Non-profits are no strangers to adversity. My good friend Dr. Lance Brouthers, a prolific author of research articles in scholarly journals and professor at Michael A. Leven School of Management Entrepreneurship and Hospitality, Kennesaw State University, enjoys discussing the subject with me. The definitions of risk and uncertainty are different, and the distinction between the two is clearer … risk is present when future events occur with measurable probability. Uncertainty is present when the likelihood of future events is indefinite or incalculable.  Like the rest of the world, non-profits must grapple with both risk and an enormous uncertainty. But they do have a sort of superpower on their side: Purpose Powers Perseverance! Over the past two years, Andrea and I have enjoyed meeting and working with non-profit professionals, board members, volunteers and donors and have been inspired by their energy, passion, and devotion to varying causes to improve the lot of others. As a group, they epitomize the virtues of leadership, grit, and service. In the words of the immortal Babe Ruth: You just can’t beat the person who never gives up. It is our privilege to continue our roles in playing a small part in empowering non-profit friends to be more successful in developing the resources needed to realize their noble visions of a better world.

Webinar World

We wish the circumstances had been different, but it has been exciting and productive to host weekly webinars which have exponentially enlarged both the size and geography of our learning community. Our plan is to host webinars every Wednesday, 4 to 5 pm, central time, over a Zoom video webinar platform. We’ve been extremely fortunate to be joined by a wide range of subject matter experts on issues confronting non-profit leaders during the pandemic crisis. Webinars will continue to be offered free of charge. You must be in our Constant Contact database to receive webinar invitationsComplete this form (or share the link with others) to ensure you receive our monthly Stratagems e-newsletter and webinar invitations. And please continue to let us know your suggestions on topics and subject matter experts for future programs. Special thanks to John Largent, CEO, GameDay Media, for serving as our invaluable producer, allowing everything to go so smoothly. Next up on May 20th is Marc Pitman, Founder, Concord Leadership Group, on How to Lead During COVID-19. You can register here.

Version COVID-19

Our last webinar featured an updated presentation of my favorite topic and book — 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons: Version COVID-19. I returned to my underlying premise that sound fundraising principles, strategies, and best practices, more than anything else, are based on common sense. During the pandemic, we’re encouraging non-profit leaders to cling to the building blocks of resource development: Tell your story, nurture relationships like your donors are the most important people in the world, ask for gifts for a specific amount and purpose, and thank donors genuinely and continuously, especially keeping them informed of the impact. We’re being forced to change tactics. Where before the gold standard had been getting donors within our hug, we now must creatively embrace virtual forms of discovery, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. We’re seeing concrete evidence that virtual fundraising works! We can and should fundraise from home with a sense of urgency. If anything, we should increase the volume of quality contact with donors and donor prospects because we have a captive audience. The need for the noble missions performed by America’s non-profits is only escalating. I’ll conclude with my money back guarantee: Your chances of getting the gift go way up when you ask! Here’s a recording and slides from that webinar.

Gender Matters

A report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) offers new research focused on how women give more than men, even as technology disrupts philanthropy. It encompasses research that shows broad gender differences in how women and men use the Internet and social networks, and how they give online. Three overarching themes emerged:

1. Women give more online gifts than men and contribute a greater proportion of online dollars overall. Across all four case studies, women give greater numbers of gifts than men (nearly two-thirds of gifts, across platforms). Women’s greater number of donations means they collectively are giving more dollars than men through each platform studied.
2. Women give smaller online gifts than men and give to smaller charitable organizations than men.
3. Women’s and girls’ organizations receive substantially more support — online and offline — from women donors than from men donors. Three of the four case studies examined funding for women’s and girls’ causes, with women giving between 60% and 70% of online dollars to women’s and girls’ organizations, depending on the dataset.
Our June 10th webinar will feature Abbie von Schlegell, a pioneer in the study of women in philanthropy, sharing her wealth of wisdom and experience in the motivation, mindset and triggers of women philanthropists. 

A Big Pay Day

The event’s organizers report that #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of unity and giving mounted by the GivingTuesday organization in response to the historic level of need created by the COVID-19, inspired acts of generosity in more than 145 countries and helped raise at least $65 million in gifts. Millions of people expressed their generosity through acts of kindness; donations of goods, time and money; notes of compassion; advocacy for causes and care for family and friends, while the more than 90 companies that served as #GivingTuesdayNow partners — providing fundraising, volunteering, and donor engagement technology — reported a spike in giving during the day.  

PayPal reported that it processed $65 million in donations for #GivingTuesdayNow, including donations to charities, contributions to PayPal’s COVID-19 fundraising campaigns, funds donated at checkout and through employee giving campaigns, and matching donations from companies such as Facebook, Airbnb, Live Nation, and Spotify. The $65 million processed by PayPal during the May 5th event represented a 43% surge compared with activity on the platform over the previous seven days and was half of the $130 million total PayPal processed during the most recent annual #GivingTuesday event in December — despite the fact that #GivingTuesdayNow was organized in just six weeks.

Staffing Challenges

While philanthropy is responding magnificently to the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID- 19, it’s inevitable that the non-profit sector, with more than 1.5 million registered organizations across the country, is going to come face-to-face with Draconian financial pressures. In a UST survey, nearly 43% of non-profits report that they had to modify their operations extensively (without having to eliminate positions), while nearly a third of employers reported having to eliminate positions, reduce positions or suspend most of their operations altogether. No doubt, we will see increased activity in the exploration of consolidations, mergers and partnerships. Plus, staffing will come under intense scrutiny. For wisdom, we turned to our favorite subject matter expert on human capital — Sally Bryan, President and CEO, BRYANT GROUP¸ the firm that has been specializing in recruiting advancement professionals longer than anyone else. Sally is quick to point out that most non-profits feel like families, so making gut-wrenching decisions will be even more difficult. However, she notes that this actually opens a window of opportunity — a time for non-profits to analyze return on investment and think strategically about fundraising. When making staffing decisions, ask yourselves: What is the vision for the next 6 months, 12 months and 2 years?  Which positions will deliver the most to realizing that vision? How can fundraising be done differently to maximize relationships and return? She says that non-profits already enjoy an advantage in having staff familiar with juggling multiple roles and tasks. Finally, advice for advancement professionals who might be forced to look for new employment opportunities: She stresses that attitude is everything! While it’s heart-breaking to lose your job, it’s also an opportunity rethink the future. What would you really like to do next? How can you market your skills to set you apart to the organizations that are able to thrive in the new economy?  And, finally, network, network. Even with social distancing, our world is still all about relationships. Connect with people more than ever before. Find out how they are doing. Let them know your situation and what you are looking for. Ask them for recommendations. And always ask how you can help them. Be sure to sign up for our July 1st webinar to hear more of Sally’s practical advice for both employer and employee.

Essential As They Come

Should non-profits be ranked essential? You bet they should! Non-profits add value to and enhance the quality of life in every way possible. Our thanks to Jimmy LaRose for featuring my article on this topic on the Inside Charity website. 

Donor Behaviors

To understand how this pandemic could impact the nonprofit community, Fidelity Charitable conducted a survey of philanthropic individuals to see how they’re thinking about philanthropy in response to the pandemic and how the situation could affect their giving and volunteering behaviors. The study underscored the following key takeaways:

Most donors plan to maintain — or even increase — the amount they donate to charity this year. Support from donors is needed to sustain non-profits at any time, but it is particularly critical in times of crisis. The survey found good news for the non-profit sector: a quarter of donors plan to increase their donations in response to COVID-19, while 54% plan to maintain their giving levels. Younger generations plan to step up their donations in greater numbers; 46% of Millennials say they will give more in response to the pandemic, compared to 14% of Baby Boomers and 25% of Gen X. Of those who say they will decrease their donations to charity, concern over a recession and the economy in general was a top trigger.
* In contrast, volunteer activity is likely to dramatically decrease due to the pandemic.
Nearly half (47%) of recent volunteers believe the amount of time they volunteer will decrease or stop entirely because of the pandemic. Older donors are more likely to say that their volunteering will decrease (61% of Silent Generation donors and 57% of Baby Boomers), while 19% of Gen X and 31% of Millennials say they expect their volunteer time to actually increase. 
* Donors are most concerned about the way that COVID-19 could impact the ability of health- and human services-related non-profits to do their work, but concern is high for organizations in all charitable sectors.
* Most donors do not plan to shift their giving to different organizations in light of the pandemic; they will stay the course by continuing to support their favorite non-profits.

Legacy Gifts

Gifts made from estates have long been a tax-wise way for donors to amplify the impact of their philanthropic vision and goals while postponing any out-of-pocket expenditures — and, typically, empowering them to achieve amounts several times greater than gifts made from income. We’re seeing a surge in such legacy gifts triggered by COVID-19 on two levels: (a) Many people are being vividly reminded of their mortality, and (b) The needs of their favorite non-profits are dramatically escalating, prompting strategies to stretch giving capacity. Most gifts from estates come from three popular categories:

* Charitable Bequests: The simplest way to secure a Legacy Gift is by asking donors to name the non-profit in their will. A bequest is a meaningful way to support the mission without affecting cash flow during the donor’s lifetime. Attorneys can include a gift to a non-profit when the donor prepares or revises their will, or the donor can add a codicil at any time.
* Retirement Plans: Certain retirement plans, such as IRAs, and 401(k), 403(b), Keogh plans, allow individuals to defer taxes on a portion of their income until the assets are withdrawn during retirement years. However, after a person’s death these accounts often are exposed to taxes. By naming a non-profit as a beneficiary of either all or a portion of these retirement assets, donors can leverage the full power of the assets as the donated portion would not be subject to tax. This strategy gives the donor the ability to leave a large charitable contribution, while freeing up other assets for their heirs.
* Life Insurance Policies: An easy and straightforward method of philanthropic giving is through life insurance policies. Non-profits welcome gifts of life insurance when the policy is paid in full and are named as the owner and the irrevocable beneficiary of the policy.
In all instances, donors should consult their tax, legal or financial advisors concerning specific details and consequences of making a Legacy Gift and help them determine which approach is the best fit.
Watch for your invitation to our May 27th webinar to hear Joe April, Estate Planning Coach, The Institute for Philanthropic Excellence, share practical steps non-profits can take to market, discover best prospects, tactfully explore and close on gifts made from estates and assets — all done virtually.

On the Bookshelf: Plato's Lemonade Stand

We’ve all heard the adage: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. But no one ever says how. Finally, with the inspiration of Plato and the help of many other great philosophers, Tom Morris has figured it out and here gives us a recipe we all can use. Following up in the tradition of previous books like If Aristotle Ran General Motors, If Harry Potter Ran General Electric, Philosophy for Dummies, True Success, and Socrates in Silicon Valley, Plato’s Lemonade Stand: Stirring Change into Something Great, Morris blends powerful insights with great stories and good fun to illuminate the path of wise living in the face of challenge and change. Along the way, he shows us how to move with wisdom from difficulty to delight in everything we do.

When You Wish Upon a Star

We don’t usually mention real estate listings, but this opportunity grabbed our attention. A former home of Walt Disney is on the market for $1.1 million. The mid-century modern ranch is known as Disney’s “technicolor dream house” because of the “vibrant” decor throughout, according to listing agent Michael Erives. Located in Palm Springs, Calif., the property was built for Disney and his wife, Lillian, in 1962. It remained family-owned until 2015 when it was sold for $1 million. The single-story home is 2,443 square feet with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. Throughout, there are Disney-themed decorations and pops of color. The foyer, with its mirrored ceiling, leads to the home’s indoor-outdoor living space, dining room and kitchen, all of which have colorful decor. All four of the home’s bedrooms have their own en-suite bathroom. In the backyard, there is a swimming pool, spa and mountain views.

Quiz : Oldest Baseball Stadiums

We’re all missing the National Pastime. So, here’s a quiz to stimulate your baseball genes. Match the following Major League Baseball Parks (still in use) with the years they were built to answer this question.  Answers are at the bottom of this page.
1. Angel Stadium         a. 1912
2. Dodger Stadium      b. 1914
3. Fenway Park           c. 1962
4. Kauffman Stadium   d. 1966
5. Wrigley Field           e. 1973

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=e, 5=b

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