Stratagems, March 2022

It Takes A Village

We are fervent believers that everyone affiliated with a non-profit — staff (including those not in development positions), board, volunteers and donors — can and should play resource development roles in moving the organization forward. You shouldn’t expect resource development to be the exclusive responsibility of any one party. A development officer working completely on their own is doomed to failure. Remember, asking for the gift is but one moment in the process that culminates in fundraising success. Everyone can be involved in essential phases of the gift cycle such as identifying prospects, telling the story and communicating key messages, and thanking donors for their gifts. Solicitation is only a small fraction of the entire advancement process. We also want to remind everyone that there are no quick fixes. There must be sustained and genuine commitment to all of the fundraising processes. Please read my guest column on the National Development Institute website for a fuller discussion of this topic.

Taking the Pulse

CCS Philanthropy Pulse report provides a window into the fundraising practices of 877 organizations based on data collected in October and November 2021. Key findings include:
  • 53% of respondents cited donor acquisition as one of their top three fundraising challenges.
  • 69% of respondents receiving major gifts expect to see a fundraising increase from this source in 2022.
  • 70% of respondents had at least partially resumed in-person donor meetings and/or events as of November 2021.
  • 62% of respondents reported that diversity, equity, and/or inclusion are part of their organization’s strategic plans for future fundraising priorities.
Respondents cited family foundations and donor-advised funds as the sources that loosened their purse strings during the past two years, with 81% of the former and 80% of the latter doing so. Other funding sources that showed growth included appreciated assets, which was mentioned by 61%, bequests (57%), and retirement plans (46%).

Donor Motivations

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI has released three new components of research in its The Giving Environment series. This second body of research within the series includes results of donor focus groups, a donor communication experiment, and a donor survey, providing new insights about demonstrating donor impact, fostering empathy and the relative strength of competing donor communications channels. Focus group participants indicated that they are more likely to give to organizations to which they have a prior relationship or familiarity based on community and personal connections. Donors also reported that they intend to keep their giving rates consistent in the years ahead but are evaluating where their money would maximize their impact — especially in their local communities. Against the backdrop of both the COVID-19 pandemic and movements for racial justice, participant responses suggest that donors may prioritize giving to organizations focused on addressing the root causes of systemic and societal issues. Additionally, focus group participants expressed a greater desire for non-profit organizations to communicate the impact of programs and services and to leverage images and video as a means of demonstrating impact. Researchers also explored whether different types of fundraising messages cause people to connect with a non-profit and why. The experiment found that the video was the most effective of the channels tested. When compared to the control group who read the narrative language, the video generated a 43% increase in the connection rate among its viewers. 

Ultra Wealthy

Wealth-X, the world’s leading provider of data and insight on the wealthy, has released Ultra High Net Worth Philanthropy 2022 — the 6th report published on philanthropic giving — and it examines trends amongst the ultra high net worth population (UHNW), or individuals with $30 million or more in net worth. Global philanthropic giving around the world totaled approximately $750 billion in 2020. This giving goes toward causes as diverse as education, healthcare, the arts, housing, social equality, climate change and the environment. In terms of the total amount given solely by private individuals in 2020, contributions from the ultra wealthy and their private foundations accounted for a substantial 36% share, underlining the hugely important role of the UHNW class in global philanthropic activity. Digging more deeply:
  • Growth in giving by the ultra wealthy outpaced that from other sources in 2020.
  • North America accounted for more than half of all global ultra wealthy donations, at $91 billion, which reflects the region’s elevated wealth and its long standing tradition of public giving.
  • Europe’s ultra wealthy gave a total of $52 billion in 2020, equating to a third of global UHNW giving.
  • The report also reveals key differences in giving by region, across age, gender, industry affiliation, source of wealth and more.

Corporate Giving

Following two years of increased charitable giving, a Conference Board ESG Center survey reveals the momentum will continue in 2022: 94% of major U.S. corporations plan to maintain or increase their charitable giving this year. This sustained increase in corporate giving is being driven by companies’ efforts to address COVID-19 and advance racial equity. However, the ramp-up in corporate giving also comes with challenges: 53% of the corporate citizenship executives surveyed said their departments’ lack of resources — not just money, but importantly, also time and staff — pose the biggest challenge to reaching their goals. The Conference Board survey reflects the responses of corporate citizenship executives at 55 major public and private companies with median annual revenues of more than $24 billion. More specifically:
  • Despite the economic headwinds in the first year of the pandemic, over 60% of companies donated more in 2020 than they had budgeted.
  • In 2021, 97% donated the same or more than they had budgeted for the year.

Crypto Explosion

The Giving Block, the leading crypto philanthropy platform for non-profit organizations and individual donors, has released its annual report for 2021. As awareness, usage, and monetization of cryptocurrencies continue to grow, crypto philanthropy has emerged as an important and sustainable source of fundraising for charities, giving people greater opportunities to donate for good. For the more than 295 million crypto users worldwide, donating via cryptocurrency has become the preferred method for supporting mission-driven organizations. Key findings:
  • The average crypto donation was approximately $10,455, as opposed to the average cash donation of $128 — a 82x greater value per transaction.
  • The total annual volume of crypto donations via The Giving Block grew by 1,558%.
  • The number of non-profits accepting crypto donations on The Giving Block grew by 900%.
  • As a crypto fundraising tool, the non-fungible token (NFT) may be the single more significant development from the year, with more than $12.3M in donations made from known NFT projects.

Giving Circles

Charity Navigator, the world’s largest and most-utilized independent non-profit evaluator, is partnering with Grapevine and Philanthropy Together to provide access to their Global Giving Circle Directory — a listing of 2,500 independent groups of individuals (“giving circles”) collaborating financially to support philanthropic causes and charitable organizations. Giving circles are part of a growing movement that has tripled over the last decade. Since 2000, giving circles have engaged at least 150,000 people and donated as much as $1.29 billion to non-profits, and are expected to engage 350,000 donors by 2025, giving another $1 billion or more to causes around the world. Charity Navigator users can search for and connect with groups of donors to support causes and non-profits collectively. Individuals can now use the Global Giving Circle Directory on Charity Navigator to discover groups of like-minded donors to connect with to give back to communities in need.

Non-Profit Hiring Edge

Many industries continue to suffer labor shortages as employees reevaluate their work experiences. In what some are calling the “Great Resignation,” employees are leaving their jobs at historic rates to pursue better career opportunities. From JMT Consulting, here are 10 strengths that non-profits offer in today’s competitive workplace.
  • Non-profits employ interesting people. 
  • Unparalleled growth opportunities exist. 
  • Employees can gain new skill sets quickly. 
  • The structures are often less hierarchical. 
  • The opportunity to change the world is around every corner. 
  • Non-profits value the business skills that many people have. 
  • They’re mission driven. 
  • Non-profits have highly relational cultures. 
  • There’s a sense of community. 
  • There’s low-hanging fruit when it comes to restructuring compensation. 

Donor Segmentation

Our thanks to Brandy Keller, Vice President of Product, Education, and Non-Profit Solutions, Community Brands, for valuable insights into the world of donor segmentation — defining, differentiating, and grouping donors by certain characteristics as keys to long-term gains in fundraising. Here are three ways to increase your odds of success when segmenting donors:
  • Keep your data clean. Make sure you update your data regularly and use unique codes for each of your donor segments if possible. This ensures that anyone with access to your database knows your segments and strategies.
  • Don’t leave out lapsed donors! Oftentimes you can create one appeal for active donors and then tweak it to send to those who recently stopped giving. This helps you reconnect with those donors and, if they give again, you can keep track of how they give to inform your future efforts.
  • Tailor appeals to different groups of donors. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Studies show that personalization has a positive impact on how donors perceive an organization and influences whether they give. Consider testing different messages to learn which works best with each group and apply those lessons to future appeals to foster donor loyalty.

On Bookshelf: The New Corporate Citizen

It’s always exciting when former colleagues publish books. Cara Nichols, Founder, threefolded, who directed community affairs and the foundation for the pioneering end-to-end multicloud technology services company, Rackspace, has released The New Corporate Citizen, in which she gives business leaders the playbook Rackspace used to create intentional change in their community by connecting with local schools. Sharing tough lessons Rackspace learned along the way, you’ll see exactly how you can begin to enrich the lives of students and their families — no big checks required. More than ever, businesses and organizations want to stand for something. They want to plant a flag in their community and work toward solving real problems. This goes beyond writing a check — it’s about establishing an identity independent of your products and services; one that aligns with the values of both your customers and employees. When you want to make an impact, the hard part is knowing how to get started. That’s where Rackspace found itself in 2008 when the company moved into a dead mall on the “wrong” side of San Antonio. They wanted to be a good citizen of the neighborhood, yet they were unsure where to start. Fast-forward more than 10 years, and the Rackspace Foundation has profoundly impacted the lives of thousands of families. It was always both productive and enjoyable to collaborate with Cara on innovative projects to improve the quality of life in San Antonio. We are especially proud of the summer camps we made possible for at-risk kids to build robots. We’re not surprised at all that her book is proving to be a big hit.

A New March Madness

Millie, a social impact platform designed to make charitable giving fun, accessible and impactful, is launching Giving Madness, a first-of-its-kind gamified platform that brings teams together and closes a pressing non-profit funding gap. Inspired by elements of March Madness, Giving Madness allows corporate teams to build their own “giving brackets” where employees play to give. It is a giving tournament that reinforces a culture of philanthropy by bringing people together around an activity we all know and love. It consists of a one-week or four-week bracket-style giving tournament structured like March Madness. Companies start by adding 16 non-profits to their giving bracket and contributing to a donation pool. Employees then vote to advance non-profits they love through four rounds of “games.” After the championship game, the pool gets divided up and donated proportionately, depending on where the non-profits land. Every non-profit will receive some amount of funds, with the champion receiving the most. 

Quiz: America's Top Donors

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 22nd annual ranking of America’s most generous 50 donors features both familiar and new faces. It is based on gifts and pledges of cash, stock, land, and real estate to non-profit organizations in 2021. All 50 donors combined contributed more than $27.7 billion. Match the following billionaire donors with their amount of giving in 2021. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.
1. William Ackman & Neri Oxman   a. $816M
2. Michael Bloomberg                           b. $1B
3. Sergey Brin & Nicole Shanahan      c. $1.2B
4. Bill Gates & Melinda French Gates d. $1.7B
5. Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan  e. $15B

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

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