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

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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 www.afpfep.org)

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 www.afpfep.org/reports 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 www.afpfep.org.  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 daubert.erik@gmail.com

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 www.afpfep.org

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

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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.

Inaugural National History Academy

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Editor’s Note: JB+A is proud to share this special piece with you, which showcases former JB+A Consultant and current colleague and friend, Bill Sellers. Bill is President of Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a nonprofit partnership that promotes and supports civic engagement through history education, economic development through heritage tourism and the preservation of cultural landscapes in a 180-mile corridor from Gettysburg, PA through Maryland and Harpers Ferry, WV to Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.

Bill Sellers feels there is a “crisis in historical and civic literacy.” A recent report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress concluded that only 18% of high school seniors showed proficiency in their knowledge of American history and 23% were proficient in civics. Of the seven subjects included in the Report, students scored lowest in their knowledge of U.S. history.

Bill is actively doing something to reverse these statistics — by providing future leaders with a “multidimensional, contextual understanding of history and its figures.” Bill developed the National History Academy, a five-week residential summer program for high school students to not just learn American history, but live it.

Bill Sellers describes the vision for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: walking in the footsteps of leaders who helped define and shape the American story including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., and where soldiers fought for the birth and survival of this nation. Students will experience traditional classroom learning, but more importantly, visit 42 sites within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area.

The region was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of the 11 most endangered places in the United States in 2005, was declared by Congress as a National Heritage Area in 2008, and Route 15/20 was named a National Scenic Byway in 2009. The Journey includes 12 National Parks, nine presidential sites, 30 historic Main Street communities, dozens of Civil War battlefields, and over 100 sites related to the fight for Civil Rights.

The mission of the Academy is to “foster an understanding of key events, people and issues in the country’s history and to engage our nation’s future leaders in the rights and duties of American citizenship through place-based, experiential learning.”  Its motto, “Historia Est Magistra Vitae” is taken from Cicero’s De Oratore and means “history is the teacher of life.”

Highly motivated students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades may apply. The application process includes a short application and a short response to the question, “Tell us why you want to be a part of the National History Academy in two paragraphs.”

Applications will be reviewed by a committee and judged on maturity of response and understanding of the topic. One-hundred students will be accepted into the Academy. Successful applicants will then be invited to register for the Academy, which runs June 24 to July 28, 2018.  A limited amount of financial aid is available.

To learn more about the National History Academy, visit here.

To learn more about Journey Through Hallowed Ground, visit here.

Bill and the Academy are also featured in the May-June 2018 issue of Harvard Magazine, which is published by a separately incorporated nonprofit affiliate of Harvard University, Bill’s alma mater.

The Results Are In: 2016 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Education, Fundraising, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use | No Comments

ustrust_bulletinlogo_140820Editor’s Note:  The 2016 U.S. Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, reports the giving patterns and priorities of America’s wealthiest donors and provides valuable insights into the strategies, vehicles and approaches that can make giving more effective. This Study is a continuation of the 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 reports. 

Results are based on a nationwide sample of 1,435 responding households with a net worth of $1 million or more and/or an annual household income of $200,000 or more. For the first time, the study includes a deeper analysis based on age, gender, sexual orientation and race.  The Study offers comprehensive information on the charitable giving and volunteering activities of high net worth households that will apply directly to our Kansas City philanthropic endeavors. 

This past June, JB+A partnered with U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy to present Giving USA 2016:The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015.  We are pleased to continue to share valuable information that complements Giving USA data and can be used by nonprofit professionals, donors, volunteers and others interested in promoting philanthropy.

What did we learn?
The Study reveals that giving levels remain high and the future looks bright, supported by several findings:

  • The vast majority are giving: Last year, 91% of high net worth households donated to charity compared to 59% of the general population of U.S. households.
  • They are spreading the wealth around: on average, wealthy donors gave to eight different nonprofits last year with donors over the age of 70 giving to an average of 11 organizations.
  • These households plan to give as much or more in the future: 83% of wealthy donors are planning to give as much (55%) or more (28%) in the next three years than they have in the past.
  • Time is also treasure: these high net worth households also demonstrated their commitment to charitable causes through volunteering.  50% of wealthy individuals volunteered their time to charities they support. This is twice the rate of the general population (25%).

Motivations to Give
While there is an assortment of reasons motivating high net worth philanthropy, the following were cited as the top motivators for giving in 2015:

  • Believing in the mission of the organization – 54%
  • Believing that their gift can make a difference – 44%
  • Experiencing personal satisfaction, enjoyment or fulfillment – 39%
  • Supporting the same causes annually – 36%
  • Giving back to the community – 27%

Only 18% of the respondents cited tax advantages among their top motivations for giving compared with 34% who cited this as a motivation in 2013.

What do high net worth donors want?
Donors have strong feelings about how their donation should be used. They feel that nonprofit organizations should:

  • Limit the amount of the individual’s donation that is spent on general administrative and fundraising expenses – 89%
  • Demonstrate sound business and operational practices – 89%
  • Acknowledge donations by providing a receipt for tax purposes – 88%
  • Not distribute their names to others – 84%
  • Send a thank you note – 61%

“This year’s Study reinforces that our wealthiest donors are engaged, willing and eager to give,” says Jeffrey Byrne, President + CEO of Jeffrey Byrne + Associates, Inc.  “with nearly half the wealthy individuals surveyed indicating that charitable giving has the greatest potential for impact on society, it is up to us – the fundraisers and nonprofit professionals – to connect, cultivate and steward these individuals.”

The study also highlighted several key findings regarding volunteerism amongst high net worth individuals.

“A significant finding from this year’s study is the correlation between volunteerism and giving” said Lewis Gregory, CAP, Senior Vice President, Institutional and Private Client Advisor for U.S. Trust in Kansas City.  “A high percentage of wealthy individuals give financially to the organizations with which they volunteer. They also give 56% more on average than those who do not volunteer. I hope this inspires nonprofits to appreciate and cultivate their volunteers on a whole new level.”

Other Key Takeaways
And the winner is:  basic needs organizations.  While many of the nonprofit subsectors benefited from increased contributions from high net worth donors in 2015, basic needs was the clear front runner.

  • 63% of high net worth households gave to basic needs organizations
  • Religion received the largest share of dollars (36%) – more than basic needs (28%), higher education (8%), health (7%) or the arts (5%).
  • The highest share of high net worth households also prioritized education as the most important current policy issue (56%) ahead of poverty (34.6%) and healthcare (33.8%).
  • New research: There’s no better time than election season to study the political giving behavior of high net worth individuals.  The study found:
    • One out of four wealthy individuals contributed to a political candidate in 2015 or planned to do so in the 2016 election cycle
    • Donors over the age of 70 (40%) and LGBT individuals (38%) were more likely to give to a political candidate or campaign
    • The top three public policy issues that matter most to wealthy individuals are health care (29%), education (28%) and national security (27%), closely followed by the economy (26%)

To access the full 90-page report, visit www.ustrust.com/philanthropy.

Do You Really Understand Donor-Advised Funds and the Donors Behind Them?

By | Commentary, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Education, Events, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use | No Comments

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO

One of the biggest trends JB+A is seeing in fundraising is the impact of donor-advised funds.  Nonprofits should be paying close attention to donor-advised funds and their impact on philanthropy.

Did you know…?

1.  Extremely significant amounts of money are being given to charities through donor-advised funds:

  • the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation granted more than $263 million to charities in 2014 through charitable giving accounts, also known as donor-advised funds
  • 58% of those grant recipients were right here in Kansas and Missouri (that’s nearly $153 million!)
  • Fidelity Charitable granted more than $2.6 billion to charities in 2014

2.  Donor-advised funds can be funded with a variety of assets such as cash equivalents, publicly-traded securities and other property such as  shares and interests in privately held companies, real estate and oil and gas interests:

  • In 2014, more than half of the contributions to Fidelity Charitable’s giving accounts were non-cash assets
  • In 2014, 43% of GKCCF’s contributions to giving accounts were no-cash assets
  • Donating long-term, appreciated assets potentially allows more donors to maximize capital gains tax advantages, reduce taxes and ultimately give more to charity

3.  Investment growth in donor-advised funds drives an increase in funds available for charitable grants:

  • Since 1991, investment options at Fidelity Charitable have generated an additional $3.6 billion available for grant making
  • Also with Fidelity Charitable, over the last 10 years, dollars granted to charities have tripled

4.  Funds are not simply “parked”; they are granted out sooner than we might think

  • most contributions to Fidelity Charitable are granted out to charities within 10 years