy digital transaction that allows for more transparency and easier record keeping.

But not everyone is celebrating this trend. Critics of donor-advised funds argue money can sit in these accounts for years, but could be used for critical causes now. Others say these funds look to the future by offering donors alternative ways to be charitable. Despite all the differing perspectives surrounding donor-advised funds, data shows they aren’t going anywhere and are quickly becoming an attractive option to the modern, busy donor.

Therefore, it is critical for nonprofit professionals to understand donor-advised funds, remain aware of trends and data and learn how to make this giving vehicle part of their fundraising efforts. For both donors and nonprofits to fully benefit from the powerful capacity of donor-advised funds, JB+A recommends focusing efforts in three areas:

  1. Creating a culture for investment.

The movement happening in local and federal government will affect what we do in daily practice. We need to carefully follow these happenings and advocate for policy that supports a culture of long-term giving.

  1. Providing donors with options.

By offering different mechanisms or vehicles for giving, we can encourage charitable giving and facilitate the process in a way that is comfortable for donors. We especially need to capitalize on new technologies that enable maximum giving potential such as the giving widget, which encourages giving on a nonprofit’s website through a donor-advised fund.

  1. Continuing to tell our stories.

As donor-advised funds grow in popularity, we must remember that behind these giving vehicles, there are people. In fact, 92% of donor-advised funds are not anonymous, so we must engage these stakeholders by sharing stories of all the good works nonprofits do.

#GivingTuesday: Is your organization ready to roll?

By | Donor Cultivation, Events, Fundraising, Social Media | No Comments

giving_tuesday_logostacked-2016Now entering its fifth year, #GivingTuesday is officially a global charitable movement. Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, following the consumer frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a day dedicated to giving back.

It’s a simple idea with an enormous impact. Fueled by the power of social media, #GivingTuesday brings individuals and organizations together online where missions can be shared and donors cultivated. Last year, 700,000 people donated over $116 million in one day through one medium – social media. It’s an innovative and creative way to kick off the charitable season and raise awareness for your organizations’ mission.

If your organization is participating in #GivingTuesday this year, then you have already started pushing this on social media and your followers are ready to go on November 29. You may have a specific project that has #GivingTuesday appeal, or you just want to raise general funds.

Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of this annual day of giving:

  1. Set Goals – Do you want to raise awareness?  Attract volunteers?  Raise dollars for a specific program?  Clearly defining your goals will help you map out tactics and plan your messages.
  1. Plan your Tactics/Messages – Write your tweets and posts in advance and work them into a timeline.
  1. Assign Roles & Responsibilities – depending on the complexity of your campaign, make sure your staff is in place to execute your plan and clearly defined roles and responsibilities are in place.

If you are just starting out with #GivingTuesday, be sure to read our #GivingTuesday Guide which includes great tips for building a plan from scratch. If you’re new to #GivingTuesday, set your calendar for November 29 and take this opportunity to observe how other organizations utilize this innovative fundraising opportunity. We’re sure you will come away inspired and ready to go for 2017.

“Time, Talent and Treasure”: Part Two of a Three-Part Series

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Stewardship, Volunteers | No Comments

Katie LordKatie Lord, Vice President

As far as nonprofit jargon is concerned, we have all probably used, or at least heard, the phrase “Time, Talent and Treasure” when referring to how we can engage individuals with our organizations.  While it may seem to be a fairly basic concept, defining it is becoming an increasingly complex matter, as definitions have evolved among different generations. In this three-part series, we will examine the components of this trifecta  individually, and emphasize how your organization can effectively create programs right now that can be easily implemented to grow your base of supporters today, tomorrow and in the future.

Talent is the second segment in this three-part series examining the “Time, Talent and Treasure” paradigm as it relates to nonprofit management. As we continue to take a deeper look at each component individually, an examination of how your organization can implement strategies that effectively utilize the “talents” of your leaders and impact your current recruitment efforts can have an immediate impact on your bottom line.

(If you missed Part 1’s exploration of “Time”, click here to access the post.)

In the “Time, Talent and Treasure” trifecta of support that we use in nonprofits to describe and measure the value of contributions that our volunteers or staff provide to our organization, “talent” seems to be the hardest to define in a universal context or to measure on a scale of impact.  This is due to its ambiguous nature and differing definitions based on the uniqueness and needs of each organization.  For the purpose of this article, we are going to define “talent” as “contributions of an in-kind service that requires special skills or knowledge to perform.”

“Talent” is tied to both “time and treasure” as it requires the donating of “services and specialized knowledge” that take time to perform and implement and would require payment if performed on the open market. “Talent” is a more refined form of volunteer service as it usually provides a business-related or operational-focused service as opposed to program support.  Such “talent” directly effects budget line service costs and can include both technical and professional services.

What is unique about “talent” is that each generation has specific talents that can be utilized by a nonprofit organization.  Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers possess a vast majority of skill sets and talents that seldom overlap and are mostly unique to their era, but are complementary to each other.  When combined through Board or committee work, each generation offers great insights and the ability to accomplish and implement a more cohesive organizational business plan that will allow the nonprofit to achieve higher strategic goals at lower costs.

For example, a Baby Boomer may perform an audit, management consulting, or financial services at no charge and be able to provide valuable sector specific expert level information, as they changed jobs and sectors less often.  A Gen Xer usually has changed jobs more often than Boomers, but less so than Millennials, and are often more likely to be self-starters, middle managers and business owners, making them excellent project managers.  Millennials know a little about a lot of different sectors as they have been exposed to more cross training and job transitions.  They have skills focusing on social media, digital marketing, information technology and event planning.  This is not to say that there are not cross-generational specialties as there are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, the “talents” of each generation are significant to a nonprofit’s organizational success and growth.

Thus, it is very important for nonprofit organizations and leaders to not only look at the skill sets of potential Board members and volunteers when recruiting, but to also look at diversity in age, gender and race.  It is a common mistake by nonprofit leadership to only look at “treasure” when acquiring new Board members and volunteers.  While giving capacity is a factor, it should not be weighted more than “talent,” as a high degree of “talent” is usually a predictor of later success and “treasure.”  Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have used their talents to grow into their ability to give “treasure” in their higher earning years. However, that can decrease in retirement with fixed incomes looming, creating a shift in the giving of “treasure” to the increased giving of “talent.”  Gen Xers are beginning their highest earning years and the peaks of their careers, but still wish to contribute in ways that complement their dollars.  Finally, Millennials are in their early earning years and will grow into their higher earning capabilities, but are eager to contribute now, and the best way to do that is through their “time” and “talent.”  Those organizations that seek out Millennials now will see big returns later.

In closing, the three current working generations are ripe with talent if you know where to look and how to assess “talent” based on your organization’s goals and objectives.  The most talented people in a particular field are easy to find: just look in business publications, LinkedIn and trade publications.  The same names will most likely keep popping-up.  Remember, it is wise to include the younger generation now so as to cement those relationships early and to include all levels of “talent” and professions.  By doing so, you will limit the effects of “talent” turnover and create a built-in succession plan of talented leaders within your organization.  Also, a generation’s gift of “time” and “talent” will ultimately increase their commitment to your organization resulting in the gift of “treasure.”

Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice

By | All Posts, Campaign Planning + Management, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research, Technology | No Comments

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

I truly believe it is “fundraising malpractice” when nonprofits do not do their “homework” about prospective donors.  Much more than learning about the estimated wealth and capacity of a prospect, research can reveal information about philanthropic giving history and involvement as well as natural partners and connections. Then add the “human touch” of the prospect review committee process, and the result is powerful quantitative and qualitative data to help inform strategy development for prospective donors.

I am a big proponent of using philanthropic and wealth screenings in campaign planning (and I am speaking about this topic at the upcoming DonorPerfect Community Network Conference in Philadelphia on September 19.) They offer a valuable data, help you determine when/if more in-depth individualized research is necessary and provide information beneficial beyond the campaign, that can help with strategies for planned giving and annual fund.

Here’s my simple and universal process for utilizing philanthropic and wealth screenings to strengthen campaigns:

  1. Determine your “end use”
    You cannot simply import the results back into your database, never look at them again and expect magic to happen. Be disciplined in defining how you are going to use the results to empower your fundraising activities. Do you need help in determining target ask amounts? Do you need to know more about giving histories, to determine if prospects might have an affinity for your mission?  Do you need to better understand the prospects’ peer networks to help you develop appropriate ways to connect with them? Before you select a screening vendor and before you select the screening product(s) to purchase, carefully think through how you need to use the data.
  1. “Screen” your vendor and product options
    Wealth and philanthropic screenings are investments – of both time and money – that merit a careful selection process. There are several vendor options, so do your homework. What is their methodology? What are their deliverables? Is education/training included? Do they verify their results? How long will the screening process take? Can the data be easily imported/integrated into your database? Do they support that process?  Ask for references. Then call them. And don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  Screenings are also opportunities to clean up your database. There are valuable services available that will assess and address the accuracy and completeness of the contact information in your records (such as address verification and email, phone and address appends.)
  1. Select records to screen
    It may not be cost effective – or necessary – to screen your whole database. The flip side is that you don’t know what you don’t know – screenings often uncover wealth you never knew you had in your database. Your consultant or screening vendor can and should help you select the records you want to run. And it is imperative to provide all the fields the screening vendor requires in their upload template.  (Garbage in typically means garbage out.)
  1. Interpret the results
    A lot of information comes back in a screening, so you’ll want to make sure you are able to understand it, digest it and use it the way you need. A good screening vendor will help you do just that – and will be accessible to you beyond a 30-minute webinar or 30-page guide. You not only need to be able to interpret the data yourself, but you’ll need to interpret it for other members of your organization – both staff and volunteers. You’ll also need to determine what is appropriate to share and how.
  1. Integrate the data results
    Again, this doesn’t mean just importing the results into your database. You have to make the data work for you. Integrating the screening results means synthesizing the information and incorporating it into your donor development efforts through the steps below.
  1. Prospect review committee
    A small and select group of volunteers and staff, the prospect review committee is a most effective – and personal – way to rate prospects, as a complement to screenings and in-depth research profiles. Composed of those “in the know” in your organization’s community, this highly-confidential group works early on in the campaign planning process to rank capacity and potential interest (not just for giving but for volunteering as well.) The committee works in sessions over several days or a couple of weeks, but the process is fast-paced and highly-facilitated (typically by staff or a consultant.) The end result is a prospect list that is “categorically” ranked/prioritized and supported by anecdotal information.
  1. In-depth research profiles
    Some prospects merit additional, in-depth research. These profiles contain expanded details about a prospect’s education, employer, professional career, family, hobbies/personal interests and civic/community activities. The information gathered should only be information that affects a person’s ability or inclination to give: relevant and publicly available. 
  1. Appraisals/Solicitation Amounts
    Determining appropriate ask amounts is a combination of several factors:  the capacity recommendations/target ask amounts provided in the screening results, the anecdotal and ranking information provided by the prospect committee review, the prospect’s relationship with your organization and last but certainly not least, good judgement.
  1. Strategies
    Now you’ve got a solid foundation for developing personalized and customized plans for prospect cultivation and solicitation.  A “good ask” is more than just an amount. Knowing through whom, how and when to approach a prospect makes for more effective relationship-building.  Strategy is about encouraging and empowering the prospect to become an important part of your organization’s mission.

The resources and methods for prospect research may feel endless, overwhelming and even cost prohibitive. But it does not have to be that way.  If you use research information appropriately, there can and should be a very valuable return on your investment.