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Jennifer Studebaker

Last Minute Tax Considerations to Save Donors Money in April!

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Insights, Legislative + Advocacy, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Stewardship | No Comments

Editor’s Note: JB+A  is pleased to feature our friend and colleague William McMorran, Senior Partner and Planned Giving Consultant with Green Oak Consulting Group, which provides tailored planned giving solutions for nonprofit organizations, individuals and retirement communities.  Bill believes donors, and the charities that they believe in, deserve a committed and trusted partner to create and support meaningful planned gifts. For more than two decades, Bill has provided fund development, endowment, planned giving and management services, including investment and administrative support, to charitable organizations. He is widely published expert and a featured speaker in planned giving and tax and health policy.  Bill believes a donor’s goals and objectives are the most important part of the planned giving process. We’re happy to share some sage advice from Bill about end-of-year planned giving and tax strategies.

William McMorran
JB+A Guest Contributor

As we head into the final month of the calendar year, fundraisers know it’s not just a time to focus on holiday celebrations and gift lists:  it’s a great time to look at recent revisions to the tax law and make sure donors are aware of what’s taking place, so they can make educated decisions.

Lower Tax Rates – Consider Your Withholding/Estimated Tax. The new tax law reduced the tax rates in each income tax bracket. This could be good or bad depending on your current bracket. You may actually find yourself in a higher bracket this year. The new law also increased the standard deduction, it may make a difference in whether you itemize or not.

It’s important to look at your withholding or your final quarterly payment now. With the changes and the uncertain withholding patterns this year, make sure that you are still on target to pay your potential liability. The IRS already is worried that taxpayers will under withhold and has issued an alert on this.

Some Itemized Deductions Eliminated – Be Careful. The new tax law eliminated many itemized deductions. The itemized deductions that remain available are:

  • State and local sales, income and property taxes are now capped, up to $10,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, and up to $5,000 for single filers
  • Medical and dental expenses—if they are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income
  • Home mortgages, lower ceilings for new buyers
  • Charitable gifts

IRA Charitable Transfers Unchanged – A Great Strategy. If you are over 70.5 and have an IRA, you can avoid paying taxes on your required minimum distribution (RMD) by having your IRA Custodian transfer that amount (it can also be higher or lower) to the charity(ies) of your choice, using a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). This not only saves you from paying taxes on your RMD but lowers your overall income, potentially saving you even more tax dollars.

Look for Savings – Harvest Gains and Losses. Take a look at your investment portfolio, are there gains or losses you can realize? Ideally, you can reduce your tax exposure by taking advantage of any investment losses this year, losses that could offset gains.

Summary: There’s a lot going on for your 2018 income tax return. Look at your withholding/quarterly payments, talk to your advisors and plan while you still can make a difference!

Mindful Fundraising in Membership Organizations

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Stewardship, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Jennifer Studebaker
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

“We do not engage in fundraising. We’re a membership-based organization.” This is the response I have received when engaging with associations and other nonprofits that operate on a membership model. While I understand developing a giving program sounds like a lot of work, you do not need a sophisticated development department to make giving a part of your organizational culture.

If your membership organization is a registered 501(c)3, you are engaged in fundraising! Membership dues are fully tax deductible. Membership organizations that do not intentionally fundraise are missing out on an opportunity to reinforce member stickiness and ensure your organization’s future financial stability.

I am inviting you to take your current fundraising to the next level by setting an intention to be mindful in your fundraising. You are ahead of a lot of organizations new to fundraising in that you have a built-in donor database of individuals and other organizations that have made an annual commitment to your organization through their membership. These members are invested in your organization’s success, and you may be surprised by their willingness to give when presented the opportunity. Here are some potential next steps to embrace fundraising in your membership organization:

  1. Make it easy to give.
    Your members send you a payment at least once a year, so you are equipped to receive financial transactions. Make it as simple as possible for them to add to their membership dues and submit a separate donation. Add a Donate button to your website. Include a donation option in your membership form. Accept donations at your events.
  1. Make the gift meaningful.
    Let your members know where the funds will be going. If you are seeking to build an endowment to ensure your organization’s financial security, tell them so. If you are planning to build a scholarship fund to help members attend your annual conference, celebrate each year the impact of their donation by sharing the number of scholarships given.
  1. Make way for a legacy.
    Your organization holds a special place in your members’ hearts, and they may wish to extend that commitment beyond their life. Planned giving should be an important part of your fundraising plan. You do not have to be an expert but identify advisors that can help you through the process should you need counsel in how to accept and manage a planned gift.

As someone who has staffed a membership organization, I recognize there are a lot of moving parts between journals to prepare, meetings to plan and memberships to process. However, remember that fundraising is already a part of what you do. I am asking you to make it a conscious part of your daily routine, rather than an unintentional one. Begin bringing mindfulness to your fundraising now. Create a giving plan and program that allows your members to support you beyond their membership dues.

#GivingTuesday – A Kickoff to the Giving Season

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Events, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Nonprofit Marketing, Social Media, Stewardship, Technology | One Comment

#GivingTuesday 2018! Did you see the billboards announcing its arrival around the Kansas City metro area?

These billboards were made possible by the generosity of Lamar Advertising, the largest provider of outdoor advertising in Kansas City. Each year since 2013, Lamar has partnered with JB+A to raise awareness of #GivingTuesday by providing pro bono digital billboards around our community. “Lamar is happy to be involved with this great organization for the 6th year in a row. We are excited that we are able to raise the awareness in the Kansas City community, and hope the movement continues to flourish,” says Dave Halpin, Sales Manager.

With eighteen billboards throughout the metro area, it is estimated that over 3.5 million people in the last week have been reached through this campaign. Looking back, this suggests that over 21 million Kansas City residents and visitors have seen these billboard announcements over the past 6 years, reminding them of #GivingTuesday. A sincere thanks to Lamar for this valuable act of service!

#GivingTuesday is a movement that harnesses the power of social media and collaboration, and just celebrated its seventh year with nonprofits from 150 countries participating. In 2017, #GivingTuesday saw over 300 million dollars raised, 2.5 million online gifts, and 21 billion social media impressions. The average online gift was $120.40. These numbers have surpassed 2016, which saw 170 million dollars raised overall. Will 2018 be one for the record books?!

How did you engage your donors for #GivingTuesday 2018? Here are some ways that JB+A clients inspired their donors to give and spread the word:

Covenant Retirement Communities

Lend a Hand This #GivingTuesday

Thanks for your interest in supporting Covenant Retirement Communities for #GivingTuesday (Tuesday, Nov. 27th)! By donating to our Benevolent Care Fund, you are assisting countless seniors at our communities who have run out of resources through no fault of their own.

To provide peace-of-mind and financial assistance, the Benevolent Care Fund steps in to assist these residents who may no longer be able to afford services at our community. Without donors like you, the Benevolent Care Fund would not exist. Thank you for your generosity – every gift makes a difference in the lives of our residents.

Developing Potential, Inc.

“Support DPI by texting this Giving Tuesday!” 

This Giving Tuesday, Developing Potential is asking for your support for our Building Lives Capital Campaign.

Developing Potential serves more than 150 adults having developmental disabilities in the Kansas City area. 80% of the individuals we serve need support at meal times, 33% require medication dispersed during the day and 98% live at or below the poverty line. We are blessed to serve these individuals every day but there is a large number of individuals that are NOT receiving services. Developing Potential has embarked on a $3.25 million capital campaign to build a new facility to help alleviate our wait list and to support the unique needs of the individuals we serve.

You can help us on this global day of giving by texting in your donation or donating online, sharing this email and our social media posts leading up to and on Giving Tuesday, and telling your personal story of the impact Developing Potential has had in your life.

Please help us help others this Giving Tuesday!

Warriors’ Ascent


November 27th, 2018 is #GivingTuesday and as a part of that special day and Veteran’s day (Nov 11th), Warrior’s Ascent is increasing awareness about our cause to help Veterans heal and tend their MIND, BODY and SOUL.

EVEN A SMALL DONATION OF $5 goes a long way to help a Veteran learn new skills and find a team to help them succeed after their service.

If you believe in Veterans and are looking for a way to honor them by giving back, consider making a donation to Warrior’s Ascent.

Remember, #GivingTuesday can really help kickoff your end-of-year giving. Giving does not end on #GivingTuesday, but rather begins a season of generosity and caring that we should carry with us into the new year.

Open Spaces: A Kansas City Art Experience

By | All Posts, Arts/Culture/Humanities, Current Events/News, Events, Insights, News You Can Use | No Comments

JB+A is excited to profile its Client Partner Open Spaces – a unique public-philanthropic partnership that will strengthen Kansas City’s presence in the arts and culture landscape. Open Spaces is a contemporary arts exhibition showcasing the work of leading national and international artists as well as local talent from our diverse visual and performing arts community.

Conceived as a recurring event unfolding in the Fall of 2018, Open Spaces is curated by a nationally-recognized Artistic Director Dan Cameron and implemented by a working team of representatives from the City of Kansas City and KC Creates.

With Swope Park as the hub, works by more than 40 visual artists in a wide range of media have been installed throughout our City. Internationally-renowned artists such as Nick Cave and Ebony G. Patterson are joined by local talent like Shawn Bitters and Sike Skyle Industries to transform KC into an artistic exhibit like we’ve never experienced before. There’s even a mobile app  to guide you through all Open Spaces has to offer – and you can interact with each piece by providing your feedback and reaction to each work of art with the artist and share your adventures with your friends and fellow Open Spaces explorers.

And mark your calendars for “The Weekend,” from October 12 through 14: visual art, music, dance, theatre, performance, film, poetry and the culinary arts all come together at Starlight Theatre, Swope Park and The Village.  A lineup of 11 recording artists slated to perform include headliners The Roots (Friday, October 12), Janelle Monáe (Saturday, October 13) and Vijay Iyer Sextet (Sunday, October 14). Get more info and your tickets here.

Learn more at

Fundraising Fitness Test Guru Led a Workout in KC

By | Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Fiscal Management, Fundraising, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship, Uncategorized | No Comments

Jennifer Studebaker
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

And oh boy, was it a good one! Erik Daubert, MBA, ACFRE and Chair of the Growth in Giving Initiative and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project came to Kansas City for Nonprofit Connect’s 501(c) Success National Speaker Series on September 11. Erik dived right in with the history, purpose, and goals of the Fundraising Fitness Test. This free tool was developed as part of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project in an effort to help nonprofits understand and evaluate the performance of their development efforts. Requiring only three fields from your database (Donor ID, Donation Amount and Donation Date), the pre-programmed Excel document calculates key performance metrics such as your donor retention, gains and losses, and donor dependency with the Pareto principle.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project does have reports that you can benchmark your organization against. However, Erik advised that the best organization to compare yourself against is your own. The Fundraising Fitness Test allows you to do this by comparing year over year data, showing your growth in giving over time. The 6 year trend tab lets you to step back and see the impact that known events had on your organization’s giving. The arrival of a new CEO may spark an upward swing, while the loss of a Development Officer may have led to a shortfall from the previous year. This is the type of data that you can take to your Board to celebrate wins and highlight opportunities for growth.

Erik warmly welcomed up our guest panelists, the true heroes of the day! Megan Sturges Stanfield of Junior Achievement, Cindy Wissinger of St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School, and Laci Maltbie of Sherwood Autism Center braved the stage to share their own experiences taking the Fundraising Fitness Test. They were all surprised to learn how quickly they could complete the test and impressed at the value of the information they received. Laci did run into some roadblocks in getting the data extracted properly from her database, highlighting one challenge that other CEOs and Presidents may encounter. Cindy Wissinger noted that her first run at the test was skewed by their capital campaign donations, and she is looking forward seeing the results with only her annual fund donations. Megan was wowed by the ease of the test, and she could immediately see impact of development decisions her organization has been making over time. All panelists happily endorsed the Fundraising Fitness Test, and Jeffrey Byrne + Associates does as well!

You Can Change Board Conversations Around Philanthropy By Using the Fundraising Fitness Test

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Boards + Leadership, Campaign Planning + Management, Capacity Building, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Education, Fiscal Management, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Stewardship, Technology | No Comments

Erik Daubert, MBA, ACFRE

Chair of the Growth in Giving Initiative and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, Faculty at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, LaGrange College, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota

Originally posted on Nonprofit Connect

I have worked with hundreds of nonprofit organizations who have used the Fundraising Fitness Test (FFT) and I am often asked, “How should I use the Fundraising Fitness Test with my board?” (Available for FREE at

The answer is, “Effectively!”

At the Growth in Giving Initiative and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, our goal is for fundraising to be more effective, and this is just as true with your board of directors as it is with your overall development program.

So, how can you be most effective at using information from the Fundraising Fitness Test with your board?

The first thing to decide is, “Which data points are right for our organization to share?”  While this answer is not always clear at the onset, you should begin by analyzing your test results.

Once you have run the Fundraising Fitness Test and reviewed your results, you should ask some key questions:

  • What opportunities stand out in our analysis as areas of opportunity?  Some examples of this may be findings related to new donor acquisition, specific donor group retention strategies, Pareto Principle analysis and comprehension, Gain/Loss indicators and more.  Having a good understanding of the information found in the report empowers you to have and lead strategic conversations about how to improve development performance going forward.
  • What does leadership think about how things are going, based on information appropriately shared from the FFT?  One of my favorite quotes in fundraising is, “The best idea is someone else’s!”  By this, I mean, when a board chair or a CEO thinks something such as, “We need more major donors” or “We need to broaden our base of support of donors”, I almost always say, “You are right!” Because these ideas are “theirs”, you don’t have to do the heavy lifting of convincing them to embark on these efforts…that part of the work is already done!  The FFT reveals all kinds of information in the results, and will, perhaps, spark important ideas for your Board on where to spend their energy!  For example, by seeing your organization’s major donor acquisition, upgrades, retention rates, and more, you can have strategic conversations about how to best make more, good results happen in your future fundraising efforts.  You can use your past performance as your “baseline” while also using information available at to see what is happening in the broader nonprofit sector.  Nonprofit organizations can compare against themselves (By comparing against previous year’s past performance) and also against other nonprofits in their sector and  region of the country.
  • What is the best use of board member engagement and/or development committee engagement at this time?  If having board members do critical development work like solicitation, recognition, cultivation, stewardship or other activities is the goal, you can use results from the FFT to share why this is a good idea.  By leveraging key data points such as “We are behind the national average for Human Services organizations on repeat donor retention” you can help to shape and guide key conversations around development program improvement.

So, how should you use your FFT with your board?

  • Determine which points you should highlight.  Share some points to celebrate (they are there!) and also points to work on and improve.
  • Share these findings with key leaders such as your CEO, Board Chair, Financial Development Committee Chair, or other key leader as appropriate to your organization.  Have conversations about what is working and what can be improved.  Talk strategically about what you might do to make the results better for next year.
  • Mutually decide which points should be shared with the overall board.  Be transparent both in the celebration of great work, and recognition of the work yet to be accomplished.
  • Remember that while the Fundraising Effectiveness Project has information on how other nonprofits are doing with regard to these metrics, the best comparison of all is against your own organization!  Look at how you did last year, two years ago and beyond, and look at what is working and what is not.  These findings can be used as a basis for well- informed conversations – about personnel, budget, strategy, tactics, focus and more – to create a better future for your nonprofit organization and your financial development efforts.

For more information about how to engage your board with data and the Fundraising Fitness Test, check out the tools and resources available at  There you can find tutorials on how to run the Fundraising Fitness Test in addition to key resources and reports outlining findings by our senior research and data compilation teams.

We hope you will find these resources helpful and thank you for raising more funds to make the world a better place!

Written by Erik J. Daubert, MBA, ACFRE Chair, Growth in Giving Initiative/Fundraising Effectiveness Project Work Group.  Erik serves as Faculty at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, LaGrange College, and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in their various philanthropy programs, in addition to serving as an Affiliated Scholar with the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.  He also works as the Director of Financial Development Education at the YMCA of the USA.  Erik may be reached via email at

The Growth in Giving Initiative’s work to date is often recognized by our work on the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) which includes tools like the Fundraising Fitness Test.  The FEP was launched in 2006 to help nonprofit organizations measure, compare, and maximize their annual growth in giving.  The FEP is focused on “effectiveness” (maximizing growth in giving) rather than “efficiency” (minimizing costs).   Check out FREE resources at

Is Your Nonprofit in Shape? Don’t Miss Erik Daubert and The Fundraising Fitness Test in Kansas City

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Campaign Planning + Management, Capacity Building, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Education, Events, Fiscal Management, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Prospect Research, Stewardship, Strategic Planning | No Comments

How can you put your data to work?

Utilize the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP).

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project has developed a tool kit for nonprofits to harness their fundraising data. One of the largest philanthropic research projects in the world, the FEP was established in 2006 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute. Its aim was to conduct research on fundraising effectiveness and help nonprofits increase their fundraising results at a faster pace. FEP provides free tools like the Fundraising Fitness Test for tracking and evaluating an organization’s annual growth in giving. Explore the FEP and Fundraising Fitness Test here.

For those of you in the Greater Kansas City area, join us on Tuesday, September 11 for the 501(c) Success National Speaker Series with Erik Daubert, MBA, ACFRE, Chair of the Growth in Giving Initiative and the Fundraising Effectiveness Project. Erik will demonstrate how nonprofits can use the Fundraising Fitness Test to understand their own financial development data – and ultimately make better fundraising decisions. To reserve your spot now, register here.

Fundraising Big Data with DonorPerfect Online

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Database Management, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Prospect Research, Technology | No Comments

Jennifer Studebaker
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

DonorPerfect Online (DPO) Vice President Jon Biedermann and Dr. Nathan Dietz, a published scholar and experienced practitioner of quantitative and qualitative social science research, recently led a webinar analyzing the results of 2.24 million transactions and 427,000 donors over a period of years. So what did these numbers reveal about fundraising behavior?

Demographic data showed most 2017 gifts were to human services at 23%, followed by health and religious organizations. Offline donations remained the most common way to give, though online donations have increased from 4% in 2014 to almost 8% in 2017. First time givers declined from 2015-2017, but Jon noted that the recent declines in first time donors points to increased donor retention.

Not all of these findings may be surprising for the experienced nonprofit professional. However, one of the key parts of data-based decision making is allowing the data to speak. Your assumptions may be correct, but actually testing your assumptions is vital.

The most compelling insights were around the importance of thanking donors and multichannel giving. The DPO data showed only 48.5% of the donors in the data reviewed were thanked for their gifts. Over half of donors in 2017 were not thanked! The impact of thanking showed in the transaction data. While they waited longer to give again, their donations ($50 on average) were higher than non-thanked donors ($35 on average).

Here are some key steps to turn this insight into action:

  1. If you do not currently have a standard protocol for thanking donors within 72 hours of receipt, establish one now.
  2. If you have an acknowledgement process, review any messages that donors receive through your website or other channels, since this may be an opportunity to improve the impact of your messaging through customization. Ensure that the thank you message, whether mailed or email, is properly addressed and matches the campaign or fund to which they are donating.

Multichannel donors gave over twice as much as other donors over the course of their lifetime, and their annual giving average was $325, opposed to $75 offline only and $100 online only. Multichannel includes solicitation via direct mail, telephone, email, face to face, text, social media, events, flyers and newsletters. Knowing this, consider the following:

  1. Donors want to give, so make it as easy as possible for them to donate. I know from my user experience research that hard to navigate websites or poorly organized information will result in people abandoning their efforts, even when highly motivated. If you are able, invite a volunteer to do a test run of completing your donation form or donating online. Ask for their feedback, but while they complete the task, observe where they hesitate or take more time than expected. This combination of feedback and observation will help you identify the pain points your donors may be experiencing. Removing those will help guarantee that giving to your organization is a positive experience that donors will wish to repeat.

Also think about the value of wealth screening in prospecting major donors and cultivating monthly donors.

Click here to view the full webinar.