Stratagems, December 2021

New Year's Resolution

I’ve probably heard just about every reason under the sun that people use to justify their fear of and resistance to asking for a gift for a favorite non-profit. I group them into six buckets:
• Can’t take the rejection.
• Don’t know enough about the non-profit.
• Afraid it will ruin a friendship.
• Don’t ask me to do that.
• I’ll do anything else, but not that.
• I don’t travel in wealthy circles.
And these can come from business and community leaders who are virtually fearless in everything they have to face in their lives. So, let’s take a look at each of these reasons.
(a) Rejection: I don’t know of anyone who in their personal and/or professional lives doesn’t hear “no” at least once a day, and more likely several times during the same day. To hear “yes” you have to risk hearing “no.”
(b) Not knowing enough. When you’re making an ask the most influential factor will be the passion and authenticity you bring in representing your favorite non-profit. If the donor asks questions you can’t answer; that sets the stage for getting back together. Incidentally, most donors react negatively to “factoid fatigue” and prefer to understand through stories and visuals.
(c) Jeopardize friendships: When you have a great meal you’re likely going to recommend the restaurant to friends and neighbors, so think of support of non-profits in the same spirit. You have a great experience with a non-profit, so you want to share that with friends.
(d) The biggest inhibitor is that too many non-profit board members have never experienced a genuine solicitation themselves. They might be familiar with the more passive act of getting or receiving gifts, but they’ve never seen a solicitor asked for specific amount on a specific time and for a specific purpose. For that reason, they should be taken along to watch what the solicitor accomplishes, and/or participate in role-playing reversals.
(e) There is a lot more to fundraising than making the ask. Reluctant board members can contribute to resource development success by concentrating on prospect identification, cultivation, and especially stewardship, and letting staff and other board members handle solicitation when the time is right.
(f) Absolutely, there are numerous ways for board members and volunteers to add value to the organization in the areas of governance, program implementation, financial management and others. But I can’t think of anything more essential than assuring financial stability and strength. As my good friend Marv LeRoy, Founder of the Institute for Philanthropic Excellence, aptly puts it: More money=more mission.
(g) It can be a serious and common mistake making assumptions about wealth. For perspective, the U.S. can now claim about 20 million millionaires and 1,000 billionaires. In other words, people of wealth are all around us, and may be leading a relatively modest lifestyle.
Bottom line: If you care about a non-profit and can explain in conversational terms why you are passionate about it, you will do fine asking for gifts of time and money. How about making a 2022 New Year’s resolution to focus on the commitment to raise more money including the most productive fundraising of all — one-on-one solicitations? Here’s my quick primer on soliciting individuals. We hope you find it useful.

A Day for Doing Good

Giving Tuesday is a global day of generosity that will take place on November 30, 2021. The purpose is to unleash the power of radical generosity to transform communities and the world. It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past nine years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. GivingTuesday is an opportunity for people around the world to come together to thank, help, give, show kindness, and share what they have with those in need. Nearly $2.5 billion was raised during the 2020 #GivingTuesday, a 25% increase from the $1.97 billion both online and offline in 2019. An estimated 34.8 million people participated in #GivingTuesday last year, which would be a 29% increase compared to 2019. More and more countries are joining us to make this a truly global movement. Let’s make this the most successful GivingTuesday ever!

Non-Profits Unite Us

We don’t need to remind you how polarized and divided our nation is. More and more we are seeing Blue and Red Americans live in different places, get their information from different sources to the point where it is like Americans are living in two completely different philosophical/ideological echo chambers. And that brings up another beautiful characteristic of philanthropy. It breaks down walls and brings people closer together in a profound way. Professional and volunteer non-profit leaders care most about the mission of their organizations. They are seldom distracted by the noise of politics. So, it’s not unusual to find people of different political parties and ideologies working side-by-side to promote the success of non-profits.

Unsung Hero

As part of National Philanthropy Day, communities all across the country are saluting their leading philanthropists across many categories including individuals, volunteers, professionals, organizations and even youth. As a result, many unsung heroes (while not seeking it) are receiving much-deserved recognition. If you don’t know it, there is an unsung hero who made the dream of the establishment of National Philanthropy Day a reality. His name is Doug Freeman, a tax attorney in Los Angeles. Our thanks to Candid Learning for featuring our submission on The Story Behind National Philanthropy Day

Joy of Giving Webinar: November 30th

One of the powerful characteristics of philanthropy is that everyone involved in the process comes out ahead and wins — the generous donor, artful solicitor and grateful beneficiaries. For those of us who have been in this business a long time, we’ve seen up close how it is the generous donors who derive the most satisfaction and excitement from philanthropy. It’s a genuine privilege to partner with my Association for Philanthropic Counsel colleague, Michael Rubin, Principal, Michael D. Rubin & Associates (based in St. Louis), for our Tuesday November 30th, special Giving Tuesday edition webinar. In addition to sharing questions and comments for our subject matter expert, learning community members are also invited to share their thoughts on why they and others enjoy giving time and money so much. You can register here for the free webinar.

Year-End Push

Like the final two minutes of the football game, this is the time of year when stakes grow very high for non-profits. During December, at least 31% of annual giving happens. And 12% of annual giving happens during the last three days of the year. It was fun featuring Aly Sterling, President and Founder, Aly Sterling Philanthropy (based in Toledo) during a recent webinar to share strategies, tactics and best practices that non-profits from all sectors and of all sizes should embrace. With the clock running this means adopting a “best and highest use” mindset. Concentrate your time on those closest to the mission, including board members, volunteers, staff and loyal contributors. Closely review where you stand with major gifts solicitations. Use those with the closest relationship to those prospects to bring closure to the asks. Focus on established funding priorities. This is not the time to introduce new priorities. And be sure that donors are easily able to reach the CEO and/or development staff (via cell phone or e-mail) if they have any questions or any requests during the last week of the year when many offices are closed for the holidays. You can watch a replay of this information packed webinar here.

Budgeting Matters

Vanguard Charitable finds that only 44% of Americans who gave to charity in the past 12 months included a line item for charitable donations in their annual budget. Conducted by the Harris Poll, the survey of more than 2,000 American adults found that those who actively budget their charitable giving gave, on average, $2,453 over the past year, compared with $355 for those who do not budget at all. Among respondents who donated, 38% of those who include charitable donations in their annual budget said they gave more than they did in the previous twelve-month period. By comparison, 22% of donors who have an annual budget but do not include charitable donations and 19% of donors who do not create an annual budget said they gave more. According to the survey, 73% of all respondents reported making a monetary donation in the past 12 months, and 16% of those donors gave more than $1,000. Younger Americans and those approaching retirement age were more likely to have a charitable donation budget: Among those who gave in the past 12 months, those between the ages of 18 and 44 (51%) and those between the ages of 55 and 64 (47%) were more likely than those between the ages of 45 and 54 (33%) and those ages 65 and older (34%) to say they include monetary charitable donations in their annual budget.

Effective Databases

American Philanthropic preaches that there is no silver bullet in fundraising, rather that development is about doing the small things well and consistently well over time. They’re not glamorous, but robust databases are absolutely essential to the success of the development operation. To that end, from American Philanthropic here are 5 essential things that every successful non-profit database does:
1. It captures holistic records of donors and prospects. As a non-profit organization you have to know who your donors are. And a donor’s information is more than what appeared on the check they gave you.
2. It helps you communicate with your supporters. With a good database, it is wonderfully easy to send acknowledgments of gifts as well as newsletters, update letters, or solicitations.
3. It organizes your efforts. Tasks and next steps should also live in your database so that when you sit down with any of your staff, you’re all on the same page and can see exactly what everyone is focusing their efforts on.
4. It assigns Relationship Managers. A job unassigned is a job undone. The same is true for donors.
5. It centralizes and emphasizes your data within the life of your organization. One of the most effective uses of a database is to align your organization’s thinking around the records and data you use on a daily basis. 

Leading By Example

Pledge 1%, a global movement to inspire, educate, and empower all companies to leverage their assets for good, has announced $2 billion in new philanthropy has been unlocked for good since the launch of its CEO Equity Playbook in the summer of 2020. Working closely with Boardroom Allies to help top companies set aside equity for social impact prior to liquidity events, Pledge 1% has doubled the $1 billion equity impact announced just four months ago, ensuring proceeds from a record-setting summer of IPO and market activity are earmarked for philanthropy. Pledge 1% ensures non-profits benefit along with private markets and is well on its way toward a goal of unlocking $5 billion in new philanthropy by 2025.

On Bookshelf: Philanthropy In America

This book combines two of my favorite subjects — philanthropy and history. Philanthropy in America explores in depth the 20th century growth of this unique phenomenon. Ranging from the influential large-scale foundations established by tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and the mass mobilization of small donors by the Red Cross and March of Dimes, to the recent social advocacy of individuals like Bill Gates and George Soros, University of Virginia social historian Olivier Zunz chronicles the tight connections between private giving and public affairs and shows how this union has enlarged democracy and shaped history. Demonstrating that America has cultivated and relied on philanthropy more than any other country, Philanthropy in America examines how giving for the betterment of all became embedded in the fabric of the nation’s civic democracy.

Disinformation vs. Misinformation

Whether we like it or not disinformation is establishing itself as a growing challenge for governmental, for-profit and non-profit sectors. From a recent Business Wire webinar here are 5 tips to manage the fast-spreading weeds of false information:
1. Understand motivation: While they may have the same effect on reputation, misinformation and disinformation are distinguished by intent. The sharer of misinformation believes the falsehood to be true. The sharer of disinformation manufactures it to intentionally spread a lie. A communication campaign is probably enough to combat misinformation, while disinformation will likely require a more extensive approach.
2. Know how disinformation spreads: Determining the root cause of a falsehood’s proliferation is key in fighting back.
3. Start listening: Disinformation typically originates on the fringes of the Internet or on the dark web. Monitoring and, in some cases, intervening in this sector of the Internet may be required.
4. Change your narrative: Be prepared. Really understand who may target the organization, why, and their positioning to plan your response ahead of time.
5. Leverage your support network: While organizations need to come to their own defense, endorsements and opinions from credible third parties can be invaluable. But you must start building those relationships now. 

Quiz: Most Generous States

In the spirit of inspiring altruism, WalletHub determined the most charitable of the 50 states by comparing them across 19 key indicators of charitable behavior. The data set ranges from the volunteer rate to the share of income donated to the sheltered homeless. Match the following states with their generosity rating to answer this question (with 1 being the lowest score and 100 — the highest).
Answers are at the bottom of this page.
1. Connecticut      a. 44
2. Ohio                  b. 55
3. New Mexico     c. 57
4. Texas                d. 63
5. Utah                  e. 71

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

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