Stratagems, February 2023

New Year's Resolutions

By their nature, professional and volunteer non-profit leaders are unabashedly eternal optimists. They believe that more is possible. This is very much part of their DNA in championing their noble missions that touch, improve and save more lives. Eskin Fundraising Training is proud to collaborate with so many extraordinary non-profit leaders. We can’t wait to turn up the volume in 2023 and continue making strides in achieving a healthier, more prosperous and more socially just world. Here are 10 resolutions we are emphasizing in 2023 based on our niche and vision of a brighter future in working with non-profits:

  • Listen more than you speak and probe for genuine meaning.
  • Embrace the learning community approach in which everyone has experience and insights to contribute.
  • Remind everyone that gifts of time to non-profits also qualify you as a philanthropist.
  • Encourage unrestricted giving in which non-profits can use funds when and where needed most.
  • Relentlessly encourage non-profits to collaborate for stronger mission impact.
  • Be sure to give all stakeholders a place at the table, including those served by the programs and services of the non-profit.
  • Be strategic in outreach. Just sending more communication doesn’t promote greater understanding.
  • Be hopeful and confident. More is possible when you believe in it and articulate it.
  • You can never say “thank you” enough.
  • 2023 means you have another 525,600 minutes to do good and improve the lot of others, especially those who are struggling.

Gates Leads the Way

The Chronicle of Philanthropy annual list of the 10 largest charitable gifts announced by individuals or their foundations totaled nearly $9.3 billion in 2022. The contributions went to large, well-established institutions, three of them private foundations and three universities to support environmental sustainability, children’s mental health, and stem-cell research. The other gifts backed cancer research and treatment, housing efforts, youth programs, and reproductive health. Two of the gifts exceeded $1 billion, and six of the eight donors (one donor made three gifts) are multi-billionaires. The combined net worth of those six donors is just over $325 billion. Topping the list is Bill Gates, who gave $5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to back the grant maker’s work in global health, development, policy and advocacy, and U.S. education. Gates, whose net worth is estimated at $104 billion, attracted attention in July when he announced he was giving $20 billion to the foundation he runs with his former wife, Melinda French Gates. However, foundation officials confirmed that three-fourths of that $20 billion went toward paying off the $15 billion he and French Gates had pledged in July 2021. The remaining $5 billion was a new infusion to the foundation. While McKenzie Scott has emphasized unrestricted use when and where needed most grantmaking, Gates has pledged to stay on track with the kind of hands-on grant making that has been his hallmark.

The MacKenzie Website

Her long-awaited website Yield Giving shows that uber-philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has made donations of more than $14 billion to about 1,600 non-profits since 2019. Scott also announced that she plans to introduce an “open-call process” that allows non-profits seeking donations from her to send information to her for evaluation. Until now, Scott and her team secretly contacted organizations that they were interested in first, then offered unrestricted donations after receiving the group’s data. The website name plays on two meanings of the word “yield:” to produce something positive and to give up control, which together capture Scott’s approach to giving. Some of the donations on Yield Giving have not previously been disclosed, including the single largest gift reported — a $75 million gift to the organization Co-Impact’s fund that supports gender equality and women’s leadership globally. Scott, and her ex-husband Dan Jewett, had been listed among the fund’s donors, but the gift amount had not been published. Another $40 million donation to Bridgespan Group, the non-profit consulting firm that has helped Scott vet and select recipients of her donations, was also disclosed. Scott has signed The Giving Pledge, promising to give away more than half of her wealth, which largely comes from her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Scott, whose net worth Forbes currently estimates at $27 billion, has not given any interviews about her donations, opting to discuss her reasons in a handful of essays that she posted on Medium and now on Yield Giving. Scott says the “open-call” process she plans to start will focus on specific types of organizations or certain locations. She plans to post criteria for eligibility and selection, as well as naming the panel evaluating the applications publicly.

First Million-Dollar Gifts

It was a genuine privilege serving as the featured subject matter expert in the DonorSearch Philanthropy Masterminds Series, hosted by Jay Frost, addressing one of my new favorite topics: How Non-Profits Can Score Their Next (Or First) Million-Dollar Gifts. There is nothing more exhilarating for a small or mid-size non-profit and achieving this milestone is a game-changer in how the organization is viewed both internally and externally. Key takeaways:

(1) The fundraising process of discovery, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship is fundamentally the same for securing million-dollar gifts as $1,000 gifts — they just require prospects with greater capacity and more cultivation time.

(2) There is gold in your database. Be sure to scrutinize repeat donors of three years or more with the potential to upgrade to leadership gifts.

(3) Legacy gifts such as bequests, retirement plans and insurance policies exponentially stretch giving potential; in particular, explore the feasibility of blended gifts mixing current and deferred dollars.

(4) The Six Degrees of Separation reminds us that everyone on the planet is separated by no more than six personal relationships. Enthusiastically explore the connections of board members, volunteers and key supporters.

(5) While larger non-profits have several or numerous million-dollar donors, there can be only one first million-dollar donor who can heroically be held up as a champion and major influencer. You can review the slides and recording here.

Global Giving

As the state of mental health drops to new lows both nationally and around the world, Gallup highlights that it’s not all doom and gloom, because global giving has reached new highs. Whether it’s helping a stranger, volunteering our time or donating money to a worthy cause, we are living in a world that is more generous than at any time in the past 15 years. On the same subject, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) 2022 World Giving Index offers another perspective of global trends in generosity: 

  • The most generous country in the world is Indonesia for the fifth year in a row.
  • The Top 10 most generous countries have changed substantially in 2021.
  • More than three billion people helped someone they didn’t know in 2021.
  • More people than ever donated money in 2021.


Foundation Source, the nation’s largest provider of management solutions for private foundations, has released The Generosity Barometer. The findings in this report are based on the analysis of the activities of a sample of 948 private, non-operating foundation clients. It provides a snapshot of foundation grantmaking activities over 24 months, breaking down giving by state. California had the highest number of grants at nearly 10,000 and the highest amount granted at nearly $233 million followed by New York and Massachusetts. Other findings:

  • On average, private foundations well exceeded their minimum distribution requirement (MDR) of 5% in 2021 giving out 7.2% of their assets.
  • Mid-size ($10M-$50M) and larger foundations ($50M-$500M) are more likely to decrease their giving in years when the market is down (2015 and 2018) and increase their giving when there are two or more consecutive years of positive market returns (2014, 2017 and 2021).
  • Small foundations ($1M-$10M) stood out for their generosity, giving away 8.9% of their assets in 2021. Furthermore, when looking at their giving over a decade, smaller foundations have consistently given a higher percentage of their assets, compared to mid-size and large foundations. In fact, their rate of generosity has grown over the past 10 years and remains consistently high on an absolute and relative basis.

$46 Billion and Counting

National Philanthropic Trust‘s 2022 Donor-Advised Fund Report, the most comprehensive data on the state DAF philanthropy in the U.S., details growth in all key metrics for the 12th consecutive year.  It reveals DAF grantmaking to charities around the world grew 60% compared to pre-pandemic 2019 and increased 400% over the past decade. Value of grants from DAFs to charities around the world increased 28.2% to $45.74 billion, contributions to DAFs grew 46.6% to $72.67 billion, charitable assets increased 39.5% to $234.06 billion, the number of DAF accounts increased 27.6% and the grantmaking payout rate grew to a record 27.3%. The report highlights the highest DAF payout rate on record. The 10-year average growth rate of charitable assets from 2011 to 2020 is 17.7%.  Continued growth of charitable assets under management reflects investment gains, growth in the number of DAFs and contributions from donors. Average DAF account size was $182,842 in 2021, a 9.0% increase compared to $167,748 in 2020. 

Event Cost Management

Inflation is at a 40-year high, and it is hitting non-profit organizations particularly hard. The impact is two-fold: It wreaks havoc on any organization with tight budgetary constraints, and it can negatively impact donations from donors and association members, who must choose between giving less or not at all. How can non-profits organize quality events during times of inflation? Here are recommendations for event-planners from Marvin McTaw, CEO of Sched, an event scheduling software firm:

  • Double your planning time. Use the additional time to negotiate better value prices and compare more suppliers to ensure that you’re getting the best deal.
  • Boost your purchasing power. Start by asking for a non-profit discount. Then, leverage hosting multiple events a year — it can actually save you money. When engaging vendors, don’t exclusively discuss the next event. Talk about all your upcoming events.
  • Map logistics with precision. The set-up and breakdown of your event can incur hefty costs. To minimize those costs, plan every detail meticulously to determine in advance where you can shave minutes and manpower.
  • Use event management software. Time is money. More often than not, non-profit event planners do far more than just plan events. Maximize every minute of their workload by investing in event management software.
  • Squeeze before you splurge. Tap into your vendors’ network before storming into making purchases. Most have a dedicated list of partner suppliers they frequently collaborate with.
  • Rethink your catering. To maximize quality without wincing at the price, rethink your dining setup. Sit-down meals are costly, requiring furniture rental, staff, a larger venue, and more set-up time. Buffets and “grab and go” are economical alternatives.
  • Strive for flexibility. The venue is a large part of any event budget. To cut costs, leverage any flexibility you have concerning timing and location. Weekends are notoriously more expensive than weekdays. When approaching venues, ask them to specify their off-peak periods to maximize savings. You should also consider choosing an area of the city that isn’t centrally located to avoid premium rental costs, but ensure that your chosen venue is located near public transport hubs.

Next Generation

In a new study from BNY Mellon Wealth Management and Campden Wealth, the next generation of ultra-high-net-worth individuals overwhelmingly indicate they’re ready for succession in the family enterprise, with 85% reporting they feel either very or somewhat prepared. Yet, Campden Wealth’s 2022 research on family offices suggests that a clear disconnect exists, as only 39% of family offices believe Next Gens are adequately prepared for succession. The study, “The Next Generation of Wealth Holders in the U.S. 2022,” surveyed 100+ next generation (Next Gens) with a total estimated family net worth of $77 billion (average $752 million per family), all of whom have recently or will in the future assume control of the family wealth. Next Gens’ involvement in the family enterprise gives them firsthand knowledge of its goals. They have an appetite to get more involved, with a preference toward strategic and finance-related positions, ranking investment strategy/management on top (42%), followed by financial planning (38%), and succession planning (38%). The study finds Next Gens have an interest in easing conflict within the family enterprise. Two thirds (66%) believe in the power of regular communication and another 63% seek external support for their succession planning/wealth transfers. 

On Bookshelf: In The Toolbox

In The Toolbox: Strategies for Crafting Social Impact, celebrated non-profit executive Jacob Harold delivers an expert guide to doing good in the 21st century. He explores nine tools that have driven world-shaking social movements and billion-dollar businesses — tools that can work just as well for a farmers market or fire department or small business. The author describes each of the tools — including storytelling, mathematical modeling, and design thinking — in a stand-alone chapter, intertwining each with a consistent narrative and full-color visual structure. Other highlights:

  • A consistent focus and emphasis on the work of social good and how it can be applied in any business, government agency, or non-profit organization.
  • Dozens of poems, photos, equations, diagrams, and stories to illustrate and enrich the core ideas of the book.
  • A three-chapter introduction offering a crash course in the basics of social impact strategy in the 21st century.
  • A comprehensive strategic playbook for contributing to the shared work of building a better world.

Get Even

In the year 2023, being called a “Karen” is still an insulting and undesirable title. According to Urban Dictionary, a “Karen” is “a pejorative term” for a person who will “go out of [their] way to impose their belief structures” who “once cornered will publicly berate the victim” and most likely become emotional before calling or threatening to call authorities. But sometimes, whether it’s because of poor service or unfair prices, you really do need to “talk to a manager.” Fortunately, now you can hire someone to be the “Karen” you dream to be when complaining. A company called Karens for Hire is advertising the use of so-called “Karens” you pay to make complaints for you, whether it’s to complain about health insurance, cell phone or internet bills, or even if you’re looking for a refund from Ticketmaster or Airbnb, the “Karens” will go to work. The site claims that service typically runs from $50 to $75 without a consultation fee, with some deals going as low as $10 and some as high as $100. Services range from making calls and writing formal letters of complaint to helping form micro unions and assisting with mediation between parties. The company notes that lawyers are staffed within the company to make sure that nothing illegal or illicit is being done on the customer’s behalf, but the “Karens” carrying out the job are not sworn-in attorneys.

Quiz: Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the House. After what seemed an eternity, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) became the 55th Representative to serve as Speaker. Interestingly enough, the Constitution doesn’t require the Speaker to be an incumbent member of the House, although every speaker thus far has been. Match the following Speakers with their total years of service in the position (not necessarily consecutive years). Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.

1. Newt Gingrich         a. 4

2. Dennis Hastert         b. 7

3. Nancy Pelosi           c. 8

4. Tip O’Neill                d. 10

5. Sam Rayburn          e. 13

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=b, 4=d, 5=e

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

.style-k1l0iwlgcont { width: 100%; overflow: hidden; position: relative; } .style-k1l0iwlgline { height: 29px; min-height: 29px; min-width: 90px !important; } .style-k1l0iwlg_left { background-position: 0 0; width: 45px; left: 0; } .style-k1l0iwlg_ln { height: 29px; min-height: 29px; background-image: url(/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/fade_line.png); position: absolute; top: 0; } .style-k1l0iwlg_center { background-position: 0 -29px; right: 45px; left: 45px; } .style-k1l0iwlg_ln { height: 29px; min-height: 29px; background-image: url(/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/fade_line.png); position: absolute; top: 0; } .style-k1l0iwlg_right { background-position: 100% 0; width: 45px; right: 0; } .style-k1l0iwlg_ln { height: 29px; min-height: 29px; background-image: url(/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/fade_line.png); position: absolute; top: 0; }
Read Recent Issues By Jim Eskin


STRATAGEMS®, is a FREE monthly e-publication exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy, public affairs and advocacy.

To subscribe toSTRATAGEMS®, visit the contact page.