Stratagems, August 2022

My Soapbox

This is a pretty rough time in the world. Threats seem everywhere to our health, world peace and climate, not to mention economic pressures. Unfortunately, we live in a time of acute stress. Moreover, there is a profound absence of simple civility. More and more, people are viewing those who don’t agree with them as enemies. In the midst of this dark picture my heart beats with heightened pride to brag about the social sector. American philanthropy has never looked better through the voluntary sharing of time, talent and treasure. Charitable giving reached a record high of $485 billion in 2021, according to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. This overall total is extraordinary, nearly half $1 trillion or well over $1 billion a day. Another way to picture this amount: It’s 5,000 pallets, each stacked with $100 million in $100 bills. It’s evident that American individuals, corporations and foundations consistently respond to urgent priorities of which there is no shortage. While the mega-gifts get the attention, we shouldn’t overlook that the majority of American households from all different socio-economic backgrounds donate to charity. The gift of time, perhaps even more precious than money because it can never be replaced, is equally impressive. It was last estimated that approximately 63 million Americans — 25% of the adult population — volunteer their time, energy and passion to making a difference in improving the lot of others. For more on this subject on the state of American society, see my guest blog on the NANOE website.

From Webinar to Webishow

Pardon me, if I’m repeating this point, but the basic structure of the solicitation really isn’t complex. You share your non-profit’s mission, impact and especially stories of the way you touch, improve and save more lives and you ask for a specific amount, for a specific purpose to be paid by a specific time. This is very different from the passive act of getting a gift. We’re afraid that too many non-profit leaders are only familiar with getting gifts rather than asking for them. They just haven’t experienced a bona fide solicitation for themselves. Asking can result in profoundly more money and resources for your noble missions. For more on this topic, here’s my guest blog that was featured in the National Development Institute website. 

Asking Over Getting

Pardon me, if I’m repeating this point, but the basic structure of the solicitation really isn’t complex. You share your non-profit’s mission, impact and especially stories of the way you touch, improve and save more lives and you ask for a specific amount, for a specific purpose to be paid by a specific time. This is very different from the passive act of getting a gift. We’re afraid that too many non-profit leaders are only familiar with getting gifts rather than asking for them. They just haven’t experienced a bona fide solicitation for themselves. Asking can result in profoundly more money and resources for your noble missions. For more on this topic, here’s my guest blog that was featured in the National Development Institute website. 

Upcoming

Is your non-profit in the start-up phase? Or are you wondering how to start one? Then be sure to join us on Wednesday, July 27th, 4 to 5 p.m. Central time. One of the most active members of our learning community will be our guest, Jasmin Dean (shown in the photo), Founder and Executive Director, Celebrate Dyslexia. She will share both the triumphs and the bumps in her journey to turn her non-profit dream into reality. You can register here.
 
Passion runs deep in non-profits, and so do emotions. Join our learning community on Wednesday, August 3rd, 4 to 5 p.m. Central time, as master mediator Barbara Radnofsky returns to address Settling Skirmishes. She’s the author of the new book, Listening Space: A Barbershop Guide to Problem-Solving, which is reviewed below. She is an expert on how to avoid, handle and end disagreements which can drain the potential of your organizations. You can register here.

Ukraine

Several months into the war in Ukraine, foundations and non-profits providing help amid the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II find themselves in a challenging position: Determining how best to address a significant humanitarian need while maintaining their level of support to organizations emerging from a global pandemic. While the donor public has been responsive to the needs of refugees, the invasion’s ramifications on democracy and the global economy augur changes on the horizon for foundations and non-profits alike, both in how they respond to such challenges and in how they respond to their partners. Nearly $1.23 billion in grants has been awarded and an additional $697 million pledged. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Candid, a terrific resource for non-profits, has collected publicly available data reflecting philanthropic and charitable funding provided in response to the crisis. To date, 992 grants totaling nearly $1.23 billion have been awarded, as well as an additional 176 pledges worth more than $697 million. And yet, with the war’s end nowhere in sight, the pace of giving appears to have plateaued, with only a fraction of new funding announced in May and June. According to the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the $1.92 billion pledged or received to address the war in Ukraine is on par with what was raised after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti (approximately $1.8 billion in 2021 dollars) and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami ($2.18 billion in 2021 dollars).

Gates Leadership

Bill Gates is moving $20 billion of his wealth into the endowment of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is ramping up its spending in the face of global challenges including the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The foundation, one of the world’s largest philanthropies, plans to increase its payouts by 50% over pre-pandemic levels, from nearly $6 billion to $9 billion each year by 2026. The foundation is primarily focused on charitable giving that’s aimed at improving global health, gender equality and education, among other issues. The Microsoft co-founder and his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, have both pledged to donate the vast majority of their wealth to the foundation they established together 20 years ago, as well as to other philanthropic endeavors. The couple announced their divorce in May 2021, saying they would work together as co-chairs under a two-year trial period. At the end of that trial, French Gates has the option to resign and receive a payout from her former husband, who would remain in charge of the foundation. With an estimated net worth of around $114 billion, Bill Gates is currently the world’s fourth-richest person, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, with most of his wealth tied to Microsoft shares. But he doesn’t intend to rank that high forever.

Uber Campaign

The University of California San Diego has reached the conclusion of its landmark Campaign for UC San Diego, raising a total of $3.05 billion in philanthropic support over a span of 10 years. The funds have spurred a significant campus transformation, increased access with scholarships and fellowships for the next generation of leaders, and expanded the university’s positive global impact with research that is addressing some of the world’s most pressing concerns. Founded in 1960, UC San Diego is the nation’s youngest university to reach a multibillion-dollar fundraising goal in a single campaign, raising $1 billion more than the original $2 billion goal. More than 163,000 supporters designated charitable gifts and grants to over 450 different areas across campus, including UC San Diego Health and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In the final year of the Campaign, which concluded on June 30, 2022, the campus raised a record-breaking $420 million, setting an upward trajectory for continued transformation and impact. Overall, alumni giving also went up significantly. More than 45,600 alumni donors gave $257 million in gifts, representing an increase of 1,300% over the last campaign.

Website Stats

When planning a non-profit website refresh or upgrade, you might feel overwhelmed deciding where to get started or which website elements you should prioritize. The top non-profit websites take user research and user experience best practices into consideration to create a better visitor experience through an iterative process. From Anne Stefanyk, CEO/Founder Kanopi Studios, here are seven illuminating statistics to guide your website refresh and promotion strategy:
1. Visitors can assess your website’s visual appeal within 50 milli-seconds. 
2. The past three years have seen a 42% increase in online giving. 
3. Over 50% of non-profit website traffic comes from mobile users.  
4. 43% of all websites are powered by WordPress.  
5. Approximately 96.8% of website home pages have accessibility failures.  
6. A well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by 200%, and a better user experience can increase conversion rates up to 400%.  
7. The Google Ad Grant Program has given over $9 billion in free advertising to more than 115,000 non-profits in over 50 countries.

Media Pitches

The Propel Media Barometer recently released its Q3 research report on the PR pitching landscape. It highlights best practices for e-mail pitching that can boost your average journalist response rate, and ultimately your earned media coverage rates. Here are just a few of the most important takeaways:
  • The most engaging pitches were less than 150 words.
  • Pitches with 2-3 embedded links continued to score the highest average journalist response rate (3.8%).
  • The majority of pitches are opened within the first 10 minutes of landing in a journalist’s inbox.
  • Journalists are responding to the most pitches on Wednesday.

On the Bookshelf: Listening Space

On September 30, 2020, the indefatigable Barbara Radnofsky was our subject matter expert in a webinar on non-profit collaboration and peaceful problem-solving. Little did we know that within days of our webinar she would be writing a book on its chief lessons and applications. Barbara, a teacher, lawyer and mediator, illustrates a “how-to” guide to peaceful problem solving, bringing to life the remarkable stories of small-town barber Carlos Villagomez of Webster Texas and his famous astronaut customers. Carlos the Barber entertains with storytelling about his family, military and life experiences, his peaceful resolution of violent attacks on his barber shop and beer garden, and his growth as a community leader in the NASA area. His customer stories provide problem-solving tales of the earliest Mercury astronauts through Apollo moonwalkers to the newest generation of space explorers. Carlos’ problem-solving abilities draw on his experiences with 14 siblings growing up by the Houston Ship Channel, on a Navy warship on jungle rivers and open sea in Indochina post World War II, to his community service and lifelong friendship with the first American in space, and the gifts brought to Carlos by famed spaceman and moonwalker Admiral Alan Shepard, as he and Carlos continued to work together to solve problems back on Earth. Enjoy stories ranging from Neil Armstrong, solving travel problems with Carlos after his moon landing, to Shuttle Astronauts, whose haircuts are provided by Carlos’ protege, Jesse Salinas. Like Carlos, Jesse gives back to the community in important, charitable ways. The later stories include a favorite about John Glenn, the first American to circle the planet, and how he engineered his return to space decades later on the Space Shuttle at age 77. This book teaches how to recreate the joy of a barbershop listening space, with several lessons on techniques used by mediators, scientists, teachers, and children as part of school programs. Listening Space: A Barbershop Guide to Problem-Solving is rich with insights for non-profit leaders and just about everyone else who run into arguments and difference of opinions that are inevitable in our daily lives.

Scams

In times of crisis, people often instinctively want to help. However, there are too many scammers trying to capitalize on the environmental, social and geopolitical unrest. To make sure your money gets into the right hands, Charity Navigator offers five these tips to avoid charity scams:
1. Never click on a link or attachment to donate online. A donation form may look very legitimate but could be folks trying to take advantage of people’s kindness. Rather than use the link provided, do your own search.
2. Look up the relief effort through a site such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator or CharityWatch and read online reviews. Then, enter the URL of the charity yourself to independently confirm you are coordinating with the right organization.
3. Fall back on organizations with a proven track record and a clearly established mission. If it’s a personal plea for funds through a site like GoFundMe, stick with making donations to people or groups you know and can vouch for.
4. Always pay by credit card, which offers additional layers of protection, rather than a debit card, which taps money straight from your checking account, and never donate in the form of gift cards or wire transfers.
5. Check your accounts regularly for any suspicious activity or unauthorized charges. Even verified organizations may prompt you to increase the amount or frequency of your donation without you realizing it, another tactic that goes against best practices.

Quiz: World Happiness

The World Happiness Report is Gallup’s measurement of subjective well-being and continues to rely on three main well-being indicators: life evaluations, positive emotions, and negative emotions. Happiness rankings are based on life evaluations as the more stable measure of the quality of people’s lives. Ranking of happiness is based on a three-year average from 2019 to 2021. Match the following countries with their respective happiness scores (the higher the score the happier they are).
Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.
 
1. Costa Rica………………… a. 6.6
2. Finland ……………………. b. 6.9
3. Germany…………………… c. 7
4. U.S…………………………… d. 7.5
5. Switzerland……………….. e. 7.8

Stratagems is published monthly by Jim Eskin, Founder of Eskin Fundraising Training, LLC. We offer workshops and customized training sessions for board members, staff and volunteers of non-profit organizations of all kinds and sizes. For details about our services and information, or to find out how to schedule a training session for your organization, visit our website. Follow our events on Facebook, and read more articles about philanthropy on our LinkedIn page.

Jim Eskin

Jim Eskin, Founder

Eskin Fundraising Training

Email: [email protected]
Cell: 210.415.3748
www.eskinfundraisingtraining.com

ANSWERS TO THIS MONTH’S QUIZ:  1=a, 2=e, 3=c, 4=b, 5=d

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