Spirit of Learning Community

We think of our board training, workshops, Happy Learning Hours and other programs as “learning communities.” Typically, we have a diverse gathering of non-profit CEOs, Directors of Development and other staff, board members and volunteers coming together to learn and network. As my life-long friend Dr. Chuck Pozner likes to put it: “The answers are almost always in the room.” Everyone contributes from their perspectives and experience. My role in leading the sessions is as much facilitator as trainer. Andrea and I are very grateful to the hundreds of non-profit partners who have contributed mightily to the richness of our conversations and discussions. We are growing and moving forward together with the shared vision of a stronger community and improved quality of life. Our Happy Learning Hours in partnership with Mass Mutual are already scheduled and you can register now. We’re also in the process of scheduling the workshops in partnership with Microsoft-La Cantera. Bring on 2020!

Giving Landscape

A new report published by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI Tradition of Giving and funded by a grant from The Vanguard Charitable Philanthropic Impact Fund analyzes effects of the 2008 Great Recession on charitable giving across various donor demographic groups and examines differences pre- and post-recession. It offers key insights for non-profits and donors as they face new and evolving factors affecting the philanthropic sector in the U.S. “Changes to the Giving Landscape” finds that the average amount given by donor households remained relatively constant over time, despite the economic downturn. However, the recession fueled a 13% decrease in the share of U.S. households who gave to charity between 2000 and 2016. This decline in the overall share of households who gave represents 20 million fewer donor households. The report also examines in depth the percent of income the households gave. More specifically, it shows continued attrition in the percent of American households who gave to charity, from about two-thirds in 2000 to just over half in 2016. At the same time, the households who gave maintained or slightly increased the amount of their giving, on average. These results present both challenges and opportunities for nonprofit organizations and the donors who care about and support them

Discovering Major Gifts

Not sure who might be a good fit for a major donation? From DonorPerfect, here are five markers of philanthropy that predict major giving potential. These factors can reliably predict the ability and willingness to give and give big:
1. Giving history to your organization
2. Giving history to other non-profits
3. Board member as grant-giving foundation decision-maker
4. Political donations
5. Value of real estate: Someone whose real estate value is between $1 million and $2 million is 4 times more likely to donate to a 501(c)(3) organization than anyone else. Individuals exceeding $2 million in real estate are 17 times more likely.

$2 Billion Pay Day

For non-profits across the country, Giving Tuesday was a resounding success. American organizations raked in a reported $511 million from online donations in 2019, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. This record beats out last year’s reported $400 million with a 27.75% increase. However, a statistical model designed by the GivingTuesday Data Collaborative estimates the number is much higher when it accounts for both online and offline donations in the U.S. Combined, that amount is nearly $2 billion. The collaborative, which was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, shared other valuable insights regarding the post-Thanksgiving event. More than 20 billion social media impressions used the term “Giving Tuesday,” which helped the charitable campaign trend on various platforms. The day has also rapidly expanded in its short time of existence, with 2019 experiencing impressive involvement from 200 domestic community coalitions and 60 countries participating in philanthropic movements. In July, GivingTuesday became an official non-profit organization It is already ramping up support for next year’s Giving Tuesday with an online countdown for December 1, 2020.

Adequate Funding

Full Cost Project is a joint initiative of Philanthropy California and Nonprofit Finance Fund to support a funding model that honestly assesses the full cost for organizations to deliver on their missions and to be sustainable over time. They’re bringing together education, advocacy, and skill-building with the goal to increase the number of funders that provide full cost funding and to build the skills and capacity of all those engaged in grantmaking: foundations, corporations, individuals, and government. Non-profits are often built with remarkable resourcefulness — but a lack of sufficient funding is a serious threat to their ability to deliver social good. The expectation to continuously work with unrealistically low administrative and fundraising costs can exact a high price from non-profits, many of whom are compelled to contort their budgets and skimp on staffing in order to deliver results within funders’ budget structures. It’s encouraging to see funders across the country beginning to recognize that a low budget does not equate with organizational effectiveness. In order to manage successful programs, non-profits must have the capacity to invest in infrastructure and the people at the heart of their work over the long-term.

Workshops at Microsoft

Our Non-Profit Empowerment Workshop Series at Microsoft for 2019 ended on a high note, as Tracy Hunt, Principal, Straight Forward Consulting, shared his 12-step Roadmap2Destiny Program that transforms the complex and boring into simple and fun. Key strategic planning take-aways for non-profit leaders: (a) Engage the right voices in the process from the board, staff and other stake holders; (b) Be gutsy and let your heart create an uplifting vision of the future; (c) Create trigger devices to keep your team focused on the big picture and overarching goals. The commitment of time and effort will be more than worth it, and the resulting strategic plan will play a huge role in driving your organization’s vision, funding priorities and effectiveness. Watch for our announcement of capacity-building workshops at Microsoft for 2020 addressing prospect research, unrestricted gifts, corporate giving and a conversation with a leading philanthropist. A giant thank-you to the non-profit leaders who contributed so robustly to our learning community!

Learning from Masters: Mike Buckley

Mike Buckley started his fundraising career as a student phon-a-thon caller at his alma mater, Castleton State College. Needing that job to pay for a spring break trip, he never imagined that it would change his career plans. Since then, he’s held leadership fundraising roles in both higher education and community-based non-profits, specifically animal welfare, before branching into consulting, coaching and training. Mike likes referring to himself as “an annual fund nerd” because of the emphasis he places on metrics to drive decision making that help organizations build sustainable revenue engines. He strongly encourages every size non-profit to have four basic donor metrics at their fingertips — donor retention percentage, growth in giving rate, new donor acquisition rate, and average gift. His favorite is donor retention, since it speaks to the percentage of donors that continue to support your organization. A good donor retention rate will also ensure efficiency as it will always be more cost effective to keep a donor than acquire a new one. He highlights that the fundraising basics will never change — the best way remains to build strong relationships over time and then ask them for money. For more information on Mike’s work with annual giving\regular giving efforts, check out the Killoe Group and click on “data inspired fundraising.” Mike is also a proud coach with the Institute for Philanthropic Excellence led by my good friend Marv LeRoy, where he works with non-profits on capital and legacy giving campaigns.

Conveying Thanks

As much as anything, fundraisers should be good at and embrace every opportunity to express their gratitude to donors for the precious gifts of time and money. I like the 7X Rule of Thumb: Every gift — whether it is $100 or $1 million — should be recognized by thanking the donor on seven distinct occasions and ways during the year. This is both the right and smart thing to do in elevating the relationship from transactional to lifetime. Read my LinkedIn article on the essential role of Stewardship.

On the Bookshelf: Leadership

You don’t need a title to lead. Before running for mayor of Augusta, Georgia, Deke Copenhaver was an unofficial leader of social change and politics within his community. In The Changemaker: The Art of Building Better Leaders, Deke shares how all of us can be true and authentic leaders. Leadership is never easy. Almost all leaders deal with both triumph and tragedy, oftentimes in equal measure. The fact of the matter is that leadership insists on a constant rejection of the status quo. True leaders demand continuous reflection and improvement of those around them, and even more importantly, of themselves. True leaders are Changemakers. In Deke’s book, you will learn to become unafraid of doing something different in the service of a good cause and how to spark a movement that others can’t help but rally around. Deke’s seven attributes of changemakers reveal how anyone can become a transformative leader: Creativity; Courage; Connecting; Listening; Transparency; Composure;  Character.

Guilt Fundraising

So, you’re a grandmother whose kids and grandkids apparently are too busy to keep in touch — how do you remind them? Handwritten notes. Email messages. Guilt-laden phone calls. Or, since last month, a new app touted on the revamped website of the American Friends of the Hebrew University. A video on the website features an octogenarian identified as Judith Cohen who describes the “Would It Kill You to Call?” app she’s developed that will send periodic cell phone reminders to delinquent members of the family. “Do they ever remember to call their bubbe?” she asks. (Bubbe is Yiddish for grandmother.) After seven days without a call, a text message goes out to the offender. It seems like a great way to reach out and touch forgetful ones. Just one problem – the app isn’t real. The 90-second video, one of three that the U.S. branch of Hebrew University unveiled a few weeks ago, is designed to spread the message of the school’s high-tech reputation. With a light touch. In online comments, many people said they thought the app “was real,” said Eileen Hume, chief marketing officer for the American Friends. Some asked, “where can I find the app?” So far, Hume said, the video has gotten “nearly a million views. It’s a pleasant surprise.” People who have seen its closing message, “Bubbe may not have the most advanced tech, but the Hebrew University does.”  Want a laugh? Watch it here.

Gift Idea

It’s not that I’m biased on the subject, but I believe that my book 10 Simple Fundraising  Lessons makes a great Christmas or Chanukah gift. You could say it’s a gift that keeps on giving since it’s designed to empower professional and volunteer fundraisers of all experience levels to replace the fear of asking for gifts with comfort and confidence. Organizations are encouraged to order books for their boards. key volunteers and staff. It’s available for purchase on my website and Amazon for $16.95 (paperback) or $5.99 (Kindle). Discounts are available when you order multiple copies.

Quiz : America's Top Givers

To discover who made good on their philanthropic pledges, Forbes partners with Shook Research and tracked which givers doled out the most funds in 2018. They only counted money that reached beneficiaries — and excluded commitments that have yet to be paid out. They also didn’t include donations that were made to charitable foundations, but which the foundations haven’t spent yet. Match the following philanthropists with their 2018 giving to answer this question. Answers are at the bottom of this page.
1. Michael Bloomberg               a. $585M
2. Warren Buffet                       b. $596M
3. Bill & Melinda Gates            c. $767M
4. George Soros                      d. $2.6B
5. Walton Family                      e. $3.4B
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.

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=c, 2=e, 3=d, 4=a, 5=b

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