Stratagems, January 2023

Dream Big Dreams

Consider that your non-profit is beginning with a clean slate. Resist thinking that your programs, services and outreach initiatives are bound by the past. This is especially true in the advancement arena as you make and implement plans which involve setting stretch-but-realistic goals and objectives, ways to creatively tell your story, make friends, and last, but not least, ask current and prospective donors to add their voices to your cause. How do non-profits earn their share of the $485 billion philanthropic pie? They work hard and they work smart, and above all else — they ask! Make 2023 your best resource development year ever. Your mission, stakeholders and beneficiaries deserve nothing less.

Preview of 2023 Webinars

It’s exciting to announce our schedule of webinars running through June 21st. Later we will announce the schedule of webinars for the rest of the year. We’re bringing back some subject matter experts who joined us in the past, plus we’re featuring some speakers for the first time. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the experts and topics that we will be addressing. Typically, we send out invitations on the Friday before the webinar which is scheduled for the Wednesday of the following week. We plan to host webinars every other Wednesday 4 to 5 p.m., Central time. Based on audience feedback, we’ve decided to keep away from the PowerPoint slide format so our speakers will appear much larger on the screen. Plus, this creates much more time for discussion. To receive invitations, you must be in our Constant Contact database. Feel free to invite co-workers, colleagues and friends to sign up for these free webinars plus our monthly Stratagems e-newsletter. 

WEDNESDAY, January 18 | “The Art of Asking,” Brian Saber, President, Asking Matters

WEDNESDAY, February 1 | “Write Like You Speak,” Allen Paul, Bestselling Author

WEDNESDAY, February 15 | “Podcast Power,” John Largent, CEO, Gameday Media

Andrea Kihlstedt

WEDNESDAY, March 1 | “Capital Campaigns: What’s Changed/What Hasn’t,” Andrea Kihlstedt, Campaign Expert & Co-Founder, Capital Campaign Toolkit

WEDNESDAY, March 15| “Mind/Body/Soul Wellness,” Margi Helschien, Executive Director, America Connected

WEDNESDAY, March 29 |”Data Harvesting,” Diana Hoyt, Chief Strategist and Trainer, Formula for Fundraising

WEDNESDAY, April 12 | “Gen Z Non-Profit Leaders,” Hunter Beaton, Founder, Day 1 Bags

WEDNESDAY, April 26 | “Monthly Means More Money,” Erica Waasdorp, President, A Direct Solution

WEDNESDAY, May 10 | “Keeping Good Employees,” Sally Bryant, President & CEO, BRYANT GROUP

WEDNESDAY, May 24 | “Board Training That Works,” Abbie von Schlegell, Principal, a von schlegell & co.

WEDNESDAY, June 7 | Laura Fredricks, Author of New 2023 Book, Hard Asks Made Easy: How to Get Exactly What You Want 

WEDNESDAY, June 21 | “What Is Your Dream Job?” Don Gleason, President, Military Transition Roundtable

Gifts With Meaning

TisBest Philanthropy 

celebrates 15 years of helping consumers and businesses give “gifts of good” to more than 1.5 million U.S.-registered charities. Over the years, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization’s online portal has directed over $54 million in gifts from individuals and businesses to more than 30,000 mission-driven charities. Every year trillions of dollars are spent on retail gifts. In 2007, TisBest co-founders Erik Marks and Simeon Cathey wanted to redirect some of that spending by helping others give back to the causes that matter to them most. TisBest Charity Gift Cards work just like traditional gift cards with one exception — instead of buying more stuff, the recipients pay it forward to the charities of their choice. Since the company’s inception, customers have given a collective 650,000+ gift cards to their families, friends, and colleagues. TisBest Charity Gift Card customers choose the value of their gift (starting at a minimum of $10) which can be sent in digital, printable, or bio-plastic gift card form. Their gift recipients seamlessly direct the donation to the charities of their choice. TisBest simplifies charitable giving for the purchaser, the card recipient, and the designated charities

The MacKenzie Effect

Widespread fears that MacKenzie Scott’s big charitable donations in 2020 and 2021 would lead other donors to pull back their support or that small groups wouldn’t be able to handle the gifts were largely unfounded.

The Center for Effective Philanthropy surveyed more than 700 non-profits that Scott identified as grant recipients in social media posts she published in July and December 2020 and in June 2021. The Center for Effective Philanthropy received $10 million from Scott in 2021 and did not include itself in the survey, or a handful of other Scott recipients that could not be reached. The center received responses from 277 non-profits, and center officials conducted interviews with leaders of 40 of those groups, about half of whom identified as people of color. Among the findings:

  • Nearly 90% of respondents said the gift from Scott was the largest unrestricted donation their organization had ever received.
  • Almost all of the non-profits (98%) said they were directing the funds toward improving their existing programs and starting new ones.
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) said they were hiring more staff or consultants to take on that new work.
  • More than 90% said they were using the donation to improve their charity’s financial stability.

Foundations Step Up

Foundation Source, the nation’s largest provider of management solutions for private foundations, has released the 2022 Report on Private Philanthropy, a quantitative study of nearly 1,000 private and family foundations with assets between $1 million and $500 million. It found that after generously supporting acute needs in 2020, including pandemic relief and racial equity, foundations gave even more abundantly in 2021 as they continued to assist with recovery efforts, responded to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and revisited their core pre-pandemic charitable missions. The foundations studied collectively gave $689 million in 2021, $40 million more than in 2020. The increase was more pronounced among larger foundations — those with $50 million to $500 million in assets — where giving went up nearly 21%. At the same time, foundations gave 500 fewer grants in 2021, suggesting a move from urgently helping as many recipients as possible in 2020 to having more targeted impact in 2021.

New Record

GivingTuesday raised a record $3.1 billion in 24 hours for charitable causes on November 29th, as the event that started as a hashtag in 2012 celebrated its 10th anniversary and its status as a staple of fundraising for non-profits. Despite the difficult economic year that many households have experienced, with inflation in the costs of basic goods, gas and housing, people were still willing to give, concluded GivingTuesday officials. GivingTuesday estimated that giving increased about 15% from 2021′s $2.7 billion, outpacing inflation. Donations were tallied using an array of data sources that includes major community foundations, companies that offer fundraising software, the payment processor PayPal and large grantmakers like Fidelity Charitable and Vanguard Charitable. Their methodology for compiling the estimate seeks to eliminate duplicate data points.


According to new research from BBB’s, the portion of respondents that “highly trusts” different charity types increased for 12 out of 13 categories between December 2020 and December 2021. The exception was environmental organizations, which dropped moderately (0.4%) and had the least portion of respondents (16.0%) expressing high trust. The standards-based, charity-evaluation group released the Donor Trust Report 2022: Five-Year Review of Trust and Giving Attitudes. The report, a survey of more than 2,100 adults in the U.S. (with a separate section for more than 1,000 adults in Canada) identifies significant shifts in trust for specific charity types and hones in to how participants who report being open to charity solicitation differ from the broader sample. Report highlights include:

  • Among all respondents, 38.0% express being open to solicitation, with 17.0% saying they desire to be approached more by charities and 21.0% saying they might be willing to give more if approached. This is the highest openness to solicitation observed in the past five years, up 5.2 points between December 2017 and December 2021.
  • Respondents who are open to solicitation are more likely to prefer donating to a charity serving the needs of their ethnic community. For example, among participants who would like charities to approach them more, 71.8% prefer donating to a charity serving the needs of their ethnic community. By comparison, among respondents who do not want to be approached by charities, 26.1% say the same.
  • When presented with scenarios that might deter participants from donating, 57.7% focus on a financial concern (including 32.8% saying they would be most discouraged when a high portion of every dollar is spent on fundraising and management; and 24.9% who would be most discouraged when they are not sure what the charity will do with their donation).
  • Younger generations are more likely to say they will not donate if they are not sure what the charity will do with the money (37.8% of Gen Zers, as compared to 15.2% of Matures), while older generations are more likely to be discouraged when a high portion of every dollar is spent on overhead (50.6% of matures, as compared to 26.0% of Gen Zers). 

Just the Facts

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the non-profit Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalistic excellence, announces a partnership with Google and YouTube to support fact-checking initiatives worldwide and reduce the harm of misinformation. Google and YouTube are providing the IFCN a $13.2 million grant, which includes a $12 million Global Fact Check Fund primarily for verified signatories to the IFCN’s Code of Principles. At least 135 fact-checking organizations from 65 different countries covering over 80 languages adhere to the code that promotes high standards of transparency and nonpartisanship for fact-checkers. Countries include the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Nepal, Ukraine, Norway, Spain, Taiwan, South Africa, India and the United Kingdom. In addition to the grants to directly strengthen and expand fact-checking, Google and YouTube will offer supplemental financial support for the IFCN to establish a neutral and independent selection committee; improve the reporting, monitoring and evaluation of the funded fact-check efforts; and expand the capacity of the IFCN to serve the international fact-checking community. 

Choosing Non-Profits

With more than 1.5 million non-profits in the U.S. championing every conceivable mission under the sun, donors are not choosing between the good and the bad but between the good and the good. How should individuals, corporations and foundations make these difficult decisions on choosing non-profits in which to invest their precious gifts of time, talent and treasure? Read our blog featured by Inside Charity for 10 insights on finding the right non-profit fit.

On Bookshelf: Accidental Philanthropist

Most philanthropists start out with good intentions. They have a deep desire to benefit society by supporting worthwhile organizations and ministries. But good intentions, no matter how honorable, can unintentionally cause great harm. Unless granting is done with great care and focus, the money disbursed can cause serious damage to the community, the organization or ministry, the final beneficiary and even the donor. In Accidental Philanthropist, Steve Perry, founder, details the hard lessons learned during Sacred Harvest Foundation’s (SHF) 15-year history of striving to effectively steward its resources. The book tries to answer the question, “How can philanthropists enhance the impact of their grants, minimizing mistakes and maximize joy to the organization or ministry, its clients, and the donor?” Unlike many works on the subject, Accidental Philanthropist is not designed to be a “do as we do” book. Instead, it describes SHF’s journey in hopes that it might stimulate the thinking of philanthropists of all sorts and inspire them to become more intentional in how, why and where they give.

What Makes You Smile?

Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused non-profit, commissioned the Harris Poll to conduct a national survey among over 2,000 Americans to pinpoint what in these turbulent times is making people smile. The Smile Train national survey underscores that, contrary to what some think, money and fame are not the sources of happiness — nor, for that matter, will they guarantee a smile. Instead, a small gesture like “someone smiling at me” ranked high on the list. Below are the top 10 items that turned the corners of peoples’ mouths upward (in David Letterman style they are presented in descending order of popularity):

10. A good joke

9. Spending time with your child(ren)/ grandchild(ren) 

8. Spending time/communicating with your significant other

7. Someone smiling at you

6. A funny video or GIF on social media

5. Good food and/or beverage

4. Being healthy

3. Watching a TV show or movie

2. Being alive!

1. Nice weather

Quiz: College Bowl Games

The College Football Playoff consists of seven bowls. For the 2022-23 season, the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl will serve as national semifinals for the 2023 College Football Playoff National Championship in Los Angeles, meaning that the teams ranked #1 through #4 in the final College Football playoff rankings will play in those two bowls, with the winners advancing to the CFP National Championship. Match the following bowl games with the year they were established. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.

1. Cotton Bowl           a. 1902

2. Fiesta Bowl            b. 1937

3. Gator Bowl             c. 1946

4. Liberty Bowl          d. 1959

5. Rose Bowl             e. 1971

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

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