It's The Nuts

To start the new year my sister (who will be featured in our webinar series as a subject matter expert on computers), took her traditional train trip from Boston to San Antonio, which is always a treat for Andrea and myself. During our conversations, we remembered an expression my father liked to say about something that was really special to him: “It’s The Nuts!” We never heard anyone else say it. My incorrect hunch was that it became popular during World War II. Being obsessed with trivia — if it’s not worth knowing, I want to know it — I did some Google research. Appropriately, it’s the nuts is to express extreme enthusiasm about something or someone. I dug deeper for background on its roots. It dates to the early 1900s but developed from an earlier 17th-century British slang meaning often found in phrases like “nuts to me” and “nuts for me,” where it referred to a source of delight. So, what’s this have to do with philanthropy and the art and science of fundraising? Everything. In an uber-competitive environment in which donors are forced to choose not between the good and the bad, but between the good and the good, successful non-profit leaders must believe with every fiber of their being that their missions, projects and services to improve the world rise to the high praise of It’s The Nuts. You aren’t going to be successful asking others to share invaluable gifts of time, talent and treasure unless you think and demonstrate by your personal actions that you are genuinely advancing a cause that changes the world for the better. By the way, the photo of my father (taken with my mother, circa 1970) shows that he was more than eager to demonstrate his enthusiasm for life. We loved the role model of unbridled optimism he set for the rest of us.

Update on 2024 Webinars

We can’t wait to kick off the 2024 Non-Profit Empowerment Webinar Series. Below is an updated schedule of topics and subject matter experts. We are thrilled to begin the year featuring Jimmy LaRose, Co-Founder, NANOE (National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives), who is sure to spark a timely and thought-provoking debate on the future direction of philanthropy and fundraising. You can register here for the “Let’s Agree to Disagree” webinar scheduled for Wednesday, January 24th, 4 PM to 5 PM Central time. Join our learning community of professional and volunteer non-profit leaders and let us know if you agree or disagree with Mr. LaRose’s controversial positions.

Jimmy LaRose

WEDNESDAY, January 24 | “Let’s Agree to Disagree,” Jimmy LaRose, Founder, NANOE

WEDNESDAY, February 7 | “Stronger Together,” Scott McAninch, CEO, The Nonprofit Council

WEDNESDAY, February 21 | “De-Stressing Work,” Dr. Julie Wiernik, Owner, Texas Center for Sport Psychology

WEDNESDAY, March 6 | “Making Good Impressions,” Kelli Newman, President, APR, Newman & Newman, Inc.

WEDNESDAY, March 20 | “What Foundations Want,” Cody Knowlton, President & CEO, Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio

WEDNESDAY, April 3 |”Fundraising Across The Big Pond,” Bernard Ross, Director, =mc consulting

WEDNESDAY, April 17 | “Monthly Means More Money,” Erica Waasdorp, President, A Direct Solution

WEDNESDAY, May 1 | “Winning Grants,” Alex Dunn, Millionaire Grant Lady

WEDNESDAY, May 15 | “All That Jazz,” Clint Maedgen, New Orleans jazz musician

WEDNESDAY, May 29 | “It’s A Small World After All,” Marjorie Hope, author, Connectiplomacy

WEDNESDAY, June 5 | “My Sis Knows Computers,” Barbara Eskin, Managing Partner, Barskintech

WEDNESDAY, June 19 | “First or Next Capital Campaign” Marv LeRoy, Founder & CEO, Institute for Philanthropic Excellence

Top Trends for 2024

From CJ Orr, President and Partner, Orr Group, we found this fascinating perspective on trends that will take center stage in the new year.

1. The Bounce-Back Effect: Reversing the Giving Decline: In 2022, Giving USA reported a significant 10.4% decrease in charitable giving when adjusted for inflation. While that dip is concerning, 2023 has shown signs of recovery and we’re projecting an increase of 5-6% overall giving. Should the economy maintain its upward trajectory, 2024 will likely see further growth in charitable contributions.

2. The Political Pulse: Election Year Giving in 2024: With 2024 looming as a charged election year, political and voting rights organizations are poised to witness a spike in donations. Historically, election years have galvanized donors, and given the current heightened political climate, this trend is set to intensify.

3. Embracing Inclusivity: Diversity in Leadership and Donors: The call for diverse board leadership and donor representation has been a high priority for many organizations over the past few years. The demand for inclusivity will remain a priority and cornerstone for organizations seeking to diversify their donor base and have a more profound impact.

4. The Rise of Donor-Advised Funds: Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are becoming a preferred giving vehicle for many donors as they offer flexibility, tax benefits, and the allure of strategic philanthropy. Their popularity is only expected to grow, making them a crucial consideration for non-profits seeking diversified funding sources.


5. The Great Wealth Transfer and Planned Giving: The baby boomer generation is amid a monumental wealth transfer to younger generations. This presents a golden opportunity for non-profits to unlock the potential of planned giving and blended giving strategies, ensuring long-term financial stability and enduring donor engagement.

Legacy Gift Donors

Gender and childlessness have always been among the leading indicators for charitable gifts in estate planning. New research by Russell James, a professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University in Lubbock where he runs the graduate program in charitable financial planning (a past subject matter expert in our webinar series) backed by surveys is insightful. Dr. James identifies a top 10 list of lifetime characteristics that are most important in predicting charitable transfers:

  • Consistency in donating, i.e., the share of all survey years in which the respondent indicated donating at least $500 to charity.
  • Having no offspring.
  • The highest amount ever donated in any one year during life.
  • Consistency in reporting having a funded trust.
  • Being female.
  • Wealth in the final survey.
  • Not being married.
  • Donation amount in the year of the final survey.
  • Having a growing trajectory of wealth leading up to death.
  • Consistency in volunteering.



We all can be guilty of overreaching to advance the good works of our non-profits. But a word of caution must be taken seriously: If we attempt to take on too many projects beyond our resources and capacity, we will fail to prudently serve our mission and those who need our help. Boards and staff must be brutally honest about how much they can take on. Here’s our article featured on Major Gifts Ramp-Up for exploring 10 ways to analyze, assess and establish non-profit fundraising bandwidth. We hope you find the contents of value.

Hiring Edge

If attracting top talent, improving employee engagement, and boosting company culture are high on your to-do list in 2024, consider adding philanthropic opportunities to your agenda. Giving charitable opportunities to employees helps bonding, employee retention and your community. According to NonProfitsSource, there are some hefty statistics to back this up.

  • Employees who engage in corporate giving programs have 75% longer tenures with the company.
  • 88% of Millennials find their job more fulfilling when they have opportunities to make a positive impact on society and the environment.
  • 71% of employees indicate that it’s very important to work at a company that partakes in philanthropy, such as by matching employee donations.
  • 82% of the survey respondents say employees want the opportunity to volunteer with peers in a corporate-supported event.


The Gopher State

Glen Taylor is establishing a new charitable legacy plan that will fund a wide range of philanthropic activities for decades to come. Taylor is gifting assets valued at $172 million with the goal of supporting people in southern Minnesota and rural communities across Minnesota and Iowa. The donation is the first phase of a larger charitable plan consistent with Taylor’s personal giving priorities. While most widely known for the printing company that bears his name and as the majority owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx professional sports teams, Taylor has a long history of funding philanthropic initiatives related to childhood education, rural community revitalization, environmental sustainability, and the social well-being of families in need. The gift will create a financial framework to support these and other causes for future generations in the area Glen Taylor still calls home. Specifically, Taylor has formed The Taylor Family Farms Foundation to fulfill this mission by working in partnership with three non-profit organizations: the Mankato Area Foundation (MAF), Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation (SPMF). These three organizations were hand-picked because of their regional expertise and their shared focus on creating vibrant communities.


Call Me

A former professional soccer player, Bjørn Gulden says that when he took over Adidas, it felt as if the German sports giant was losing by four goals at halftime. Morale was down after the collapse of its Yeezy collaboration with rapper Kanye West, who now goes by Ye, and employees complained about a lack of transparency. In response, during his first town hall, Gulden volunteered sensitive information including financial data and even gave out his cellphone number to all 60,000 employees. In the weeks that followed, Gulden heard from employees — for a period he was being contacted about 200 times every week, he says –who urged him to reform the company. Most recognized that Adidas, which lost $794 million, in the final quarter of 2022, was facing an emergency. The challenge, he said, was “to wake up the people who didn’t understand we were losing.” One year into his tenure, Adidas is on track to return to profitability this year, he said, and its shares have almost doubled since his return was announced — far outpacing U.S. rival Nike.


Nominate Your Non-Profit North Star

We’ve now completed the recording of 10 podcasts saluting a diverse group of heroes from the non-profit sector representing different parts of the country, a wide array of noble missions, and all possible professional and volunteer leadership roles among senior administrators, staff, board members, volunteers and other champions of non-profits. We will be releasing these podcasts throughout the year. But we still need your collaboration in nominating those you see close-up and in action promoting good works, typically without fanfare. Here is our simple nomination form. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and return it to us so we can share the stories of heroes you are witnessing in your parts of the non-profit sector.


On Bookshelf: Giving Now

Despite the abundance of great wealth and an ever-growing number of billionaires, deep poverty and inequality persist worldwide. Nonetheless, donors often favor religion and education in their giving. Social injustice is exacerbated by the mismatch between need and giving. Giving Now by Patricia Illingworth, Professor of Philosophy and Business, Northeastern University, looks at the human rights responsibilities of non-state actors. This book argues that philanthropists and the non-profit sector should be guided by their human rights responsibilities. Grounding philanthropy on human rights has explanatory power with respect to the social consensus about tainted donations, tainted donors, the pornography of poverty, donor-advised funds, and manipulative fundraising. By practicing human rights due diligence, this book maintains that philanthropy can promote social justice, protect human rights, and mitigate philanthropy’s complicity in the violation of human rights. Ultimately philanthropy stands to regain social trust.


Taste of NFL

Las Vegas is the premiere desert oasis for extraordinary cuisine, culture, sports and entertainment! There is no better location to showcase the culinary talent of top chefs and legendary gridiron greats than Taste of the NFL 2024. The hottest ticket in town for foodie and football fans, this is the NFL-sanctioned event destination to be at the day before Super Bowl Sunday! Guests will enjoy a tasting menu curated by the country’s most talented chefs, opportunities to mingle with NFL greats, and incredible surprise and delight moments. All event proceeds are dedicated to support GENYOUth’s commitment to end student hunger in Nevada and across the country.


Quiz: Presidential IQs

With Presidents’ Day coming up, this quiz focuses on Presidents and their IQs. An intelligence quotient test (IQ test) is a series of standardized tests used to gauge and assess a person’s intelligence. While most people will never take a formal IQ test, high IQs have nevertheless always been a topic of public interest. A President’s IQ is rarely made public, and many U.S. Presidents were born before the modern IQ test was invented. Nevertheless, many psychological studies have provided educated guesses of Presidential IQ based on a variety of factors. When it comes to IQ scores, a score over 140 is considered genius level. Match the following presidents with their respective IQ scores. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.

1. John Quincy Adams                                             a. 140

2. Thomas Jefferson                                                  b. 145

3. Abraham Lincoln                                                  c. 155

4. Barack Obama                                                      d. 160

5. Woodrow Wilson                                                  e. 175


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

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

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