Stratagems, January 2022

Back to Business

In early December I had what was supposed to be simple and relatively quick back surgery. But complications kept me in the hospital for over a month. I experienced an ileus that is a temporary lack of the normal muscle contractions of the intestines. To put it in plain English: My bowels shut down. I spent over a week in the Methodist Hospital ICU in San Antonio. This delayed my therapy program by several weeks. I am now home and feeling much better though, with nine weeks of in-home physical and occupational therapy ahead — something I enthusiastically welcome. I also will be wearing a back brace for the foreseeable future. My extended hospital stay reinforced my admiration for the unsung heroes of our healthcare system — particularly the nurses who were there around the clock to assist me with all those daily activities that I couldn’t do for myself. If being in the hospital has any upside — it provides plenty of opportunity to think and reflect on the future. In that spirit, I return with a renewed and supercharged vision of Eskin Fundraising Training in empowering professional and volunteer non-profit leaders to be more successful in developing resources for their noble missions which touch, improve and save more lives. We can’t wait to resume our schedule of interactive webinars and other educational initiatives bringing together our learning community of professional and volunteer non-profit leaders!

2022 Webinars

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’ve decided to delay the start of our schedule of webinars for professional and volunteer non-profit leaders until April 6, 2022, to retool them for more interaction, engagement and fun. We will initiate a schedule of interactive webinars twice a month held on Wednesdays, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Central time. We’re very excited about featuring subject matter experts and timely topics that will cover the full spectrum of challenges facing professional and volunteer non-profit leaders. We will even get into subjects such as healthy lifestyles for fundraisers. Watch for an updated schedule of webinars for the year in the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can go to our website to review last year’s webinars as well as our library of monthly newsletters, guest articles and blogs on a wide range of topics directly influencing fundraising results. More good news: Our senior cat Billie will continue her role supervising webinar operations.

Fundraising Trends

A report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) finds that while fundraising through the first three quarters of 2021 kept up with 2020 levels, the number of donors continued to decline. Based on an analysis of data from 9,618 U.S.-based non-profits that raise between $5,000 and $25 million annually, the 2021 3rd Quarter Fundraising Report estimates that total donations through September increased 1.4% compared with the same period in 2020. The number of donors, however, fell 1.7%. For the 3rd quarter, the number of gifts saw year-over-year declines across all donor sizes, though with smaller declines among midsize (between $500 and $5,000) donors and major (between $5,000 and $50,000) donors. Total dollars donated also fell across all categories, but with smaller declines among midsize and supersize (more than $50,000) donors. While those figures may not seem like much, we have to remember that giving grew significantly in the first quarter of the year, by more than 6%, while the number of donors grew by 10%, noted AFP Foundations for Philanthropy.

Senior Housing/Volunteering

We’re very proud that our hometown of Newton, Mass. is a leader with a new housing approach for seniors that emphasizes a robust volunteering component. Opus Newton is a new type of senior living development for people 62+ catering to the underserved middle-income market around Boston. The not-for-profit community will be built on the intergenerational campus of the Jewish Community Center Greater Boston (JCC) in Newton (incidentally, a facility I enjoyed working out at numerous times during visits to the Boston area). The vision is uplifting: It’s not just about making senior living affordable to the middle market, but about aging in community in a dynamic and supportive environment. Among the differences: Residents will be required to volunteer roughly 10 hours a month, partly so less staff will be needed. It will be located near a sprawling state park (to reduce the cost of offering recreational activities) and will partner with businesses such as health care providers, local restaurants, salons and ride-share companies for better prices and high-quality services.

Twitter Power

Bill Pulte, 33, of Boca Raton, enthusiastically opens the door to greet visitors he is expecting. A philanthropist and heir to what is recognized as Michigan’s most prolific homebuilder, Pulte has 3.2 million followers on Twitter. He has the ability to move tens of thousands of people to take action in a matter of seconds. And he has. The social media superstar is followed by people all over the country and the world. He is a key influencer in identifying charitable projects that appeal to younger, nontraditional givers. Pulte dissects activity on social media the way a financial analyst would review profit-and-loss activity. Twitter, used effectively, can be an essential tool in delivering help to families, he explains. The involvement of others can be tracked by public comments posted on the site with anonymous and named donations, some of which credit “Team Pulte.” At issue for Pulte is to figure out what works and what doesn’t and how to get more people to see the need, give money and make a difference in this often-troubled world. Pulte, who disclosed a personal net worth approaching $100 million, takes pride in pointing out that he is the grandson of the late founder of the homebuilding giant, PulteGroup.

Online Giving

Non-profit giving platform Classy has announced that its customers raised a total of more than $1.1 billion on the platform in 2021. Recurring donations made on the platform totaled $30.8 million last year, an increase of 54.7% from $19.9 million in 2020, with more than 569,000 new recurring donors. In 2021, Classy launched a Crypto Giving Fund and Classy Pay with PayPal; the latter has processed $21 million in donations since October. The study concludes that the social sector emerged stronger in 2021 as a direct result of resilience, innovation, and a willingness to try something new. Non-profits that stepped outside of traditional donation methods to create donor-first experiences excelled. 


It can never be too early in the year to get serious about your personal finances. The Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) has a no charge new tool that can help you get your personal finances back on track in 2022! This no-fee calculator was designed to give you the truest sense financially of where you are and how to get where you want to be financially. By taking the time to answer questions about your monthly income and expenses, this calculator will give a detailed response about how well you are managing. The options are varied:
  • You may be doing just fine as you are and might not need to make any changes at all.
  • You may need to do a small amount of tweaking by making small changes to your expenses.
  • You may need a bit more help and structure to make your monthly credit card payments and find that a debt management plan is good for you. A possibility is a plan whereby with approval from your creditors, you make one monthly payment to the credit counseling agency who then pays your creditors. Late fees get waived, creditors often lower interest rates charged. Plans are designed to be no longer than 60 months and your debts get paid in full.
  • You may be a candidate for debt settlement. The FCAA Debt Decisioning Tool decision will walk you through steps for you to do that one your own.
  • Should bankruptcy be the right option for you, the Debt Decisioning Tool will let you know.


A study by Gallup and the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program indicates that instead of stepping away at the height of the pandemic, many volunteers around the world were stepping in to help. In fact, the joint study in eight low-, lower- and upper-middle-income countries — where volunteerism data are often scarce — revealed that as their communities grappled with COVID-19, most people were taking part in volunteer activities. At least three in four adults across Bolivia, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Senegal, Thailand, Turkey and Uzbekistan said they had participated in at least one form of volunteerism in the previous 12 months. Volunteer action was almost universal in Senegal (98%), Kenya (92%) and Uzbekistan (92%). Even with this high level of volunteer action, the survey, conducted between March and April 2021, also suggests that people’s volunteer habits were affected during the pandemic. When people were asked if they volunteered or helped people outside their families more, less or about the same compared with the previous year, the only countries where a high percentage reported volunteering more were Senegal and Uzbekistan. Volunteerism decreased significantly in India and, to a lesser degree, in several other countries.

Corporate Strategy

Any company, regardless of size of staff or budget, can make a philanthropic impact. But what sets companies apart is defining a philanthropic strategy that aligns its community impact with its values and interests. The Community Foundation Tampa Bay specializes in helping companies hone in on their philanthropic priorities and make a difference that’s reflective of their collective vision. They recommend the following steps to define an effective strategy:
  • Define philanthropy for a mission statement: Values as a company, interests as a company, where you’ve have been giving, and explore where you might want to give.
  • Focus the philanthropy: Navigate a path to determine how to focus your philanthropy.
  • Determine the giving vehicle: Decide how to best structure philanthropic efforts for the most benefit for all.
  • Set evaluation criteria: How will you measure the impact of grants that are made?
  • Delegate: Who is responsible for doing what and by when?

On Bookshelf: Lincoln in His Times

From one of the great historians of 19th-century America comes a revelatory and enthralling new biography of Lincoln, many years in the making, that brings him to life within his turbulent age. David S. Reynolds, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning cultural biography of Walt Whitman and many other iconic works of 19th century American history, understands the currents in which Lincoln swam as well as anyone alive. Abe is the product of full-body immersion into the riotous tumult of American life in the decades before the Civil War. It was a country growing up and being pulled apart at the same time, with a democratic popular culture that reflected the country’s contradictions. From New England Puritan stock on his father’s side and Virginia Cavalier gentry on his mother’s, Lincoln was linked by blood to the central conflict of the age. And an enduring theme of his life, Reynolds shows, was his genius for striking a balance between opposing forces. Lacking formal schooling but with an unquenchable thirst for self-improvement, Lincoln had a talent for wrestling and bawdy jokes that made him popular with his peers, even as his appetite for poetry and prodigious gifts for memorization set him apart from them through his childhood, his years as a lawyer, and his entrance into politics. History buffs will enjoy this book that helps explain why Lincoln remains one of our most revered Presidents.

First Lady of Animal Welfare

We recently lost the iconic Betty White, 17 days short of her 100th birthday. She lived long and lived well, and in doing so made a mockery of growing older. She made us laugh and cry and in so many other ways entertained us and enriched our lives. Many of us might not know of her incredible impact on championing animal welfare. White devoted her life to improving the lives of animals and was part of the Morris Animal Foundation family for over 50 years, supporting its mission to advance the health of animals around the world. She served as a Trustee, Board President, Board President Emeritus, donor, spokesperson and other roles too numerous to mention. Highlights of her tenure at the Foundation include:
  • Serving as a Trustee from 1971-2013, as Canine Division Vice President from 1973-1982 and as Board President from 1982-85.
  • Ensuring the Foundation continued to move forward in its mission to improve the lives of animals through her active participation in scientific discussions.
  • Hosting events on behalf of Morris Animal Foundation, including the “Gorillas in the Mist” motion picture premiere.
  • Raising awareness and encouraging thousands to support their work as national spokesperson.
  • Sponsoring more than 30 animal health studies to improve the health of cats, dogs, horses and multiple species of wildlife, including California sea otters and mountain gorillas.
  • Establishing the Betty White Wildlife Fund.
Heaven just became a better and funnier place to be.

Quiz: 2021's Biggest Gifts

It was a healthy year for big gifts to charitable causes in 2021, a year that saw one of the largest multibillion-dollar contributions in more than a decade, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy tally. The Chronicle’s annual rankings are based on the 10 biggest publicly announced single gifts. The tally does not include contributions of artwork or gifts from anonymous donors. In February, the Chronicle will unveil its annual ranking of the 50 biggest donors, a list based on individuals’ total contributions in 2021 rather than single gifts. Match the following leading single gifts with their donors.
1. Gates/French Gates a. $220 million
2. Phil Knight             b. $300 million
3. Patrick Ryan                 c. $480 million
4. Denny Sanford       d. $500 million
5. Joe Tsai                          e. $15 billion

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=c, 4=b, 5=a

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