Posts tagged ‘potential’

January 10, 2014

How Much is a Story Worth?

We all enjoy a good story. Sometimes, a story will make us sad or happy. It might even make us laugh or inspire us. But, how much is a story worth to a fundraising professional?

A few days ago, I read a news article out of Lincoln, Nebraska. No, the piece was not about the bone-chilling temperatures resulting from the Polar Vortex. Instead, it was a heart-warming tale about an 18-year-old server.

When two men recently visited the Cracker Barrel restaurant, they asked the hostess to seat them at a table staffed by the grumpiest server. They explained they wanted to cheer-up the person.

The hostess explained that Cracker Barrel did not have any unhappy servers; so, instead, she would seat them at a table staffed by the happiest server.

After placing their order, the men asked Abigail Sailors why she was so happy. Over the course of the meal, she answered their questions.

Abigail Sailors

Abigail Sailors (photo by Morgan Spiehs/Lincoln Journal Star)

Years ago, Abigail’s parents were involved in a tragic car crash. Her mother had suffered a severe brain injury. Her father could not care for the children by himself.

Following the crash, Abigail and her four siblings were placed into foster care, in separate homes. Abigail was abused and bounced from home to home.

When Abigail, a sister and brother were returned home to their father, the story did not reach its happily-ever-after moment. Instead, the father was ultimately arrested for abuse.

Then, nine years ago, John and Susi Sailors rescued the five children and cared for them alongside their own five offspring. Abigail and her siblings were finally together in a secure, loving home.

After talking about her past, Abigail spoke about her present and future. She had attended one semester at Trinity Bible College in North Dakota. She paid her own way. Unfortunately, she did not have enough money to return. So, she is working at Cracker Barrel and saving her earnings so she can go back to Trinity or study on-line.

Given where she has come from, where she is, and where she is going is why she is so happy, Abigail told her customers.

As the two gentlemen finished their meals, wrapped up the conversation, and prepared to leave, they did something remarkable. Actually, four things that are remarkable:

January 3, 2014

Do You Have an Attitude Problem?

[Publisher’s Note: Have you read any good books about charities or fundraising? If so, click here to share your favorite title by January 10 and you could win a free, award-winning book.]

  

Has anyone ever accused you of having an attitude problem?

I hope so.

If you don’t have an attitude problem, I encourage you to develop one. For your sake. For the sake of your organization. For the sake of the nonprofit sector. You can even make it your 2014 New Year Resolution.

I’m not suggesting you cultivate a bad attitude. Instead, I’m encouraging you to shake up the status quo regardless of what others might think. I want you to challenge conventional wisdom in an intelligent way.

Remember, if some of our ancestors had not had an attitude problem, we’d still be living in caves.

Let me share two stories that will illustrate what I mean.

I quite fondly remember the very first time someone told me I had an attitude problem. It was Mrs. Imperiali, my first-grade teacher. Mrs. Imperiali, her real name, asked the class, “What’s the Eager Studentsmartest animal in the world?” I immediately raised my hand. When Mrs. Imperiali called on me, I confidently answered, “Dolphins.”

My response puzzled my teacher. She asked, “Why dolphins?” I told her, “Because they don’t kill each other for no reason.”

Mrs. Imperiali snapped, “Mister, you have an attitude problem!”

I need to point out here that, when I was in the first grade, it was during the height of the Vietnam War. I guess Mrs. Imperiali didn’t appreciate what she believed was the anti-war sentiment of my response. However, since I believed in my answer, I did not take my teacher’s criticism as a negative. As a result, I’ve worn the attitude-problem label with pride, not shame, my entire life.

In case you’re wondering, the answer Mrs. Imperiali was going for was “humans.” As it turned out, she had designed her lesson plan to demonstrate that humans are part of the animal kingdom. Oh well.

A couple decades later, I met Carol Buchanan Daws at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Like me, Carol had an attitude problem.

As the Assistant to the Museum Director, Carol was responsible for the back-office processing of museum memberships. Despite being the oldest natural science research institution and museum in the Western Hemisphere, the Academy only had a token membership program and no Director of Membership.

Carol saw an opportunity to grow the membership program. She repeatedly told her boss about the potential of the membership program. Unfortunately, the Museum Director was content with the status quo. So, Carol did the only natural thing she could do: She kept nudging him about it.

Finally, when the Museum Director was sufficiently annoyed or, perhaps, convinced, he appointed Carol Director of Membership.

November 8, 2013

Free, Electronic Bequest-Potential Calculator Unveiled

Smart fundraising professionals realize the value of understanding their nonprofit organization’s planned giving potential. Unfortunately, it has not always been easy to quantify that potential, until now.

Bequest Potential CalculatorCharities that do not have a planned giving program will want to know how much money their organization can raise through such a program before they decide whether a budget investment would be worthwhile.

Nonprofit organizations that already engage in planned giving will want to know whether their program is achieving all it can or if there is room for significant growth.

Nonprofit Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, and board members, will want to know the potential of planned giving before they agree to invest scarce budget resources in a program to acquire planned gifts.

To help fundraising professionals gauge their organization’s planned giving potential, I included a “Bequest Potential Worksheet” in my award-winning book Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. Now, I’ve collaborated with Greg Warner and his team at MarketSmart to develop the free, electronic Bequest Potential Calculator.

November 1, 2013

6 Ways to Raise More Money without New Donors!

If you achieve your fundraising goal this year, your reward will likely be an increased goal next year. At most nonprofit organizations, the struggle to raise ever-increasing amounts of money never ends. This drives many nonprofits into a continuous donor-acquisition mode.

However, you don’t need a single new donor to raise more money.

Given that the cost to acquire a new donor is often $1, or more, for every $1 raised, finding a new donor does not even help most organizations with short-term mission fulfillment.

So, how can you raise significantly more money for mission fulfillment without acquiring new donors? Here are just six ideas:

1. Ask for More. I still receive direct mail appeals that say, “Whatever you can give will be appreciated.” Ugh! That’s not an ask. If you want people to give, and give more, you need to state your case for support. Then, you need to ask for that support in the correct way.

Many charities simply seek renewal gifts. If I gave $50, the charity will simply ask me to renew my $50 support. Sometimes, a charity will randomly ask me for an amount series (i.e.: $100, $250, or more) that has nothing to do with my previous level of support.

However, there is a better way. Try saying this:

I thank you for your gift of $50 last year that helped us achieve __________. This year, as we strive to __________, may I count on you to increase your support to $75 or $100?”

Thank the donor. Mention how the organization used her previous gift. Establish the current case for support. Ask for a modest increase linked to the amount of the previous gift. A hospital in New York state tested this approach against its traditional approach and saw a 68% increase in giving.

2. Second Gift Appeal. Just because someone has given your organization money does not mean you have to wait a year to ask for more. If you first properly thank the donor and report on how his gift has been put to use, you can then approach him for a second gift. However, you need to have a good case for going back to the well.

Growing Money by Images_of_Money via FlickrMost grassroots donors don’t think, “What’s my annual philanthropic sense of responsibility to this charity? Fine. That’s how much I’ll give.” Instead, most grassroots donors look at the charity they wish to support and then consider how much money they have left over after they pay the monthly bills. Then, they give from that reservoir of disposable income. Guess what? Next month, and every month thereafter, that reservoir usually gets replenished. So, going back to the donor for an additional gift can work, again, if you have a strong case for support. By the way, the replenishing disposable income reservoir is one reason why monthly donor programs can be effective (see below).

3. Recruit Monthly Donors. Way back in 1989, I wrote an article for Donor Developer in which I predicted that every nonprofit in America would have a monthly donor program within five years. Sadly, I was very mistaken. Even in 2013, too few charities host a monthly donor program.

October 19, 2012

Latest Stelter Report Flawed but Still Insightful

Earlier this month, The Stelter Company presented the findings of its latest research project at the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning’s 2012 National Conference on Philanthropic Planning. What Makes Them Give: 2012 Stelter Donor Insight Report is the Company’s third study of planned giving in the United States.

As a nerd and as the winner of the 2011 Association of Fundraising Professionals/Skystone Partners Prize for Research in Fundraising and Philanthropy, I enjoyed reading the report. And, I thank The Stelter Company for adding to the nonprofit sector’s base of knowledge.

While flawed, the report does offer some interesting tidbits. This post will examine some of the useful tidbits and problematic flaws. Some of the insights are new while others will confirm what experienced gift planners have long known or suspected.

Many Planned Givers Are NOT Loyal Donors

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that 21 percent of those who have made a planned gift “never donated to the charity before putting a planned gift in place.” An additional 20 percent did give to the charity prior to making a planned gift, but did so for less than five years.

The conventional wisdom has been that loyal donors make the best planned giving prospects. However, the report shows that 41 percent of planned gift donors are outside of the loyal-donor model. This underscores the importance of making planned gift messaging ubiquitous.

Planned Givers Are NOT Always Large Current Donors

Among those who have made a planned gift and who have also made an annual giving donation to the charity, 40 percent gave less than $500. Only 16 percent have given $5,000 or more. While the old donor pyramid, where small donors become major donors and then become planned gift donors, may be true for many, the vast majority of planned gift donors have not first been major donors.

This means that, when looking for prospective planned gift donors, development professionals must consider the organization’s entire database. This includes large donors, medium donors, small donors, and even non-donors.

Bequest Giving is the Most Popular Planned Gift

The study found that “a bequest is the most popular vehicle for planned giving.” The report confirms what has been a long-held belief among gift planners and a fact that I included in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

This is good news for all nonprofit organizations. Virtually all nonprofits can easily and inexpensively promote bequest giving. For those organizations with a bit more expertise and resources, a bequest conversation or a bequest commitment may provide a gateway for a conversation with the donor about more complex giving vehicles. If the market finds a bequest to be the most popular form of planned giving, savvy planned gift marketers will take notice and market accordingly. On the other hand, bequest giving may be the most popular vehicle because it is the one that is already most widely promoted by the nonprofit sector; perhaps this should be examined in a future study.

Many Planned Givers Are Reluctant to Tell the Charity

Among those who have made a planned gift, 49 percent say that they have not told the charity. This raises an important question not asked as part of this study: Why haven’t you told the charity?

I suspect that many donors simply consider their estate planning a private matter and, therefore, choose not to disclose a planned gift provision to the charity that will benefit. I also suspect that others do not want recognition from the charity that they suspect will lead to more pressure to give more either to that charity or another nonprofit organization that takes notice. But, the biggest reason for nondisclosure may simply be that donors do not understand the value of disclosure to themselves and to the organization. Development professionals need to do a better job of articulating the benefits of disclosure to encourage more donors to do it.

Planned Givers and Prospects Use Social Media

A majority of planned gift donors and prospects surveyed use at least one of five social media networks tested:

–Facebook, 39 percent

–Google Plus, 19 percent

–LinkedIn, 17 percent

–Twitter, 6 percent

–MyLife, 1 percent

The report found, “Almost one-fourth of major donors, current planned givers and best prospects in their 40s would like to connect with nonprofits on Facebook.” Donors and prospects are using social media. Smart development professionals will meet donors and prospects where they are. This means including social media in the marketing mix.

Few People Are Asked for a Planned Gift

Only 26 percent of planned gift donors and best prospects — “people who say they will definitely or probably make a planned gift in the future” — say they have received a letter or email about planned giving. Only 17 percent say they have been asked directly for a planned gift.

If nonprofit organizations want more planned gifts, they need to ask more people, more often, and in the right way. With so few people receiving direct planned giving communications, there is not a high-degree of competition. On the other hand, this means tremendous potential.

While What Makes Them Give contains some useful and valuable information, I have some issues with other elements of the report:

October 12, 2012

Be Where Your Donor Prospects Are

I recently came across an advertisement from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The ad appeared in The Jewish Exponent. While the ad itself was not particularly remarkable, the mere fact it existed in a weekly newspaper in Philadelphia did strike me as noteworthy.

Let me explain what made the ad special.

The Museum, with its home in Washington, DC, was not promoting a special exhibition. It was not encouraging visitation at all. Instead, it was a fundraising ad. In recognition of its upcoming 20th anniversary, the Museum ran the ad to promote a special challenge grant designed to encourage people to make a planned gift to the institution.

I’m not going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the ad itself. I’m not even going to distract you with an image of the ad. While the ad promoted planned giving, the important lesson here is applicable to any development effort. Therefore, instead of focusing on the content of the ad, I want to focus on where the ad appeared.

I did not see the ad in one of the Museum’s publications, though it may have appeared there. I’m not a donor or member. I saw the ad in an independent publication, read by those who may or may not be current Museum supporters.

Most nonprofit organizations market to existing donors and/or members. With 170,000 members, the Museum certainly has plenty of people to market to. And, it does. But, given the special occasion of its 20th anniversary, the Museum sought to broaden its outreach.

By placing an ad in the Exponent, the Museum has reached tens of thousands of Jewish people who may not currently support the institution and who may or may not have even visited. Nevertheless, these individuals may have an enormous interest in helping the Museum to secure its future.

When looking to broaden its outreach, the Museum looked at who its likely supporters would be. Then, it considered where those potential supporters are. To reach engaged Jewish people in a nearby metropolitan area, the Museum wisely chose the Exponent.

The Museum did not simply make a wish that folks would visit its website. Its development team did not rely on public service announcements broadcast to a broader population at four o’clock in the morning. No. The Museum proactively targeted an appropriately defined market segment and met those individuals where they spend time: in the pages of the Exponent.

Whether seeking planned giving, annual fund, capital campaign, membership, or special event support, it is certainly important to market to those closest to the organization, those already engaged. However, to acquire new donors, members, or participants, organizations need to look carefully at potential target populations and, then, determine where to find those individuals.

In short, nonprofit organizations need to be where their prospective donors are.

Why is this vitally important? Consider this planned giving finding from The 2012 Stelter Donor Insight Report: What Makes Them Give?:

October 5, 2012

Impact of Nonprofit Sector: More than Most People Think

Do you know the impact of your nonprofit organization?

Chances are, I probably got you thinking about the people your organization benefits, its core mission.

The public recognizes that reputable nonprofit organizations benefit the people they serve. However, people tend not to think beyond that impact. Even among nonprofit professionals, maybe even you, the focus tends to be on those served directly.

However, nonprofit organizations have a far broader impact. Yes, hospitals heal patients; universities educate students; symphony orchestras entertain audiences; museums expand our minds; disease research foundations seek cures. But, beyond their core missions, nonprofit organizations do much more for society.

Despite being tax exempt, nonprofit organizations generate tax revenue. They employ people, and those people pay income taxes and sales taxes. They help support local businesses such as furniture retailers, office supply stores, restaurants, hotels, and many others. Those businesses, in turn, pay taxes and employ staff.

Simply put, nonprofit organizations have a profound economic ripple effect. Their benefit to society goes far beyond those they serve.

Recently, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance sought to quantify the economic impact of the arts and cultural nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area. The result of GPCA’s effort is the report The Arts, Culture and Economic Prosperity in Greater Philadelphia. 

Generating 44,000 full-time equivalent jobs, Philadelphia’s arts and culture sector has a profound $3.3 billion impact on the region’s economy including $1 billion to local residents in the form of paychecks and household income and $169 million in tax revenues for state and local governments, according to the research report.

The report also compares Philadelphia against 181 other cities, regions and communities to show how Philadelphia and its cultural community stack up against the rest of the country. Among participating regions, Southeastern Pennsylvania’s cultural sector ranks first in job creation, accounting for 11 jobs per thousand residents, nearly double the national average.

GPCA says that key findings in the report are:

August 3, 2012

New Economic Data Suggest Continued Fundraising Challenges. What Can You Do?

Based on the latest economic data, nonprofit organizations in the USA should not expect significant growth in philanthropy through at least 2013. Fortunately, there are at least 10 things you can do to help your nonprofit weather the storm.

Historically, philanthropy in the USA has been approximately two percent of Gross Domestic Product. While this is not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship, the correlation is consistent. Therefore, with slow economic growth, we will likely see slow philanthropic growth.

In 2011, the US experienced an annual GDP growth rate of 1.8 percent. That same year, overall giving rose by 4.0 percent in current dollars or 0.9 percent in inflation adjusted dollars, according to Giving USA 2012.

In the first quarter of 2012, the US economy grew at a rate of 2.0 percent. In the second quarter of 2012, US economic growth slowed to just 1.5 percent. Most economists agree that a growth rate of 2.0 percent or less is insufficient to lower the unemployment rate, now at 8.2 percent. Looking ahead to 2013, the Federal Reserve forecasts a growth rate of 2.5 percent, still modest.

For the nonprofit sector, the GDP numbers mean the sector can expect philanthropy to grow in 2012 at a similar rate to 2011. Growth in 2013 will likely not be much better.

Despite my lack luster predictions for the nonprofit sector, I do believe there are at least 10 things that individual organizations can do to stimulate increased giving. If you implement just some of these ideas, your organization will likely achieve above average fundraising results:

1. Hug your donors. Ok, maybe not literally. But, you do need to let your donors know you love and appreciate them, now more than ever. Do you quickly acknowledge gifts? You should do so within 48 hours. Do you effectively thank donors? You should do so in at least seven different ways. Your thank you letters should be reviewed to ensure they are heartfelt, meaningful, and effective. Have board members call donors to thank them.

2. Tell donors about the impact of their gift. Donors want to know that their giving is making a difference. If their giving isn’t making a difference or they aren’t sure, they’re more likely to give elsewhere. So, report to your donors. Tell them what their giving is achieving and that their support is being used efficiently.

3. Start a new recognition program. One small nonprofit organization I know has started a new, special corporate giving club. CEOs of the corporate members are placed on an advisory board, receive special recognition, and are provided with networking opportunities. This new recognition program has already generated over $50,000 and is expected to generate far more. While enhancing existing recognition efforts is beneficial, starting a new recognition program can yield significant results.

June 22, 2012

Giving USA 2012 Released, Donations Up Slightly

Total philanthropic giving in 2011 was $298.42 billion, up from a revised estimate of $286.91 billion for 2010.

That’s the finding presented in Giving USA 2012, the report just released by The Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.

While the uptick of 4.0 percent in giving in current dollars is positive news, it represents an increase of just 0.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. At this rate of growth, it will take more than a decade for giving to return to its pre-recession 2007 level, according to Patrick M. Rooney, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Center on Philanthropy. Rooney was in Philadelphia to present the major findings of the report. Rooney stated:

The estimates for giving in 2011 are encouraging, but they demonstrate that charities still face ongoing challenges. In the past two years, charitable giving has experienced its second slowest recovery following any recession since 1971.”

Giving in 2012 and 2013 is likely to experience the same slow growth as we saw in 2011. On the same day that Rooney was in Philadelphia, the U.S. Federal Reserve issued its multi-year forecast of change in Gross Domestic Product. The Fed projects GDP will continue to grow at a modest rate. For 2012, the projected GDP growth rate is 2.2 percent. For 2013, the Fed projects GDP growth of 2.5 percent. This is important news for all Americans, particularly those in the nonprofit sector.

In 2011, giving was 2 percent of GDP. Since giving has been tracked, philanthropy has always been about 2 percent of GDP. If this correlation rate continues, the nonprofit sector can expect continued slow growth in philanthropy in 2012 and 2013 as GDP is projected to grow only modestly.

Once again, the majority of philanthropic dollars came from Individuals, who accounted for 73 percent of total giving, the same percentage as the prior year. If Bequest and Family Foundation giving is included, the percentage would be 88 percent.

Individual giving as a percentage of disposable personal income remained at 1.9 percent in 2011, the same as in 2009 and 2010; this is far below the high of 2.4 percent achieved in 2005.

The report estimates estate giving at $24.41 billion in 2011, a 12.2 percent increase over 2010 (8.8 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars). Bequest giving represented 8 percent of total giving. Two-thirds of Americans with a will have included a charitable bequest provision, according to Robert I. Evans, Founder and Managing Director of EHL Consulting Group, who co-presented with Rooney. Fluctuations in bequest giving in recent years are primarily due to the major changes in real estate and stock portfolio values. Rooney also observed that the 300 wealthiest deceased individuals determine whether bequest giving goes up or down.

June 9, 2012

How Much is a Bequest Commitment Worth?

A charitable bequest commitment has tremendous value for the organization receiving it. The value may be even greater than you realize. Bequest commitments are valuable in three important ways:

 

1.  Future Money

For donors, a charitable bequest commitment is an easy painless way to give. It’s a way even middle-class donors can be “major donors.” While most people cannot afford to make a huge cash gift to a nonprofit they love, most can make substantial gifts upon death. This is particularly important during economic hard or uncertain times. A bequest commitment allows donors to show their significant support for their favorite charities without having to deplete current cash resources.

For nonprofit organizations, bequests allow more money to flow into the organization than would otherwise be the case. And, the organization will not even necessarily need to wait decades for the donor to die and for the gift to be realized. Depending on the age and health of the donor, the bequest gift might be realized in a surprisingly short time period.

Many people have tried to estimate the value of the average bequest gift in the US. I’ve seen a range of numbers used. The consensus figure I used in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, is $35,000. However, that’s not a particularly useful figure since there is such a massive range in the size of actual bequest gifts that individuals make.

So, researcher Russell N. James, III, JD, PhD, CFP®, Director of Graduate Studies in Charitable Planning at Texas Tech University, looked at how bequest giving compares with annual giving. In his AFP International Conference presentation, “The Presence and Timing of Charitable Estate Planning: New Research Findings,” James revealed the following about Americans over the age of 50:

 

 Total Estate Value

Annual Giving Multiple  

 < $100,000

0.15  

 $100,000 – < $500,000

1.89  

 $500,000 – < $1,000,000

3.73  

 $1,000,000 – < $5,000,000

8.12  

 $5,000,000+

11.65  

 TOTAL

5.07  

 

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