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News You Can Use

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News You Can Use
Issue 141/September 2014

Donor Retention: Keeping Ice Bucket Challenge Donors from Evaporating

Rhonda McClungRhonda McClung
Vice President 

The wildly successful Ice Bucket Challenge in support of the ALS Association brought in $100 million in 30 days, an amount that continues to grow as the challenge spreads globally. In addition to the dollars though, it brought in more than 3 million new donors in that same time frame. Many people who knew little to nothing about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the progressive neurodegenerative disease, dumped ice water on their heads and followed up with a gift. 

Opinions about the merits of a single-disease organization raising that much money so quickly are in no short supply, but there is another challenge the ALS Association faces: how to turn a one-time virtual event (most people won’t dump ice water on their head twice) into long-term awareness and advocacy. Turning just one percent of these first-time donors into volunteers would net 30,000 new advocates for the cause. 

Most nonprofits will never face the challenge of integrating 3 million new donors into their communications and volunteer strategies, but even those with significantly smaller numbers of new donors should have a plan for moving donors from one-time investment to long-term involvement. This issue is different than retaining annual fund donors from one year to the next. It’s a question of creating opportunities for new donors to learn about and actively participate in the organization’s mission. 

For the ALS Association, the obvious question is: How do you turn 3 million new donors – or even a small percentage of them – into long-term advocates for the cause? But every organization should ask itself how to turn every first-time donor, especially those who came to their cause with little knowledge of its work, into a well-informed advocate. Here are some points to keep in mind when working to cultivating first time donors into repeat donors, loyal advocates for your organization. 
  • Pay attention to what brought the donor to the organization. Social media played a critical role in the spread of the Ice Bucket Challenge so social media should be the means of reminding people what they supported. The Ice Bucket Challenge will cool off, but this very visual campaign has an opportunity to continue using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to keep people aware of the cause and the impact of their gifts.

  • Respond to donors in the way that they originally reached out to the organization. Online givers provide email addresses. Send thank you letters, newsletters and other information about participating in the organization by email. For gifts that came in the mail, respond with information and opportunities through the mail. Let people operate within their own comfort zones.

  • National organizations with local chapters should provide the chapters with contact information of local donors so that they can keep these new donors aware of what’s going on in their area. Organizations with smaller geographic reaches should continually remind donors about the impact on their community, friends and neighbors.

  • Be vigilant in addressing misinformation about the organization. The ALS Association is currently fighting off a fake news article alleging that it spends only a small percentage of its funding on its mission. In a virtual world where information is passed quickly but not always tracked for truth, every nonprofit needs to know what is being said about it and reach out to correct bad information.

Few nonprofits will hit the viral campaign jackpot like the ALS Association. But every nonprofit needs to develop a plan that answers the question: How do we turn a first-time donor into a long-term advocate?    

If you’d like to further discuss ways to improve your donor retention, please feel free to contact me at 816.237.1999 or at

Team Announcement 

Judy Keller

“I am pleased to share that Judy Keller, previously Senior Vice President, will be undertaking an expanded leadership role with Jeffrey Byrne + Associates. Judy brings more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit management and development and her extensive background serving within nonprofits, on various Boards and as a fundraising consultant will strengthen and enhance our fundraising team. We are happy she has expanded her role with JB+A in this capacity.”
– Jeffrey Byrne, President + CEO
Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc. (JB+A) is pleased to announce the promotion of Judy Keller, formerly Senior Vice President, to Executive Vice President of the fundraising consulting firm, based in Kansas City, Missouri and Edwards, Colorado.  Judy joined JB+A in 2006 as Vice President after a distinguished career serving as Executive Director of the American Lung Association of Kansas for 11 years. Judy has held various leadership positions, including President of the nationwide Congress of Lung Association Staff, President of the Kansas Asthma Coalition and Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition and has served as a member of the American Lung Association and American Thoracic Society Boards of Directors.
Judy has served scores of clients in the Midwest and throughout the nation during her past eight years in fundraising consulting for JB+A, ranging from strategic planning, annual campaigns, major gifts, fundraising feasibility studies for capital campaigns, planned giving and endowment advising and management of small, medium and large capital campaigns.  Judy’s most recent client successes include capital campaigns for Lawrence Public Library (KS), Willa Cather Foundation (NE/national), Assistance League of Kansas City (MO) and Citizens Climate Lobby (national).  She has conducted development audits for health and social service organizations nationwide.
Judy’s new responsibilities include a transition into the management team of the firm: overseeing and executing marketing and sales efforts, conducting strategic planning for JB+A and client engagements and providing leadership to the firm’s operations and entire staff.
Founded in 2000 in Kansas City, Missouri, Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc. is a nationally-recognized fundraising and financial development firm that specializes in building organizational capacity and conducting major gift, capital and endowment campaigns solely for nonprofit organizations. Led by founder and President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne, its team of consultants has successfully guided more than 300 nonprofit organizations through campaigns raising more than $1,000,000,000.

Take a few moments to complete our brief survey, and receive a copy of  JB+A’s 
“Insights to Giving USA 2014:  What Do the Statistics Really Tell Us?

Take the Survey


Board Succession Planning

Mary Ellen Clark

Mary Ellen Clark
Senior Vice President

Succeed: (suh k seed), “defined as 1) to thrive, prosper, grow; 2) to accomplish what is attempted or intended”. These are terms every Board leader hopes will be associated with his or her work with an organization. In order to assure that important projects will move forward and that the mission of the organization will be met, the important activity of Succession Planning must be implemented and considered a key element of planning. 

Succession planning has been a serious part of organizations for the past decade. It allows for the organization to plan for the sudden change in personnel due to, for instance, staff members moving when the opportunity of a lifetime comes along, transferring or experiencing family changes... and you’re left with a large hole in your plan. We now see the strongest and most effective Boards doing the same:  planning ahead for change. 

Board Composition
The most forward-thinking boards consider skills and experience, not just titles. There are Board positions that must be filled by a sponsoring organization representative as stated in governance by-laws.  These individuals and their talents should be considered in the complete make up of the Board. While Boardroom diversity progresses slowly in some organizations, striving for balance is key. 

Director of Development
The trend in nonprofits of term limits for Board members (two or three years) may seem like a short period for a Director to make a real impact. New Board members can make a more immediate impact by participating in a detailed orientation program and a Board mentorship program. By teaming an experienced Board member with a new Board member, the result can be powerful. Organizations should also plan for ongoing Board education, either from an internal source or professional expert. 

Term Limits
The trend in corporate director term limits over the past few years has changed, opting for longer terms to capitalize on experience and Board training. (Businessweek, May 2013) Board service by these corporate leaders to other organizations is also being limited, having an effect on securing strong volunteers for our nonprofit boards. 

Lack of Board planning can lead to repeating the same programs year after year because they are a pet project of certain Board leadership or may result in ineffective fiscal oversight because “we’ve always done it this way”. If your Board has not considered term limits, Board composition evaluations, routine education programs and succession planning, imagine the even greater success you could find if they did. 

If your Board is looking for a “Board composition matrix” to review and use to evaluate future Board members, contact our office at 816.237.1999 or email me at 


News You Can Use

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News You Can Use
Issue 137/May 2014

How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Your Organization’s Fundraising? 

Mary Ellen Clark

By Mary Ellen Clark
Senior Vice President

While many businesses and individuals have been looking at the effect of the Affordable Care Act on their businesses and personal futures, the nonprofit industry – and specifically many hospital foundations – have been taking a somewhat passive approach to these outcomes. However, highly effective foundations have prepared for the increased needs of their hospitals and community. They continue to tell their stories, clearly communicate their needs, provide adequate staffing and listen to donors.

The Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), our nation’s leading source for benchmarking, research and reporting of fundraising in our hospitals, recently conducted a study into these effects: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Healthcare Philanthropy. Here is an Executive Summary of this study reported just months ago:

  • At the end of January and early February 2014, AHP surveyed its U.S. membership to determine how healthcare development fared in 2013 based on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law in 2010.

  • A little more than half (53%) of the respondents reported no effect while one-third (33%) reported a somewhat negative effect when asked about the overall effect healthcare reform and the ACA had on their development office, fundraising activities and results during 2013.

  • A majority (71.3%) of AHP members report that they did not change their overall giving forecast for the next 2-3 years because of the ACA.

  • 12.9% of respondents report that they made increases to their giving forecast for the next 2-3 years. The most frequently cited (mode) forecast increase was 6-10%.

  • 15.8% of respondents report that they decreased their giving forecast for the next 2-3 years. The most frequently cited forecast reduction was 0-5%.

  • A majority (57.7%) of AHP members report that they have not made changes to their development organization’s operating budget.

  • Nearly one third (30.3%) of respondents report that they increased their operating budget. The most frequently cited budget increase was 0-10%.

  • The majority of respondents (65.4%) had not experienced a merger or acquisition in the past three years.

  • Two-fifths (38.9%) of AHP members plan to increase staff size within the next three years.

Source: The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, February 2014.

While some believe that it is too early to tell if the ACA will impact philanthropy, most foundations report that they are experiencing a great deal of change and uncertainty. More donors want to discuss this topic and many foundations are experiencing more pressure from the hospital to raise more money.

Healthcare organizations are more reliant upon philanthropy today than ever before – facing budget pressure and working with limited resources. Fundraising helps bridge the gap. Successful organizations, those who are planning effectively for the future of healthcare and healthcare fundraising, are those in which the leadership at all levels plays an active role in fundraising. Support and participation from each leadership constituency – boards, staff, advocates and collaborative partners – is essential to healthcare fundraising success.

Our healthcare consulting allows organizations to focus on the changing climate while supporting critical programs. To further discuss how your organization can achieve fundraising success, contact me directly at


Volunteers Give Back


Rhonda McClung
Vice President


Involvement leads to investment. It’s an old fundraising adage that studies have proven true. People who volunteer are more likely to donate money than people who do not volunteer. Often overlooked as an important strategy, quality volunteer programs play an significant role in a nonprofit’s overall development program.


Volunteers are often seen as those people who prefer to give their time rather than their money, or give of their time because they have no money. But a 2009 study conducted for Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (Volunteerism and Charitable Giving in 2009: Click here to view the study) found that on average, people donate 10 times more money if they have volunteered within the last year, with two-thirds of those people giving to the organizations where they give time.


Volunteer services are sometimes organizationally structured as parallel, but not connected, to development efforts. Volunteering is important to the organization’s operations, but not a component in the resource development plans. Rethink that strategy. Engaging volunteers in giving and engaging donors in volunteering can positively impact the entire organization.


Volunteer Coordinators and Development Officers should work side-by-side in developing strategies. Volunteer Coordinators can identify the volunteers that have the greatest interest in the organization. Development Officers can point out those donors who are the best candidates, based on their availability or specific skills and expertise needed by the organization. Working together brings greater value to both positions. 


Ask Donors to Volunteer


Of course, there are people who donate, without any interest in spending time with the nonprofit.  Once invited, these donors may not choose to volunteer; but an explanation about how their time is important too may give them a sense that they are part of something bigger. It is not just about the money.  It is about the impact that the money makes on people. 


Volunteer Coordinators can reach out to donors by:


 Including details about volunteer opportunities and contact information in selected mailings to donors.  


  • Asking current volunteers to review lists of donors to identify those they know, then reaching out to the donors with the help of  those same volunteers. People are often hesitant to dedicate time to an organization unless they know other people already involved.


  • Personalizing the ask for time:  call the donor and ask about specific tasks that suit their interests and availability. With input from a Development Officer, look for opportunities to discuss that tell the donor you know who they are and that they are important to the organization as a whole. 


Treat Volunteers as Prospective Donors 


Volunteers are the most likely to understand the needs of the organization with firsthand experience in what it takes to make the place work at its highest capacity. To increase volunteer giving, Development Officers can:


  • Include volunteers in annual requests. Customize the ask to reference their volunteer time and the organization’s understanding and appreciation of the contribution that they already make. 


  • Include volunteers in email blasts and newsletter mailings currently sent to donors.  Featuring programs that the volunteers are already aware of can reinforce the importance of their work while underscoring the need for funds to make the work possible. 


  • Ask volunteers who also give to become ambassadors for the organization, letting others know the successes, needs and challenges the nonprofit faces.  A Development Officer can take a volunteer on a call to tell firsthand the stories of the organization’s impact and the importance of giving.


  • Consider planned giving requests for those who say they are giving their time now because their funds are limited.  Planned giving is the perfect vehicle for volunteers who feel like they do not have the cash to spare for a gift but want to have a significant impact on the organization. 


Whether volunteers or donors, these are people who have already indicated support of your mission.  Volunteer Coordinators and Development Officers working together can significantly increase the impact these supporters make on the organization. 

To discuss how your organization can bring greater value to both volunteers and donors, contact me directly at

News You Can Use – August 2014

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News You Can Use
Issue 140/August 2014

CEO Personal Behaviors Can Kill a Board

judy_Keller_web_pic_2012Judy Keller
Senior Vice President

CEOs and Executive Directors often express concern that their Boards are not fully engaged.  Even the most active, professional Boards often have one or two members who may be fully supportive of the organization, but do not demonstrate that commitment. We are often asked: How can I keep my Board engaged?  And even more common:  How can I get the Board to fundraise?

Over the next few months we will explore various strategies for Board engagement, but let’s begin with the basics:  personal behaviors of the executive leadership.  This may seem trivial but it is the CEO/ED who sets the tone, style, pace, commitment and productivity of the entire organization, including the Board.

Common problems in personal behaviors of the CEO/ED:

  • Talks too much. He/she should not lecture or pontificate. It insults the intelligence of the Board and it’s dull.  A strong CEO will keep his/her comments to a minimum, allowing for maximum discussion and engagement.  Facilitate, don’t pontificate.
  • States the obvious. Briefing packets, written summary reports and allowing staff to speak will minimize the CEO’s need for time at the podium during the meeting. 
  • Insecurity. Some CEOs feel they must exert their power by dominating the meeting when actually, just the opposite is true.  A confident CEO will plan well and delegate.
  • Thinking out loud. Once a CEO is comfortable with a Board, he/she may bring issues that are not fully researched or conceived, relying on informal exchange as a way to draw a Board into a topic. The problem with this is it wastes Board members’ valuable time and leaves them concerned about the pace and professionalism of their executive staff.

How to overcome these common problems:

  • Think/act like a reporter: Before entering the meeting, think through the main points you would like to convey on each agenda item. Focus on the core issues and be sure there is time for interaction among Board members on the most important topics. Ask yourself:  What do we need to achieve and why?  Who can help achieve it? When, where and how?
  • Stay focused:  A rambling CEO will never fully engage a professional or busy volunteer.  For example, never explain an issue with “he said, she said,” when it is possible to get to the point more directly. To convey information in a he said-she said manner only relays information but the personal relaying of it is not adding value. This is especially poor form for a CEO who is hired to make decisions and execute strategic plans. It is incumbent upon the CEO to add value at every step. 

By sticking with the five W’s of journalism (Who, What, When, Where and Why), and planning your talking points around them, you will stay focused and engage the Board.  

This is the first in a series of articles about fully engaging the Board within the organization.  The author welcomes your feedback and discussion at

Increasing Office Efficiency
Sandi Grimm
Director of Administration
While a nonprofit’s main objective is their mission, not how its office functions, a poorly run office is a drain on resources and personnel. Open communication between coworkers is essential. Most nonprofits have a small office staff, so an “It’s not in my job description” attitude is a detriment to all concerned, including those served by the organization. 
While I was the marketing director at a multi-state school-based mentoring organization, one of our partners was the Southeast Kansas Education Center at Greenbush. One of their mottos, which I’ve tried to adopt into my everyday and business life is, “Find a way to say yes.”
Start your journey to increased office productivity by identifying existing problems, and then correcting them. 

Consider these tips for increasing productivity in a small office:

  • Create an action plan list to manage daily, weekly and monthly goals. Setting unrealistic goals is a big impediment to productivity. Break large tasks into manageable chunks, eliminating the “I’ll never get that done!” syndrome. Plus, it’s satisfying to mark something off a list!
  • Have regular “production” meetings.  Employees and managers need to meet consistently, to keep everyone apprised of each other’s activities,  to make sure that tasks are being accomplished, but that staff members are not duplicating the same activities.
  • Go digital when possible.  Digital is also more portable.  When possible, eliminate paper-based information to reduce clutter and the need to touch the paper again…and again…and again. Convert paper to electronic files by scanning paper documents and creating files for easy access – whether in the office, on the road or sitting in the airport.
  • Maintain a filing system.   When keeping documentation is a must, do maintain a management system, and label properly.  An appropriate filing system is still necessary at most offices. Use a file naming system as an office best practice. Rely upon standard file names, and spell out names. In two years, an organization will not likely inform new employees that PSMR stands for the Pueblo Service Media Report.
  • Maintain control over shared documents.  Don’t allow multiple versions of the same document to circulate. Clearly rename (electronically) the most recently-saved version of an edited document (by date and/or last employee to edit).
  • Be prepared.  This motto is not just for Boy Scouts. Prepare for meetings with a check list and utilize the tried and true project management approach to having an agenda. Preparation prior to any meeting–large or small–makes attendees more productive.  Even with a shared agenda, each individual may have sub topics they want to make sure are covered during the meeting.
  • Identify a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Tool.  Avoid leaving revenues and productivity on the table. CRM tools needn’t cost money or bear large subscription fees. Some are free. CRM puts the customer/client first, and that’s good for productivity.
  • Prioritize tasks and develop a system.  Empower your office to work proactively, not just respond and react.

Firm President + CEO Continues Service to Philanthropy


Jeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc., has been recently re-elected to Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors of The Giving Institute. 
Established in 1935, The Giving Institute (formerly known as the American Association of Fundraising Counsel) educates and engages member firms in the ethical delivery of counsel and related services to nonprofits through research, advocacy and best practices. Serving nonprofits of every size and purpose, The Giving Institute member firms embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. The Institute requires its member firms to undergo rigorous review of their consulting methods and practices (including broad surveys of client satisfaction) and to exhibit the highest standards in fundraising consulting and ethical practices. Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is the only Kansas City firm to be accepted to the Giving Institute.

The Giving Institute is also committed to promoting philanthropy.  In 1955, it first published Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy and later incorporated the Giving USA Foundation to carry out and expand its public service goals.  Today, Giving USA is the most influential publication reporting on the sources and uses of longitudinal giving data for the past 60 years in the United States. Jeffrey has also been elected to serve on the Giving USA Foundation Board.

This term marks the 10th year that Jeffrey has served on The Giving Institute Board and his 6th year on the Executive Committee. Jeffrey Byrne + Associates has been a member of the Giving Institute for 10 years. 

For more information about Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc., visit

For more information about The Giving Institute, visit

For more information about Giving USA FoundationTM visit

News You Can Use

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News You Can Use
Issue 128/August 2013

Strengthen Fundraising Efforts through the

Futures Program: Incorporate Planned Giving for a Solid Fundraising Strategy

John Marshall

John Marshall
Senior Vice President

The time is now for nonprofits to utilize planned giving vehicles to augment their fundraising efforts. During 2012 in the United States, the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next exceeded $20 trillion. It is estimated that between 2007 and 2055, American households will transfer $59 trillion in assets, and that people between the ages of 65 and 79 will transfer 17% of their wealth while living. Experts also predict that $26.91 trillion of this wealth transfer will go to charity.

Locally, the Kansas Association of Community Foundations Transfer of Wealth research estimated $79 billion will be transferred from one generation to the next in the State of Kansas by 2020. The Alliance of Missouri Community Foundations Transfer of Wealth study estimates $134.97 billion will transfer between generations in Missouri households by 2020.

Giving USA 2013, the annual report on charitable giving in America, indicated that giving by bequest totaled $23.41 billion in 2012. This represents 7% of all contributions in 2012. Americans donated an estimated $316.23 billion to charitable causes in 2012, a modest overall gain in total contributions over 2011, which mirrored the nation’s recent economic trends. As the economic recovery continues, Americans are beginning to return to charitable giving habits in place prior to the devastating crash of just a few years ago.

Yet 59% of Americans do not have estate plans. There are tremendous opportunities for people to give to charitable causes without shortchanging their heirs – opportunities to plan estates and write wills with personal values and charities in mind. It is incumbent upon nonprofits to provide sophisticated and solid cases for support for charitable giving to donors, and that includes sharing the benefits of planned giving.

Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is now offering a new service specifically designed to help nonprofits leverage the benefits of planned giving and incorporate those giving vehicles into their fundraising plans: the Futures Program. The Futures Program can enhance your fundraising strategy to create a “win-win” situation for both your organization and your donors. In many instances, a planned gift can result in attractive tax benefits for a donor as well as potentially enhancing retirement income.

Now is the time to develop strong bonds with donors, utilize effective fundraising techniques and strategically lead your nonprofit in generating the enormous future benefits of planned giving.

There are more than one million tax exempt organizations in America. Is your nonprofit poised to take advantage of this anticipated transfer of wealth and continuing growth in charitable giving? Do you have the tools necessary to implement an effective planned giving program?

I encourage you to take a look at our Futures Program by clicking here.  It is a powerful resource to strengthen the financial security of your organization while simultaneously benefitting donors during their lifetimes.  Contact me personally to further discuss the powerful and positive impact the Futures Program can have on your fundraising, your organization and most importantly – those you serve.

I may be personally reached at 816-914-3780 or at  I look forward to our discussion!


Don’t Miss a Golden Opportunity:

Planned Giving in Senior Living Communities

Jean Bacon
Senior Living Consultant

As a Senior Living executive, are you aware of any planned giving bequests in your Senior Living community? Without devoting time and effort to research, you might not know.

One of the easiest ways to identify planned giving donors on your campus may be to collect Last Wills and Testaments. Copies of these documents should always be held by the Administrator. Many instances may arise in which you would need to have this documentation on file.  And by becoming familiar with this documentation, you will know if a resident has a Planned giving strategy and to whom they’ve designated their assets – family members, special friends, favorite charities or your community.   Gathering this documentation will also help you learn important information about your residents. 

One of the most common vehicles utilized in planned giving is the Charitable Gift Annuity, which is payable upon the “owner’s” death. Oftentimes, these annuities are purchased several years prior, and increase in value throughout the life of the owner. These annuities are often assigned to a specific person or organization upon death, but the owner/donor may not always share this information while alive.

When I was Executive Director of a Senior Living community, I implemented a development plan to generate $3,000,000 – to provide equity for a bond issue, as well as to fund a special community gathering space that included a Bistro, a large meeting room and an area for art and computer activities. My team became acquainted with an extremely generous woman, who while not a resident, had a passion for our community and that project. While her capacity as a major donor was not clearly evident, she initially discussed a potential gift toward our fundraising efforts.

Over the course of five years, our relationship developed as the project progressed. I reviewed the plans for the space with her and included her in the selection of fixtures and furnishings. I had come to know her well, sending cards on special days and holidays, acknowledging her memories and spending many lunches together. By her choosing, her pledge was never a topic of conversation.

One day, our friend sent me, announced, information describing five Charitable Gift Annuities – with a total value of slightly more than $1,000,000, which she had named for us to receive. The donor and I continued our time together, and I came to learn of her interests in the missions and work of other nonprofits in the city. But she had become unhappy with those organizations, because they did not take the time to get to know her, or dialogue with her about her options to designate her gifts.

As our donor’s health declined, we still remained in touch. Her death came as a surprise to us, when we received a letter describing how she had designated our community to receive all of her Charitable Gift Annuities. The total gift was $5,900,000. Several of the annuities had been purchased in her later years.

We can learn so many lessons from this experience. First, the planned gift vehicle of a Charitable Gift Annuity was important to this donor. She trusted this strategy, believed in its value and authenticity and purchased her annuities over her lifetime. This led us to provide education to our residents and their families on various planned giving vehicles. Many times, we assume that planned giving has been completed early in a donor’s life, but that is not always the case. There is value in making planned giving strategies known to the residents of your community.

Second, we learn about the importance and value of keeping in touch with a prospective donor, regardless of what is known about their designated gifts after death. Nurturing this relationship is critical.

Lastly, we learn of the importance of a multi-faceted Development Plan. If we had not made the details of our plans for our community space readily available for discussion, we might not have ever engaged and retained the interest of our donor.

Planned giving should be an important part of your fundraising portfolio. It is well worth the time and effort. To learn more about how to develop and implement planned giving strategies tailored to your senior living community, contact JB+A and ask about our Futures Program.


News You Can Use

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News You Can Use
Issue 136/April 2014
501(c) Success Speaker Series
Editor’s Note: 
As part of our ongoing commitment to provide timely and thought-provoking topics that stimulate discussion as well as affect your daily work in the nonprofit sector, Jeffrey Byrne + Associates belongs to a Task Force of Nonprofit Connect overseeing and organizing the 501(c) Success National Speaker Series.  Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is also proud to partner with U.S. Trust in sponsoring this Series.
The 2014 Series opened on April 1 with Jacob Harold, President and CEO of GuideStar.

Jacob Harold on Creating a Recipe for a High-Performing Ecosystem of Social Change

Jeffrey D. ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO

More than 130 people attended the inaugural 501(c)Success National Speaker Series on April 1, with Jacob Harold. Jacob joined GuideStar as President and CEO in 2012, after six years of overseeing $30 million in grants for the Hewlett Foundation. Before that, he worked as a consultant to nonprofits and foundations at the Bridgespan Group, and as a strategist for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Jacob had been at GuideStar less than a year when he, along with Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator, and Art Taylor, President and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, launched an initiative to correct an old but stubborn misconception about what matters most when deciding which charities to support. The misconception is that administrative and fundraising costs (i.e., overhead) in and of themselves are accurate and sufficient measures of a charity’s performance. They called the misconception “The Overhead Myth.”  

Their first volley, he explained to the 501(c) Success audience, in debunking the Overhead Myth was a letter to donors of America in June 2013, asking them to consider additional factors of a nonprofit’s performance – such as transparency, governance, leadership and results – when making their charitable giving decisions.

However, in the meantime, he said, “We have to address the two elephants of the sector. The first is that some nonprofits are better than others. The second is that some donors do a better job at finding high-performing nonprofits.” 

The problem for donors, he contends, is not that there isn’t enough information about issues, interventions, organizations and resources. The problem, he said, is that “we have kept these categories of information isolated from each other and impossible to cross reference.” 

Building Scaffolding

The mechanisms nonprofits have used to tell their stories – primarily the IRS Form 990 and pie charts illustrating percent of expenses going to overhead – are useful filters but tell donors nothing about results.

Jacob envisions GuideStar as scaffolding for the infrastructure the sector needs to provide donors with comprehensive information about charities and their performance. The idea is to develop a dynamic supply chain of information that feeds the information to aggregators (such as the IRS, community foundations, the Foundation Center, etc.), who provide it to GuideStar, which in turn channels it through a growing number of hubs (e.g., Fidelity, Vanguard, Schwab, Donor Edge, etc.) and ultimately, to users.

In essence, GuideStar’s goal is to bring information together from many different sources through a common profile they call GuideStar Exchange.

Jacob reported that, to date, 90,000 nonprofits have shared information on the GuideStar Exchange platform, including 30,000 that have reached a Gold (4,000), Silver (22,000) or Bronze (16,000) level of participation.

Why the Data Matters

During a lively Q&A session, a participant asked Jacob for his thoughts about lack of investment in organizational capacity and its impact on nonprofit effectiveness. Jacob agreed that funders need to be more willing to invest in capacity and said that GuideStar hopes to develop new tools that will make it easier for nonprofits to measure their own effectiveness.

Another audience member wanted to know what percentage of donors really look at the kinds of information collected by GuideStar. Jacob cited research showing that about 85% of donors believe performance matters, 32% do some research, 20% look beyond financial data and between 3% and 6% use their research to make choices. For donors who already support an organization, said Jacob, providing detailed performance data may have a “thud factor” leading to more generous gifts.

A question was asked about how GuideStar promotes transparency in community foundations, citing problems nonprofits encounter in obtaining basic information about funds held there and in other financial institutions. While admitting that he was unable to answer that question, Jacob shared that he sees it as GuideStar’s responsibility to ensure that the benefits of filling out a profile outweigh the costs so that, ultimately, nonprofits embrace their responsibility to tell their stories in a structured way. Members of the audience underscored the importance of this work in light of bills before Congress to limit the charitable tax deduction.

A Collective Voice

Bringing the discussion back around to the Overhead Myth, it was asked whether GuideStar has plans to take the message forward. The answer is a clear yes. Jacob explained that the Overhead Myth letter sent by GuideStar, Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance last June reached 15 million people.

“We’re in the midst of writing a second letter,” Jacob said, “to nonprofits of America.  We know we can’t do it alone. We need the nonprofit sector educating donors as well.”

A potential response to that call for help came up later in the morning at a smaller follow-up session for nonprofit senior leadership, funders and volunteers. How could organizations like Nonprofit Connect, the Association for Fundraising Professionals and others come together to promote a unifying message to local and regional funders?

Jacob suggested two ingredients as part of the recipe for creating a high-performing ecosystem of social change.

“Just the idea that the sector in a community would get together and speak to donors about this is so important and powerful,” he said. “You could sign a letter that would go to the boards of organizations asking for their help in eradicating the Overhead Myth. Or, on a less formal level, you could just agree that any time you’re in conversation with foundation staff or trustees to bring up the issue.”

“The systematic, collective voice is the way to go,” he said. All of us at Jeffrey Byrne + Associates couldn’t agree more.

Editor’s Note:

Trudi Galblum ( of Trudi Galblum Communications, contributed to this story. 

Jeffrey Byrne + Associates will keep you informed of the latest progress in the campaign to end the Overhead Myth, including the second letter to nonprofits of America. Stay tuned.

And be sure to mark your calendars for our next 501 (C) Success National Speaker Series program on Thursday, June 19 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center: the First Look at Giving USA 2014 – The Annual Report on Philanthropy, with Patrick Rooney, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Research at the University of Indiana Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. This program follows the national release of Giving USA, which covers giving trends and statistics in the U.S. during 2013. It also includes High Net Worth Philanthropy Studies commissioned by U.S. Trust. A must-attend for nonprofit professionals and volunteers, this event will provide valuable insight to fundraising. 

Got Research?
Editor’s Note: 
We are pleased to introduce Kay C. Tabscott and Christina Pulawski as guest contributors to this month’s issue of News You Can Use. Kay is Principal of Independent Development Research and Prospect Research Training, which she founded in 2002.  Her firm provides a wide variety of local and national nonprofits with the best in prospect research profiles of corporations, foundations and individual major donors. Profiles include biographical information, giving interests and gift capacity ratings. Kay has more than 15 years of development experience, teaches prospect research classes and also created and taught “Introduction to Prospect Research” in Washington University’s Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management program.
As Principal of Christina Pulawksi Consulting, Christina is an independent consultant specializing in development research, prospect management and information flow for fundraising. Her clients range from large private and state universities and healthcare systems to localized social service nonprofits.  Christina obtained her J.D. from the University of Illinois and practiced in the fields of real estate and litigation before entering the development profession in 1991.  Christina is a founding member of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals and has served in leadership roles with the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement and its local chapter.  Christina’s writings appear in numerous publications and she regularly chairs and presents at workshops, conferences and symposia around the country.
Part I:  What is Prospect Research?
Kay Tabscott
Kay C. Tabscott
Prospect Research is fundamental – and essential  – to fundraising.  Yet I find many in the development field today who do not know what it is and how its use can increase donations for their organization.
When I began my research career, I didn’t know what it was, either.  I had a Bachelor’s degree in English and had just finished a Paralegal Certificate.  Looking for a job, I scanned the positions at a local, private university and saw a Prospect Researcher job description: “Assisting the Development Staff in identifying new donor prospects and researching and writing profiles on corporations, foundations and individuals using the library and other public data sources.”   Having honed my library research skills as paralegal student, I got the job and I have loved it ever since. 
So what is Prospect Research?  Research gives fundraisers essential information about their major donors – individually and as a group:  what is the right ask amount, what is the right project, what is the right timing, whom should I ask first?  So-armed, they are giving their potential donor the utmost respect in not asking for too much (and embarrassing them) and yet not leaving dollars on the table (and the donor thinking they didn’t do their research); they are asking for the right project because they have researched other giving the donor has done; they are asking at the right time (the donor has just sold her business and has cash on hand…) and they are asking the right donor because the researcher has done an in-depth profile and rated and ranked the donor as an “A-1.”  
Prospect Research is the due diligence of the Development Officer.  Got Research?
Now let’s take a look at what Prospect Research is not:
  • Googling
Typing someone’s name into a Google search is not “research.” Google is one of many search engines, which are among a host of tools to find information on the Internet. Research can involve proprietary sources, directories, maps, databases, as well as offline resources such as books (remember them?), other hard copy sources and other human beings.
  • The scientific determination of an individual’s precise net worth
More on this later…
  • Simply recounting information found and writing profiles
The first step of research is finding discrete, relevant bits of information and documenting them, but there is so much more.  This information needs to be analyzed and applied and the final product is a set of recommendations to the Development Office with information to support them. Therefore, research is much more than a dossier or a profile.
Research also encompasses prospect identification, defining groups and pools of prospects from among a large constituency, statistical analysis and predictive modeling, data mining and so much more that can be done to identify, prioritize, describe prospects and pools and provide the information to make strategic decisions about fundraising programs and activities.
Saying “Oh, so you write profiles” to a professional researcher is like saying “Oh, so you host galas” to a major gift fundraiser.
  • Creating and maintaining inappropriate information and dossiers on individuals
Professional researchers abide by strict ethical standards that embody respect for donors and prospects, with the ultimate goal of establishing and furthering true engagement among donors and the organizations they represent. They only seek out and objectively report and interpret public information that is relevant to the furthering of that relationship. 
Again, Prospect Research is the due diligence of the Development Officer.  Got Research?
Part II:  Congratulations!  You’re Getting Research!   
Christina Pulawski
Kay C. Tabscott and Christina Pulawski
We’ve convinced you to invest in adding some science to your art of fundraising – wonderful! What do you need to do now? 
  • Find, develop or contract with an experienced and/or talented researcher.
Experienced professional researchers can be hard to find, and sometimes hard to interview and evaluate.  Some organizations choose to find people with tenacious curiosity and creativity, and develop them into the role. APRA, APRA chapters and nonprofit educational programs offer numerous programs, symposia and “boot camps” for new researchers, and research consultants typically offer customized training. From experience, the research techniques aren’t as complicated to teach as the elements of analysis, interpretation and relevance to fundraising.
To understand what a researcher should be able to do, find APRA’s Skills Sets (there are four: basic research, advanced research, research management and prospect management; they are currently being revised into a different format and purpose) and look at other job descriptions on APRA’s job boards and relevant listserves such as prspct-l and fundsvcs– also all places to consider posting your opening.
If you are not ready for the full-time role in-house, there are numerous consultants and freelancers who can provide a variety of research-related services from writing profiles to statistical modeling, screening and validation, assessments and true consulting.
  • Assemble appropriate tools
A researcher’s resources can range from an internet connection to a collection of for-fee targeted resources appropriate to the constituency with which they’ll be working.  HINT: paid resources can create efficiencies and save lots of person-hours.  Subscription resources can range from a few hundred dollars a year to tens of thousands of dollars a year or more for in-depth financial databases on say, hedge funds. The best tools are relevant to the kinds of people and organizations that are important and integral to your prospects. APRA regularly surveys the community and members can see the results of the most popular and useful resources available.
At the very least, the researcher should have awareness of tools such as bookmark collections maintained by advanced shops (for example: and the availability of databases through local or academic libraries to residents, students or alumni as well as the collection of databases on the APRA website
In addition to subscriptions to find or understand information, there are a number of other resources common in the field, including geographic, relationship mapping and other visualization software, data append services, statistical packages, alerts and other analytical tools to consider.
  • Establish expected products and services, policies and procedures
This can answer all sorts of questions, including:
  • “What does a profile convey?”
  • “What can volunteers vs. staff see?”
  • “What fields in our database, such as ratings, strategy, note types, should research populate, and what are the data entry standards?”
  • “What are our protocols around privacy?”
  • “When is it appropriate to ask for an exhaustive research profile?”
  • “Should we use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media?”

Most importantly, determine how to incorporate data-based decision-making in all aspects of strategic fundraising, from working with an individual prospect to full campaign planning.

Understand how you will use the information uncovered, interpreted, communicated and collected by your research staff every day, and cumulatively.  Make sure they know the importance of accurate information, and how they will be expected to participate in every kind of discussion. 
Kay may be reached at
Christina may be reached at

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