Category

Planned Giving

Art, Science, Success: Creating Opportunity for Prospect Development in Your Organization

By | All Posts, Database Management, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Prospect Research | No Comments

JB+A is pleased to welcome guest contributor Marissa Todd, JD, MBA – a prospect development professional and current President of Apra Missouri-Kansas – as she shares her insights and experience on prospect research and development.

Marissa Todd, JD, MBA
JB+A Guest Contributor

How many of us have heard the phrase “the art and science of fundraising”? Probably many of you reading this. It’s quite the popular phrase and is often used to describe the intersection of data and research with the relationship building that takes place across the donor development cycle.

The art part of fundraising is generally the domain of gift officers and senior level administrators whose main role is to meet with donors and prospects in order to cultivate and solicit gifts. The science part, especially in smaller development operations, is often shared by many hands from the gift officers to the database manager to gift processing, and if you are fortunate, a prospect research professional. Having talented professionals to implement and execute both the art and science pieces is critical to a strategic, successful development operation.

However, many organizations do not believe they have the resources to invest in staff for prospect research. If you are one of the organizations who struggle with resources or time for the science of fundraising, fear not! This passionate prospect development professional has some tips that any organization, regardless of size, can try to take steps to integrate prospect research into your organization.

First and foremost, make sure you are collecting information from your prospect interactions. Most fundraising databases have an area for you to capture contact reports from your emails, phone calls and meetings with prospects. Make sure staff utilize this area to capture substantive interactions. These reports can be a wealth of information (pun intended!) on the potential capacity of a prospect, as well as provide historical context during staff transitions. Having a central place for relationship data is key to continuing to build relationships. If you are looking for good prospects, looking at who has historical contacts is a great way to start.

If your database doesn’t have this capability, consider creating a call report form your staff can fill out electronically and save to prospect files on your server. At my first fundraising job, our database was so ancient you couldn’t even click – everything was done using the F keys and commands, so not surprising there was no contact report area. The development used a call form and paper prospect files helped me many a time in connecting dots. When the organization converted to a new CRM, students entered the historical reports of top donors into the new system, so we had a complete picture.

Another great way to ease into some prospect research is by looking at your highest lifetime donors. Although many of these folks may have given their ultimate gift to your organization, many of your top cumulative donors get that way through loyalty and longevity, not a five or six figure gift. Look at the donation history of these donors and you will surely find some prospects who you could be creating more meaningful relationships with and moving to larger annual and major contributions.

Speaking of donations, does your organization produce a periodical donation report (daily, weekly, monthly)? If so, this is an excellent tool to proactively look for new potential prospects. At two of the organizations I have worked, I developed a donation report that also pulled in helpful information like analytical modeling scores, total giving, last two year’s giving totals and engagement information. Using this information, it is easy to scan the report and pick out donors who maybe should be looked at closer, like those who suddenly double their previous gift or make a first-time donation at a certain level ($100, $500, whatever is appropriate for your organization).

So let’s say you implement the donation report and have a good list of potential prospects. You don’t have any paid resources to screen them, so what do you do? There are a plethora of free resources out there to get started with prospect research! A simple search of a county assessor site to verify home ownership and value is a great place to start. Using a search engine to do a quick search of a prospect’s name and location may also open you up to employment information, business associations, etc. The Secretary of State’s office in each state has a business registry you can search to verify business ownership. The list goes on and on. I have numerous bookmarks for free sites, but some of my favorites are sites that themselves are curators of both free and paid resources, like Helen Brown Group or Prospect Research Institute. Most of these sites allow you to sign up for a free account, and then you also receive emails updating you on new resources and other potential services.

Investing a little time and energy in prospect research can make a huge difference in your fundraising efforts. As one of my former gift officer colleagues put it, before she worked with a researcher she felt like she was on a wild safari with no end that often came up totally empty. After research was put in place, she had a map and a plan and was better able to focus her time and effort on the right potential prospects. Don’t leave your gift officers wandering in the wild; invest in some strategic prospecting and keep everyone moving toward fundraising success for your organization.

Marissa Todd has been working in nonprofit and higher education fundraising for over a decade. She found her passion for the prospect development profession at her first Apra conference in 2014. Since then, Marissa has focused on developing and growing small shops, at Stephens College, University of Central Missouri and her next adventure, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She is very involved with Apra, serving as the President of Apra Missouri-Kansas and on several Apra International committees. She has also presented at Apra and CASE conferences and loves to share her passion for prospect development with anyone who will listen.

Marissa earned her BA and JD from the University of Missouri and her MBA from Stephens College. In her free time, Marissa likes to experiment with cooking and wine, devour books and cheer on her favorite sports teams. She also likes to plan adventures with her husband, Michael, and snuggle up on the couch with their cats, Artie and Faurot.

 

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.

 

Donor-Advised Funds: Stronger than Ever

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Current Events/News, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Grants, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | One Comment

Heather Ehlert
Vice President of Client Services

As fundraisers and nonprofit managers, we know donor-advised funds (DAFs) have become a very popular – albeit somewhat controversial – giving vehicle in philanthropy. Their role in shaping the charitable landscape continues to grow, as evidenced by recent data reported by both commercial and community foundations about their donor-advised funds in 2017.

Fidelity Charitable, for example, has operated as an independent public charity since 1991 and currently sponsors the nation’s largest DAF program. It is also the nation’s second-largest grant maker, behind the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In its recently released 2018 Giving Report, Fidelity Charitable shared the following information and insights about the behavior of its nearly 180,000 donors in 2017:

  • There were more than 1 million donor recommended grants, a 25% increase over 2016
  • Donor recommended grants totaled $4.5 billion, a 27% increase over 2016
  • Donor recommended grants went to 127,000 different nonprofits in every state and around the world
  • Individual grants of $1 million or more grew to 505 last year, a 25% increase over 2016
  • 30,000 new donors established more than 21,000 new Giving Accounts

Fidelity Charitable also shared some of the factors behind this DAF activity:

  • Donors gave appreciated assets, such as stocks, which often allows them to give more to charity than by donating cash; non-cash assets made up 61% of 2017 contributions
  • Non-publicly traded assets, such as restricted stock, limited partnership interests and real estate valued $916 million in 2017 donations to Fidelity Charitable
  • Cryptocurrency (such as bitcoin) saw a nearly tenfold increase in usage over 2016 with $69 million in donations; this helps donors eliminate significant capital gains taxes on the appreciation while giving the full fair market value to charity

Donor-advised funds are the fastest-growing way to give in the United States, as illustrated by Fidelity Charitable data: the number of Giving Accounts held at Fidelity Charitable has more than doubled in the last decade and grew 20% between 2016 and 2017. And DAFs are not exclusively for the wealthy: the median account balance at Fidelity Charitable is $19,157, with more than 50% of the accounts having balances under $25,000. The money isn’t necessarily sitting, either. Fidelity Charitable reports donors are actively recommending grants to charities from their Giving Accounts: within five years of a $100 contribution to Fidelity Charitable, $74 has been granted to charities. After 10 years, $88 has gone to charities and only $12 remains to be granted.

Not surprisingly, 2017 saw an emphasis in donor giving from Fidelity Charitable Giving Accounts in response to natural disasters. The American Red Cross made the top of the charity recipients list and Samaritan’s Purse made the list for the first time. The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam and UNICEF also say increases in giving, most likely due to natural disasters, especially those that happened in late 2017. Impact investing was also noteworthy in 2017 – Fidelity Charitable made more than 4,000 donor recommended grants totaling nearly $19 million. Donors are also requesting more frequently that their Giving Account balances be invested in Fidelity Charitable’s impact-investing pool.

There are certainly clear advantages to using donor-advised funds: flexibility, convenience, investment growth, tax benefits and empowering strategic charitable giving and financial planning.

And of course, there’s the flip side to DAFs:  costs to society in tax revenue, oversight and payout requirements, treatment of sponsoring organizations versus community foundations and the overall impact on donors, nonprofits and other forms of giving.

Most importantly, nonprofits should position themselves to work with and benefit from this giving vehicle. DAFs aren’t going away. So don’t forget some basic DAF best practices:

  • Flag the DAF and gifts in your donor database
  • Recognize the donor in stewardship, not the DAF sponsor
  • Seek to engage the donor, even if the initial gift is small
  • Be sure to include DAFs in your organization’s “Ways of Giving”

Don’t miss The Giving Institute’s Live Webcast of “The Data on Donor-Advised Funds: Insights You Need to Know.”  You can expect to have your most pressing questions about donor-advised funds and how to incorporate this giving vehicle into your fundraising plans answered.

Thursday, March 1
1:00-2:30pm Central
Register Here

Charitable Distributions from your IRA

By | Annual Giving, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | No Comments

As you look to year-end charitable giving, you might be wise to look at the many benefits available to you through making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

As a result of the passage in 2015 of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH), QCD’s, after years of debate and delays, have finally been made permanent, minimizing the tax bite of Required Minimum Distributions (RMD).

Let’s start by reviewing just what a QCD is.

A QCD is a distribution from an IRA directly to a recognized 501©3 charitable organization. To qualify, a person must be 70.5 years of age or older at the time of the distribution, and the funds must be transferred from the IRA custodian to a qualified charity. The maximum amount that can be donated through a QCD is $100,000 per year per IRA owner. For an IRA distribution to qualify, the check cannot be made to the IRA owner but must be paid directly to the qualified charity.

Making a QCD from a traditional IRA appears to be more tax-efficient as opposed to a Roth IRA which can already be tax-free. Important to consider is that the distribution amount is not included as income on Form 1040. Conversely, the QCD amount is not included as part of the donor’s itemized deduction for charity.

QCD’s can be particularly beneficial to seniors who are more likely to take the standard deduction as opposed to itemizing. Whenever someone takes the standard deduction, the opportunity to generate a tax benefit from donating to a qualified charity is eliminated. So, for those non-itemizers, the only avenue available to receive a tangible tax benefit from their gift is by donating via a direct transfer from one’s IRA.

Of further significance, QCD’s can be counted towards one’s RMD for the year in which the gift is made. So, if you have to take an RMD, but feel that you don’t really need those funds, a QCD from your IRA presents a terrific way to make that mandatory required amount and at the same time receive helpful tax benefits.

So if you have an IRA and are looking for a unique way in which to benefit your favorite charity, make your RMD and benefit from favorable tax advantages, the QCD may be just right for you. QCD’s are now a permanent element of our tax laws and are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. We encourage you to speak with your tax advisor so as to determine if a QCD is in your best taxable interests.

 

Tax Reform: What’s the Nonprofit Sector Saying?

By | Commentary, Current Events/News, Legislative + Advocacy, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | No Comments

Heather Ehlert, Vice President of Client Services

Whether seeking to end the federal estate tax or adopt a universal charitable deduction – both of which are being discussed by the current Administration and Congress – tax reform is tricky.  While it’s difficult to predict the exact impact these changes would have on charitable giving and nonprofits, we can reasonably conclude they would affect our sector. There’s a lot at stake with tax reform, and nonprofit professionals need to stay abreast of these public policy issues.

Our sector is fortunate to have a number of highly competent bodies monitoring situations like this and advocating in support of nonprofits. For example, Dr. Patrick Rooney, Executive Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Professor of Economics and Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and a key participant in the research and writing of Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, wrote an article that was recently published on The Conversation.

In his piece, “How closing the door on the estate tax could reduce American giving,” Dr. Rooney illustrates how the estate tax is a significant revenue generator for the U.S. government and the charitable sector – specifically bequests, which accounted for 8% ($30.36 billion) of total giving in the United States in 2016 (according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016.) He provides an analysis of what could happen after a repeal of the “death tax” and notes the fiscal consequences to federal revenue (a reduction by nearly $270 billion within a decade, according to a bipartisan congressional committee) and the estimated ranges of decline in charitable giving (both bequest and non-bequest giving.)

The Congressional Business Office estimated a 6% decline in charitable giving if the estate tax was repealed.  But that analysis was way back in 2004, and a much different scenario exists today.  Other studies estimate a decline of between 12% and 37%, but Dr. Rooney feels these figures probably underestimate the actual effects of a repeal, and walks us through what actually happened in 2010 when the estate tax was temporarily paused to support his hypothesis.  He concludes that if the estate tax was eliminated, giving to charity would be negatively impacted – by reducing giving both during and after donors’ lifetimes. Be sure to check out Dr. Rooney’s full article on The Conversation.

As nonprofit professionals, philanthropic leaders and American citizens it is also our duty (and privilege) to interact with, educate and influence our representatives in government. There are many ways you can advocate for the philanthropic sector. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Jeffrey Byrne’s piece on Advocacy in Philanthropy from the JB+A archives.

Essentials to Starting a Planned Giving Program

By | All Posts, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Planned Giving | One Comment

John Marshall
Senior Vice President

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to speak with many organizations about the merits of including Planned Giving as a component of their overall fundraising program. These have been organizations that were primarily in the process of considering the addition of Planned Giving but were somewhat hesitant to “take the plunge” for any number of reasons. Mostly, such hesitancy was due to their lack of understanding about this unique fundraising opportunity as well as their uncertainty about how to get started.

I have always maintained that every nonprofit should include Planned Giving in its fundraising universe in some fashion. It could be as minor as placing the words “Have you considered leaving our organization in your will?” on the bottom of your organization’s letterhead.

If you are at that stage where you believe now is the time to get started, allow me to offer up what I feel are five essentials for you to consider as you start the process.

  1. Make certain your Board and senior staff understand Planned Giving and are FULLY SUPPORTIVE.

Patience is absolutely required and the organization’s leadership will need to understand that planned gifts do not instantaneously materialize. They take time to be properly cultivated and may not be realized for quite some time. It is important leadership understand that planned gifts are what will help sustain the organization over the long run and can provide the resources required to create the “margin of excellence” every nonprofit desires.

  1. Identify your target audience.

“Aim at nothing and you will hit your target every time” is a phrase that was drilled into my head very early in my career. You must develop a cultivation list of those who are likely to be responsive to your organization through the various opportunities of Planned Giving – usually those who have a history with the organization and who have shown loyal financial support for an extended period of time. Those to consider for your cultivation list should include:

  • Consistent donors. Giving for five or more years or those who have given $1,000 or more at any time
  • Current and former Board members
  • Current and former volunteers
  • Current and former staff

And when considering who to identify, remember the letters F-L-A-G:

  • Frequency
  • Longevity
  • Age
  • Gender (women tend to make more bequests….men make more planned gifts by way of trusts)
  1. Determine which Planned Giving vehicles you can most comfortably offer and manage.

Please don’t promote to your constituents an opportunity you cannot manage/deliver. If you simply want to start by dipping your toe into the pool, encourage participation by way of a bequest. If you wish to take a more proactive approach, then consider the following:

  • Charitable Gift Annuity
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Life Insurance
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Life Estate Contracts

If you decide to be more comprehensive in what you offer, I heartily recommend that you go to great lengths to enlist the support of professionals who can advise you in any number of ways to ensure that you are providing accurate information to your constituents. I have always recruited what I refer to as a PAC group…..Professional Advisory Committee consisting of those whose expertise relates to the estate planning arena. (Attorneys, Estate Planners, CPAs, Real Estate Agents, Life Underwriters, etc.).

  1. Determine how you will promote Planned Giving.

If you envision promoting your Planned Giving program in more ways than simply including the aforementioned sentence on your letterhead, you might want to create a promotional program which could include:

  • Direct Mail
  • Newsletters – include an article in your main newsletter (possibly with a testimonial from a donor)
  • Seminars – an opportunity to invite the professional community to participate
  • All of the above
  1. Make certain to pay particular attention to internal management issues.

It is essential that you have all your ducks properly lined up, otherwise, unwanted cracks in your Planned Giving program floor may start to appear. Consider the following:

  • Personnel: who will be assigned oversight for the Planned Giving program?
  • Budget: the creation of a separate and appropriate Planned Giving budget
  • Policies and procedures should be created to establish the types of planned gifts that are and are not acceptable, gift limitations, donor confidentiality, etc.
  • Buy-in from the finance department: developing a solid relationship with your finance department in an effort to ensure clarity of understanding on policies and procedures as well as communication and accounting for deferred gifts

Taking the plunge into Planned Giving should be accomplished only after very careful consideration occurs among the organization’s stakeholders/decision makers. Properly orchestrated, the Planned Giving program can provide wonderful benefits to your donors today and to your organization in the future.

John F. Marshall is Senior Vice President with JB+A, Inc. with more than 40 years of fundraising development experience and expertise. You can contact him at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or call him at 816.237.1999.

Register Now for JB+A’s Latest Workshop

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Campaign Planning + Management, Events, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving | No Comments

Register now for

Tools for Fundraising Success
Building an Integrated Fundraising Program

Friday, August 26, 2016 

This hands-on workshop will detail best practices and step-by-step techniques for creating and implementing an integrated fundraising program that will transform your organization.

**All attending organizations will receive two hours of complimentary fundraising consultation from JB+A.**

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Friday, August 26, 2016
Bishop Spencer Place, Westport Room
4301 Madison Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri

This workshop is intended for Executive Directors, Development Directors, Chief Development Officers, Board Members and Fundraising Volunteers.

The workshop price of $99 admits you and one guest.

Call 816.237.1999 or click here to register.

The Need for Estate Planning

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Insights, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Stewardship, Strategic Planning | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn F. Marshall, Senior Vice President

Really successful Planned Giving officers are those who understand how important it is to impress upon their organization’s donors the need to engage in good, thoughtful estate planning. And, estate planning is far more than just creating a will, although that is normally a cornerstone to creating one’s estate plan. They also understand that when addressing estate planning with donors, the “cookie cutter” approach does not apply. “One size does not fit all.”

As you consider addressing estate planning with your organization’s donors, keep in mind that estate planning is also not a do-it-yourself undertaking. Critical decisions will need to be addressed by the donor which will often require input from a professional estate planner. Helping your donors begin to understand estate planning can start with a simple definition:

“Estate planning is the process of thoughtfully providing for the efficient transfer of one’s assets to their heirs and charitable interests in full accordance with their wishes.”

Once crafted, the well thought out and constructed estate plan, in addition to how one’s estate will be distributed, affirms what kind of legacy an individual will leave behind and the impact it will have on future generations.

Estate planning is not just for the rich or older people. Everyone should be engaged in this important undertaking. It can certainly begin by writing a will, but estate planning can also involve:

  • trusts
  • changing beneficiaries of life insurance policies and retirement accounts
  • selecting guardians for minor children
  • providing lifetime giving for oneself or others
  • minimizing taxes and other estate settlement costs
  • much more

As stated earlier, “One size does not fit all,” and this truly needs to be addressed with your donors. There are likely going to be many complex issues to be identified and discussed. You can be most helpful by suggesting they give special attention to:

  • taking a complete inventory of their personal property and assigning realistic values to the assets
  • making a list of their intended beneficiaries and noting any characteristics that may determine the method and circumstances according to which certain assets are assigned
  • making certain the spouse is “in the loop” with regard to plans; such coordination can lead to additional savings for the estate, and it can make great sense for one’s plans to be shared with as many family members as possible
  • and importantly — providing complete information to their estate planner to ensure that one’s final wishes are accurately and ultimately fulfilled

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that stewardship and estate planning go hand in hand. Good stewardship is a lifestyle and a process, not just isolated actions or individual events. The successful Planned Giving officer understands this and will strive to assist donors towards making thoughtful decisions about their estate, decisions that can create a lasting legacy of caring and compassion.

Are you interested in learning more about Estate Planning? JB+A can help you and your organization promote Planned Giving to your constituents. Contact John F. Marshall at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com or call 816-237-1999.

People Give to People – Especially in Planned Giving

By | All Posts, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, Planned Giving | No Comments

John+Marshal+for+webJohn F. Marshall
Senior Vice President

In fundraising, we often hear the words “people give to people.” Donors and prospects are more likely to give when they are comfortable with and feel good about the person who is presenting them with a request — perhaps a university alum, a grateful patient or a supporter of the arts. But what exactly does this tenet mean in the world of Planned Giving?

Have you ever wondered just how that “superstar” Planned Giving Gift Advisor seems to be successful far more often than not? That person probably has a very strong grasp on what causes their audience to be satisfied with the manner in which they have been encountered. He or she has learned that donors are most satisfied when a Gift Advisor does the following:

  • Takes time to discuss giving with them in detail
  • Asks questions and most importantly, listens to the responses
  • Explains the giving plan simply and limits complex options
  • Talks far more about life (and not death)
  • Treats the plan as a giving tool rather than as a product to be sold
  • Knows when to look for additional assistance and does not try to come off as an “expert” on all aspects of Planned Giving

I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with many different people – ranging from staff to volunteers to prospective donors to donors – in Planned Giving. Over my many years in this field, I’ve noticed the most successful Planned Giving Gift Advisors display the following characteristics:

  1. Solid Communication Skills
    They excel in both verbal and written communication. They are persuasive, concise and articulate. They are well-versed in the Case for Support — familiar with it front to back and have the ability to convincingly present organizational needs. They are good listeners and closers.
  2. Organization and Prioritization
    They have the ability to manage a number of tasks at the same time and are comfortable and successful in handling the fast-paced and challenging nature of fundraising. Seldom, if ever, do they become “overwhelmed.”
  3. Relationship Building
    They are skilled in encouraging a long-term commitment to the organization. They are able to develop a high level of trust with the donor, which can lead to additional giving. They understand the need to avoid becoming overly involved in the personal side of the donor relationship (as this is difficult to emerge from unscathed.)
  4. A Persuasive Presenter
    They are extremely adaptable to their audience and equally persuasive and enthusiastic — whether presenting to a prospective donor, a church group, community groups or their own organization’s leadership team.
  5. Effective in Managing the Donor
    They are very sensitive to serving the needs of the donor, but within reason. They ensure the donor is happily satisfied with his/her gift and its benefits. They remain attentive to keeping the donor informed about the organization.
  6. Being Opportunistic/Proactive
    They possess the ability to identify an opportunity and create a strategy to act upon it. They do NOT procrastinate – this is simply not in their DNA.
  7. Enthusiastic and Committed
    They are successful in conveying true enthusiasm for and commitment to the Mission of their organization, because failure to do so will likely result in less than the desired outcome or no outcome at all.

Highly skilled Planned Giving Gift Advisors are “transformers” in that they are consistently able to make the difference between the organization receiving a nice gift or a transformative commitment.

For more information on developing “Transformative” Planned Giving Gift Advisors for your organization, contact John F. Marshall at 816.914.3780 or at jmarshall@fundraisingjba.com.

Donor-Advised Funds: Parking or Philanthropy?

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Commentary, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Grants, Insights, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Prospect Research, The Giving Institute | No Comments

Jeffery Byrne

Jeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO

The Giving Institute recently hosted its Summer Symposium in Boston, and I attended a very informative session on “The Charitable Landscape and Donor-Advised Funds” presented by Matt Nash, a Senior Vice President with Fidelity Charitable. I felt the presentation made a good case for donor-advised funds, and has helped me re-shape my thinking around this giving vehicle.

As fundraisers and nonprofit managers, we know donor-advised funds (DAFs) have been a part of American philanthropy for decades. We’ve also undoubtedly noticed (perhaps with some chagrin?) that DAFs are quickly becoming more and more popular vehicles for charitable giving. Their role in shaping the charitable landscape has grown dramatically over the past two decades and we can only expect this trend to continue. Many of us have probably also wondered how to “crack the DAF nut” – how to successfully secure this type of funding and connect with the seemingly anonymous individuals behind the mechanism. Since 1991, Fidelity Charitable has operated as an independent public charity and currently sponsors the nation’s largest DAF program. Its mission includes programming to make giving simple and effective. So how do they do that through a funding mechanism that feels like an enigma, and what are the benefits – to both donors and nonprofits?

I learned a lot about the state of DAFs from Matt’s presentation. For example, Fidelity Charitable holds nearly $15 billion in assets in more than 72,000 DAFs (Fidelity Charitable calls them Giving Accounts) which are held by more than 119,000 individuals (known as donors). The average age when opening a DAF is 54 and the current donor age is 62. Donors establish Giving Accounts as they approach retirement age, and 62% of Fidelity donors say they are using these donor-advised funds as a way to sustain giving through retirement. It is also interesting to note that more than half of Fidelity’s donor contributions were non-cash assets and 3/4 of donors say the ability to donate such assets is a reason for setting up their fund. In 2014, more than half of contributions were made with non-cash assets.

Fidelity Charitable is the second-largest grant making entity in the United States, after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2014, it awarded $2.6 billion in donor-recommended grants to 97,000 charities. The total amount granted by Fidelity has tripled over the past 10 years, as has the number of grants of $1 million or more. In the first six months of the 2015 calendar year alone, Fidelity has set a record with its 310,000 donor-recommended grants.

Once assets have been contributed to a Giving Account, they can be invested for short- or long-term giving goals. Donors can recommend an investment strategy that aligns with their own charitable goals and time frames, and potentially grow their charitable dollars tax free. And most DAF participants list tax benefit as a motivation for using a DAF. Is this “parking” funds? Perhaps. But isn’t it also empowering philanthropy? Absolutely! There is a correlation between investment growth and grant making. Fidelity reported its assets rose from $12.8 billion to $14.9 billion in fiscal year 2014. Grants rose 32% over the previous year. While the average grant size remains consistent, the number of grants per Giving Account continues to grow. And most contributions to Fidelity Charitable are granted out to charities within 10 years.

The median Giving Account balance is just over $16,000, and 60% of Giving Accounts have balances under $25,000. But more than 5,500 accounts have balances upwards of $250,000. The majority of grants were recommended online and Fidelity offers a free, online tool (the DAF Direct Widget) that nonprofits can add to their websites, helping donors recommend grants directly from the charity’s website. Donors are also taking advantage of being able to pre-schedule their giving, and pre-scheduled grants make up about 1/5 of outgoing grants from Fidelity. And contrary to some perceptions, most grants–92% of them–are not anonymous, but include names and addresses for acknowledging the gift.

Consider these takeaways when navigating the world of DAFs and meaningfully engaging DAF (and ultimately your organization’s) donors:

  • Flag the DAF and gifts in your donor database
  • Recognize the donor in stewardship, not the DAF sponsor
  • Seek to engage the donor, even if the initial gift is small
  • Be sure to include DAFs in your organization’s “Ways of Giving”

And remember, most donors complement their DAF giving with cash giving; often times, the DAFs are used in strategic and larger giving, while cash or cash equivalent gifts are used for smaller donations and more casual giving. DAFs are becoming increasingly more popular and nonprofits should recognize and work with DAFs and their donors as ways to strengthen philanthropy.