Category

All Posts

The Customer (Donor) Is Always Right!

By | All Posts, Commentary, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

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

By | All Posts, Giving USA, News You Can Use, Senior Living, The Giving Institute | No Comments

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. 

Creating Philanthropic Impact through Strong Nonprofits

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Legislative + Advocacy, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc. was delighted to host Kim Meredith (left), Executive Director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, as our first speaker in the 2017 501(c) Success National Speaker Series. Kim joined us on Thursday, February 23, to share her insights on social innovation and the power of philanthropy to ignite ideas and solutions for the world’s most complex problems.

In her keynote address, Kim touched on current trends in philanthropy, the benefits of bridging nonprofits and corporations and the keys to good nonprofit governance. The overarching message in Kim’s keynote address is the importance of strategic planning, thinking and innovation in effective nonprofit governance. Nonprofits have enormous potential to be catalysts for social change, but impact depends on a willingness from leadership and Boards to focus on outcome-oriented philanthropy.

Kim touched on a number of trends that are shaping the way philanthropy implements social change. Some of these trends include:

  • Place-based philanthropy – an emerging focus on community and community foundations, investing funds within a strategic area and tracking growth.
  • Ethical/responsible data use – all nonprofits should be collecting and storing data on donors and funders, but many are asking what the parameters are for the ethical and safe use of this sensitive information. There are no regulations for accountability, transparency, privacy and security surrounding data collection and it’s something more nonprofits should be considering.
  • Generational Behavior – seasoned nonprofit professionals could learn something from the next generation. A common attribute among young people is their willingness to fail and learn from their mistakes. The end result is almost always growth, development and eventually, success. Is this something that we support in the nonprofit sector? Perhaps we should.
  • Collective Impact Initiatives – an intentional way of working together and sharing information for the purpose of solving a complex problem. Participants from nonprofits, grantmaking organizations, the business community and government share a vision of change and a commitment to solve a problem by coordinating their work and agreeing on shared goals.
  • Randomized Control Trials –  bring in a scientific lens on philanthropy and show that there is evidence and research behind these big ideas fueling social change.

Nonprofit Governance Falls Short

Kim also investigated the importance of strategic planning in good nonprofit governance. Prefacing her remarks with a side-by-side comparison on nonprofit and corporate differences, Kim drove home the value of running a nonprofit in the same way a CEO would a business – with a focus on growth and development. Growth will look different for every nonprofit, but the underlying theme is the same. If you want to make an impact, set goals and make a plan to achieve those goals.

Times are Changing for Nonprofit Leaders

Following Kim’s keynote presentation, she addressed a select group of nonprofit and community leaders on how to plan for the future of their organizations. We can assume that changes in government safety net appropriations are on the horizon and nonprofits should be prepared for those cutbacks when and if they come to pass. Now is the time to prepare a contingency plan that can anticipate and address these challenges. Kim urged senior leaders to consider the following when planning for the future:

  • Composition of your Board – consider diversifying your board with multiple women, people of color and millennials. This will help your Board think differently and usher the organization into the future.
  • Mergers and partnerships – are worth considering when the right organization presents itself at the right time.
  • Engaging Board members in strategic planning – take advantage of your Board’s expertise. You should have a handful of business leaders serving on your Board. Use their knowledge to your advantage. That’s what they are there for!
  • Diversified Funding – do not rely too heavily on one source of funding. Diversified sources of funding can help you weather the storm should another economic disaster or other external factor take a toll on your funding.
  • Next Generation – In 2012-2014, 70% of millennials donated to a nonprofit and 60% volunteered their time. Millennials want to share their skills with nonprofits, but organizations need to make it easy for them to get involved. Make a plan to attract millennials to your cause.

Kim’s insight showed the immense potential of nonprofits to implement change. All it takes is commitment from us, the nonprofit professionals, to change our perspective on what good governance means and how it is implemented.

What’s Next for the 501(c) Success Series?  

Our next 501(c) Success National Speaker Series program will feature  Dr. Patrick Rooney, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research. Dr. Rooney will present the always-anticipated Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy on Friday, June 16. Watch for more details from JB+A and Nonprofit Connect in the coming months.

Love is in the Air! How Couples Make Philanthropic Decisions

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

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

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?”

Tax Reform Under President Trump: What’s Next for Nonprofits?

By | All Posts, Current Events/News, News You Can Use, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc. is a proud member of The Giving Institute, and as such, we also belong to the Charitable Giving Coalition. Formed in 2009, the Coalition is dedicated to preserving the charitable tax deduction, which is crucial to ensuring our nation’s charities receive the funds necessary to fulfill their essential philanthropic missions.

Firm President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne served as The Giving Institute’s representative to the Charitable Giving Coalition in 2015 and remains actively involved in the Coalition’s mission to ensure that the charitable deduction and other tax provisions retain their positive impact in supporting essential community services. JB+A will continue to monitor situations that could affect charitable giving incentives and update you with developments or when calls to action are encouraged.

With days to go until the Trump administration takes office, The Charitable Giving Coalition is working hard to ensure the future of the nonprofit sector. Over the past few years, our sector has been subject to increasing scrutiny, and with talk of impending tax reform under the new administration, it is crucial that our government representatives understand the impact nonprofits have on people and communities.

What is at stake?

Charitable giving incentives, particularly the charitable deduction. Congress enacted the charitable giving deduction in 1917 and since then, no other tax provision has generated a more positive public impact. It offers a vital and unique incentive to taxpayers that, in 2015, helped generate more than $373 billion (the highest total ever recorded over the past 60 years) to support charitable causes (GivingUSA).

Consider the following:

  • Nonprofits generate $1.1 trillion every year providing human services
  • 1 in 10 Americans work for a nonprofit, providing 13.5 million jobs
  • For every $1 subject to the charitable deduction, communities see $3 in benefits

Still, some politicians have suggested lowering or even eliminating the deduction in order to reduce the federal deficit. Proponents of preserving the deduction feel very strongly that the government cannot and will not find a better way to leverage private investment in nonprofit and worthy causes.

Why now?

All new administrations bring change, but President-elect Trump’s campaign promises suggest a major overhaul to the current tax code is in the works. We know that taxpayers adjust their charitable contributions based on changes in the tax code. As the President-elect’s team considers restrictions on itemized deductions ($100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples/families filing jointly), it is vital that charitable giving is exempt from these restrictions. If not, the incentive to give is no longer there and the future of many nonprofits is at risk.

What can you do?

The Charitable Giving Coalition is already taking action to preserve the charitable giving deduction. You can read their letter to President-elect Trump here. As nonprofit professionals, philanthropic leaders and American citizens it is also our duty (and privilege) to interact with, educate and influence our representatives in government. There are many ways you can advocate for the philanthropic sector. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Jeffrey Byrne’s piece on Advocacy in Philanthropy from the JB+A archives.

Our sector is lucky to have a number of highly competent bodies monitoring situations like this and advocating in support of nonprofits, but it’s up to all of us to make sure they succeed. To learn more about the Charitable Giving Coalition and how you can take action to preserve the charitable giving deduction, visit http://protectgiving.org/.

Essentials to Starting a Planned Giving Program

By | All Posts, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | One Comment

John Marshall
Senior Vice President

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak with many organizations about the merits of including Planned Giving as a component of their overall fundraising program. These have been organizations that were primarily in the process of considering the addition of Planned Giving but were somewhat hesitant to “take the plunge” for any number of reasons. Mostly, such hesitancy was due to their lack of understanding about this unique fundraising opportunity as well as their uncertainty about how to get started.

I have always maintained that every nonprofit should include Planned Giving in its fundraising universe in some fashion. It could be as minor as placing the words “Have you considered leaving our organization in your will?” on the bottom of your organization’s letterhead.

If you are at that stage where you believe now is the time to get started, allow me to offer up what I feel are five essentials for you to consider as you start the process.

  1. Make certain your Board and senior staff understand Planned Giving and are FULLY SUPPORTIVE.

Patience is absolutely required and the organization’s leadership will need to understand that planned gifts do not instantaneously materialize. They take time to be properly cultivated and may not be realized for quite some time. It is important leadership understand that planned gifts are what will help sustain the organization over the long run and can provide the resources required to create the “margin of excellence” every nonprofit desires.

  1. Identify your target audience.

“Aim at nothing and you will hit your target every time” is a phrase that was drilled into my head very early in my career. You must develop a cultivation list of those who are likely to be responsive to your organization through the various opportunities of Planned Giving – usually those who have a history with the organization and who have shown loyal financial support for an extended period of time. Those to consider for your cultivation list should include:

  • Consistent donors. Giving for five or more years or those who have given $1,000 or more at any time
  • Current and former Board members
  • Current and former volunteers
  • Current and former staff

And when considering who to identify, remember the letters F-L-A-G:

  • Frequency
  • Longevity
  • Age
  • Gender (women tend to make more bequests….men make more planned gifts by way of trusts)
  1. Determine which Planned Giving vehicles you can most comfortably offer and manage.

Please don’t promote to your constituents an opportunity you cannot manage/deliver. If you simply want to start by dipping your toe into the pool, encourage participation by way of a bequest. If you wish to take a more proactive approach, then consider the following:

  • Charitable Gift Annuity
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Life Insurance
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Life Estate Contracts

If you decide to be more comprehensive in what you offer, I heartily recommend that you go to great lengths to enlist the support of professionals who can advise you in any number of ways to ensure that you are providing accurate information to your constituents. I have always recruited what I refer to as a PAC group…..Professional Advisory Committee consisting of those whose expertise relates to the estate planning arena. (Attorneys, Estate Planners, CPAs, Real Estate Agents, Life Underwriters, etc.).

  1. Determine how you will promote Planned Giving.

If you envision promoting your Planned Giving program in more ways than simply including the aforementioned sentence on your letterhead, you might want to create a promotional program which could include:

  • Direct Mail
  • Newsletters – include an article in your main newsletter (possibly with a testimonial from a donor)
  • Seminars – an opportunity to invite the professional community to participate
  • All of the above
  1. Make certain to pay particular attention to internal management issues.

It is essential that you have all your ducks properly lined up, otherwise, unwanted cracks in your Planned Giving program floor may start to appear. Consider the following:

  • Personnel: who will be assigned oversight for the Planned Giving program?
  • Budget: the creation of a separate and appropriate Planned Giving budget
  • Policies and procedures should be created to establish the types of planned gifts that are and are not acceptable, gift limitations, donor confidentiality, etc.
  • Buy-in from the finance department: developing a solid relationship with your finance department in an effort to ensure clarity of understanding on policies and procedures as well as communication and accounting for deferred gifts

Taking the plunge into Planned Giving should be accomplished only after very careful consideration occurs among the organization’s stakeholders/decision makers. Properly orchestrated, the Planned Giving program can provide wonderful benefits to your donors today and to your organization in the future.

John F. Marshall is Senior Vice President with JB+A, Inc. with more than 40 years of fundraising development experience and expertise. You can contact him at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or call him at 816.237.1999.

Red Kettle Reflections

By | All Posts, Commentary, Fundraising, Social Services, Stewardship, Volunteers | One Comment

john-marshallJohn F. Marshall
Senior Vice President

Show me an Officer’s son or daughter who has no recollection of experiences with Kettles and I’ll show you someone who has unfortunately lost their memory. Every son or daughter of the regiment could sit down and share an interesting array of stories centering around either ringing a bell or playing a brass instrument on the Red Kettle. That certainly was my experience growing up in an Army home where, once we were done with Thanksgiving, we would find ourselves the very next day standing next to a Red Kettle. I guess you could say that it was just expected. I certainly have a long history of serving on the Red Kettle and take great pleasure in sharing a few favorite recollections with you.

The Very Early Years
I couldn’t have been more than eight when I received my “baptism” into bell ringing. My father was the DYPS (the P has since been dropped) in Pittsburgh and one afternoon he suggested that I come with him downtown where he was going to “man the Kettle.” He brought along his old, beat up cornet and was joined around the Red Kettle by two others. “Here, Johnnie, take this bell and when we are not playing, ring it.” So, not really knowing what was going on, I did. The trio played some pretty interesting renditions of what should have been fairly easy Christmas tunes from the same green book and I got to stand there and watch as people threw coins and stuffed dollar bills into the pot. Now THAT was pretty neat! After we had finished, Dad packed up his cornet and we carried the Red Kettle back to the car where he placed it on my lap for the drive home. It was really heavy!

The Corps Cadet Project
“Now next Saturday kids, we are going to do a special project. So be here at the corps by noon at which time we will travel to our special Corps Cadet Red Kettle location,” stated our leader, Mrs. Mildred Hostettler. “And be sure that you dress warm: it may be cold,” she added. I looked at Don and he looked at me with an expression that said “we are in big trouble.” The next Saturday, we met in the lobby of the old Cincinnati Citadel corps and piled into the corps wagon (back in those days, it actually could hold up to 30 children) and were off to our special spot. Four hours later, and after having endured temperatures which I swear were well below zero, we returned to the corps for hot chocolate and cookies, and with a bulging Red Kettle. “Great job, kids; you have done a wonderful service,” stated the corps officer, Major Allen Weyant. I can’t recall if I had any hot chocolate but I do remember that it wasn’t until two days later that the feeling in my hands returned.

Macy’s and the World’s Largest Red Kettle
Now, I don’t really know if it was the world’s largest kettle, but we said it was. It was very likely the heaviest one as it was a 2′ high and 3′ wide cast iron monument to Christmas fundraising. It was the property of the New York Metro Division where my father was the DC at the time. It had been in operation for a number of years and every year it would receive a fresh coat of bright red paint in anticipation of being positioned just across from the main entrance of the Macy’s Department store on 34th and Seventh Avenue. It was a terrific place to have such a huge kettle given the enormous volume of shoppers going in and out of Macy’s, especially on a Saturday. That Red Kettle brought in a ton of money (literally!) and became especially full when a brass band was playing.

I was barely fifteen and just starting to get the hang of playing the tuba and my brother Norm, four years older and a trombonist, was also a regular in what was at least a quartette at Macy’s, but usually an octet on Saturdays. What was so great was that the majority of our group was comprised of younger New York Staff Band members, each a “wailer” in his own right. I cannot begin to tell you how awed I was to be a part of this group. And the music! One of the guys had a series of terrific arrangements which we would whip out and entertain the crowd with. Great stuff, but hard to play! I must admit that it was challenging to keep up with the older fellas, but I somehow always seemed to finish when they did. We would be there for eight hours and had so much fun playing and bantering with shoppers that the time just flew by.

Norman and transporting the Red Kettle
I failed to mention that brother Norm was also at that time a seasonal employee for the Division and responsible for seeing that at the end of the day the World’s Largest Kettle was placed into a van and transported the 20 blocks back to 14th Street where it was to be emptied, the money bagged and the pot stored until the next day. Well, one Saturday night, as Macy’s was closing at about 9:30 p.m., Norm was in a particular hurry. “John, help me throw the kettle into the van; I need to get going!” he said. So, we somehow managed to get the kettle into the back of the front-seat-only van and took off for 14th Street, at a pretty rapid pace. Despite my suggestion that he slow down, Norm was not to be deterred. He was in a particular hurry on this Saturday night, for whatever reason I have never learned. So here we are, me riding shotgun and Mario Andretti behind the wheel. The words “Norm, slow down, man” were no sooner out of my mouth than he executed a far-too-fast left hand turn which resulted in the World’s Largest Kettle crashing through the rear doors of the van and bouncing onto the intersection of Seventh and 35th where all of its contents spilled onto the street. I’ll never forget the look of horror on Norm’s face as he was running all over frantically grabbing at flying bills, many of which were already on their way to the Bronx . We retrieved as much as we could and made our way to headquarters, this time at a far more deliberate speed! I never did find out what happened the following Monday when Norm had to explain why Saturday’s proceeds were lower than expected. I suspect that it couldn’t have been good!

Asbury College
My very first fundraising job was with the Development Department within the Metro New York’s Divisional Headquarters. I was 28 at the time and literally started on the bottom rung of the fundraising ladder. Just prior to my first Christmas there, I was assigned the task of traveling to Wilmore, KY in an effort to recruit Asbury College students as bell ringers for the Division. I was fortunate to have Lt. Col. David Moulton at Asbury (he was the ASF coordinator at the time) as my liaison and he was terrific in helping me to meet my recruitment goal of 50 students. While recruiting, I created a special “Kettle Op’s” team, one which I would personally supervise and which would be placed within the borough of Queens. This was to be an elite group, to consist of eight young men who were willing to work very long hours but with the promise of earning a correspondingly handsome level of pay. I interviewed several students, assigned most to corps and recruited what I thought was a terrific group of ambitious and competitive young men. I was able to get them situated in one of the Queens corps and they started the day after Thanksgiving. Two of them actually worked almost until the last possible moment on December 24th. That experience was among the most rewarding of my fundraising career. These young men were tireless and for the most part kept a cheerful and positive experience, despite the fact that Monday – Friday, they began in the subway stations at 6:30 a.m. and concluded at 9:00 p.m.. Like these students, I was exhausted when the experience was over, but felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment and appreciation for a team of truly special young men.

Chicago Staff Band
I had the privilege to play with the CSB 1967 – 1974. It was a wonderful experience and one I shall always cherish. Well, maybe except for one particular experience. You see, every December, the band would choose a Saturday to go caroling within neighborhoods located along Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, an incredibly wealthy area. Now, this did not involve a Red Kettle, but we did play as we moved outside from one very tall apartment building to another. As you might imagine, the temperature across the street from Lake Michigan in December is anything but temperate. So, here we are a group of about 30-40 uniformed icicles going from one high rise to another. The idea was for people to put cash or a check in an envelope and throw it down to where we were playing and where “gatherers” were awaiting to retrieve the donations. Only one problem: those towards the top of the high rises, some of which were 20 floors high, had to weigh down their envelopes by enclosing a few coins. I was so glad to be playing a tuba when a heavily weighted envelope was descending. At least I had head cover. Those poor cornet players! The other problem was the temperature itself. We would be right in the middle of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” when half the bands valves would freeze up. We actually had one person running around providing valve oil wherever and whenever needed. Honestly, I don’t know if the Band still engages in this activity. If they do, hopefully they have special winter issue steel helmets!

With My Wife and Children
In 1984 I was recruited to the Michigan Tech Fund in Houghton, MI located in the beautiful Upper Peninsula. When I arrived, I was quite surprised to find out that there was an Army Corps in the little town of Hancock located across the Portage Lake from Houghton. I was introduced to Major Mary Postma who wondered if I would be willing to become a member of the advisory board, which I was only too happy to do. As a board member, we were expected to do our part as bell ringers during the Christmas season. I signed up for four hours on a Saturday afternoon and thought I would see if I could entice my wife Gwen and our three children to share in the experience. Gwen was happy to join in, but my kids were initially a bit skeptical. They had placed coins in the Red Kettle before but had never been on the receiving end of the experience. With a bit of prompting, all five of us arrived en masse at the Red Kettle located smack dab in the middle of the small shopping mall in Houghton. Our kids started off a bit timidly, but once they saw how sharing people were, they quickly got into the spirit of things. Our three-year old became our most demonstrative “thank-you-er” and relished the role. It was a wonderful experience, so much so, that for each of the four years we were in the UP, we made it a family tradition to spend at least half a day each Christmas Season ringing bells.

JB+A Senior Vice President John Marshall has more than 40 years of experience in the nonprofit sector — almost as much experience as he does serving on the Red Kettle. You can reach John at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or at 816.914.3780.

Success Stories from the Front Lines: #GivingTuesday 2016

By | All Posts, Current Events/News, Events, News You Can Use, Social Media | No Comments

The results are in and #GivingTuesday 2016 was a resounding success raising $168 million and surpassing last year’s total raised by more than 43%. But how has this global day of giving made a difference to the nonprofits who participate and the individuals they serve? Here are two success stories from nonprofits that demonstrate just how impactful this giving phenomenon has become.  

kidsight-logoSaving Sight
Saving Sight is on a mission to prevent childhood vision loss through charitable vision services for the children of Missouri. This past #GivingTuesday, they harnessed the power of social media to support their signature charitable program, KidSight, which provides free vision screenings to Missouri children.

The Saving Sight team credits their #GivingTuesday success to their prep work. When you have a plan in place you’re already halfway to your goal – the rest is just execution! Leading up to November 29, they mobilized their staff, Board, donors and program recipients to participate in #GivingTuesday through email blasts, a dedicated webpage and regular social media posts.

They reached out to their dedicated base of supporters and recruited them as ambassadors to their #GivingTuesday campaign. Ambassadors not only donated, but also spread the word  by posting the #GivingTuesday version of the selfie, the #unselfie.

Take a look at a just a few of the many #unselfies posted by Saving Sight supporters.

ss-gt-collage

So how did they do? 40 individuals donated on #GivingTuesday adding up to $1,040 in total donations. At $5 to screen a child, they raised enough to support KidSight vision screenings for 212 children. Incredible! Well done to the entire team at Saving Sight and KidSight.

urlHealthEd Connect
HealthEd Connect empowers women and children through evidence-based health, education and advocacy. They train volunteer community health workers in sub-Saharan Africa and Nepal and provide free primary (K-7) education for orphans and vulnerable children in the Copperbelt region of Zambia through three community schools. For this year’s #GivingTuesday, HealthEd Connect focused their efforts on their Girls Achievement Program (GAP), which aims to empower, educate and enable 5th, 6th and 7th grade girls in the developing world to focus on their studies and break the cycle of poverty and dependence.

Their goal? Raise $12,000 for 12 girls to study through the 12th grade.

Like Saving Sight, HealthEd Connect credits a great deal of their success to the prep work. Using the JB+A #GivingTuesday Guide, they developed a robust plan with assigned roles, responsibilities and deadlines.

They mobilized their base through targeted pre-#GivingTuesday emails intended to spread the word amongst Board, staff and key volunteers, and through #GivingTuesday-focused newsletters throughout the month of November. They approached social media with precision and efficiency drafting all posts in advance with engaging photos and pre-determined launch times in place. They also developed a unique hashtag for their campaign: #12GX3.

And they didn’t stop at the prep work. Throughout #GivingTuesday, they sent real time updates to their donors and contacts keeping them informed and engaged in the fundraising process.

Lauren Hall, Executive Director of HealthEd Connect, also credits Board participation with their #GivingTuesday success. “JB+A’s Guide helped us communicate the importance of #GivingTuesday to the Board and they got 100% behind the campaign,” says Hall. “We acquired three matching pledges from the Board in addition to commitments to forward pre-written emails to their contacts. Their support was essential to the success of our campaign.”

So how did they do? HealthEd Connect’s goal was to raise $12,000 ($6,000 online, three $2,000 matching pledges) sending 12 Girls to high school on HealthEd Connect scholarships. They more than surpassed their goal raising $32,365 which will get 32 new scholars through high school. They also acquired 41 new donors and reached more than 3,500 people.

Truly an inspirational account showcasing the power of social media to harness generosity and passion.

Congratulations to the entire team at HealthEd Connect!

Interested in getting your organization to participate in this phenomenal day of philanthropy? The next #GivingTuesday is scheduled for November 28, 2017. It’s never too early to start brainstorming your plan of attack! Leading up to #GivingTuesday, JB+A will be posting helpful tips and guides to help your organization make the most of this global day of giving. Stay tuned! 

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.