Stratagems, June 2023

The Asking Laureate

If there was going to be an ASKING Laureate named, it is a no-brainer who the honor would be bestowed upon. Laura Fredricks, JD, is the Billion Dollar ASK Maker Powerhouse, who as CEO and Founder of THE ASK© has devoted most of her adult life to demystifying the art and science of asking. You name it and she has relentlessly concentrated on researching, testing, teaching, coaching, writing, speaking and presenting on this subject. In the words of another mentor, advertising and branding pioneer, Lionel Sosa, she is both a “life-long learner and life-long sharer.” Before going any further, I need to confess to two biases:

  • She is a cherished mentor, who has inspired, encouraged and nurtured my transition from fundraising practitioner to trainer/consultant. I publish this modest monthly newsletter, Stratagems, and Laura always finds the time to share praise and lift my spirits. She has lent her expertise to several of my workshops and webinars. Frankly I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for Laura’s huge presence in my career.
  • I unabashedly view the world through a non-profit lens. Though I have read her earlier books until Hard Asks Made Easy: How to Get Exactly What You Want, it never before struck home so vividly that asking is an essential part of everyone’s life, no matter what they do, and what their challenges and dreams are.

Hard Asks Made Easy: How to Get Exactly What You Want does an amazing job of pulling together in such a reader-friendly style her lessons tested, refined and perfected over her journey. I particularly cherish Laura’s genuine affinity for the so-called average man and woman. She advises some of the largest and most prestigious for-profit and non-profit organizations in the world, but her words reach out and touch all of us struggling to move forward in our lives and making hard asks like:

  • Asking for money
  • Asking for love
  • Asking for help
  • Asking for forgiveness

Most likely this is based on her humble beginnings growing up in northeastern New Jersey (incidentally she was the first female president of her high school student council) and steadily accepting and meeting new challenges in the worlds of law and philanthropy.

Her latest book (No. 7) is chock-full of advice on how to navigate potentially treacherous waters, using her 5 Laws on Asking and her never-fail ASK formula. She’ll also help you identify which type of asker you are and show you the advantages, challenges, and refinements with each type so that you can perfect your own asking style. Your confidence will grow with each of the 142 pages giving real-life examples that you will find easy to relate to, such as negotiating the best prices on expensive medications.

Laura’s brilliantly simple ASK formula is 2S+1Q (or two sentences plus a question). So, I’m going to try to put it to work: Our world is too full of division and polarization and needs to come closer together, which will start by better understanding each other. This requires a serious commitment to learning from one another, which means asking serious questions. So why don’t you do yourself a favor and get a copy of Hard Asks Made Easy; How to Get Exactly What You Want, read it and share it with those you love? We can’t wait to feature Laura in our Wednesday, June 7th, 4 PM to 5 PM webinar. You can register here.

Non-Profit Stronger

The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that non-profits have never been a bigger part of the U.S. economy. Over the past 15 years, non-profit employment has grown 33%, dwarfing the 9% job growth enjoyed by the for-profit private sector over that time. Non-profits have passed local government to become the second-largest source of employment in the country, behind the for-profit sector. Women are about twice as likely to work at non-profits as their male peers, and non-profits have the smallest wage gaps of any sector. The typical woman at a non-profit makes about 88% as much each hour as her male counterpart, a huge improvement over the 80% she’d earn in the for-profit sector, and effectively tied with the 87% she’d make in the federal government. As a rule, the more educated and older you are, the more likely you are to have a non-profit job. Having an advanced degree makes you three times more likely to do non-profit work than your friends who didn’t make it past high school. That’s partly because medicine has swallowed much of the non-profit sector. When you think of non-profits, you think of scrappy do-gooders running on donations. But 1 in every 5 non-profit jobs are in hospitals, and 1 in 3 are in the health sector more broadly. About 2 in 5 hospital jobs in the entire country are in non-profits. Non-profit hospitals employ more than twice as many people as colleges, private schools or religious organizations — the next largest non-profit industries.

Going Hybrid

We are excited to announce that starting in July the Eskin Fundraising Training Non-Profit Empowerment Series is going hybrid by combining the best of both worlds of live audience interaction connected to a much larger audience via Zoom. This is possible through an exciting partnership with Texas A&M University-San Antonio. The project is spearheaded by Jenny Moore, Communications Professor and Founding Director of Jaguar Media, who’s engaging a crackerjack student team to handle production in the Enlace Media Lab. We will be hosting a variety of subject matter experts on topics essential to non-profit success. We’ll also be interacting with an audience of university faculty, staff and students joined by local non-profit leaders. The webinar experience will continue to engage our nationwide learning community of professional and volunteer non-profit leaders, who will be encouraged to share questions, comments and insights as we have in past webinars. We will continue to schedule programs on Wednesday afternoons, 4 PM to 5 PM Central time. Watch for an announcement of the schedule and invitations to upcoming programs. We can’t wait to get started. Shown in the photo with me are student team members Artemio Gallo and Jesus Delgado.

Football Hero

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin will use the $10 million given to online fund-raising campaigns by well-wishers after his on-field collapse to fund his own non-profit, the Chasing M’s Foundation. The decision begins the 25-year-old’s plan for the unprecedented outpouring of support he received after his heart stopped following a tackle during a “Monday Night Football” game in January. That people continue to give weekly, if not daily, to the fund-raiser is just one measure of the emotional power and connection that Hamlin has with so many. So far, they’ve given more than $9 million to a GoFundMe campaign and nearly $1 million to a second online fundraiser set up by The Giving Back Fund, a non-profit which helps athletes and celebrities manage their charitable giving. Hamlin’s marketing representative said in January that his family had arranged for The Giving Back Fund to act as a fiscal sponsor for the funds given to GoFundMe, which allowed Hamlin’s team to fundraise as a charitable entity. 

Little School/Huge Match

McPherson College has received an irrevocable $500 million estate commitment to its endowment. It is the largest single commitment to a small, liberal arts college in the U.S. As part of the “double-match” estate gift, the anonymous donor will contribute two dollars for every dollar given by others, up to $500 million in total to the college’s endowment. The college has until June 30, 2023 to meet this target, and is well on its way having raised $182 million as of May 5, 2023. McPherson College, a Kansas liberal-arts institution with about 830 students, grabbed headlines in the fall when it announced a $500 million pledge to its endowment — a bigger dollar amount than any small U.S. liberal-arts college has ever received in a single commitment. The gift is the linchpin in a strategic plan the college embarked on seven years ago, which aims to seed a billion-dollar endowment and update programs and facilities.

Keys to Happiness

In 2021, The Wall Street Journal announced a polling partnership with the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago “to conduct surveys on cultural and social issues of importance.” The latest data to come out of that collaboration offers some fascinating insight into how the happiest people in the U.S. live. Participants were asked about their feelings on issues like the economy and the importance of a college education, as well as their levels of personal satisfaction. Of the 1,019 adults polled, 56% rated themselves “pretty happy,” while a much smaller group, just 12%, considered themselves “very happy.” Having a majority of Americans consider themselves “pretty happy” is great news, especially during turbulent times: the tail-end of a devastating pandemic, increased inflation, and what can often feel like a growing ideological divide. But what is it that these rarer respondents have in common? The answer isn’t vast wealth and perfect health. A large majority of the 12% value strong relationships, WSJ reported earlier this year elaborating on the poll’s data. Around 67% of them said that marriage is important to them, whether or not they were currently married themselves, according to the outlet, a figure over 20 percentage points higher than the overall response. Additionally, two-thirds of the “very happy” respondents described themselves as either very or moderately religious. They also value community involvement more than most, and though many of the group did say they were satisfied with their personal finances, “as a group, they don’t attach high importance to money,” WSJ wrote. They also shared a common interest in physical fitness, and 44% are age 60 or above. 

Lasting Donor Relationships

The State of Modern Philanthropy 2023 examines donations from 34 million donors, totaling $5 billion, across both the Classy and GoFundMe platforms. Classy, an affiliate of GoFundMe and a giving platform that empowers non-profits to connect and build lasting relationships with donors, released its 6th annual report. The interactive digital report is Classy’s most comprehensive yet, encapsulating data from Classy and GoFundMe’s combined community of 150 million. Key findings include:

  • Leverage Personal Networks to Acquire New Donors and Deepen Support. On Classy’s platform, 80% of individuals who give to a peer-to-peer campaign are new donors to the non-profit. On GoFundMe, fundraising campaigns shared more than six times in the first few days are 3x as likely to raise more donations.
  • Create Direct Giving Experiences for Every Donor. No donor journey is the same, so direct giving experiences shouldn’t be either. Non-profits must offer the right experience that speaks to donors’ unique interests. Classy found customers who enable embedded donation forms routinely see 2x industry average conversion rates. But embedded forms shouldn’t be the only thing in your toolbox. For example, stand-alone donation pages have higher conversion rates than embedded forms for donations over $5,000.
  • Retain Donors for the Long Haul with Recurring Giving. This year’s report found recurring donors to be 9x more valuable than one-time donors and nearly one third (29%) became recurring donors within 90 days of their first one-time gift.
  • Utilize New Platforms to Build and Attract an Active Community. In today’s digital landscape, non-profits must connect with donors on the channels where they’re spending most of their time and mobilize them to participate in community-building on their behalf. While Facebook (84%) and Instagram (13%) remain the leading platforms for driving donor traffic, non-profit professionals should also look to TikTok as a rising platform for engagement, especially among Gen Z, in order to build new, online communities.
  • A Multifaceted Fundraising Strategy is Essential to Building Lasting, Meaningful Relationships With Donors. Supporters who participate in multiple campaign types are four times more valuable than supporters who participate in a single campaign type.

Wealth Transfer

Thanks to the New York Times for the following eye-opening insights: An intergenerational transfer of wealth is in motion in America — and it will dwarf any of the past. Of the 73 million baby boomers, the youngest are turning 60. The oldest boomers are nearing 80. Born in mid-century as U.S. birthrates surged in tandem with an enormous leap in prosperity after the Depression and World War II, boomers are now beginning to die in larger numbers, along with Americans over 80. Most will leave behind thousands of dollars, a home or not much at all. Others are leaving their heirs hundreds of thousands, or millions, or billions of dollars in various assets. Heirs increasingly don’t need to wait for the passing of elders to directly benefit from family money, a result of the bursting popularity of “giving while living” — including property purchases, repeated tax-free cash transfers of estate money, and more — providing millions a head start. And it’s already impacting the broader economy, greasing the wheels of social mobility for some and leaving obstacles for those left out as the cost of living, housing and raising families surge. A key reason there are such large soon-to-be-inherited sums is the uneven way boomers superbly benefited from price growth in the financial and housing markets. The wealthiest 10% of households will be giving and receiving a majority of the riches. Within that range, the top 1% — which holds about as much wealth as the bottom 90% and is predominantly white — will dictate the broadest share of the money flow. The more diverse bottom 50% of households will account for only 8% of the transfers.

All in the Family

Most fundraising trainers should be able to claim that they know more about the art and science of fundraising than anyone in their family. But maybe not me. My sister-in-law, Sandy Eskin, is arguably the Tom Brady of golf tournament fundraisers. Over the past 22 years, she has provided inspiring leadership that created and steadily improved the annual Jimmy Memorial Golf Tournament, which has brought golfers and supporters together, including many employees and vendors of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, one of the nation’s premier cancer research and patient care facilities. Sandy retired in 2018 after 32 years in Dana-Farber’s Office of Research but that didn’t stop her amazing commitment to the fundraiser — and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. With Sandy at the helm, the tournament has raised more than $1.9 million to touch, improve and save more lives at Dana-Farber. With Sandy you get a two-for-one deal, since her husband and my brother, Don Eskin (a building specialties entrepreneur) has been at her side every step of the journey. Don’t ask if they’ve requested my counsel … it’s more like I turn to them for advice. Here’s a wonderful feature that ran on the Jimmy Fund blog.

On Video Loop: Disrupt Philanthropy

We’ve already highlighted a book to be released soon whose author will be featured in an upcoming webinar. So, in this review we’re to showcase a powerful 13-minute Ted Talk given April 2022. Philanthropy disruptor Sara Lomelin thinks communities can build power through collective giving and the model of “giving circles”: groups of people with shared values who come together to make change, strengthen their social fabric and help diverse solutions get funded. She believes passionately that everyone can be a philanthropist. Learn the four steps to start a thriving giving circle in your community — and see how thousands of people worldwide are already part of this movement to usher in a new era of philanthropy that is inclusive and joyful. Listen to her Ted Talk.

Want to Make a Bet

Americans have bet over $220 billion on sports with legal gambling outlets in the five years since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for all 50 states to offer it, and the industry shows few signs of slowing despite some recent scandals that have put a spotlight on wagering safeguards. When the anniversary of the court ruling in a case brought by New Jersey arrives, two-thirds of the country will offer legal sports betting, with additional states likely to join in coming months or years. The fast-growing industry is also far-reaching: its advertisements reach into most U.S. homes during sporting events and even non-sports programming. Few TV viewers have been spared from repeated ads featuring a Caesar character discussing sports gambling with members of the Manning football dynasty, or from actor Jamie Foxx placing sports bets in between takes on a film set.

Quiz: Non-Profit Employment

About 13 million people (about 10% of the national private sector) work in a vibrant non-profit sector that continues to play a stronger and stronger role in the U.S economy. Match the following states with their respective shares of jobs in the non-profit sector. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.

1. California                      a. 5%

2. Massachusetts  b. 8%

3. South Dakota               c. 15%

4. Texas                     d. 18%

5. Vermont                        e. 19%

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

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