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Philanthropy is Business…and That’s OK

By | All Posts, Boards + Leadership, Capacity Building, Commentary, Fiscal Management, News You Can Use, Organizational + Personal Development, Strategic Planning, Uncategorized | No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moving the Needle: What Might Be Possible for Philanthropy in America?

By | All Posts, Commentary, Current Events/News, Fundraising, Giving USA, Legislative + Advocacy, The Giving Institute, Uncategorized | No Comments

Leaders in the nonprofit and fundraising sector are gathering soon, through an effort spearheaded by The Giving Institute, to begin developing a plan to help increase charitable giving in America.

American individuals, estates, foundations and corporations contributed an estimated $390.05 billion to U.S. charities in 2016, according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016. Total giving rose 2.7 percent in current dollars (1.4 percent adjusted for inflation) over total giving in 2015, and giving to all nine major categories of recipient organizations grew, making 2016 just the sixth time in the past 40 years that this has occurred.

This growth in giving is good.  Yet total giving as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to hover around 2.0 percent as it has for the last six years. So, The Giving Institute is coordinating discussions about a national plan to “move the needle.”

JB+A President + CEO Jeffrey Byrne, who served as Board Chair of The Giving Institute from 2015-2017, is among several nonprofit thought leaders who are part of an initial “working committee” to start dialogue about an examination of giving practices and how to increase giving while incorporating input from several people from several sectors (nonprofit, government, corporate, etc.)

Approximately two dozen people will be meeting in Dallas on February 7 to continue developing components of the plan:  focus of the work, organization as a legal entity, potential leadership and staffing, funding, research, information dissemination, federal recognition, communications and building support.

This national examination of giving practices is similar to “The Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs” in 1973-1975, most commonly known as “The Filer Commission.” This historical effort was spearheaded by John Filer, chairman of Aetna Insurance, and initiated by John D. Rockefeller, III, after the Tax Reform Act of 1969 was passed.  The Commission’s report, “Giving in America,”  contained recommendations that fell into three categories: 1) proposals involving taxes and giving, 2) interaction among donors, recipients and the public – those who affect the philanthropic process and 3) a proposal for a permanent commission on the nonprofit sector. The commission scrutinized government inducements to giving and considered alternatives such as tax credits and matching grant systems. Members felt the charitable deduction should be “retained and added on to rather than replaced by another form of governmental encouragement to giving.”

There were six main objectives for the commission’s final report: 1) increase the number of people who contribute significantly to and participate in nonprofit activities, 2) increase the amount of giving, 3) increase inducements to giving by those in low- and middle-income brackets, 4) preserve private choice in giving, 5) minimize income loss of nonprofit organizations that depend on the current pattern of giving and 6) be as efficient as possible (meaning, the new levels of  contributions stimulated should at least approximate the amount of government revenue foregone in order to provide this stimulus.) thought leader and participant in this critical/revolutionary time for philanthropy.

JB+A is excited to be part of this exciting and pivotal time for philanthropy – and discovering what might be possible for philanthropy in America in the years ahead.

*Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America, has produced comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to all charitable organizations across the United States.  Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA FoundationTM and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA FoundationTM, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources, including free highlights of each annual report at its online store at www.givingusa.org for more information.

Leadership is Fundraising, Says the Philanthropy Professor

By | Commentary, Fundraising, Organizational + Personal Development, Uncategorized | No Comments

JB+A is pleased to share this blog from Dr. Amir Pasic, our friend and colleague.  Dr. Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean and Professor of Philanthropic Studies at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, joined us in Kansas City on September 14 for a special presentation on the value of research and how it informs leadership and fundraising success.

I like to praise the virtues of excellent fundraising in pursuit of a great mission conducted ethically by leaders of exemplary integrity. Seasoned fundraisers, wherever they sit within an organization or in its supporting environment, understand the virtuous cycle that appears with a successful fundraising program. There is focus on strategic priorities, buy-in from inside the organization and throughout the community of supporters, clear plans for interacting with donors and friends across all segments and phases of engagement, and there is celebration of the people who provide the resources that enable progress in pursuit of the organization’s vital vision.

I often wonder if leadership that does not emulate the process of fundraising even makes sense. When does a leader not ask others to do things differently, or to stop doing certain things, or to let go of possessions or practices, which they then do willingly and happily? And not only do I like to think of leadership and fundraising as synonyms in many ways, but as fundraising practitioners well know, your title or your position does not necessarily reflect your ability to succeed. Indeed, virtuosos of leadership and fundraising manage to make a difference regardless of their official position.

In such challenging and often ambiguous situations how does one grasp what to focus on and decide where to direct one’s activity? One key resource that any leader needs is research. How do we know what works, and just as importantly, what does not? How can we understand the complexity of what motivates a donor? How can we assess the impact of our efforts? And, in the bigger picture, how can we hope to address societal problems or develop effective strategies unless we have reliable insight into new developments in our field and into the patterns and trends that help us understand the ever-changing context within which we work. Rigorous, high quality research is an important component in virtually all aspects of the work of philanthropy, and it is through better research that we will achieve even better results.

Check out a recap of Dr. Pasic’s presentation in Kansas City.

Summer + Planning = #GivingTuesday Fundraising Success

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

Katie Lord, Vice President

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

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

  1. Identify your #GivingTuesday Program Focus

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

  1. Find a Matching Gift

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

  1. Create your #Hashtag

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

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

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

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

JB+A Client Successes

By | All Posts, Current Events/News, JB+A Client Fundraising Success, News You Can Use, Uncategorized | No Comments

Wonderscope logoWonderscope Children’s Museum Welcomes New Leader

JB+A is pleased to announce, that after a search conducted by our firm, Ms. Roxane Hill has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Wonderscope Children’s Museum.

Ms. Hill brings a wealth of experience and expertise from her most recent position as the Vice President of Development and Communications for The Children’s Place in Kansas City, Missouri, where she increased the contribution budget by more than 500%. Prior to her seven years at The Children’s Place, Ms. Hill served as Director of Fund Development for Community Housing of Wyandotte County, Inc.

Wonderscope is embarking upon ambitious plans to expand its reach and enhance its programs for the youth and families it serves. Ms. Hill is a wonderful addition to the organization’s leadership as it takes these exciting next steps in its future.

To learn more about Wonderscope, click here.