Stratagems, October 2022

October is Ethics Month

Everyday ethics rules in the world of fundraising and philanthropy. If fundraisers and non-profits haven’t earned the trust of donors and supporters, they are doomed to failure. At its core, fundraising is a profession directed at nurturing friendships that culminate in gifts of time, talent and treasure. There is no way that is possible without earning and maintaining trust. I love the expression that fundraising occurs at the speed of trust. Ethics isn’t an option but a necessity. We simply aren’t going to be successful if donors don’t have faith in us. They must have full confidence that we and the organizations we serve are going to do what we say we’re going to do and fulfill their philanthropic intent. Drafting a code of ethics for professional fundraisers was the first order of business for founders of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in 1960. Ethics remains a top priority for AFP, serving as a guide and major asset to the 31,000+ members in some 240 chapters who raise more than $100 billion annually. Fittingly, AFP has established October as Ethics Awareness Month. Every member must sign and abide by the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards. This is the strictest and only enforced code in the profession. This year, AFP President and CEO Mike Geiger is emphasizing the theme “Living Your Ethics Out Loud” and is challenging colleagues to work hard every day to ensure that ethics is integrated and elevated in all of their work. We all know how fiercely competitive fundraising is today. Donors receive many more requests than they can possibly fund and have to choose not between the good and the bad, but between the good and the good. One ethical slip-up can wipe out the trust earned over several years with donors. Doing the right thing is always doing the smart thing to do.

The Queen's Philanthropy

Queen Elizabeth II was a steadfast global leader for generations, but her influence was also felt locally in the United Kingdom where she championed hundreds of homegrown charities. The Queen, who died at the age of 96 after 70 years on the throne, was a patron of more than 600 charities in the U.K. All senior members of the British royal family are patrons of charities; the role consists of promoting the charity by visiting the organization or by hosting events. The queen’s patron charities included high-profile arts organizations such as the Royal Opera House and military-related groups like Blind Veterans U.K., as well as organizations helping the elderly, children and animals. Also on the list: London Catalyst, a group working to alleviate poverty and social inequality in London; Norwood, which serves children who have learning disabilities or autism; and Motability, a group supporting the transportation needs of people with disabilities, according to a 2019 list compiled by Giving Evidence. Patronage doesn’t involve the royals donating their own money to the charity. It’s not clear whether the queen — who was worth an estimated $500 million according to Forbes — donated her own money to charities.

Recession Resiliency

The Blackbaud Institute has released a new guide, Philanthropy Through Recession: How Savvy Organizations Weather Uncertain Times. Evaluating data from 11 U.S. recessions over the past 40 years, the guide identifies trends and potential implications to help charitable organizations navigate the uncertainty that accompanies occasional economic downturns. Key findings:
  • While the same macro-economic factors that influence the U.S. economy can also influence the philanthropic sector, giving typically lags behind stock market volatility by about two years, effectively shielding philanthropy against short-term economic fluctuations.
  • The three economic indicators with the strongest relationship to charitable giving are wealth, as represented by the S&P 500 Index, income, as assessed through U.S. gross domestic product, and tax policy.
  • According to Giving USA, total giving has steadily increased over the last four decades, even when adjusted for inflation. During times of recession, impact is evident, but in the long run, giving continues to rise.
  • Adjusted for inflation, giving increased by over $300 billion between 1979 and 2021.
  • Total charitable giving has increased or stayed flat in current dollars every year since 1979, except for three years that experienced significant economic declines: 1987, 2008 and 2009.
  • Donor advised funds (DAFs) are particularly resilient in times of economic shock, as DAFs build assets over time, giving donors a ready stash of cash available to give when conditions require extra support.

Grantee Perceptions

U.S. Energy Foundation has announced the results of its most recent Grantee Perception Report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Underwritten by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Energy Foundation’s first CEP assessment in more than five years is based on responses from the foundation’s grantees. The report finds that the foundation’s strengths include the ability to advance public policy in the field, the median grant dollars awarded per process hour, an adaptable reporting process, and increased commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally and externally. Grantees suggested that the foundation needs to consider more unrestricted, multi-year grants; address challenges throughout the grantee lifecycle experience; and work to improve relationships, communication, and transparency. Examples of foundation actions to address these areas include the drafting of a multi-year grant policy focused on qualifying criteria for and how to process these types of grants, the launch of a new Grants Management System and efforts to codify its policies and procedures, and sharing the findings of the report and responses with funders, grantees, and the public.

Influential Alumni

Altrata’s University Alumni Report 2022 ranks the leading universities in the U.S. and internationally that have the most alumni serving on the board or in the C-suite of public companies. It also ranks the U.S. and international universities with the most ultra-wealthy alumni, those with a net worth of $30 million or more. Understanding the net worth and professional networks of alumni is not only important to institutions seeking to enhance their alumni fundraising efforts, but also to organizations across sectors to hone recruiting efforts and understand the potential of their C-suite networks. Key findings:
  • Harvard is at the top of most rankings with more than 17,600 ultra-wealthy alumni (5% of the global ultra-wealthy population) and nearly 4,000 alumni who serve on the board or in the C-suite of U.S. public companies, followed by the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford.
  • Among the top 20 U.S. universities, the average senior executive alum has accumulated 1,280 direct professional connections to senior decision-makers.
  • UCLA, University of California at Berkeley and Tufts University have the highest female representation among their U.S. senior executive alumni.

Muslim Giving

The Muslim Philanthropy Initiative (MPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI reports that U.S. Muslims are similar to or above average in their self-perceptions of their tolerance compared to the general U.S. population. MPI surveyed U.S. Muslims and non-Muslims to understand their patterns of giving and philanthropic activities. The report shows that, on average, U.S. Muslims surveyed perceived themselves to have higher levels of characteristics such as tolerance, valuing diversity and racial inclusivity, religiosity, and motivation to donate to causes benefitting people with marginalized identities (described in the study as “donation motivation”) than U.S. non-Muslims perceived themselves to have. This is despite U.S. Muslims being a racialized religious minority often facing negative perceptions and media stereotypes. U.S. Muslims comprise a highly diverse racial, ethnic and religious demographic, diversity that is reflected in their theological beliefs, religious and civic practices, cultural traditions and opinions.

Wonder Woman At It Again

The California Community Foundation (CCF) announced its second transformative gift from author, advocate and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in the form of two single-family residences located in Beverly Hills jointly valued at approximately $55 million dollars. This discretionary gift will allocate 90% of sale proceeds to the Foundation’s affordable housing grantmaking. The remaining funds will be allocated by CCF to support its immigrant integration program to advance opportunities for the millions of immigrants from throughout the world who call Los Angeles County home. The cost of housing stands out as one of the most critical issues affecting the lives of millions of Los Angeles residents. A priority for Ms. Scott, the primary focus of the $55 million will be to permanently endow grantmaking efforts to benefit Angelenos in need of affordable housing. Since 2000, CCF has granted over $30 million to ensure Angelenos have safe and stable homes, together with the economic opportunities they need to thrive. Ms. Scott’s gift will permanently support the expansion of these grantmaking efforts. Her total philanthropy is now approaching an awesome $13 billion.

Wealthy Pursuits

Wealth-X examines the passions, hobbies, interests, education, philanthropic endeavors, family background, associates, career history, and financial profile of wealthy individuals. The valuation model identifies all privately and publicly owned assets and uses the primary business address for the person’s location. Their Wealth and Investable Assets Model provides private wealth information and estimates population size based on world economies and major cities. Specifically, it looks at the top 70 economies and 170 major cities ranked by nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in dollars. Highlights include:
  • Philanthropy and sports are the two favorite interests of high-net-worth individuals.
  • Golf is the most popular sport.
  • Public speaking is the third most popular pursuit of the wealthy.
  • Philanthropy increases as wealth increases.
  • The ultra-rich are involved in a broader range of hobbies and interests.
  • Interests in technology, the outdoors, and education are equally popular among all wealth levels.

Protecting the Planet

A half century after founding the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given the company away. Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a non-profit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe. 

On the Bookshelf: The Light We Give

As a boy growing up in San Antonio, Simran Jeet Singh and his brothers confronted racism daily: at school, in their neighborhood, playing sports, and later in college and beyond. Despite the prejudice and hate he faced, this self-described “turban-wearing, brown-skinned, beard-loving Sikh” refused to give in to negativity. Instead, Singh delved deep into the Sikh teachings that he grew up with and embraced the lessons to seek the good in every person and situation and to find positive ways to direct his energy. These Sikh tenets of love and service to others have empowered him to forge a life of connection and a commitment to justice that have made him a national figure in the areas of equity, inclusion, and social justice. The Light We Give lays out how we can learn to integrate ethical living to achieve personal happiness and a happier life. It speaks to those who are inspired to take on positive change but don’t know where to begin: To those who crave the chance to be empathetic but are afraid of looking vulnerable, and to those who seek the courage to confront hatred with love and compassion. Singh reaches beyond his comfort zone to practice this deeper form of living and explores how everyone can learn the insights and skills that have kept him engaged and led him to commit to activism without becoming consumed by anger, self-pity, or burnout. Part memoir, part spiritual journey, The Light We Give is a transformative book of hope that shows how each of us can turn away from fear and uncertainty and move toward renewal and positive change. We are very proud of featuring Simran in our September 28th webinar along with his father: A Conversation with Philanthropist Dr. G.P. Singh. I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with Dr. Singh for more than two decades and have seen close up his humble, compassionate and inspiring lifestyle emphasizing leadership and service to others. You can register for the webinar here.

Donation Page

Our thanks to Mike Alonzo, boodleAI’s Chief Experience Officer, who is dedicated to crafting amazing human experiences for sharing these insights. He emphasizes that your donation page is the face of your organization and has the final say before a completed donation. So, set up a strong donation portal. Here are six tips on setting up a donation page that converts visitors to donors:
1. Tell a compelling story.
2. Keep the page clean and simple.
3. Use imagery that makes the viewer “feel.”
4. Donation form is prominent.
5. Offer multiple gift amounts. 
6. Offer a recurring donation option.

Quiz: Most Charitable States

WalletHub compares the 50 states across two key dimensions, “Volunteering and Service” and “Charitable Giving.” They evaluated those dimensions using 19 key metrics. They determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the “most charitable.” Match the following states with their respective scores. Answers are shown at the bottom of the page.
1. Alaska                         a. 44.02
2. Massachusetts           b. 55.06
3. New Mexico             c. 58.02
4. Texas                           d. 61.62
5. Utah                            e. 71.09

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

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