Category

Major Gift Solicitation

The Campaign Planning Study:  Putting More Action into your Study

By | All Posts, Campaign Planning + Management, Capacity Building, Fundraising, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Heather Ehlert
Chief Operating Officer

Whether you call it a “Feasibility Study,” “Campaign Planning Study,” “Campaign Readiness Assessment” or “Oh-My-Gosh-We’re-Actually-Thinking-About-a-CAMPAIGN!” a planning study is critical to laying a solid foundation for a large-scale fundraising effort.  Not only does it help prepare your organization internally, but a (good) planning study also externally tests your project plans and campaign concept. But couldn’t/shouldn’t a planning study also include getting a head start on cultivating and soliciting key leadership and lead gifts for the campaign?

That’s where the JB+A Integrated Campaign Planning Study comes into play.

Yes, we need the planning study process to measure internal readiness:

  • Assessing the organization’s infrastructure, giving histories and current/previous activities in fundraising
  • Reviewing the functionality of the Board and other volunteers as related to fundraising
  • Appraising your organization’s financial development strengths
  • Determining what is already in place and what is needed to enhance the overall success of your campaign

Yes, we need to a planning study to test external receptivity and get perspective from top donors, leaders and key influencers:

  • Seeking community feedback about your organization, your programs, your leadership and the specific project within the campaign
  • Gauge the potential for support for the fundraising effort
  • Evaluate the fundraising landscape and market viability (potentially competing efforts)

Then we compile and analyze the findings and develop a final report and campaign action plan containing observations, conclusions and recommendations to serve as a nifty road map for implementing your campaign.

Many times, an organization (the Board) will PAUSE after a planning study final report is presented, to contemplate the findings and recommendations and make its own determination of next steps. Yes, a campaign is serious business – life altering, actually – and the decision to undertake one merits serious reflection.  But too often, an organization is struck by “analysis paralysis” and lets too much time pass before finally deciding to move forward with a campaign.  By then, “real life” is back in full swing, and the project and campaign plan is no longer front and center for staff, volunteers, leadership or prospective donors engaged during the planning study.  A tremendous opportunity is lost.

But wait!  This delay can be avoided, forward energy can be maintained, enthusiasm need not be lost.

A JB+A Integrated Campaign Planning Study also includes critical activities to leverage the awareness and momentum generated during the internal and external assessments:

  • Recruiting campaign leadership (chairs/co-chairs)
  • Organizing and launching the Campaign Steering Committee
  • Appraising and prioritizing your top leadership gifts for the campaign (and that includes strategies for cultivation and solicitation)
  • Soliciting the “Inner Family” (Board members, Campaign Steering Committee and staff)

The JB+A Integrated Campaign Planning Study:  all the tried and true, best practices elements you need from a planning study, PLUS the critical first steps of a campaign.  It’s like having your cake and eating it too.

Is the JB+A Integrated Campaign Planning Study right for your nonprofit?   Give us a call (816-237-1999) or drop us a line (info@fundraisingjba.com) and we’ll help you decide.

Don’t Fear DAFs (Donor-Advised Funds)

By | Annual Giving, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fiscal Management, Fundraising, Grants, Insights, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

Katie Lord
Vice President

Over the past several months there has been a lot of negative media attention cast upon the nonprofit sector relating to Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs).  But before I dive deeper into my thoughts about the matter, let’s start with the basics.

I have to say you may have your head buried in the sand if you haven’t read something about a DAF, but here’s a refresher.  A Donor-Advised Fund is a philanthropic vehicle established at a public charity.  It allows donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax benefit and then recommend grants from the fund over time. Whew! That was a very scholarly explanation from AFP.  In layman’s terms, a DAF is a way for individuals or families to save money or “funds” for philanthropic purposes which they can give out over time.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why don’t they just give all the money to charity now? And better yet, why not give it to my charity?”  As we all know, donor intent can difficult to pinpoint. This vehicle allows donors to give money with the intention of charitable purpose while still researching and identifying the impact they wish to make. It’s far more likely the gift wouldn’t be made at all (to any organization) if the donor is not crystal clear on desired outcomes. As a fundraiser, we know purpose and discovery of desired impact is one of the most special roles we can play in a donor’s journey. The DAF gives time for that process.

While DAFs have gained in popularity, the concept has been around since 1931 when the first DAF was created by New York Community Trust. Over the past few years, with the rise of Community Foundations and organizations such as Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard Charitable, DAFs have garnered new attention across the philanthropic and financial industries. It’s fair to say we have come a long way!

According to the most recent data for 2016, it is estimated there were just under 300,0000 DAFs in the United States. Last year alone brought staggering growth.  According to the Giving USA Special Report “The Data on Donor-Advised Funds: New Insights You Need to Know” giving to DAFs made up 8% of annual charitable giving – $23.27 billion 2017.  Of course, this could have been partially due to the new tax legislation, but there has been a consistent rise in DAFs over the last 10 years.

This pales in comparison to foundations, which hold a total of $890,061,214,247 in total assets, according to Foundation Center’s Aggregate Fiscal Data of Foundations in the U.S. 2015 data, which can be viewed here at http://data.foundationcenter.org.

So how do I feel about the DAF and how do I incorporate it into my nonprofit practice?  I’m so glad you asked (well, read this much of my article, anyway…) Due to my love of all things “philanthropy” and my deep belief in donor-centric strategies, I am a strong supporter and advocate for the DAF.  Any vehicle created for the benefit of the nonprofit sector and gives donors and nonprofits alike another funding opportunity is great news for our industry and the overall advancement of philanthropy.  The more options we have and the easier we make it for people to be charitable, the higher the likelihood we move the needle of American philanthropy from 2% of GDP (around which it’s been hovering for close to 40 years) to higher levels.

Let’s also admit the last thing we want our donors or well-meaning individuals to do is start another foundation that only gives out an average 5% each year. DAFs typically grant 24% of their funds annually.

Tools such as a DAF are not inherently good or bad.  Unfortunately, as with everything, I’m afraid, some funds are not created with the best of intentions of the greater good, but rather for the greater tax benefits of the donor.  This does bring up the discussion and conversation about oversight but let’s remember one bad apple doesn’t always have to ruin the bushel.  As we move into the “new era” of DAFs, I do believe there are some tweaks and regulations needed in transparency,  reporting requirements and time limits for fund inactivity – all to ensure DAFs are dispersing gifts for philanthropic support.

On the other side of the coin however, donors who have DAFs should be able to pay pledges and the tax-deductible portion of events out of their funds.  This account was created for a donor’s philanthropic use and as long as no goods, services or other benefit are provided to the donor I don’t see what the point in making a fuss.

We need to remember as fundraisers, we should seize any and all opportunities to build strong relationships with our donors. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss giving vehicles other than cash  with our donors.  A DAF is simply another tool in the fundraising toolbox to help donors maximize their impact and giving potential to your organization. It’s our responsibility as fundraisers to understand DAFs and discuss them with our donor prospects.

I leave you with a few points to ponder as you explore and integrate a DAFs into your fundraising plan:

  • Do your major donors have DAFs? Would they like to contribute through one?  If you don’t have those answers, there’s one way to find out:  ASK them.
  • Does your organization’s website or donate page have a function through which donors can easily grant you a contribution from their DAF?
  • Do you have an organizational profile on your Community Foundation website? Do you update it annually?
  • Do you sit down with your Community Foundation or National Fund officers on an annual basis and ask for your grant report?

If you have more questions or thoughts about DAFs, I’d be more than happy to visit with you.  You can reach me at klord@fundraisingJBA.com. Don’t fear the DAF. Just put it to work for your organization.

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!

Why Major Gifts? Why Now?

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Commentary, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, Prospect Research | No Comments

How many of us wish there were more hours in the day to focus on our major giving program and donors? Some of us may be one-man teams, but even those of us lucky enough to work in a fully-staffed, robust development office wish we had more time to reach out to more donors and have more meaningful conversations. Some of us don’t work on major gifts because there isn’t time and we don’t really see the need: “Why would I spend the time on major gifts if I’m getting by with annual gifts, grants, earned income, etc.?”

Good question. And below is arguably a good answer.

First, let’s reference GivingUSA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy published by The Giving USA Foundation, an arm of The Giving Institute. Of the approximately $390 Billion dollars given by Americans in 2016, 72% was given by individuals.  Add in the 8% giving through bequests (which are also given by individuals, technically) and the 7% from family foundations and the total is closer to 87% received from individuals.  That leaves only 13% given by foundations and corporations. Also, foundations are only legally required and mostly stick to a 5% mandatory distribution requirement.

Donor-Advised Funds and non-traditional giving methods allow for a myriad of possibilities and vehicles for individuals to use to invest in causes and programs about which they care deeply. It is also easier and a better use of staff resources (including time!) to cultivate and grow donors you already have, than to go out and identify new donors.  This is especially true when you look at the national statistics on donor retention. The 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report found donor retention year-over-year averages 45%, meaning more than half of your new donors will not give a gift a second time.

A major giving program gives your donors a path to a deeper relationship with your mission and allows for greater impact through financial investment. With donor acquisition costs on the rise,  spending time examining your current donor base is a better use of time and results in a higher ROI. These individuals have already self-selected and said “yes” to you and your work at least once, but how well do you really “know” them? When was the last time your organization (or have your ever?) conducted a wealth screening? You may know who your top donors are, but do you know who are your most loyal?

To implement a major giving program, organizations should rely on the four pillars of a successful solicitation:

  1. You need a major giving case for support that clearly explains your mission and needs and expresses the impact major giving investments will have on your nonprofit.
  2. It’s imperative that we really “do our homework” and know our donors by understanding their past support, motivations to give and philanthropic goals. This is where the art and science of fundraising converge at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative knowledge.
  3. Utilizing this knowledge, we can develop personalized cultivation strategies, guided by best practices, to present the strongest solicitation possible.
  4. We need to steward our donors by identifying meaningful recognition and continuing communication.

By now, I hope you you’re thoroughly convinced individual donor prospects and major giving are elements you need in your resource development plan.  But do you still wonder if you have the time and resources to implement a major giving program your own organization?

Well, you can quit wondering.

JB+A is pleased to present a solution, in partnership with Softerware, Inc.: DonorPerfect Consulting Services Powered by Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is a 12-month, one-on-one phone and web-based consulting service that will help your organization institute major giving best practices and will offer advice crafted for each organization’s unique needs.  Expert coaching provided by us (JB+A) while utilizing DonorPerfect software and DonorSearch wealth screenings will help you identify and achieve your organization’s major giving fundraising goals.

Want to learn more?  Give me a call at 816-237-1999 or email me at KLord@FundraisingJBA.com.

A Remarkable Act of Generosity

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

John Marshall
Senior Vice President

We have all heard about donors making million-dollar-plus gifts and the impact such generosity had on the recipient charity. Americans are clearly the most generous people on the face of the earth with million dollar gifts occurring annually in the thousands.

Like most fundraisers, I think about what truly motivates a person to give that much away and what I can do to secure such a gift for my clients. There is no doubt a worthy organization with a particularly compelling need can be successful in attracting seven-figure gifts. But, I have found over the years, that what is almost as important is taking the time to get to know your donors and paying particular attention to “the little things.”

I’ll never forget a meeting I had very early in my career with Dr. John Hanna, former president with Michigan State University and one of the most beloved figures in the history of that school. After about a 10-minute conversation he concluded our time together by giving me some sage advice: “John, whatever you do while you are here at MSU, don’t ever forget that people always come first. If you pay attention to them and show you care every bit as much about them as you do their philanthropy, well, truly wonderful things can happen.” It was a lesson I have carried with me ever since.

Some time ago, I was reminded of what Dr. Hanna had said while I was working with The Salvation Army in New York City, one of the Army’s largest divisions in the world.

In early December, The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division holds its Annual Christmas Luncheon. The luncheon attracts a crowd of approximately 1,600 and serves as the official “kick-off” to the Army’s Christmas Campaign in New York City. It also is an event where individuals are publicly recognized for their extraordinary support to The Salvation Army. Since 1948, luminaries such as General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Catherine Marshall, Dr. Billy Graham, Helen Hayes, Bob Hope, Nancy Reagan, Rudolph Giuliani, Yogi Berra and many others have received the Army’s prestigious Pinnacle of Achievement Award.

In 1993, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, an elderly couple who had for years been very generous donors, were chosen to receive the Army’s Community Service Award. Shy of being in the spotlight, Mr. Smith chose not to attend but his wife Lois did and joined a very distinguished group of VIPs including Mrs. Margot Perot, wife of the noted philanthropist. After receiving the award, Lois spoke very humbly about being honored and simply stated that she and her husband dearly loved the Army and its work with the underprivileged.

The following year, one of the worst hurricanes in history struck Florida, precariously near the home where the Smiths spent their winters. Knowing they were in Florida, we decided to have the Divisional Commander (the Army’s equivalent to a CEO) call the Smiths just to say hello and to ask if they were safely weathering the hurricane.

Lois answered the call and was quick to express her appreciation for the Colonel’s call and to say that she was safe. She also shared with him that just two months earlier, her husband had passed away from a heart attack.

Prior to the conclusion of their conversation, the Colonel asked if he could offer a prayer for her during which Lois openly wept. When he concluded, she said “Colonel, when I return to the city could you please visit me in my home?” Of course, he agreed to do so without reservation.

Several weeks later, the Colonel and I were sitting with Lois in her beautiful and very posh Upper East Side penthouse home. In fact, being very private people, this had been the very first time a representative of the Army had been in her home.

“Colonel,” Lois said, “I can’t thank you enough for your phone call. That was a very difficult time for me and it meant so very, very much to me. I would like very much to make a gift in honor of my husband. Can you please give some thought as to how a seven-figure gift might be put to good use? I am particularly interested in something that will benefit children.”

A series of more visits, conversations with her financial advisor and a site visit to two locations in the Bronx followed.  We showed her two daycare centers that were in dire need of significant renovations. She soon became very interested in helping with these particular facilities and asked that we put together a request that would completely cover the cost of the renovations.

Several weeks later, back in her home and in the presence of her financial advisor, the Colonel and me, Lois signed an agreement outlining the specifics of her gift and how it was to be utilized.

Her gift was for $10 million, at that time the largest gift from an individual the Army had ever received in New York City.

Now, I am absolutely certain that honoring Lois and her late husband played a role in her making such an extraordinary gift. But I am just as certain the Colonel’s phone call, reaching out to her in a time of crisis, was even more of a factor.

The truly successful charities in the world are those which understand that stewardship is far, far more than just sending out a timely thank you letter. As Dr. Hanna said, “Don’t forget that people come first.”  It can make a huge difference – just ask The Salvation Army in New York City.

 

Fundraising for your Botanical Gardens: If I Can Do It…

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Campaign Planning + Management, Capacity Building, Fundraising, Grants, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving, Stewardship | No Comments

Eric Tschanz
Senior Consultant

When I arrived at Powell Gardens, I told the Board I could build their garden, but I was NOT a fundraiser.  As President and Executive Director, I soon realized the need for outside funding if the Gardens were going to grow and prosper. Membership programs were started, earned income streams were developed, capital campaigns were initiated and finally, endowment campaigns were begun.

Now, 30 years later, the Gardens have been built and are thriving – and I am not only Director Emeritus, I am also a fundraiser.

None of this happened overnight, and my evolution to a successful fundraiser took time, practice and guidance from other knowledgeable professionals. It started out as a task of which I wasn’t too sure and is now one with which I am not only comfortable but enjoy. So how does this fundraising success start?

Two traits you must have before worrying about the mechanics of ‘how to ask’ are 1) a passion for the project and 2) the ability to form nurturing relationships with your donors.  We shouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t have a passion for public horticulture, but it goes further with a complete knowledge and understanding of the project – whether plants, design or programming – and the ability to articulate what the result will mean for the community and the donor.

We often talk about cultivation and donor relations, but I believe it goes deeper: forming a nurturing relationship with the donor.  Although I am Director Emeritus of Powell Gardens and no longer participate in direct fundraising for the Gardens, I have past donors that still call me and invite me for coffee or lunch.  These are nurtured donors and true friends.

Yes, there are tips and tricks (if we must call it that) to the trade.  Over the years I had the great fortune to work with Jeffrey Byrne + Associates (JB+A) and hone my skills. Together we completed two successful capital campaigns for Powell Gardens.  Now, as a fundraiser I never thought I’d be, I work with JB+A in supporting public horticulture professionals like you.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran in fundraising, or just starting out, JB+A and I can help you achieve fundraising success for your gardens. You can benefit from our experience and expertise – and have fun along the way.

Want to learn more about JB+A and our fundraising services specifically for botanical gardens? Contact me here.  You can also give me a call or email me. I’d be happy to visit with you.

Eric Tschanz
Senior Consultant, JB+A
Director Emeritus, Powell Gardens
Past President, current member of the American Public Gardens Association

816.237.1999
Email Eric

Check out Eric’s credentials.

 

Do Your Homework, Sit Still and LISTEN

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Prospect Research, Volunteers | No Comments

Jeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

We know to do our homework on prospective donors. You’ve heard me say time and again “Don’t commit fundraising malpractice!” (See my blog piece on the benefits of prospect research here.)That means do your research – because it reveals information about the wealth and capacity of prospects as well as information about philanthropic giving history, community involvement, natural partners and connections. And your donor database should contain important notes about your prospects and interactions with them. Prepare for your visit.

Sitting still tells your audience you really care about what they should say. Don’t shuffle your papers. Don’t check your phone. Don’t fidget. Sitting still lets you hear what your prospective donor should tell you about their life story and experiences – maybe even how a single instance changed their life. You can learn why they are passionate about your organization and its mission.

I believe in order to be a great fundraiser, you have to be a good – if not great – listener. Human nature might urge you to fill quiet moments with a remark or an anecdote. Of course you are nervous, and anxious to impress. You certainly want to make a connection you can build upon later. But it is in those quiet moments that you, as a volunteer or professional, can learn the most.  Waiting for the prospective donor to share might result in hearing firsthand how your healthcare institution saved their life. You might learn a relative was a long-time volunteer. You might learn how an agency similar to yours provided their mother with safety and refuge from domestic violence.  Resist the urge to talk about yourself.  Ask prospective donors about themselves…and then listen to what they say. Some good lead-ins might include:

  • “Tell me more about that …”
  • “What did she/he say about that…?”
  • “What happened next …?”
  • “What made you decide to …?”

You get the idea. You can think up your own list of “conversation engagers” that will help you get to know your prospective donor and involve them in the meeting. The bottom line is this: regardless of with whom you are meeting, when you get your prospective donors talking about themselves – when you ask about them – your prospective donor will come away from the visit feeling much more satisfied and positive about you and your organization than if you had used the time trying to tell them the 50 wonderful things you are doing to make a difference.

However, all of this doesn’t mean you should not educate your listeners about your organization and your mission. I’d suggest you use the 80/20 rule. Inform 20 percent of the time and LISTEN the other 80 percent.

In training staff and volunteers to make major gift solicitations, we place considerable emphasis on setting the appointment, sharing the vision and asking for the gift. Think about all the times we practice the script for the call or role-play the visit.  But how often do we practice listening? If you have volunteers who are reluctant to go on solicitation calls, think about how can coaching them on listening style can help them overcome their jitters about making the “ask.”

And finally, care about what’s being said and commit it to memory. Make notes when you leave if you need to capture details. This kind of active listening and remembering stems from truly caring about the donor. Don’t let the lure of a gift keep you from truly caring and listening to the prospective donor’s words. If you are listening and caring (and, of course, remembering to ask for the gift,) the gift will come.

Donor Relationships: transform donors into partners

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Stewardship | No Comments

Bruce Broce, M.A., Vice President

 A Board member once asked me if I considered our philanthropic supporters to be “donors” or “partners.” I answered by saying they ideally should be both. Every nonprofit has donors, but the really successful ones expand their relationship with their constituents beyond the financial plane and nurture them as partners who can help move forward the organization’s mission.

When it comes to fundraising, nonprofits tend to allocate the majority of their time and energy on acquiring donors. But let’s be honest, not nearly enough time is spent thinking about how to retain donors, and that’s a missed opportunity. Being a donor has become part of our daily lives; think about how frequently you’re asked to support something. Whether it’s donating $1 at the pet store when checking out, or buying a begonia to help your neighborhood school, charitable giving is often reduced to a transaction instead of being a meaningful, participatory and ongoing experience. Oftentimes, what distinguishes a philanthropic experience is what happens after a donation is made.

Your organization would be well served to review what processes are set in motion when donors make gifts. Because donors can feel like an organization’s checkbook, use the stewardship phase to further educate and engage donors. This helps them better understand the impact of their gift and prepares the groundwork for them becoming partners the next time they enter the donor cycle. Impactful and transformational giving occurs when a donor sees a partnership as the natural outcome of your relationship and the basis for how their philanthropic investment will meaningfully impact your organization.

Keep in mind that the tools that were initially used to attract and cultivate prospects tend to be set aside once they’ve become donors. You would be surprised how a donor’s perspective changes once they understand how their gift has impacted your organization. I once gave a “thank you tour” of our program, which was essentially the tour we gave prospective donors at the onset of cultivation. However, because the donor now possessed a deeper understanding of our services being offered, she said she could better appreciate the work being accomplished by our staff. As a result, her giving increased and she became an advocate of our organization within the community, championing us to potential new donors. In other words, she transitioned from being a donor to becoming a partner who was vested in the success of our organization.

A comprehensive fundraising program is as strategic and genuine in its thanks, appreciation and ongoing engagement as it is in its solicitation. Make sure your organization has a carefully designed program of acquisition, retention, stewardship and ultimately involvement of your key donors. These elements are critical to strengthening relationships with the donors you already have, and ultimately, creating lasting partnerships from which your organization will benefit.

Just Ask.

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research | No Comments

Saber Hossinei, Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

Have you seen those shirts with JUST DO IT across the front? It certainly makes for a catchy phrase, but the meaning behind it is so much more than that. It’s a message of action. Regardless of one’s condition, level of experience or ability, don’t forget what’s truly necessary: action. And with action, come results.

In my background with sales and sales training, the recurring obstacle for many of the trainees I worked with (rookie and veteran salespeople alike) was “making the ask.” How is it that most folks can be trained to do an excellent job with all aspects of the sales process, yet drop the ball when it comes to asking for the sale? Anecdotally, I can tell you that the best sales reps had the opposite problem. They weren’t great planners or polished presenters, but they asked for a sale with each and every visit, and as the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Recently, I had the privilege to serve on the silent auction subcommittee for a nonprofit’s annual gala fundraiser. It was my first time in such a role, and in fact it was my first time ever asking for donations. Armed with just a letter about the event and a donation request form, I hit the street and went door to door in a shopping center to ask for donations. Of course, I was very excited to receive a nice item from the first business I approached, and by the end of my walk, I had received not only merchandise and gift cards for the silent auction, but also referrals to other businesses to solicit for donations! The bottom line is, I might have felt poorly prepared, but by showing up and asking for donations, I received them.

I am certainly not making a case against proper and thorough preparation for solicitations. The qualification, cultivation and solicitation process with prospective donors is critically important, and today, we have many valuable resources readily available to help us develop strong strategies for relationship-building with our prospects/donors. (Check out Jeffrey’s article “Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice” about how nonprofits should “do their “homework” on prospective donors.)

But nonprofits suffer when leadership, staff and volunteers are reluctant to “make the ask,” or want to wait until everything is “perfect.” Don’t get “paralysis by analysis.” Your Boards, staff and volunteers should be taught that making an “ask” is not only the most important element in obtaining donations, but it is also the right thing to do. You owe your supporters action, your potential donors the opportunity to support your cause and you owe those who benefit from your nonprofit your best work! JUST ASK.

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.