Stratagems, June 2021

Growing Our Learning Community

Since the launch of Eskin Fundraising Training in June 2018, our vision –whether through in-person workshops or webinars — is to celebrate the spirit of the learning community. As a refresher, learning communities provide a structure for people to align around a shared goal — in our instance, learning how to empower our respective non-profits to be more successful in developing the resources needed to promote noble missions that touch, improve and save more lives. High-performing learning communities are both aspirational and practical. They connect participants who represent the best characteristics of life-long learners and are eager to learn and work across all boundaries, while sharing experience, wisdom and curiosity. The intent is to learn and grow stronger together. While we sorely miss the in-person interaction, the webinar format has exponentially enlarged the scope, reach and impact of our learning community in every way possible. Our immediate priority is making our time together more interactive and more fun. We are working closely with our talented producer, John Largent, CEO, Gameday Media, on implementing technological improvements toward that end. We are also committed to scheduling outstanding subject matter experts who provide expertise across disciplines. For example, we are very excited to bring back Laura Fredricks, the Expert on the ASK, to kick off our Fall series on Wednesday, September 8th. While there is no perfect time, we will continue in our traditional Wednesday 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Central time slot. We recognize that more people watch the replay of webinars, which are posted on social media than watch them live. Moving forward we ask for your help in two specific ways: (a) completing and returning this brief online questionnaire to give us your ideas on content, and (b) encouraging colleagues and friends to join our learning community by signing up in our Constant Contact database so that that they receive our monthly newsletter and invitations to free webinars. Andrea and I greatly enjoy working with you to enrich our learning community and we appreciate your inspiring service and leadership to make the world a better place for all.

Affluent Step Up

A 2021 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy shows that in a year dramatically disrupted by the pandemic, affluent Americans’ generosity didn’t waver. The vast majority of affluent Americans, nearly 90%, gave to charity in 2020. And nearly half (47%) donated to charitable organizations or financially supported individuals or businesses in direct response to the pandemic. Preliminary findings from this nationwide survey of more than 1,600 affluent households, conducted in collaboration with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, revealed three distinct shifts in giving behavior:
• An increase in supporting local community needs.
• An increase in unrestricted gifts to a variety of non-profit organizations.
• An increase in virtual interactions between non-profits and donors.
Additional ways in which affluent households responded to this historic period included: 93% of households maintained or increased their giving to frontline organizations providing basic needs, healthcare and medicine; 85% maintained or increased their giving for spiritual and religious purposes; and 94% maintained or increased their giving for other purposes (e.g., education, the arts, and the environment).

Volunteering = Giving

Volunteers are an essential resource for a sustainable non-profit community. For many charities, a steady supply of individuals willing to give their most precious resource — time
— is critical for their basic operations. And the value of ready volunteers has never been more evident than in 2020. To understand the full picture of volunteerism in America today, Fidelity Charitable conducted two separate research studies in March 2020 and in August 2020. Key themes and implications:
• The overlap between financial and volunteer support indicates that many donors are deeply invested in making an impact.
• Non-profits that offer meaningful volunteer opportunities will be best poised to flourish amid the pandemic and beyond.
• When engaged in a significant and meaningful way, volunteers can be an invaluable resource for many charities — not just for their labor, but for the financial support, network connections, professional skills and advocacy they can provide.
• Successful non-profits will understand that volunteerism is an opportunity to forge deep and lasting connections with their current and future donors.
• Donors are more than passively involved in their favorite charities; nearly two-thirds of donors have also volunteered within the last year.
• Most donors support a charity financially first before volunteering, but four in ten are more likely to donate their time before committing their charitable dollars.
• A third of Millennials say they give more to the non-profit they volunteer with than they would if they didn’t volunteer — compared to 21% of Gen X and 12% of Baby Boomers.

Virtual Post-COVID

Zoom report focuses on the impact that video communications have had on our day-to-day lives. The results acknowledge the extraordinary challenges the world has faced and how video communications have helped maintain some semblance of normalcy and continuity of life’s important activities. Although there’s been a high level of appreciation for this alternative to “in-person” living, over one year into this shift, we’re now wondering — what’s next? How much of this virtual life will we want to keep beyond the pandemic? Key takeaways:
• A large majority of those surveyed believe that even after COVID-19 concerns subside, video communications are here to stay.
• Celebrations, business, and education were the activities survey respondents most frequently transitioned from in-person to virtual.
• A large majority of respondents indicated that video communications were valuable for staving off feelings of loneliness and isolation.
• A majority of respondents believe that working in a hybrid environment will allow employees to fit work around their life — and they welcome that change.
• Very few respondents think activities will be virtual-only forever. But the majority felt that our lives will include a balance of in-person and virtual components for most activities in the future.


CAF America research indicates that charitable organizations worldwide report that digital fundraising capabilities and strategic financial planning are among the most crucial skills they need to remain resilient. The research polled 805 charitable organizations serving 152 countries to learn about the skill sets they rely on to sustain their operations through these challenging times and others that they must further develop to survive and emerge stronger. Key findings include:
• Capabilities in organizational management are needed to build resilience, including advancing DEI, strategic planning, and digital fundraising strategy.
• Three in four (76%) indicated interest in learning new ways of using digital technology for fundraising and 61% indicated a need for better digital tools to connect with stakeholders.
• Although a large majority (72%) have a communications plan in place, nearly as many (71%) indicate they want to learn how to communicate more effectively for fundraising and 63% need guidance in impactful storytelling to achieve their objectives.
• The majority of charities (70%) feel they are equipped to remain financially sustainable amid the uncertainty created by the pandemic and its impact on the economy.
• Although future implications of the pandemic are unknown, 91% of responding charities say they are confident they have effective leadership and governance in place to help them successfully navigate the crisis.

Year-End Data

GivingTuesday Data Commons finds that total charitable giving increased 5.2% on a year-over-year basis in 2020, even as the typical non-profit saw a drop in fundraising revenue. Based on aggregated data from 74 giving platforms and issue- and action-specific apps and tools, the report found that the growth in overall revenue was driven in part by small donors (between $101 and $500 in total 2020 giving) and “supersize” donors (at least $50,001 in giving), who gave 5.8% and 11% more, respectively, than they did in 2019. By contrast, giving by mid-size ($501-$5,000) and major donors ($5,001-$50,000) fell 20% and 10%, while retained supersize donors and recaptured donors of all sizes accounted for about 50% and 35% of the growth in the dollar amount of giving. The study also found unprecedented levels of donor mobility in 2020, with the number of new and recaptured donors up 8.2% and 8.4% on a year-over-year basis, while repeat-retained and new-retained donors fell 5.15% and 14.9%. And while the overall number of donors rose 1.35%, driven by an increase in new small (10.7%) and supersize (5.3%) donors, donor retention rates declined across all donor categories, with only the largest non-profits ($5 million to $25 million) seeing an increase. In addition, the median year-over-year change in fundraising revenue across all issue areas was negative, ranging from -2.9%for religious organizations to -16.3% for arts, culture, and humanities organizations.

Reach Out and Touch Them

We have access to an ever-growing variety of technological tools to bring us all closer together. (I have to admit that learning how to make the best possible use of them can be a challenge.) During the pandemic I’ve gained an even heightened appreciation of the old standby, the telephone — landline or cell. Successful fundraisers can reap as much benefit from making relentless and productive use of the phone to discover, cultivate, solicit and steward donors and prospective donors. Remember: Not everyone wants to be on a video chat all the time. Our thanks to Candid Learning for running our guest essay on this subject.

Change is the Only Constant

Another Fidelity Charitable study finds the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated certain trends in giving, including increased use of digital giving tools and a shift in the causes donors see as important. The survey found that many donors are embracing new approaches to giving. For example, nearly 60% of donors made gifts through a charity’s website in 2020, with 18% indicating they did so more frequently than in previous years, while 40% of those who have made a donation in 2021 ranked hunger as one of the top three challenges facing the world (up from 34% pre-pandemic), with access to basic health services coming in second (31%) and the number of donors listing racial discrimination as one of the top three challenges nearly doubling (16% in 2021, from 9% in 2020). The survey also found that donors are increasingly reconsidering their definition of philanthropy. Rather than giving money to charity, for example, half of all donors cited the purchase of products from socially responsible businesses as philanthropy; 20% said they had engaged in impact investing and considered social or environmental factors when making investment decisions; and 70% said they believe it’s important to work for a company that embraces corporate social responsibility.

All in the Family

Continuing their deep commitment to conquering pancreatic cancer, Judith Hale, her son, Robert Hale, Jr., and his wife, Karen Hale, have pledged an additional $50 million to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This gift, one of the largest single gifts in the Institute’s history, will support the Hale Family Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, founded in 2016 with $15 million from Judith, Robert, and Karen, and bring the Hale Family’s cumulative support to Dana-Farber to over $80 million. This gift is in honor of Judith Hale’s late husband and Robert Hale, Jr.’s father, Robert T. “Bob” Hale, Sr., a patient of the Institute, who died in 2008. This new gift will enable a wide range of ambitious work in two main areas of pancreatic cancer research: early detection and prevention, and precision medicine and biology.

On the Bookshelf: Changing the World

Some people are dreamers. They choose careers shaped by dreams of making the world a better place. When your dreams are that powerful, it’s easy to neglect yourself. Both lives and dreams can suffer the consequences. If you’re one of the dreamers, this is the book for you. Changing the World Without Losing Your Mind by Alex Counts, who founded Grameen Foundation and became its president and CEO in 1997, is a down-to-earth guide to mission-driven leadership. Drawing on his decades as an acclaimed non-profit leader, Counts offers practical advice on such vital activities as fundraising, team-building, communications, and management. He shows you how to run an organization — and your own life — both effectively and sustainably, giving joyfully to those around you while also caring generously for yourself.

Get Them While They Last

The excitement over Tom Brady’s return to his old New England Patriots stomping grounds has led ticket prices to skyrocket for the Patriots-Tampa Bay Buccaneers Week 4 match-up. As it turns out, you’ll need somewhere around $1,500 to purchase a (cheap view) ticket on the secondary market to see Brady inside Gillette Stadium on October 3rd. Premium seats are rumored to be as expensive as $21,000+. That might be tempting, but I will watch it at home as a nationally televised Sunday night broadcast. (It hurts too much to show The G-O-A-T in a Tampa Bay uniform.) By the way, if you make plans to attend this historic game, we suggest dinner at the Red Wing Diner, which is only a few miles away, and ordering the Fisherman’s Platter.

Quiz: World's Most Valuable Teams

While the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on professional sports teams and leagues, it has not had an adverse impact on the value of most franchises. Match the following teams with their respective estimated value to answer this question. Answers are at the bottom of this page.
1. Barcelona Soccer            a. $4.4B
2. Dallas Cowboys               b. $4.76B
3. New England Patriots     c. $5B
4. New York Knicks             d. $5.25B
5. New York Yankees         e. $5.7B

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=a, 4=c, 5=d

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