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

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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

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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.

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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.

What is the Google Ad Grants Program?

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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.

Giving and the Golden Years: A Special Report from GUSA

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The JB+A Team was delighted to attend The Giving Institute’s March Meeting in Las Vegas last week for two days of insight, discussion and projection for the philanthropic sector. The Giving Institute is designed to help elevate the fundraising consulting and nonprofit services industry and enhance philanthropy across the United States. JB+A is the only Kansas City firm to be accepted to The Giving Institute and has been a member since 2005.

The March Meeting brings together Giving Institute members from all over the country for governance meetings and engaging educational sessions. This year’s meeting also offered a Mentor Series for professionals new to consulting. The Mentor Series involved a full day of educational sessions and workshops for an intimate group of twenty burgeoning consultants.

As Chair of the Board of Directors for The Giving Institute, Jeffrey Byrne opened and moderated Giving in the Golden Years, a live webcast on philanthropy and aging services. The panel included John Feather, Chief Executive Officer of Grantmakers In Aging, and Tom Hofmann, Ohio Living Chief Foundation Officer. John and Tom discussed and took questions on the Giving USA Special Report, Giving and the Golden Years: The Role of Private Giving in Aging Services Organizations, which provides a first-of-its-kind benchmark of the national aging services landscape, including information on state-by-state coverage and how these critical organizations are supported financially.

Here are a few core takeaways from this fascinating discussion on the future of aging services.

Aging is a Hard Sell

“Children are an investment. Old people are an expense.” This is what a philanthropist told one of our panelists recently. Aging is a reality that we tend to have trouble facing and this tendency to put other social services above aging has left us unprepared for the demand. According to their report, only 3% of American philanthropy goes to aging and only 2% from foundations.

Philanthropy to the Rescue

Twenty-five years ago there was no resource for aging organizations to understand how to lead their organizations into the future, and they have suffered as a result. There has been a lag in understanding that philanthropy can have a huge impact on performance. One of the most compelling findings from the report was the untapped potential for the sector to grow and thrive if only aging organizations and their CEOs engaged philanthropy as a serious component of their strategic plans.

All About the Pitch

There is little evidence that the baby boomers and established foundations will organically shift their focus to aging services as they themselves age. And the typical sales pitch for aging services organizations isn’t compelling enough. The panelists argue that a better approach is to focus on how your organization has an impact on the community at large. As a CEO or fundraiser, ask yourself: is my aging center part of a broader context that makes the community a better place to live for everyone, not just our residents? If funders can be convinced that you are part of a bigger philanthropic picture, they will be more compelled to give.

Your Own Worst Enemy

So why have aging services organizations lagged in adopting contributed revenue as a business driver? Mainly leaders struggle to view philanthropy as a long-term investment. When money is already short, investing in a strategy that could take years to produce a ROI feels risky to many CEOs.  There is also an ongoing battle to right the mentality that launching a fundraising component is giving up and/or exploiting fragile seniors. If a CEO is ready to implement fundraising, it’s important to educate staff and the Board as to what philanthropy really means and its potential to transform the organization if it has the right buy-in. The panelists are big believers in forming task forces to change the culture of your organization from within. Find a small group of trusted supporters of your fundraising initiative to have an open dialogue with your staff and Board about philanthropy. Institutional commitment to philanthropy is the key to fundraising success!

No Time Like the Present

Uncertainty in federal budget cuts has made foundations more cautious. If major budget cuts are passed, foundations will be called upon for major support from nonprofit organizations who haven’t considered diversified sources of funding. The panelists warn that we will see more hesitation from foundations to fund major projects/programs until there is more clarity from Washington. NOW is the time to talk to all your institutional funders in your local community. But don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The bulk of your fundraising should be cultivating individual donors over a long period of time.

To listen to the recording of the webcast click here and to purchase the full report click here. 

Love is in the Air! How Couples Make Philanthropic Decisions

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By Suzanne Dicken, Associate Consultant

Forget the box of chocolates or the candlelit dinner for two this Valentine’s Day. According to Fidelity Charitable’s latest study on how couples give, philanthropy is a great way to bond with your partner. The How Couples Give report is based on a study of 694 Fidelity Charitable® donors who are married or live with a partner. The study explores how couples make giving decisions – from how they approach these choices, to how much they agree on certain aspects of giving, to who takes the lead in deciding.

What did we learn?

The key takeaway from the report is that giving is and will remain a joint decision for the majority of couples and families.

  • 81% of the donors surveyed make giving decisions as a couple and they overwhelmingly agree on those decisions
  • The majority of couples support organizations that are important to each other with only 11% saying that, at times, they disagree with their partner on which causes to support
  • 52 percent of couples discuss an overall charitable budget for the year
  • 31 percent of couples discuss what assets to contribute
  • 76 percent of couples discuss which charitable organizations to support
  • 70 percent of couples discuss how much to give to specific charitable organizations

Although most couples feel they are on the same page regarding their charitable giving, the study suggests this isn’t always the case when it comes to the mechanics of giving. Only half the donors surveyed say they discuss an overall charitable budget for the year, and less than one-third discuss what assets to contribute. Couples generally agree upon who and what to support, but not always how.

Fidelity Charitable suggests having a conversation with your significant other about giving – it’s a great way to reaffirm the values you share as a couple. (And what a fantastic way to spend the most romantic day of the year!)  To access the full report, click here.

About Fidelity Charitable

Fidelity Charitable is an independent public charity that has helped donors support more than 219,000 nonprofit organizations with more than $25 billion in grants. Established in 1991, Fidelity Charitable launched the first national donor-advised fund program. The mission of the organization is to further the American tradition of philanthropy by providing programs that make charitable giving simple, effective, and accessible. For more information about Fidelity Charitable, visit https://www.fidelitycharitable.org.

The “Case” for the Case for Support

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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?”