Stratagems, April 2022


Responses to the latest Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Fundraising Confidence Survey shows that fundraisers are the most optimistic about giving and prospects for the future than they have been since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. The survey, conducted in late December 2021 and early January 2022, asked questions regarding how confident fundraisers are in various aspects of their fundraising work and what they see ahead in terms of trends and challenges. The survey looked at fundraising trends and expectations for both the last half of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. When asked how optimistic they were about reaching their annual fundraising goal in 2021 and raising more money in 2021 than in 2020, fundraisers displayed record confidence levels since the Fundraising Confidence Surveys started in 2020. On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being “least confident” and 10 being “most confident”), fundraisers reported an average confidence level of 8.04 for reaching their 2021 fundraising. The confidence level for this category at the end of September 2021 was 7.63 and was at 6.52 in September 2020.
In terms of raising more money in 2021 than compared to 2020, the confidence level was 7.52. In contrast, the same confidence level was 6.59 in September 2021 and stood at 4.89 in September 2020 (when fundraisers were asked if they would raise more money in 2020 than in 2019). The confidence that fundraisers have in their organizations’ capacity to hire staff and invest in fundraising infrastructure and capacity is also at an all-time high. Optimism about hiring and increasing capacity was 5.64 for the first quarter of 2022, significantly higher than the 4.76 confidence level a year ago for the first quarter of 2021. 

More Encouraging News

Blackbaud Institute’s data show a record increase in generosity, with overall U.S. giving growing 9% in 2021 — the largest increase since 2012. Tracking over $46 billion in U.S.-based charitable giving from the Blackbaud Institute Index, the Charitable Giving Report is one of the most credible resources on fundraising performance in the social good community. Highlights:
  • Overall giving increased 9% in 2021, representing a three-year increase of 19%.
  • The overall average gift amount in 2021 increased 10%, with an average donation amount of $813.
  • Online giving grew 9% in 2021, representing a three-year increase of 42%.
  • 12% of giving was done online in 2021, remaining a near record high and indicating a maintained comfort level with online giving.
  • 28% of online contributions were made from a mobile device.
  • Small, medium, and large non-profits in the U.S. now raise more than 10% of their money online.

Time for Baseball and Webinars

Perhaps it’s fitting that both our 2022 Non-Profit Empowerment Webinar and Major League Baseball seasons resume in the same week, webinars on April 6th and baseball on April 7th. It promises to be a great week. We have an outstanding lineup of subject matter experts and topics on tap for this year. Some have spoken in the past while others are brand-new to the webinar series. Between the cumulative knowledge of our speakers, we are confident that we can answer virtually any question that might arise about fundraising and non-profit advancement. (I don’t think my calculator is capable of computing their fundraising totals in the aggregate.) We also are very proud to embrace the culture of learning community in which our audience of professional and volunteer non-profit leaders is encouraged to join us on camera and share their questions, comments, experiences and other personal insights to enrich the dialogue for everyone involved. We are very excited about the robust way that our learning community is growing, both in numbers and geographically. From all across the country, the audience includes CEOs, Executive Directors, Directors of Development, Board Chairs, Board members, donors and volunteers — all the vibrant voices who contribute to the amazing non-profit story. Our intent is clear: By joining together we will learn and grow more successful in developing resources and championing the noble missions of the broad cross-section of participating non-profits who so profoundly improve the quality of life. We welcome your help in growing our learning community. Please encourage non-profit colleagues and friends to enroll in our database so that they will receive our monthly newsletter and invitations to free webinars. Webinars will be held every other Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Central time. Invitations will be sent Friday of the week before the webinar. See the exciting schedule below. We are so grateful to the distinguished men and women who are sharing the most precious gift of all — their time. We welcome your ideas and suggestions on other speakers and topics to address in the webinar series. Be sure to save Wednesday afternoons for us.
April 6: Small Staffs/Big Results, Ben Case, CEO, Senior Consultant, Focused on Fundraising
April 20: Major Donor Pipelines, Larry Raff, President, Copley Raff Inc.
May 4: The Art and Science of Securing Legacy Gifts, Dr. Russell James, Professor of Charitable Financial Planning, Texas Tech University
May 18: Ask The Expert on The ASK, Laura Fredricks, Founder, Expert on The ASK
June 1: Efficient Advancement Teams, Sally Bryant, President & CEO, BRYANT GROUP
June 15: High-Performing Development Officers, Jeff Jowdy, President, Lighthouse Counsel
June 29: Healthy Fundraisers Are More Successful, Margi Helschien, President, America Connected
July 13: Data Driven Fundraising, Sean Barrett, Business Development Manager, Windfall Data
July 27: Launching a Non-Profit, Jasmin Dean, Executive Director, Celebrate Dyslexia
August 3: Settling Skirmishes, Barbara Radnofsky, Founder, Radnofsky Mediation Services, Author, Listening Space: A Barbershop Guide to Problem-Solving
August 17: Case for Support Contest, Diana Hoyt, Chief Strategist & Trainer, Formula for Fundraising
August 31: Stretching Gift Dollars, Fred Steubing, Financial Advisor, Capital Strategies, a MassMutual firm
September 14: First Million-Dollar Gifts, Marv LeRoy, Founder and CEO, Institute for Philanthropic Excellence
September 28: A Conversation with Dr. G.P. Singh, Founder, Karta Technologies/Philanthropist
October 12: Time Management, Don Gleason, President, Military Transition Roundtable
October 26: Write Like You Speak, Allen Paul, Author, College Sports On The Brink of Disaster

Small is Beautiful

We purposely chose to open the 2022 webinar season with the topic, Small Staffs/Big Results. Some 88% of America’s 1.5 million non-profits have annual budgets of $500,000 or less. Can they swim with the big fish? You bet they can! These smaller organizations are loaded with passion, and they enjoy some strategic advantages over large organizations. At the top of the list, smaller organizations are nimble and can respond swiftly to new ideas, possibilities and opportunities. Plus, a gift of $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000 which might be treated more quietly in larger organizations will be heralded as game changers and their donors as bona fide heroes in smaller organizations. Joining us to lead this discussion is Ben Case, CEO and Senior Consultant at Focused on Fundraising. During his illustrious career he has raised more than $6 billion for organizations of all different sizes and he is the author of 21 Tips for Highly Successful Fundraisers. You can register for this webinar here.


To paraphrase General Douglas MacArthur, old fundraisers never die, they just become consultants. And now I am proud to say that I am among their ranks. I’ve seen fundraising consulting close up by hiring firms at three different institutions of higher learning, and serving as a consultant for a wide variety of non-profits since 2018. I conclude that non-profits of all different sizes and representing different sectors can derive much value from consulting. Here’s a piece I wrote for the Global Pax website on finding, compensating and obtaining the most value and benefit from a fundraising consultant.

Community Involvement

For more than 25 years, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship has periodically updated its Community Involvement Study. It explores shifting trends in employee volunteering, corporate giving, and other means of corporate community involvement. The period of this study included a worldwide pandemic punctuated by widespread demonstrations for racial justice. In response to these societal disruptions, companies mobilized to meet immediate needs in their communities, and many began a process of reflection and action to address long-term, systemic issues that contribute to inequality. Key findings:
  • Volunteers = Engaged employees: Of the 51% that measure the connection, 96% of companies find that employees who volunteer are more engaged than peers who don’t volunteer.
  • Shifting issue priorities: Firms moved beyond “business as usual” to prioritize basic needs and diversity, equity, and inclusion in their community involvement programming.
  • Increased flexibility: Virtual volunteering is now the most popular type of volunteer program offered and more types of employees are eligible for workplace giving programs.
  • More collaborative partnerships: The most common changes made by corporate givers in response to the pandemic involved easing grant restrictions.
  • Longer term giving: The past 18 months have seen many multi-year commitments in support of urgent societal issues, with a maximum amount given of $2.5 billion.

Workforce Trends

While for-profit firms across the nation were bleeding staff — 33 million people — during the so-called “Great Resignation,” social impact organizations reported a decrease in turnover from 21.3% in 2019 to 14.3% in 2020. Even through many non-profits are struggling to find certain staff, the consulting firm Nonprofit HR in its annual survey shows social impact organizations had a decrease in both voluntary turnover (16.7% to 10.9%) and involuntary turnover (5.2% to 4.6%) from 2019 to 2020. A new retention survey will be conducted in the summer of 2022 to gather updated data on the impact of turnover in social impact organizations given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that of organizations reporting challenges in retaining staff, 30% reported female staff being the most challenging to retain than men at 14%. Some 44% of respondents indicated that the organization was not having trouble retaining staff. When it came to age, staff younger than 30 were the most challenging to retain and having trouble keeping staff at 46%. That was followed by ages 31-49 at 29%. Staff older than 50 were sticking around with just 6% moving on.

Disgruntled Donors

For a variety of reasons, some fair, some less than fair, sooner or later, we all are going to have to deal with upset donors. From Rachel Muir, here are four basic steps for making amends with donors who feel offended:
  • Apologize for the mistake as soon as you notice it.
  • Take responsibility, explain why it happened, and explain how you’ll work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Be vulnerable. People will empathize with you.
  • Include a note of gratitude.

Good Deeds

Make sure you know about this observance. Good Deeds Day is a global celebration that unites people from more than 100 countries to do good deeds for the benefit of others and the planet. Each year, hundreds of thousands put into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world. Good Deeds Day is the perfect opportunity to kick off Global Volunteer Month in April. Good Deeds Day was inspired in 2007 by the Israeli organization – Ruach Tova (Hebrew for “good spirit.”) Since 2007, volunteers from over 108 countries unite with one mission: Do Good. Everyone is invited to join in and help create a world where good leads the way! Here are five suggestions from the Good Deeds Day website on how you can participate:
1. Send e-cards to someone you love.
2. Collection drive.
3. Organize a meal train.
4. Support vulnerable populations.
5. Challenge others to do good.
This year Good Deeds Day will be celebrated on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
In case you want to make sure you have them marked on your calendar: National Non-Profit Day will be observed Wednesday, August 17, 2022, and National Philanthropy Day will be observed Tuesday, November 15, 2022.

On the Bookshelf: Born to Shine

For 20 years, Kendra Scott built her eponymous jewelry company from a hobby and an idea into a billion-dollar brand, creating beautiful and affordable pieces with signature-cut natural gemstones packaged in a sunny yellow box. By any measure, she’s the woman who has it all: a self-made billionaire, a generous philanthropist, and a mother of three with a squad of strong female friendships. Sounds pretty perfect, right? But perfection is a myth that doesn’t serve any of us. It’s a myth that encourages us to assume we know what other people are going through, to judge each other on appearances and reputations, and to present the best versions of ourselves and pretend like we’ve got it all together even when everything is falling apart. Perfection isn’t just a lie, it’s exhausting, and Kendra is tired of it. In this in this vulnerable, wise, and laugh-out-loud book, Born to Shine: Do Good, Find Your Joy, and Build a Life You Love, Kendra takes us on a journey of personal stories and hard-earned life lessons, from her humble beginnings as an awkward, bullied young girl in small-town Wisconsin to launching a business in her spare bedroom with $500. With every pitfall, misstep, and failure, Kendra builds a life — and a career– rooted in joy, purpose and doing good, a life she wants for every reader. With heart and humor, Kendra reminds us that not all that glitters is gold, and that there is no level of success that can insulate you from what it means to be a human being: that life is as messy as it is magical, that bad things happen to good people for no good reason, and that a good life does not mean a perfect one.


The lobbying industry had a record year in 2021, taking in $3.7 billion in revenue as companies, associations and other organizations pressed Congress and the Biden administration over trillions of dollars in new pandemic spending and rules affecting health care, travel, tourism and other industries. The revenue figures, compiled in recent weeks from government records by OpenSecrets show that lobbying spending began steadily growing in 2017, Donald Trump’s first year in office, before mostly flattening in 2020 as the pandemic began. The jump in 2021, when lobbying spending was about 6% higher than 2020, came as the government’s pandemic interventions and record expenditure took center stage, including an additional $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief and a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. The surge came as companies and associations aimed to roll back regulations on their industries — many of them pandemic-related — while others vied for a slice of the trillions in new spending. Manufacturers, unions, financial companies and technology firms all spent significantly more in 2021 than in previous years, but some of the biggest increases came from industries most affected by COVID.

Quiz: States and Volunteering

Volunteerism has evolved as one of the cornerstones of American life. People give time to non-profit causes, religious efforts, and political activity. Arguably, organizations like The Boy Scouts, The Red Cross, and Salvation Army would not exist without volunteers. To determine which state volunteers the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the report “Volunteering in America” from AmeriCorps. States were ranked based on the percentage of residents who volunteered their time in the last year. Match the following states with their percentages of volunteerism. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.
1. Florida a. 23%
2. Massachusetts                b. 28%
3. Minnesota                       c. 33%
4. Texas                                 d. 41%
5. Utah                                  e. 51%

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

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