Stratagems, October 2021

The Can-Do Sector

We’ve seen an astonishing capacity in non-profits to respond to a cascade of formidable challenges and ramp up the good works of their noble missions. Never underestimate the heart and will of professional and volunteer non-profit leaders. Fundraising in particular is the ultimate continuous improvement cycle and is constantly changing and adapting to the world around us. You learn something every day through solicitations, whether the response is yes, no or maybe. And once again we’ve seen the American people step up and answer the call. Whether it is a precious gift of money, time — or in numerous cases, both — Americans are defined by their goodness, their energy, and potential to set differences aside and focus on moonshot-type goals such as overcoming a ravaging pandemic and advancing social justice and greater opportunities for all. Andrea and I continue to be in awe of the inspiring men and women who, as professionals, board members and volunteers, drive America’s 1.5 million non-profits forward to touch, improve and save more lives. Once again, we proudly proclaim our mantra: NonProfit Strong!

Philanthropy in Space

It was just a matter of time before fundraising would adopt the space program as an instrument to champion good causes. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital officially entered space, and became part of history, as the first all-civilian astronaut crew lifted off for a three-day trip, orbiting the Earth 15 times a day. This included Hayley Arceneaux, a former St. Jude patient who returned to the hospital to work as a physician assistant. Until January, she was just going about her life-saving work at St. Jude. She was selected for the journey after Jared Isaacman, 38-year-old entrepreneur and adventurer who paid SpaceX, decided that he wanted to leverage the mission to raise $200 million for St. Jude. Isaacman donated $100 million of his own money to kick off the campaign. Inspiration4 blasted off from Launch Pad 39A, the same launch pad used by Apollo 11 when it carried Neil Armstrong to the moon. Not to be left out, SpaceX founder Elon Musk pledged to donate $50 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, helping exceed the $200 million fundraising goal set for the historic space mission.

Bullish on 2021

As donors consider their charitable giving decisions in 2021, some pandemic-related influences seem here to stay. A Fidelity Charitable survey indicates that a significant percentage of donors gave more to charity in 2020 than they did the previous year, and virtually all of them (93%) plan to give the same (67%) or even more (26%) this year. Donors will also continue to embrace new channels and methods for giving in 2021. Twenty-nine percent say they will purchase more products from socially responsible businesses this year. Twenty-eight percent say they will make more donations online, and the same number will give more money directly to individuals, family or friends. Following a drop last year in volunteerism due to the pandemic, many donors are now looking to increase their involvement. Thirty-five percent of donors plan to spend more time volunteering in the future and many will continue to do so virtually, embracing a shift that took place during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, only 17% of donors volunteered virtually, but that nearly doubled in 2020 to 30%. Moving forward, one-third of donors now say they plan to do part or all of their volunteer activities virtually. 

UN Action

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced plans to spend more than $900 million over the next five years to curb global malnutrition, a move to stem the rise in world hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s one of several pledges private donors made as world leaders gathered in New York City for the annual United Nations General Assembly. During this time, a coalition of nine foundations said they would collectively spend $5 billion by 2030 to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and sea, known as 30×30. The pledge from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Washington D.C.-based Wyss Foundation and others is believed to be the largest private pledge to protect biodiversity. One of the donors, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, had already announced his Bezos Earth Fund would earmark $1 billion to aid with conservation efforts. That commitment is part of the $10 billion Bezos pledged last year to fight climate change following years of criticism about Amazon’s carbon footprint. He stepped down from the company in July. Philanthropies choose to announce big initiatives during the General Assembly to get more attention on their commitments and influence the public agenda.

Plugging Fundraising Leaks

Want to make your fundraising operation more productive? Want to find out where leaks are and plug them? We’re thrilled to feature my Association of Philanthropic Counsel colleague Ellen Bristol, President of Bristol Strategy Group, who will lead our October 6th webinar on more effective fundraising. Ellen has a passion for helping small to medium sized non-profit organizations, and is known as a revolutionary disruptor in the non-profit industry for bringing the science of productivity to the heart of charity and for her research on staff fundraising productivity. A classic late-bloomer, Ellen spent the first 20 years of her career selling zillion-dollar computer systems. Only after she launched Bristol Strategy Group did she discover her true calling; building non-profit organizational capacity with a focus on the revenue-generating function. Since that big “aha!” moment, she has become a performance-management geek and a nut for metrics. She designed and launched the Leaky Bucket Assessment for Effective Fundraising, the single largest study of fundraising staff performance in the non-profit sector, which has been completed by 1,500+ non-profit professionals and executives. She has discovered enormous room for improvement with only 3% of the non-profits assessed attaining the highest level of performance — watertight. Join us to learn about searching for leaks in your operation and plugging them. You can register here for our October 6th webinar.

Political vs. Charitable

Is all fundraising the same? More specifically, do political and charitable fundraising share more in common than what differentiates them? This question has intrigued us for a while, so for a recent webinar we recruited four distinguished leaders who have plenty of experience raising money in both realms — Charlie Gonzalez, Kent Hance, Marv LeRoy and Barbara Radnofsky. (Between them they represent both political parties and running for elective offices at the local, state and federal levels.) It was a fascinating discussion that we hadn’t seen addressed before. We concluded that political and charitable fundraising share more in common than what differentiates them. This is especially true for fundraising mechanics — discovery, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship — being the same. They both appeal to donors in the pursuit of making a positive difference in the world. Charitable donors are motivated by a non-profit mission to help others that they are passionate about, while political donors are inspired by a candidate’s personality and vision for a brighter future. Plus, the goal in both types of fundraising is to elevate relationships into genuine friendships. On the other hand, there are some substantive differences. At the top of the list there is typically less time to raise money in political campaigns. And in the political arena, donors are motivated by gaining access to candidates and future office-holders, and contributions are sometimes made to defeat an opponent. You can watch a replay of this webinar on demand. By the way Kent Hance (shown in the photo and as Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System led a $1.2 billion capital campaign that was completed 18 months ahead of schedule) is going to return Wednesday, October 20th to lead a webinar on “Tell Stories Like a Pro,” building on the success of his podcast, Best Storyteller in Texas.

Beautiful: Inside and Out

Founded in 1993, the kathy​ ireland®​ Worldwide brand, celebrates a lifestyle that translates to all fashion, fine jewelry, intimate apparel, skincare, accessories, weddings, home, office and more. First known for Sports Illustrated covers, Kathy​ Ireland has graced the cover of Forbes Magazine twice (2012, 2016), is listed as the 25th most powerful brand globally by License! Global Magazine and according to Fairchild Publications, Kathy Ireland®​ is one of the 50 most influential people in fashion. The success of kathy​ ireland®​ Worldwide is the result of teamwork and dedication. She is also quite the philanthropist. Kathy​ and kiWW​ support many non-profits including: YWCA Greater Los Angeles, for which she is an Ambassador; Dream Foundation; Providence Educational Foundation; 911 for Kids/AEF; and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Kathy is the first-ever National PTA Ambassador for Youth. ​Kathy​ serves as International Youth Chair for the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, as well as Ambassador for the American Cancer Society. Kathy is​ also an Ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. As a powerful advocate for Israel, Kathy​ has spoken out for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC); and met with global leaders including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former President Shimon Peres and former President Barack Obama. Kathy is a member of Women’s International Zionist Organization and has been honored by the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish National Fund.

Rehearsing the Ask

This is no place to wing it. Solicitations can and should be rehearsed, practiced and carefully prepared for. While I don’t advocate word for word scripting, I feel very strongly that each member of the solicitation team should understand their role in the meeting, who asks, when, for what purpose, and how much is crystal clear. I am a huge proponent of making the ask early in the meeting, leaving plenty of time to respond to questions and concerns that inevitably come up. If there is time left over, that’s a proper place for “small talk.” Our thanks to Candid Learning for featuring our essay on this crucial subject.

God Bless Alumni

The Patrick and Shirley Ryan Family has made the largest single gift in Northwestern University’s history — $480 million that will accelerate breakthroughs in biomedical, economics and business research and enable the University to redevelop Ryan Field and construct a best-in-class venue for the Northwestern community. The transformative gift pushed the “We Will” campaign over the $6 billion mark, making it one of the largest fundraising campaigns in the history of higher education. The “We Will” campaign, which concluded June 30th, raised $6.1 billion from 174,380 donors. By generating support for strategic University priorities, the campaign amplified Northwestern’s local and global impact and provided substantial support for campus life, financial aid, facilities, research and schools and units across the University. The Ryan Family’s latest gift builds upon their unwavering commitment to furthering strategic initiatives that contribute to Northwestern’s trajectory as a top-tier academic institution. The Ryan Family was already the largest benefactor in Northwestern’s history before this new gift. Patrick is a 1959 Northwestern graduate and Shirley is a 1961 graduate. Mr. Ryan is distinguished as one of Chicago’s most successful entrepreneurs and prominent civic leaders. His first business venture while a student involved selling scrapbooks to fellow students, which paid for his Northwestern education. Mr. Ryan founded and served for 41 years as CEO of Aon Corporation, the leading global provider of risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage. At the time of his retirement, Aon had nearly $8 billion in annual revenue with more than 500 offices in 120 countries. 

Protecting the Planet

A wide variety of non-profit organizations are participating in the first Earth Gives Day on October 7th. The giving platform site is filled with profiles on each organization, the focus of their work, and the impact they are having on the environment. Earth Gives and its signature event, Earth Gives Day, are focused on driving resources and attention to the work of environmental and climate-focused non-profits. This is the inaugural year of Earth Gives in the U.S. It is more than a giving day; it is an effort to bring much needed attention to the issue of the climate crisis and the needed protections and stewardship of our environment. Earth Gives serves as the “velcro ecosystem” of organizations, businesses, investors and individuals who believe in the same overarching goal: each individual investment and change we make matters as we race to integrate solutions to a warming planet and its impact on people.

On the Bookshelf: Hack-Proof Your Life

Sean Bailey and Devin Kropp in Hack-Proof Your Life will show you how to measure your cybersecurity score and then teach you to quickly boost it. They introduce you to the New Cybersecurity Rules, important actions to take in three areas: adding more secrecy to your online life (such as a banking-only email address that hackers won’t likely discover), becoming omniscient over your financial affairs (so you can block identity theft and instantly spot fraud), and adopting principles of mindfulness to stay safe every day (such as using the 10-Second EMAIL Rule to spot dangerous blackmail spam). Included is a step-by-step guide for adopting the New Cybersecurity Rules and a checklist to tracking your actions and regaining control of your safety.

Crypto Fever

The Giving Block, the leading crypto donation solution for non-profit organizations and individual donors, announced it is on pace to process over $100M in cryptocurrency donations in 2021 and projects $1B in cryptocurrency donations to be processed in 2022, with a number of major partnerships set to go live starting in Q4 ahead of Giving Season. The Giving Block is dedicated to unlocking the full philanthropic impact of crypto by empowering non-profit organizations to securely and compliantly accept cryptocurrency donations and enabling individuals to easily give crypto to their favorite charities worldwide. The Giving Block supports donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and over 40 more popular cryptocurrencies, and actively partners with leading crypto companies, Non Fungible Token (NFT) projects, and traditional institutions to bring their charitable initiatives to life.

Quiz: Top Universities

Deciding where to apply for college is tough. But the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, now in their 37th year, can help. The latest edition assesses 1,466 U.S. bachelor’s degree-granting institutions on 17 measures of academic quality. (Note that in several instances there were ties.) All these institutions represent powerful fundraising machines and boast huge endowments. Match the following universities with their respective ranking to answer this question. Answers are at the bottom of this page.
1. Duke              a. No. 1
2. Harvard          b. No. 2
3. Princeton       c. No. 5
4. Stanford         d.  No. 6
5. Yale               e. No. 9

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

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