Can you imagine the non-profit sector without the incalculable contributions and impact of volunteers? I shudder to even consider it. Volunteers truly are the lifeblood of our nation’s 1.5 million non-profits. By any measure, the contributions of America’s volunteers are enormous. At last count, an estimated 77.9 million adults (or 30% of the population) volunteered 5.8 billion hours to non-profits and good causes. The economic value is estimated at $147 billion. Philanthropy is about the voluntary sharing of time, talent and treasure. In fact, you can make a strong case that time is more precious than money because, unlike money, it can never be replaced. Too many people don’t realize that since 1974, the third week in April has been designated as National Volunteer Week — this year, April 16 to 22 — a special time to recognize “the power of volunteers to tackle society’s greatest challenges.” Today, the observance is organized by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. So, take time to thank the amazing people who volunteer their valuable time to make the world better and assist those who are struggling. If you’re not currently volunteering, there couldn’t be a better time to choose a cause and start. It will make you a happier, healthier and more fulfilled individual. Read my guest column published on LinkedIn for more on this subject.
Perceptions of Our Sector
We all know that one of a non-profit’s chief challenges is getting donor prospects to know, like and trust them. This same challenge may apply to the non-profit sector in general. A new Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy study finds that, at a time when there is concern about public confidence in society’s institutions, Americans have a broadly favorable impression of charitable giving and non-profit organizations. But many know relatively little about how philanthropy functions, its impact on their lives, or how its current controversies could shape the future. The report examines public awareness, attitudes and perceptions of philanthropy, philanthropic sector institutions, and policies that govern and affect charitable giving. The good news: Americans see philanthropic giving as valuable. More than three-quarters of those surveyed feel that society as whole benefits a large or moderate amount when Americans donate money to charity. About 80% said that in-kind giving (i.e., giving property such as clothes, household items, or a vehicle to a non-profit), giving money to a qualified 501(c)(3) non-profit, and direct person-to-person giving is very or somewhat important. Three out of four felt that mutual aid is very or somewhat important. People surveyed generally defined philanthropy as the giving of time and/or money to non-profit organizations. About four in 10 included giving of ties (making connections across one’s networks) or testimony (i.e., advocacy, honoring lived experiences, and bearing witness to stories). Younger people (Millennials and Gen Z), women, people with more education, and donors had more expansive views of what constitutes philanthropy compared to older people (primarily Baby Boomers and Gen X), men, people with less education, and non-donors. Philanthropy and non-profits were viewed more positively than government and for-profit entities. But just 5.4% of people surveyed said they or anyone in their immediate family received services from a charitable organization or non-profit in the past year. Considering the many ways people engage with non-profits in daily life — from education, disaster relief and religious services to amateur athletics, civic beautification or the arts — this suggests many Americans may not recognize that these and other public services are provided by non-profits.
What to Expect
Philanthropy continues to evolve to take a leading role in helping to solve the biggest issues of our time. Opportunities abound for increasingly generous and purpose-driven philanthropists who want to make an impact. The trends UBS identified for 2022 continue but are evolving. After speaking with 100 UBS philanthropy experts, here are five prominent trends projected for 2023.
- Trend 1: Getting bigger and wider. New technologies will help democratize philanthropy so everyone can give strategically — and more of the wealthiest private donors will write big checks and commit the majority of their wealth to change.
- Trend 2: Focus on outcomes. Trust-based philanthropy will continue to give more freedom to implementing partners to really focus on their impact goals, allowing more space to get creative and effective.
- Trend 3: Creating solutions together. Philanthropists are getting increasingly critical about how philanthropy was and is practiced, wanting to be more inclusive and address power and diversity imbalances by co-creating solutions with professionals from affected communities and the communities themselves.
- Trend 4: Pushing the climate lens. Spurred on by volatile global energy costs and supply shortages, philanthropists will increasingly step up by further embedding climate into and across their impact portfolios.
- Trend 5: Going beyond giving. People will get more creative about how to have an impact — not by just donating, but putting their values, investments and businesses to work in a wide range of impactful tools, including blended finance models.
The reason storytelling is so effective at capturing people’s attention is simple. It’s human. In fact, our brains are hardwired to respond to stories. This means the story you share about your mission-driven work can motivate everyone — from your potential and existing donors to your staff and board members. If you are wondering how to create this type of powerful narrative for your non-profit, consider using the following four tips from expert storyteller, Elizabeth (Liz) Ngonzi, CFRE, founder and CEO of Liz Ngonzi Transforms and The International Social Impact Institute.
1. Tell stories to meaningfully engage and form genuine connections with your supporters.
2. Craft a compelling story by including these four key elements: a problem, solution, impact, and ask.
3. Bring your story to life using different types of video content (e.g., live streams, professionally produced clips, and authentic moments captured on a mobile device.)
4. Use a digital strategy to showcase your mission-driven work, reach your target audience, and assess your stories’ impact.
Farewell to an Inspiring Philanthropist
Growing up in a working-class family in small-town Oregon, Bing Newcomb would probably have been destined for work in the region’s sawmills or lumberyards after high school — except for one thing: He was legally blind. So instead, he went to college, becoming the first in his family to graduate. He then became a computer programmer and invented a system that revolutionized stock trading, enabling individual investors to buy and sell shares on their personal computers and making him a multimillionaire. Newcomb co-founded the company E*Trade and wrote the computer code that made it work. After he retired, Newcomb turned to philanthropy. He endowed the Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation and, with his wife, focused on improving the lives of people with disabilities, among other causes. His $6.1 million gift to Oregon State in 1997 was the largest stock gift the university had ever received. In 2000, Newcomb and his family donated $1.3 million to build a football field, track stadium and other athletic facilities at Scio High School where, because of his vision, he had been relegated to being the team’s water boy. He supported research through the All May See Foundation in the ophthalmology department at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also funded the Bernie and Gerry Newcomb Center for Innovative Eye Surgery. He passed away earlier this year at age 79.
Monthly Means More Money
There aren’t many sure bets in the competitive world of fundraising, but monthly giving programs are about as close as they come. These programs will provide your non-profit: (a) reliable, predictable sources of fundraising revenue that can fund everything from ongoing projects to unexpected expenses; (b) much higher retention rates; (c) more qualified pools of planned and major gift prospects; and (d) higher donor lifetime value. Non-profits of all sizes can manage them. We’re excited to bring back arguably the nation’s most respected and knowledgeable expert on monthly giving, Erica Waasdorp, President, A Direct Solution, who has authored two books, written hundreds of guest columns and blogs and given countless presentations on the subject. Join our learning community of professional and volunteer leaders to learn how your non-profit can design, implement and improve your monthly giving initiatives. The webinar will be conducted Wednesday, April 26th, 4 to 5 p.m. Central time. The webinar is free, but you must register here.
From our friends at Give Smart: Looking to spice things up for your next live fundraising campaign or virtual event? Games are a great way to raise additional funds, entertain supporters, and keep guests engaged through participation. Some friendly competition may also increase your fundraising potential as donor competition fuels stronger fundraising. While you may have a few generous donors who frequently make donations, a creative fundraiser like a game allows everyone to get in on the fun. When creating your fundraiser games, some key principles to keep in mind:
- Make sure your fundraising activity is easy for attendees to understand.
- Make sure your organization has the resources to administer and manage the event to raise more money.
- Whether you decide to use auction games, festival games, or mobile fundraising, set a time limit to your event to keep engagement levels high.
- Most importantly, make sure your creative fundraiser is fun!
AI, AI, AI
Hardly a day (or an hour) goes when you don’t hear this subject brought up. ChatGPT, — a virtual assistant that automates tedious tasks such as appointment booking and reservation management, eliminating the need for manual labor — burst onto the scene late last year, and since then it’s inspired a deluge of think pieces, debate, and prognostications from AI experts. But how are the majority of people actually using it, and what do they think? To answer that question, WordFinder, a game helper powered by YouDictionary, surveyed 1,024 Americans and 103 AI experts on their opinions of ChatGPT. Here are the key findings:
- Few people use ChatGPT regularly: While 46% of respondents say they’ve tried ChatGPT once or twice, only 19% use ChatGPT more than once a week, and only 5% use ChatGPT every day.
- When they do, it’s typically for personal use: 74% of people say they only use ChatGPT for personal reasons, and 17% say they use it for work with their employer’s knowledge. Only 10% say they use it for work or school without their employer or school’s knowledge.
- People mostly use ChatGPT to come up with ideas: 41% of respondents say they use ChatGPT to generate ideas, 20% to create content, 14% to respond to an e-mail, 11% to write code, and 10% to write a résumé or cover letter.
- Most respondents aren’t worried about being replaced: 81% say they aren’t worried about losing their job to GPT, 13% say they aren’t sure, and 6% say they are worried about job loss.
- As for how they think ChatGPT might change the way we communicate, the number one way the expert respondents see ChatGPT doing this is by improving the accuracy and efficiency of our ability to translate languages.
On Bookshelf: Dinner with the President
Are you what you eat? Some of the most significant moments in American history have occurred over meals, as U.S. Presidents broke bread with friends or foe: Thomas Jefferson’s nation building receptions in the new capital, Washington, D.C.; Ulysses S. Grant’s state dinner for the king of Hawaii; Teddy Roosevelt’s groundbreaking supper with Booker T. Washington; Richard Nixon’s practiced use of chopsticks to pry open relations with China; Jimmy Carter’s cakes and pies that fueled a détente between Israel and Egypt at Camp David. Alex Prud’homme, author of Dinner with the President invites readers into the White House kitchen to reveal the sometimes curious tastes of 26 of America’s most influential presidents, how their meals were prepared and by whom, and the ways their choices affected food policy around the world. And the White House menu grew over time — from simple eggs and black coffee for Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and celebratory turtle soup after, and squirrel stew for Dwight Eisenhower, to jelly beans and enchiladas for Ronald Reagan and arugula for Barack Obama. What our leaders say about food touches on everything from our nation’s shifting diet and local politics to global trade, science, religion, war, class, gender, race, and so much more.
Walmart and up-and-coming racquet sports booking platform, Break the Love, announced a program that will make it easier for communities to come together and thrive through one of the fastest growing sports in America: Pickleball. The partnership will offer 125,000 comped reservations for Walmart customers and associates, allowing them to book playtime at pickleball venues across the country for free, with everything needed to get started. The collaboration aims to break down existing barriers with the sport and make it more approachable by creating new opportunities for customers to have fun, connect with friends and prioritize their wellness. Through this program, Walmart is expanding its commitment to meet customers where they are by offering them ways to add value to their lives.
Quiz: Hottest U.S. Cities
Better make sure your air conditioning systems are tuned up and filled with Freon. Temperatures can vary a lot across the country. Match the following cities with the number of 100-degree days they average per year. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.
1. Las Vegas a. 3
2. Phoenix b. 18
3. Sacramento c. 23
4. San Antonio d. 78
5. St. Louis e. 111
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, Founder
Eskin Fundraising Training
ANSWERS TO THIS MONTH’S QUIZ: 1=d, 2=e, 3=c, 4=b, 5=a