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Katie Lord

Philanthropy is Business…and That’s OK

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As we close out another year with the turn of the calendar to January, many of us spend some time reflecting on the lessons learned over the past 12 months while setting organizational goals for the year ahead.  We need to take the time, not only to do this on a personal and organizational basis, but as a profession.  I think it is important that as a sector we take stock of where we have been, where we are and where we need to go in order to stay nimble – while continuing to increase our meaningful societal significance.  We can all agree that the times they are a changing.

As we continue to march our way through the second decade of the new millennium, the nonprofit sector looks much different than it did even two years ago, let alone in 2000.   Technological tools, data analytics, interpersonal communication options, physical work environments and service delivery are just a few of the ways our work world is rapidly changing. Corporations are now focused on social enterprise; the conversations and perceptions of how they make social impact are changing.  Are we as a sector ready for this?

Unfortunately, the nonprofit sector is not always known for its adaptability or quick response to change.  Misguidedly, we often reject the idea of “running a nonprofit like a business” which causes our sector to be perceived as accepting a “status quo” or “this is the way we have always done it” mentality.  This also reinforces the expectations of “minimal overhead ratios,” “outputs vs. outcomes” and the proverbial misperception that we need to be “saved” by the for-profit sector.  Not surprisingly, this continues to cause tension and maintain an undercurrent of lack of respect and frustration felt by us as the practitioners of social good.

“Failure” is still a bad word among our sector and is not celebrated as a learning experience, as it is with our corporate counterparts, due to how funding for such projects is obtained.  With few dollars available for venture philanthropy, the competition is fierce, limiting the ability for innovative solutions to be discovered and rapidly implemented across subsectors.

My hope for 2018 is that we as a sector begin to be as recognized for our specialties, expertise and impact as our for-profit counterparts. I hope we embrace the fact that at the end of the day, we too are in business – the business of doing good for our community, country and world.  Our work is vital to the economic and social success of our county.  We are the second largest employer behind manufacturing. Our products are safe housing options, research to find cures for disease and hot meals for the homeless.  Our services include removing barriers to education and job skills training, mentorship, mental health programs and youth interventions.

How can this mentality be implemented in our nonprofit organizations this year? Let’s walk before we run.  Invest in team training on business skills, contribute to cross sector conversations, attend networking events, read traditional “best business practices books” and implement key ideas, have a Board focus group to discuss and update strategic plans.  Set one, three- and five-year program and fundraising goals. Seemingly small steps can make big results for our stakeholders and those we serve. Let’s seize the opportunity to do business in 2018, but not as business as usual!

Avoiding the Thask

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

The end of the year brings with it two distinct “seasons” in the continuum of our donor relationships within our organizations.  The first of course begins in November with the season of Thanks. This is a time in which we take a moment to truly acknowledge those who have supported us throughout the year by giving of their time, talent and treasure. It is important to be thoughtful in crafting meaningful communications across multiple channels to support your stewardship program.  Hopefully you are doing this all year long when donations are received, however it is worth not letting this seasonal opportunity pass you by.

The second season that we run into immediately following the season of Thanks is the season of Giving. Kicked off the Tuesday following Thanksgiving with #GivingTuesday and running through year end giving campaigns.  We are all aware that December is the highest giving month of the year, weather that is due to the spirit of the holidays or the last month to make donations for tax deduction purposes.

Thus we come to the point of this article. It should be considered a fundraising faux pas to combine these two distinct messages with each other, creating a THASK or a thank you/ask.  While this may seem efficient through perceived cost and time saving benefits to your organization a “Thask” is the antithesis of a donor centric model, with negative impacts on your organizations culture of philanthropy.   Please enjoy the poem by Stephanie Vorhees entitled “The Thask” to fully understand the ramifications a Thask can have to your nonprofit.

By combining a thank you message with a request for funds, you have thus negated the appreciation of past support, as the donor will immediately focus on the new request for funds.  According to industry best practices, a donor should be thanked or acknowledged between five to seven times before they receive another solicitation from you.  These can be as simple as phone calls, hand written thank you notes, e-cards, social media shout outs, listings in newsletters, annual report materials, appreciation events, or any other creative way that aligns with your mission and donor preferences.

As we look towards the end of 2017 and beginning a new year in 2018, remember to take the time during this busy season of fundraising to truly acknowledge the impact your donors have to your daily operations, programs and services.  By taking the time to express gratitude you deepen the relationship with your donors. Let’s together agree to make “Thasking” a thing of the past.

Making the Case for a Young Advisory Board

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Katie Lord, Vice President

As millennials progress in their careers and experience increases in their income, the corporate and philanthropic landscape will continue to shift. This age group is not only changing the workplace dynamic, it is changing the philanthropic landscape – from expectations to involvement.  It is critical to develop and offer engagement opportunities for those born between approximately 1982 and 2000 (known as the “giving generation”) – both for making financial contributions and volunteering – as millennials spur new and innovative changes to charitable giving.

In a recent report released by Dunham + Company, 22% of millennials plan to give more this year than they did last year. In 2016, millennials gave an average of $580 and an average of 40 volunteer hours. While this puts them at the lower end of financial support, millennials are the largest active generation in the workforce today and are starting to approach middle management levels. The nonprofits that harness this generation’s time and talents early will reap the benefits of their treasures later.

As millennials progress in their careers and leadership journeys, many are looking for ways to give back to organizations they care about – but in very “hands-on” ways that afford them a “seat at the table” or a chance to “lean in.” Millennials who are driven by achievement and a strong sense of social responsibility actively seek civic opportunities for service.  Creating a Young Advisory Board is a fantastic way to engage them.

Service opportunities through a Young Advisory Board allow your nonprofit to cultivate this generation, while simultaneously filling your pipeline with potential high performing Board members in the future.  It is important to set up structure, roles, responsibilities and clear expectations that create accountabilities for this group, which mirror the governing Board of Directors. A challenging aspect of working with the millennial constituency is striking a balance of nonprofit staff oversight with group autonomy. You want the Young Advisory Board to be a working board (and not turn into a social or happy hour club) while achieving goals that benefit your organization and those you serve.

In order to set up your Young Advisory Board effectively, here are some best practices to consider:

  • Young Advisory Boards should have between 12 to 15 members
    • Prospective Board members should submit an application and be interviewed
    • Board members should receive and sign off on a job description
    • Board members should represent a diverse spectrum of companies, gender and ethnicities
  • Officer/Executive Committee positions include President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary
    • Note, the President should be a non-voting member on the Board of Directors and invited to attend meetings
  • Set an individual fundraising “give” expectation – this does not have to be a large amount but does need to be an annual gift not tied to an event
  • Set a group fundraising “get” goal that can to be accomplished throughout the year utilizing peer-to-peer fundraising or an event organized by Young Advisory Board members; this is in addition to the individual fundraising “give” expectation
  • Meeting dates and times and length of meetings should be set and agreed upon by the group for greater buy-in and accountability

The above list contains some good starting points to consider when creating a Young Advisory Board.  Your culture, mission and Young Advisory Board leadership will drive many of the roles and expectations, but these best practices will provide a framework to attract young individuals with the work ethic and drive to support your organization, while cultivating a younger demographic and stewarding them to fill your pipeline of future leaders and loyal donors.

Check out Katie’s three-part series on Time, Talent and Treasure for more ideas on strengthening your nonprofit’s Boards.

Summer + Planning = #GivingTuesday Fundraising Success

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Social Media, Uncategorized | No Comments

Katie Lord, Vice President

It’s officially summer and you know what that means: “special summer deal” ads are bombarding us on TV and reminders that it’s time to start thinking about the year-end holidays are already starting to pop up on social media.  As consumers, we either love or loathe these very early reminders of the impending holiday season; for nonprofits, it is a reminder we need to begin thinking about something else associated with the holiday time of year: #GivingTuesday.

Celebrating its 6th anniversary, #GivingTuesday falls on November 28th this year. In 2016, #GivingTuesday raised more than $177 million through $1.64 million gifts in 98 countries around the world. November may seem like a long way away with countless other deadlines in between for you and your organization, but there are three important steps you can take now to get a jumpstart on a successful #GivingTuesday this fall:

  1. Identify your #GivingTuesday Program Focus

When crafting a #GivingTuesday campaign, it is best to highlight a specific program or immediate need with in your organization to grab donors’ attention. Granted, we all need general operational support, but your annual appeal supports that. Since social media is the main vehicle for #GivingTuesday, your #GivingTuesday campaigns need to be targeted and more specific, enabling the goal of the day to be reached through viral sharing and support of your followers and donors.  Examples include a special project in your facility or purchase of technology or supplies.

  1. Find a Matching Gift

It’s been shown that #GivingTuesday and year-end appeals with matching funds have better results.  Now is the time to look through your donor database and current major gift relationships to identify, cultivate and solicit a short list of prospects for matching funds to your #GivingTuesday project and goals.

  1. Create your #Hashtag

It is not too early to create your unique #hashtag for your #GivingTuesday campaign based on the program or theme you have selected. Be sure to make it short and relevant to your organization and something easy for people to remember.  Not only will this allow you to stand out on the actual day by having a unique hashtag, it also provides increased opportunity for your specific campaign to “trend.”

It is not too early to start “pre-sharing” your plans for #GivingTuesday, and building the anticipation and excitement that will keep your organization’s campaign top of mind for donors, volunteers and staff who will be involved in planning and executing a successful #GivingTuesday.

For more tips about creating a solid #GivingTuesday campaign, download your own “JB+A #GivingTuesday Guide.”

And a special thank you to Dave Halpin and Lamar Advertising for donating several billboards promoting #GivingTuesday around greater Kansas City.

Join JB+A and SH Marketing for the “Google Ad Words for Nonprofits Webinar” June 22

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Among the many benefits of using Google to advertise, the most significant benefits are user accessibility and reach. Google processes over 40,000 searches per second all around the world. Imagine having this potential at your fingertips! As daunting as it may be, you can customize your campaigns to reach as far or as near as best fits your organization. Now that millennials are the largest living generation, and given how tech savvy they’ve proven themselves to be, to not take advantage of digital marketing is to largely ignore a very significant volunteer and donation pool.

You won’t want to miss this valuable webinar on June 22 from 12- 1pm. Register here!  

Women in Philanthropy: Where Are We Headed?

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By Katie Lord, Vice President

What are some of the complexities, challenges and contradictions you see in women’s philanthropy today? What do you want this narrative in the 21st century to include?

On March 14th and 15th more than 300 women congregated in Chicago to address these very issues, and I was one of them.  My participation in the 2017 “Dream. Dare. Do. Women, Philanthropy and Civil Society” Symposium made me very aware of the diverse array of women participating in philanthropy, and even more committed to strengthening our role in the sector.  This event is hosted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute of Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Dr. Deborah Mesch was the chair of this year’s event. Dr. Mesch presented “Women in Philanthropy” last year at the JB+A-sponsored Nonprofit Connect 501 (c) Success National Speaker Series.

Held every three years, this two-day symposium brings women philanthropists, fundraisers, funders and organizations together to discuss advancing women-related fundraising causes, women working in the field of philanthropy and raising the profile of women donors and philanthropists.  As part of this year’s focus, attendees were exposed to ways women can dream, dare and do more to advance women at all levels of the field through specific channels of change.

As part of the “dream” section, discussions centered around organizational flexibility to change, including addressing gender and generational differences head on with our donors and constituents, embracing risk-taking in our organizations through venture philanthropy, innovative programming and collaborations with other nonprofits as well as public organizations.

Next, participants were asked to “dare” to think outside the box of traditional philanthropy through emerging nontraditional verticals, including pursuing social entrepreneurship partnerships in business and startup communities, social impact investing partnerships within the financial sector, and the rise of giving circles and collaborations through community foundations and special interest/affinity groups.

Finally, we were challenged to go back home and “do more.” This includes bringing women philanthropists and organizations to larger audiences and making sure we are having a seat at the table at all levels of organizational involvement.  Women still are underrepresented on nonprofit boards, in executive positions within foundations and nonprofit organizations and are often left out of the donor cultivation process, even though most are the key decision makers for financial and philanthropic decisions within their households.

This conversation is timely. With access to more wealth than ever before—some say as much as $13.2 trillion in North America alone—women’s voices, leadership and resources are needed more than ever to address the pressing challenges in our country and around the world.  I know the conversation will continue with this Symposium attendee.  I am grateful for the support of the Women in Philanthropy Institute and the research it provides to help cultivate women donors and to help move the needle.  If you would like additional information on the topics discussed at the Symposium, or are interested in moving the needle, please contact me at klord@fundraisingjba.com or at 816-237-1999.

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

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By Katie Lord, Vice President 

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

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

What is Treasure?

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

Generation to Generation: The Boomers

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

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

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

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

The Gen Xers

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

The Elusive Millennial

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

 

 

 

The Resource Development Plan: Your Key to Fundraising Success

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Katie LordKatie Lord, Vice President

We can all agree that fundraising is key to the success of a nonprofit organization. But you can’t fundraise effectively until you know what you are working toward and how you are going to get there. Enter the resource development plan – this is your organization’s roadmap to fundraising success and, when done right, can guarantee you reach your goals.

The AFP defines a resource development plan as “a tool that helps your staff and board set realistic income goals with respect to your budgeting process. The plan outlines the strategic steps required to reach those goals, as well as board and staff responsibilities in accomplishing the plan.” Reaching your fundraising goals is a collaborative process, so ensure that both your staff and board members are involved in writing the plan.

There are 3 keys to a good resource development plan:

  1. Diversity in revenue streams
  2. Timeline of goals and benchmarks
  3. Measurement and course correction

If you have always relied on one or two traditional fundraising techniques, consider diversifying your approach.  The more diverse your revenue streams, the easier it will be to reach your ultimate goal. The essential revenue streams in a resource development plan are annual fund/membership, board giving, grants, corporate/special events, planned giving and major gifts. A robust fundraising department utilizes all of these strategies to get where they’re going.

But let’s get down to the nitty gritty – building your plan. Approach each revenue stream in three parts:

Part I: Goals and Tactics

This is the HOW. Set a specific, measurable goal ($$) and determine how you will get there. For example, tactics for reaching your annual fund goal may be laid out in your vehicles of solicitation. Will you use email, phone calls, in-person visits or direct mail? Get even more specific and rate your prospects by solicitation type. The more you break down your goals into manageable pieces, the easier it is to evaluate and course correct over time.

Part II: Calendar and Due Dates

Now that you’ve determined the how, you need to know when. Establish clear deadlines and check in points for each step in your plan to reach your goal. For example, in a direct mailing, establish clear dates for pulling and review your donor list, writing and approving the mail piece, date of the mailing to be dropped and when to begin follow up calls. Clear, established deadlines lay the foundation for execution and accountability.

Part III: Roles/Responsibilities & Measurement

You know the how, the when….now who? Responsible parties for each task must be written into your plan. Since your staff and board/volunteers are already helping you write this plan, they should have direct input into this component. Lastly, ensure you have a timeline in place to measure progress. Establish projections and meet regularly to discuss progress and course correction.

Congratulations! You have a plan in place that clearly defines who, what and when. Ensure your plan is easy to digest, shareable and flexible. If your staff and volunteers are on board, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

Want more tips on putting together the perfect development plan? Katie would love to hear from you – get in touch at klord@fundraisingjba.com or at 816.237.1999. 

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

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Katie LordKatie Lord, Vice President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be sure to read the final post in Katie’s series about “Treasure.”

Time, Talent and Treasure: The First Word is Time for a Reason

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Katie Lord

Katie Lord, Senior Consultant

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

Most commonly, when speaking of “time” as it relates to nonprofit organizations, the standard definition would be time given related to its direct service activities/programs.  Examples would be serving meals to the homeless, attending a Board or committee meeting, making an in-person gift solicitation or attending a special event.  “Time,” however, can now be calculated through “off-site” activities including networking and personal introductions, technologically-based gift solicitations through social media, email or text or completing a “done-in-a-day” project (such as packet assembly for a walk/race) that can be done at home.

According to the Independent Sector (independentsector.org,) the 2015 calculated hour of volunteer work is the equivalent of $23.56 in a paid wages, thus putting a monetary value on volunteer work and something to keep in mind when recruiting top volunteer talent of any generation.  This value of “time,” however, no longer just equates to “time” given on-site with the organization through a traditional lens. It needs to evolve into a new definition by nonprofits.  It is through the giving of “time” that your organization has the opportunity to tell your story and impart your mission to your volunteers. This, in turn, will expand their knowledge of your organization and their personal commitment to your mission.

As the majority of the population continues to age and retire from traditional jobs, the Baby Boomer generation should be the major focus of volunteer coordinators for on-site and “traditional” in-person support through Board service or capital campaign committees. This is due to their established networks, higher disposable income and focus on leaving their mark on the world.  Baby Boomers are not a passive retirement generation. They are staying involved and active much longer than the generation before them. Many are not completely exiting the work force, but are just reducing hours or taking “retirement” in the form of a nontraditional job.  Having just passed their highest earning years by retiring or semi-retiring, they look to continue to be relevant and to not only use their skill sets, but to also share their invaluable knowledge and experience.

It is important to remember though that many Baby Boomers will be discerning regarding the institutions with which they choose to share their skills, they may also be reducing the number of Boards and activities to which they are willing to commit. Boomers do tend to have a level of longevity with the organizations they support, having given their “treasure” first and then following with their “time” and “talent.”

As it relates to Millennials, “time” is perceived as a commodity due to its finite number; everyone only gets 24 hours in a day.  Most millennials are still in their career-building phase, making less in their day job than the $23.56 an hour a volunteer hour is worth.  Millennials tend to give of their “time” first — to see the impact of their efforts on an organization. They make an evaluation, and then follow with their “talent” and “treasure.”

By choosing to give their time to your organization, Millennials are choosing to not participate in another available activity; therefore, it is of the utmost importance that their volunteer projects produce an immediate and demonstrated impact to those you serve. The emerging generations will not be able to provide you the biggest monetary gifts right now. However, and because of their social nature and focus on networks and communities, their “time” can be focused on income-producing opportunities.  Peer-to-Peer fundraising efforts are a great way to use their network and social connections, along with their “time,” to make introductions or solicitations, both in-kind and monetary.  As they will with their careers, many Millennials will give “time” to certain projects, outcomes or people they know, as opposed to institutions and what they stand for, therefore causing more episodic volunteerism.

Both generations — Baby Boomers and Millennials — may have different focuses and motivations related to giving “time,” but are not so different that they both view it as a gift to organizations. So, make sure your organization is cognizant of differing gifts of “time,” and offers multiple ways for “time” to be given. Make sure you value volunteer “time” within the scope of your mission for both Baby Boomers and Millennials. “Time” is not always a standalone commitment, but is often combined at some point with either “treasure” or “talent.”  “Time” is the gateway for volunteers to become further involved with your organization and for moving them along the path to being fully-engaged donors.