Posts tagged ‘volunteerism’

March 14, 2014

5 Lessons Moses Can Teach Us about Fundraising

Moses can teach us a number of important things about fundraising. Yes, that Moses, the prophet revered by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and other religious faiths throughout the world.

Consider just one story from the Bible that usually receives little attention.

Moses by rorris via FlickrOver 3,000 years ago, after fleeing slavery in Egypt, the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. During this time, God instructed Moses to have the people build a Tabernacle, a movable tent-like structure where the Hebrews could worship and experience the presence of God.

Special materials, fabrics, and precious stones and metals were needed for the project. So, Moses told the Hebrews about the project and shared with them what was needed. Then, he made a request to “everyone whose hearts so move them.” Moses asked them to “bring gifts for God” so that the Tabernacle could be built.

The Hebrews responded with great generosity by providing the needed materials and volunteer labor. Moses, overwhelmed by the volume of gifts received, actually had to instruct people to stop bringing gifts. No more were needed for the project.

Here are five things every fundraiser can learn from this story and the wisdom of Moses:

February 28, 2014

Warning: US Volunteerism at a Decade Low!

The rate of volunteerism in America fell to the lowest level in a decade, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report Volunteering in the United States — 2013.  This appears part of a downward trend.

Nonprofit organizations should find this trend alarming for a number of reasons, including:

Volunteers provide an essential labor pool. Approximately 62.6 million (25.4 percent) Americans volunteered at least once between September 2012 and September 2013.

The median volunteer spent 50 hours on volunteer activities during the study period. These significant volunteer hours mean that volunteers are a valuable part of the nonprofit labor force. Declining volunteerism rates mean charities will either have to limit services, discontinue certain activities, or pay for employees to perform the tasks formerly handled by volunteers.

Volunteers serve as ambassadors. Individuals who volunteer usually act as ambassadors for the organization. They obviously have a high-degree of interest in the organization, which is why they volunteer with it.

Through volunteer experiences, provided they are good ones, the volunteers will become more engaged with the organization and more passionate about its work. They will speak of the organization with family and friends. When they do, it will be in a positive, passionate tone. This word-of-mouth promotion will help your organization to attract additional volunteer and donor support.

Volunteers are more likely to donate. The more engaged an individual is with his community, the more likely he is to volunteer and contribute money to nonprofit organizations. The more points of connection there are between an individual and a particular nonprofit organization, the more likely that individual is to give, give often, and give generously to that organization, as I point out in my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

Volunteerism is an important point of connection. This phenomenon is explained, in part, by the Social Capital Theory popularized by Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone.

Volunteers are more likely to make planned gifts. Consider what researcher Russell James, JD, PhD, CFP reports in his book, American Charitable Bequest Demographics (1992-2012):

Among those with [estate] planning documents, those who both volunteer and give ($500+) are dramatically more likely to plan a charitable estate gift than those who only volunteer or only give ($500+). Those who only volunteer, plan charitable estate gifts at approximately the same rate as those who only give.”

Graph from American Charitable Bequest Demographics (1992-2012) by Russell James.

Graph from American Charitable Bequest Demographics (1992-2012) by Russell James.

Furthermore, those who only volunteer or only donate ($500+) are more than twice as likely to make a legacy gift than those who do neither.

For a free electronic copy of James’ book, subscribe to this blog site in the right-hand column. You’ll receive an email confirmation of your subscription that will contain a link to the book.

Clearly, the steady decline in volunteerism represents a serious problem for the nonprofit sector.

So, why is volunteerism on the decline? Unfortunately, the reasons for the decline are unclear. However, the report contains some clues.

January 31, 2014

Avoid Making Faulty Assumptions about Donor Loyalty

Loyal supporters are valuable assets for every nonprofit organization.

Unfortunately, there is an alarming lack of understanding about the definition of “loyal supporter.” Before we address that issue, however, let’s look briefly at why loyal donors are so important.

Because it’s more cost-efficient to retain donors than acquire new ones, loyal donors allow charity fundraising programs to operate more efficiently. The lifetime value of such donors is greater. More money, more cost-effectively raised means more funds for mission fulfillment.

Interestingly, loyal donors also exhibit greater engagement tendencies as researchers Adrian Sargeant, PhD and Elaine Jay, PhD observed in their book Building Donor Loyalty:

Donors who remain loyal are also much more likely to engage with the organization in other ways. Long-term donors are significantly more likely than single-gift donors to offer additional gifts in response to emergency appeals, to volunteer, to upgrade their gift levels, to lobby for the organization, to actively seek out other donors on the organization’s behalf, to buy from a gift catalogue, and to promote the organization to friends and acquaintances.”

Sargeant and Jay even quantify the value of this additional activity. In their experience, they have seen that such activities can increase donor lifetime value by 150 to 200 percent.

Increasingly, charities are coming to appreciate the benefits of having loyal donors. For example, progressively more development professionals understand that loyal supporters make the best planned giving prospects.

This raises the question: Who is a “loyal supporter?”

In the context of planned gift marketing, one development professional recently defined loyalty as a combination of giving frequency, giving recency, and cumulative giving amount. I agree, but only to a point.

Cover- Building Donor Loyalty -- click to see book at AmazonFirst, as Sargeant and Jay describe in their book, loyalty can be either passive or active. Passively loyal donors might give because their friends give, because they want to do something while they continue to search for the charity that is just right, or even because of inertia. By contrast, actively loyal donors care passionately about the organization and its mission. They identify with the values of the organization and regard donations to it as an essential, rather than discretionary, part of their personal budgets.

When it comes to fundraising, actively loyal donors are the only truly loyal donors. In other words, not all regular donors rise to the level of being loyal supporters.

Second, people can be loyal supporters without being donors. They even can be so intensely loyal that they make a generous legacy commitment.

March 25, 2013

Special Report: PPPGP Recognizes Michael J. Rosen

The Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Philadelphia has recognized Michael J. Rosen, CFRE for his board service. Allen F. Thomas, JD, CFRE, CAP, President of PPPGP, presented Rosen with a certificate during PPPGP’s March 22, 2013 luncheon program.

Rosen recognized by PPPGP

Michael Rosen (left) receives recognition certificate from Allen Thomas.

Rosen, the President of ML Innovations, served on the PPPGP board from 2007 through 2012. During that time, he held a variety of positions including Chair of the Programming Committee, Vice President, President, and Immediate Past President.

During his tenure, PPPGP achieved a great deal despite the challenging economic situation. PPPGP’s annual conference saw a 33 percent increase in attendance. The number of members set a new record high. The budget was balanced and the cash reserve was enhanced while PPPGP held the line on costs to its members. Additional programs were initiated including roundtable meetings and a nationally recognized two-day fundamentals of planned giving workshop. 

PPPGP also added networking opportunities and a mentoring program. The organization also enhanced its website to include a jobs board and a regular ethics column. PPPGP also created the Legacy Award for Planned Giving Philanthropist of the Year. In addition, the organization changed its name from the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia to the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Philadelphia to be more inclusive and more representative of the philanthropic planning process.

March 1, 2013

World Giving Index Reveals Bad News & More Bad News

Between 2010 and 2011, the world witnessed a sharp fall in generosity as global economic growth slowed. The number of people who have donated money, volunteered time and helped a stranger has fallen significantly.

For the United States, there is even more bad news. The US lost the distinction of being the world’s most “generous country,” falling back to fifth place.

This bad news comes from The World Giving Index 2012The Charities Aid Foundation,  an international charity based in the United Kingdom, published the findings recently. The report, compiled from survey data provided by Gallup, ranks charitable behavior in 148 nations. CAF bases the rankings on three measures:

Have you done any of the following in the past month?:

  • Donated money to a charity?
  • Volunteered your time to an organisation?
  • Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?”

The CAF report reveals, “In 2010, 65 percent of Americans said that they had donated money to charity in the previous month. That figure fell by eight percentage points to 57 percent in 2011.” This helps explain the American drop in the rankings.

The news for Australia is much better as that nation reclaimed the number one spot. “In a typical month, more than two-thirds of Australians donate money to charity and help a stranger. More than a third volunteer,” according to the report.

 

World Giving Index 2012 Map

World Giving Index 2012 — Map with Country Rank

 

In 2011, the top ten most giving countries were:

February 15, 2013

Do Not Let This Happen to Your Organization

It happened recently to a prestigious private school.

New York’s Dalton School inappropriately released private alumni information to its volunteer fundraisers. The New York The Dalton School by DiegoDacal via FlickrTimes reported the blunder that sent a shockwave through the School’s community and may have a chilling effect on fundraising.

Do not let this happen to your organization.

While volunteer and professional fundraisers must have useful information to effectively perform, organizations must protect sensitive items and keep them confidential. I’m going to provide you with eight tips that will help you keep your organization safe and your prospects and donors happy.

But first, let me tell you what went wrong at Dalton. Here’s what The New York Times reported this month:

But recently, one of the top Manhattan private schools, the Dalton School, might have been a little too open with the data it had about some graduates. The school said [February 7] that it had given out to some alumni who had volunteered to raise money for Dalton information about several other alumni whose own children had applied to the school. The information included whether those children had been admitted, information that most parents prefer not to be shared, especially in cases where the answer is no.”

It is common and acceptable practice for nonprofit organizations to share prospect and donor information with both volunteer and professional fundraisers. Such information often includes contact information, spouse or partner data, affiliation, giving history, volunteer involvement, event participation, and interests.

Dalton ran into trouble when it disseminated information about whether the children of prospects applied for admission and were rejected by the School.

The Times article quoted an upset alumna:

’It’s horrible,’ said one alumna who has been financially supportive of the school, and like nearly everyone interviewed about what happened, declined to be identified for fear of upsetting school leaders. ‘Why should anyone know how much I have given and whether my kid got in or didn’t get in or even applied?’” 

Prospects and donors care about their privacy. They do not want to feel that they are being spied on. They do not want private information about themselves or, especially, their children disseminated to friends and acquaintances. Dalton overstepped by releasing admissions information about alumni children, something acknowledged by the School:

’We apologize for and deeply regret the release of this information,’ said the letter, written by Ellen Stein, the head of school. ‘We are reviewing our protocols to ensure that information about the admissions status of all Dalton families and applicants is protected and remains confidential. We have reached out to apologize personally to those 11 alumni whose names were listed.’” 

While I applaud Dalton for reviewing its data protocols after the inappropriate release of private information, it would have been far better if it had had this review before a problem occurred. You now have that opportunity.

Before a crisis happens at your organization, take the time to review your organization’s own prospect research and information sharing protocols.

Here are some tips to guide you during your review:

January 18, 2013

Is MLK Day Just Another Day Off?

On Monday, January 21, Americans will celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This is a national holiday rooted in the country’s core MLK Day logoideals.

“Service is a powerful way for citizens, nonprofits, the private sector and government to work together to meet critical needs and advance King’s dream of opportunity for all,” states the Corporation for National and Community Service. “MLK Day is an opportunity for Americans to put the core American principles of citizenship and service into action.”

These core ideals go back to the birth of the country. Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th century French historian and political writer, made a number of observations about America including:

The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

“I must say that I have seen Americans make great and real sacrifices to the public welfare; and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend faithful support to one another.”

“If a stoppage occurs in a thoroughfare, and the circulation of the public is hindered, the neighbors immediately constitute a deliberative body; and this extemporaneous assembly gives rise to an executive power which remedies the inconvenience before anybody has thought of recurring to an authority superior to that of the persons immediately concerned.”

It is an American tradition that when we see a problem, we often will seek to solve it. We are not content to sit back, whine, and hope the government will take care of it for us. Certainly, government has its role. However, at the heart of the American democratic spirit is the notion of private citizen action to help one another and our society in general.

Volunteers do much good for our society. They also form an important force that allows our democracy to thrive. On MLK Day, hundreds of thousands of people will volunteer joining the millions who do so throughout the year. This call to service makes MLK Day unique among American national holidays.

43 percent of Americans volunteered in 2011, according to The World Giving Index 2011. The world average was 21 percent. Only four other nations ranked higher than the US for volunteerism in 2011 (Turkmenistan, Liberia, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan).

In the US, 42 percent of men and 44 percent of women volunteer. By age group, the percentage of the population that volunteered in 2011 breaks out as follows:

December 24, 2012

Special Message for the Holiday Season

This holiday season, 46 percent of survey respondents say that they find the holiday season joyous while 42 percent find it stressful, and 12 percent just are not sure how they feel. The survey was conducted by Rasmussen.

My wish for you and yours is that your holiday and the coming year are filled with more joy and less stress.

To help relieve some of the stress you might be feeling and to give you hope for 2013, I want to share two items with you:

First, The Spectator has published a report exploring “Why 2012 was the Best Year Ever.” The article asserts that in 2012 there has been less hunger, less disease and more prosperity than at any other time in history. We’re all accustomed to the doom-and-gloom reports from the media. This article represents a refreshing departure from that negativity.

December 14, 2012

#GivingTuesday: Hype or Hope?

A headline at Bloomberg excitedly gushed, “Why GivingTuesday is the Social Innovation Idea of the Year. 

We’ve had Black Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. We’ve had Cyber Monday on the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving. Now, on the heels of those two days dedicated to consumerism, we have Giving Tuesday, as a way to promote philanthropy on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

It’s certainly a seemingly good idea. But, is the Bloomberg headline true? Does #GivingTuesday offer the nonprofit sector great hope, or is it just well-intentioned hype?

#GivingTuesday is an initiative created by New York’s 92nd Street Y which has served as the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday. Early on, the United Nations Foundation joined as a partner, bringing its strategic and communications expertise to the project. Eventually, over 2,000 additional partners were attracted. The initiative’s official mission statement is:

#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.”

But, so what? While it’s nice that #GivingTuesday “celebrates and encourages charitable activities,” what has the first #GivingTuesday really accomplished?

On the #GivingTuesday website, Rob Reich, Co-Director of the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University is quoted as saying:

#GivingTuesday has a simple aim: to establish a national day of giving during the holiday season of gratitude and generosity of spirit that will inspire Americans young and old, online and offline, red and blue, urban and rural. I joined #GivingTuesday because the aim is simple and the mission undeniably good: to increase charitable giving by all Americans.”

While time will tell if #GivingTuesday helps “increase charitable giving by all Americans,” I contacted The Associate: Jewish Community Federation of Greater Baltimore to gain some insight regarding the impact of #GivingTuesday.

According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Associated was #GivingTuesday’s “most successful charity,” having raised over $1 million.

MoneyLeslie Pomerantz, Senior Vice President of Development at The Associated, told me she learned about #GivingTuesday and was immediately intrigued. The Associated, at the height of its campaign season, was looking for ways to excite donors, and was looking for fresh reasons to involve people. #GivingTuesday presented a great marketing opportunity for The Associated to remind its community of its philanthropic values.

Through email and advertisements, The Associated promoted #GivingTuesday. In addition, it scheduled a massive phonathon for November 27. The effort attracted over 100 volunteers and engaged 30 staff members. While not as large as its autumn Super-Sunday phonathon that involves hundreds of volunteers, the #GivingTuesday outreach contacted previous donors who had yet to renew their support. The effort also reached out to some non-donors who had some type of connection to the organization.

October 26, 2012

5 Fundraising Lessons from a 10-Year-Old and UNICEF

As Halloween approaches, I’m reminded of my childhood years trick-or-treating. I was good at bringing home a huge haul of candy. And, I was also pretty good at collecting money.

Let me explain.

In elementary school, my teacher distributed UNICEF boxes to students. I think I was around 10-years-old when I received my first orange-and-black box. The colors of the box immediately caught my attention because they just happened to be our school colors.

When my teacher explained that UNICEF helps children in need around the world, my friends and I were revved-up to help by raising money from our neighbors.

Collecting for UNICEF was not my first fundraising experience, but it did teach me five valuable lessons that continue to serve me well all these many decades later:

To get, you have to ask.

As a kid, I knew I had two choices on Halloween; I could 1) sit at home and not have any candy, or 2) put on a costume, knock on doors, and ask for candy. Even as a 10-year-old, it didn’t take much effort to figure out that if I wanted to eat candy, I had to get off my rear-end, and go ask for it.

Well, the same principle applied to UNICEF. If I wanted to have money in my box to help kids in need when I returned to school, I’d have to ask for it.

I think you’ll agree that I discovered a pretty simple principle. But, if it’s so simple, why do so many development professionals avoid asking?

At one major, prestigious university medical school, the major gift officers would not get out from behind their desks to go visit prospective donors. Sure, they’d go on the road occasionally, but they never saw as many alumni as they could or should have. To solve the problem overnight, the head of advancement got rid of the offices. Yes, it was an extreme move. No, it was not a particularly elegant solution.

The thinking was that the major gift officers couldn’t hide in their offices if there were no offices. When they were on-campus, they could work in a bullpen to set appointments. Without an office or even a desk of their own, being on campus wasn’t very comfortable. So, some of the major gift officers quit while the others went out and started asking more people for donations. The school started raising much more money.

Give first.

When my teacher distributed the UNICEF boxes, she explained what the organization would do with the money. Then, she asked us if we would agree to raise money to help kids in need. When we all agreed, the teacher added something else. She said that she wanted us to ask others to give only after we had donated first. She told us that we couldn’t expect others to support UNICEF if we weren’t willing to do so.

Peter Benoliel, Chairman-Emeritus of Quaker Chemical, is a generous philanthropist and recipient of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Philadelphia’s Legacy Award for Planned Giving Philanthropist. In my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, I share five suggestions Benoliel offered to development professionals to help make them more effective. One of his suggestions was that “staff and volunteer fundraisers should be morally armed by making their own donation first.”

It was a great lesson to learn early. When I was standing in a neighbor’s doorway with my orange-and-black box, I was able to say something like, “I’ve donated what I can to UNICEF. Can you please give something to help needy kids, too?” There was no way an adult was going to say “No” to a little kid after that.

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