Stratagems, March 2023

Shifting Into High Gear

The National Council of Nonprofits reports that the top three trends for charitable non-profits will continue to be: (1) Limited resources; (2) Increased demands on non-profits, stemming from increased needs in communities; and (3) The growing awareness that every non-profit and board member needs to be an active, vocal advocate for her/his nonprofit’s mission to affect policies in the community and at a national level. These reinforce that organizations need to get the most bang for their buck. In the essential resource development space this means doubling down on a major gift strategy recognizing that nearly 90% of total gift income comes from only 10% of the donors. Start by studying your database and examining your consistent repeat donors and ask who is ripe for an increase? Board members need to open up their personal and professional networks for cultivation moves. And your best donors have demonstrated their commitment to the mission … who do they know and can break the ice for? Finally, everyone — staff, board, volunteers — should be story tellers and spread the work on the difference your non-profit makes in the quality of life and assisting those who are struggling. For a comprehensive list of strategies to boost gift income in 2023 read our blog in NonProfit PRO.

Campus Moolah

Giving to U.S. higher education institutions rose 12.5% in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Insights on Voluntary Support of Education survey findings. Total support reached $59.50 billion, up from $52.90 billion in 2021. The VSE survey, under the auspices of the newly branded CASE Insights, is the definitive source of data for measuring the level of philanthropic support for nonprofit and public higher education institutions in the U.S. The 2022 rise in contributions was fueled by increased donations to both restricted endowments, which primarily fund scholarships, and to current operations with restrictions on use, which primarily fund research. Giving to restricted endowments rose 17.3%. Contributions to restricted current operations rose 6%. Together, these categories represent 79% of the total raised. Giving from individuals and organizations continued to increase in 2022. Alumni giving grew 10.2%, while non alumni individuals gave 8% more. Contributions from organizations rose 14.6%.

Retention, Retention, Retention

On the subject of sound principles, winning strategies and best practices, be sure to place donor retention at the top of your list. Never take current donors for granted, they are the basis for future successes. Acknowledge their gifts quickly and profusely show genuine appreciation for their generosity and contributions of time and money. This is where the right thing is also the smart thing to do. Your major gift donors of the future are likely already in your current donor database. Our appreciation to Non-Profit PRO for running our blog, 10 Proven Strategies To Help You Retain New Donors.

India Giving Day

The India Philanthropy Alliance, a coalition of 14 US non-profits that fund development and humanitarian projects in India, is organizing the first-ever India Giving Day on March 2, 2023, to let Indian Americans help their homeland. Members of the Indian diaspora living in the U.S. are being urged to step up and channel money back to the homeland during a 24-hour charitable drive. The plan is to encourage US-based donors, especially the nation’s 2.7 million Indian immigrants and the roughly 1.3 million U.S.-born Americans of Indian origin, to give to Indian causes in unison. It gives the highest-earning ethnic group in the U.S. a chance to step up and help their homeland. The campaign’s organizers will raise money to fund projects that will improve education, health care and gender equality and meet other important needs in a country with 228.9 million people living in poverty, according to the 2022 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index — more than anywhere else in the world. India Philanthropy Alliance members already raise a total of almost $60 million annually in the U.S. Their goal is to amass more funding collectively by holding an annual single-day push.

Hooray for Millennials

Giving USA Foundation finds that that average annual household giving by millennials increased 40% between 2016 and 2022. Based on an online survey of 1,400 donors, the report found that millennial households reported giving an average of $1,323 in 2022, up from $942 in 2016. By contrast, Gen X households gave an average of $1,220, down 4% from $1,265, while boomer households gave $2,568, down 12% from $2,921. The report included for the first time data from Gen Z households, who reported giving $747 on average in 2022.

Learning From Masters

It’s been too long since we’ve highlighted one of our industry leaders in this series. This time it’s very personal. Earlier this month, I enjoyed catching up with my first boss and mentor in the development field, John Donohue, who is now Vice President for College Advancement at The College of New Jersey. We first connected when John was Executive Director of Development for the University of Texas at San Antonio. I was hired as his Development Officer for the College of Business. I had a strong background in communications and public relations but virtually no experience in fundraising. I’ve grown to appreciate how fortunate I was to learn so much about the development profession and so quickly under John’s leadership. John’s impressive 40-year career includes development successes at United Negro College Fund, Dillard University, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and United Way of Long Island. More than anything else, I am grateful for the love of the fundraising profession that John nurtured in me. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now as a fundraising trainer/consultant if it wasn’t for John’s expert guidance at the beginning of my journey. During our meeting in San Antonio, I quizzed John on some of the most pressing challenges facing non-profit leaders. On retaining staff, John emphasizes the role of a flexible work environment that demonstrates a genuine understanding and respect for employee priorities and needs. His advice to staff looking to progress also stresses flexibility and being present in the total life of the non-profit. He encourages taking full advantage of professional development opportunities, establishing networks, and finding mentors. It is also essential to refrain from quickly jumping from one job to the next as loyalty to employers is such a core component of reputation.

Celebrity Corner

As fans await Rihanna’s next album, her foundation has been busy handing out grants across the Caribbean and the U.S. This year’s Super Bowl halftime show star, pregnant with her second child, Rihanna hasn’t released a new album since 2016, but she’s been plenty busy putting some of her estimated $1.4 billion fortune to good use. While fans have been waiting for her new music, Rihanna has been building a reputation as a groundbreaking philanthropist with her Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF). Named for her grandparents, Clara and Lionel Braithwaite, Rihanna launched the foundation in 2012. Its early work focused on projects in Barbados, with its first grant ($452,000) going to help a hospital there advance clinical care for cancer patients. Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, lost her grandmother to cancer in 2012. Since then, CLF’s scope has broadened from personal to global, funding work in all 50 U.S. states and seven Caribbean countries. CLF has now “leveraged” $100 million in grants (meaning that some of the money has come from outside donors and was distributed by CLF). The Clara Lionel Foundation now focuses on three priorities: climate resilience (helping communities prepare for and withstand natural disasters); climate justice (mitigating climate impacts in communities of color and island nations); and “legacy projects” supporting causes in Rihanna’s native Barbados. 


Calling All Volunteers

As non-profit organizations continue to face an increase in demand, limited resources and reduced staffing capacity in the wake of a global pandemic, new research finds that volunteer engagement has become more — not less — important to advance their work, but volunteers are now harder to engage. The Initiative for Strategic Volunteer Engagement, together with The Do Good Institute, released new insights from more than 1,000 non-profit CEOs and 100+ funders about the state of U.S. volunteer engagement. The release of these new reports is timed with the official launch of the Initiative for Strategic Volunteer Engagement, a new effort of funders and non-profits who believe in the power of volunteers to expand impact and maximize mission accomplishment. Together, the group will provide practical and research-informed tools and resources to help non-profits intentionally engage with their volunteer networks and inspire funders to further invest in strategic volunteer engagement. Non-profits are challenged by finding the right volunteer support as well as the capacity and infrastructure to sustain volunteer engagement. Nearly half of CEOs say that recruiting sufficient volunteers is a big problem for their organization, with many saying it’s a “big problem” to find volunteers who are available during the traditional workday (38%) and who have the necessary skills (35%). Many non-profits reported they were retaining very few volunteers today, with many sharing that their volunteers were doing less, rather than more, of any specific organizational activity today (such as delivery of services, fundraising, professional assistance or advocacy).

Podcast Power

Podcasts have long since hit the mainstream. According to YouGov Profiles, the majority of Americans now listen to podcasts, with 14% listening once or more a day and another 14% listening every week. While it’s true that 47% of Americans do not listen to podcasts, this is down from 55% in January of 2020. And data from the YouGov Media Outlook Report indicates that podcast listening will continue to grow, with 14% of Americans saying they’ll listen to more podcasts in the coming year. Podcast listening is especially concentrated among younger Americans with 27% of those aged 18 to 34 listening at least once a day and another 26% listening once or several times a week. This group is followed by those 35 to 49, 45% of whom listen to podcasts once a week or more. Listenership drops off among older age groups with half (50%) of 50 to 64-year-olds and 62% of those older than 65 saying they do not listen to podcasts at all. Unlike media like TV or movies, listening to podcasts leaves consumers’ hands and eyes free, meaning that shows are often enjoyed while engaged in some other activity. So, what situations do Americans listen to podcasts in? About half of Americans (49%) who listen to podcasts do so while doing household chores, the most popular podcast-listening situation. Commuting to work, another activity that requires eyes and not quite all of one’s attention, is second at 42%. This is followed by working out and cooking/baking, both at 29%. Be sure to join us for our webinar on Wednesday, March 15th, 4 to 5 p.m., to learn how you can be a guest or even produce your own podcast from our subject matter expert John Largent, CEO, Gameday Media.

On Bookshelf: Transforming Disruption

Unlike in the past, when Americans responded to crises by collectively volunteering in record numbers, the COVID-19 pandemic restricted traditional in-person volunteering. Even though many organizations put their engagement strategies on hold, others experienced a dramatic increase in demand for services and leadership recognized the growing spotlight on racial injustices, as well as the opportunities that stem from technology. In response, these forward-thinkers actively adapted to engage community members despite the disruptions. Transforming Disruption to Impact brings together the voices of CEOs, funders, corporate engagement leaders, volunteers, and volunteer engagement professionals — a collection of exemplary stories from those who transformed the disruptions into impact. These stories are the key to unlocking that potential. The 19 essays collected in this book, penned by national non-profit leaders, experts in volunteerism, directors of corporate social responsibility, and grant makers, examine the changes wrought by disruption in 2020 through the lens of volunteer engagement. The focus of the book, edited by Doug Bolton, Beth Steinhorn, Jerome Tennille, and Craig Young, is to draw attention to what was inadequate about non-profit volunteering in the past– and how non-profits, corporations, funders, and individuals have worked to change processes for the better.

Nine Lives

An old wives’ tale (not tail) has it that cats have nine lives. I’ve received suggestions that our elder cat Billie should be given a bigger role in our webinar series for just looking so pretty. But we’ve developed a keen appreciation of her remarkable staying power and ability to overcome the odds. She is close to the nine lives marker, and we couldn’t be happier. We are also very happy to have Billie and her younger sister Joey covered by pet health insurance. Here’s a story that Healthy Paws pet insurance ran about Billie. We also feel very fortunate to have who we think is the best cat veterinarian on the planet, Dr. Gary D. Norsworthy, who owns Alamo Feline Health Center, and has been practicing for nearly 50 years. Because of the way they tend to move around and change jobs often, you can also make the case that fundraisers also have nine lives, usually landing in a consultant’s role toward the end of their careers.

Quiz: State Regulations

In an effort to gain understanding of the regulatory burden placed on charities across the U.S., the Philanthropy Roundtable has released an index ranking the best and worst states for charity regulation, comparing states along five categories of charitable regulations: start-up regulations, annual reporting requirements, rules for paid solicitors, audit mandates, and oversight regulations. Match the following states with their ranking (1 — being the most friendly, 50 — being the most burdensome) to answer this question. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.

1.Mass.      a. 1

2. Mont.     b. 10

3. N.Y.       c. 26

4. Ohio       d. 31

5. Texas     e. 44

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

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