March 30, 2022

Does High Inflation Make You Fear for Your Fundraising Efforts?

There’s no doubt. Nonprofit organizations face fundraising challenges that they have not seen for decades. Nevertheless, opportunities remain even as the latest economic news has not been good:

Consumer Sentiment: The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for March 2022 reveals that consumer confidence has plummeted 25.5 percentage points compared with March 2021. At 59.4 percent, the consumer sentiment index now stands at the lowest point in two decades. This is not surprising given economic conditions. Unfortunately, it means people will now be especially careful with their personal finances.

Uncomfortable Inflation: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen predicts another year of “very uncomfortably high” inflation. In March 2022, the annualized inflation rate stands at 7.9 percent, a 40-year high. What’s even more troubling is that by calculating the Consumer Price Index now, using the same formula used in 1980, the inflation rate would stand at over 15 percent! The following chart from Shadow Stats illustrates this point:

Consumers Face Increased Expenses: The average American household is facing nearly $300 in higher monthly expenses due to inflation, according to Moody Analytics. Households in rural areas may face even greater monthly costs as fuel prices rise. This will likely negatively affect current philanthropic giving. While individual charitable giving usually comes in around two percent of disposable income, according to Giving USA, we’re now seeing the erosion of household disposable income.

Inflation May Not be Our Only Problem: Inflation is not our only reason for economic concern. Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has not just expressed concern about inflation, he’s worried that US Federal Reserve policies dealing with inflation could lead the economy into a recession.

Despite all of the bad economic news lately, we’re fortunate that not all of the news is bad:

Continue reading
March 4, 2022

Get Two FREE Offers to Mark My Return

I’m back!

It’s been several months since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been tending to some health issues during that time. I’ll explain more in a moment. First, I want to mark the occasion of my return to blogging with two special, FREE offers for you:

“On Giving” – Skystone Partners Webcast:

I invite you to join me for my conversation with Elizabeth Kohler Knuppel, CEO of Skystone Partners, as part of her FREE “On Giving” webcast series. We’ll discuss planned giving trends as well as what’s changed and what’s stayed the same over time, particularly in this pandemic era. We’ll also discuss the vital but often overlooked role that people of color and women play in successful planned giving. During the live program, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions.

Join us on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at 12:00 pm (EST). For more information and to register for FREE, click here now.

If you can’t attend the live webcast, don’t worry. You’ll still be able to watch the program on the Skystone Partners YouTube Channel along with other past episodes.

You can find my award-winning book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, in paperback or Kindle by visiting Amazon.

Philanthropic Trends for 2022 that Nonprofits Should Know:

Recently, I had a conversation with Mary Jane Bobyock, CFA, Managing Director, Nonprofit Advisory Team, Institutional Group at SEI. We looked at the likely philanthropic trends that nonprofits will see in 2022. You can read the full article for FREE by clicking here.

We looked at several questions including:

Continue reading
May 20, 2021

The Winners of the Free Conference Tickets are …

The results are in. Everybody can be a winner! Let me explain.

The Los Angeles Council of Charitable Gift Planners is hosting the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference from May 25 to 27, 2021, with The Stelter Company as presenting sponsor. Cari Jackson Lewis and Kimberley Valentine, Conference Co-chairs, have done a stellar job putting together a diverse line-up of leading experts.

Because I value my blog readers, and because I’m a conference presenter, I decided to mark the occasion by holding a random drawing to provide four lucky entrants with

a free ticket to the virtual conference. The winners are, drumroll please:

  • Kim West, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Lauren Swern, New Jersey Highlands Coalition
  • David Smith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Stephen Kull, Rockford University

To those who did not win a free ticket, thank you for taking the time to enter the drawing. Fortunately, anyone can still be a “winner” of sorts by paying to register for the high-value conference which will be full of powerful insights and actionable tips.

If you’d like to check out the speaker list, see the conference schedule, and register to participate, here are the links you will need:

Click here to see the list of expert presenters.

Click here to see the conference schedule.

Click here to register ($375 for members, $425 for non-members).

I’m looking forward to learning from others as well as presenting my own session that will rely on research to provide a better understanding of who makes planned gift commitments. Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

PLANNED GIFT DONORS ARE NOT WHO YOU THINK THEY ARE

Thursday, May 27, 2021, 9:15 – 10:30 AM (PDT)

DESCRIPTION: If you look at a typical nonprofit website, flip through a charity newsletter, or read newspaper reports, you might come away thinking that it is wealthy white men who make planned gifts. You would not be wrong, but you would be missing the full picture. So, who does engage in planned giving? Researchers have begun to address the question. Together, we will explore the true diversity that exists among planned gift donors. We will also review the images and words that inspire people to make planned gift commitments. Following this session, you will have a better understanding of who gives as well as immediately actionable, easy to implement, low-cost steps you can take to enhance the results of your planned giving program.

If you’d like to have me present that program or another insightful presentation for your charity or professional association, please contact me.

Continue reading

May 19, 2021

Suggested Gift Annuity Maximum Rates Announced by ACGA

The American Council on Gift Annuities has announced suggested maximum rates for Charitable Gift Annuities. The ACGA Board approved the new rate tables at its meeting on April 26, 2021. The new rates remain unchanged from the existing rates. ACGA issued the following statement:

As part of a continuous monitoring process, the ACGA Board held a meeting on April 26, 2021, and reviewed the current assumptions inherent in our gift annuity suggested maximum rate schedules. While interest rates have moved slightly higher so far this year, they have not moved enough to warrant an upward revision to the ACGA’s return assumption, and therefore, the Board decided to not change the suggested maximum payout rates. The Board continues to monitor market and economic conditions and will make changes as conditions warrant.

Generally speaking, the ACGA’s suggested maximum rates are designed to produce a target gift for charity at the conclusion of the contract equal to 50% of the funds contributed for the annuity. The rates are further predicated on the following:

  • An annuitant mortality assumption equal to a 50/50 blended of male and female mortality under the 2012 Individual Annuity Reserving Table (the 2012 IAR)
  • A gross investment return expectation of 3.75% (which is down from the previous return assumption of 4.25%) per year on the charity’s gift annuity funds
  • An expense assumption of 1% per year.

The rate schedule published on the website became effective on July 1, 2020. For more detailed information about gift annuity rates and the assumptions that underlie them, a revised copy of the full paper on the ACGA rates effective July 1, 2020, is now available in an electronic format free of charge to logged-in ACGA members here.”

Continue reading

May 13, 2021

As LACGP Conference Nears, Enter to Win FREE Virtual Access

It’s almost here! From May 25 to 27, you have an opportunity to learn about planned giving from a diverse group of leading experts. Even better, I’m giving you the chance to become one of three lucky people to win FREE virtual access to:

Los Angeles Council of Gift Planners — Western Regional Planned Giving Conference

“Meeting the Moment: Philanthropy’s Role in Healing”

May 25-27, 2021 (Pacific Time)

Presenting Sponsor: The Stelter Company

Click here to see the list of expert presenters.

Click here to see the conference schedule.

Click here to register ($375 for members, $425 for non-members).

To enter for a chance to win FREE online access to the conference, simply comment below or subscribe to my blog site. (Note: Residents of California are not eligible.) I will notify winners by email by the close of Wednesday, May 19.

I’m honored to be among the conference speakers. Here is information about my session:

Get ready to celebrate. You could win FREE conference access.

PLANNED GIFT DONORS ARE NOT WHO YOU THINK THEY ARE

Thursday, May 27, 2021, 9:15 – 10:30 AM (PDT)

DESCRIPTION: If you look at a typical nonprofit website, flip through a charity newsletter, or read newspaper reports, you might come away thinking that it is wealthy white men who make planned gifts. You would not be wrong, but you would be missing the full picture. So, who does engage in planned giving? Researchers have begun to address the question. Together, we will explore the true diversity that exists among planned gift donors. We will also review the images and words that inspire people to make planned gift commitments. Following this session, you will have a better understanding of who gives as well as immediately actionable, easy to implement, low-cost steps you can take to enhance the results of your planned giving program.

I hope you will join me and my fellow presenters for what will be a meaningful conference to help nonprofit organizations secure the resources they need now more than ever. As LACGP says: Continue reading

May 3, 2021

Simone Joyaux, Passionate Fundraiser and Energetic Agitator for Good, has Died

There is no easy way to say it. Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE, Adv Dip, FAFP, CPP died Sunday, May 2, following a devastating stroke on April 29. Simone, 72, had been diagnosed 14 months prior with cerebral amyloid angiopathy. She is survived by Tom Ahern, her life partner (her preferred term for her husband since 1984).

Simone once observed:

Colleagues around the world describe me as one of the nonprofit sector’s most thoughtful, inspirational, and provocative leaders. I’m proud of that description. I see myself as a change agent, an agitator. Whether it’s asking essential cage-rattling questions … or proposing novel approaches … or advocating for change … that’s me.”

Known internationally, Simone was a fundraising and nonprofit management consultant, coach, teacher, and author. She was a volunteer for professional and civic organizations. She was a force for philanthropy, a social justice warrior, and an agitator for the changes she believed would make the world just that much better. She was a philanthropist. Even in death, she continues, quite literally, to give of herself with the donation of her organs.

In her book, Strategic Fund Development, Simone wrote:

Longing to belong. Isn’t that part of human nature? Afraid of being forgotten. Isn’t that part of being human, too? Through relationships with others, we belong. Through commitment to community, we won’t be forgotten.”

No, Simone won’t be forgotten anytime soon. She touched the lives of thousands of people around the world. You can visit Caring Bridge to read how others remember Simone. You can also share your own memories.

Simone P. Joyaux (1949-2021)

I’ve known Simone for decades, though I regret not as well as I would have liked. There always seems to be time, until there is not. I first met her following one of her classic kick-ass presentations. We chatted for a bit. I was particularly struck by how such a provocateur could also be charming, humble, and warm.

Over the years, we found many points on which we agreed. There were also points on which we did not agree. However, our exchanges were always respectful, even friendly. Even when we disagreed, she always made me think and reconsider, though not always change, my position.

Recently, Simone and I had become classmates. We both enrolled in the inaugural class of the Philanthropic Psychology course offered by the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy. During our studies, we had a chance to engage in deep, meaningful conversations. She generously shared her insights and wisdom. All of us who took the course benefitted greatly from her participation.

One of the things that always tickled me about Simone was her passionate, fiery delivery, whether orally or in print. Her constructive rants were always something to behold. I loved when they would end with “and … and … and.” I often wondered what her next thought was following the suspended “and.” Or, maybe she wanted us to fill in what came after that last “and.” Continue reading

April 29, 2021

Sadly, the Nonprofit World has Lost a True Fundraising Trailblazer

I knew him for decades. He profoundly affected my life. Whether you know it or not, he affected your life, too. He dramatically changed the way nonprofit organizations approach fundraising. And he did so much more.

Unfortunately, we all experienced a loss when William P. Freyd, 87, passed away on August 20, 2020, following a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

William P. Freyd (1933 – 2020)

This month is the 47th anniversary of when Bill founded Institutional Development Counsel, a major-gift consulting practice. In 1977, Bill, and the company he created, went on to partner with Yale University on a trailblazing project. While fundraising phonathons, of one sort or another, have been with us for a very long time, telephone fundraising, as we know it today, can be traced back to that collaboration.

Bill developed the first personalized methodology for the public phase of a capital campaign. Yale combined the use of letters and telephone calls to simulate the steps used in major-gift cultivation and appeals. Since then, thousands of universities and medical centers have used the IDC Phone/Mail Telecommunications approach worldwide to raise millions. The company itself employed hundreds of people and inspired the creation of other telephone fundraising agencies, including my own.

In 1982, shortly after our innovative, successful work on the Temple University Centennial Challenge Campaign’s telephone program, Stephen Schatz and I founded Telefund Management, later renamed The Development Center. Because we were following in the footsteps of IDC and had other very good competitors, we had to continue to be innovative not only to survive but also to thrive. Good enough would never be good enough with Bill as a competitor. Yet, despite being competitors, we always found Bill to be friendly and fair during our own successful journey. I always appreciated that about him, along with his quick wit. Continue reading

April 11, 2021

What Does Child Abuse Have to Do with Your Fundraising Program?

One out of ten children will be sexually abused by the age of 18 in the US. What does that have to do with nonprofit management or fundraising? Absolutely nothing. So, why am I mentioning it?

I’m sharing that alarming statistic with you as part of a continuing tradition here at Michael Rosen Says… Each April, I devote a blog post recognizing National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Once again, I’m using this space to highlight a serious issue and share tips for protecting children.

Child sex abuse is a horrible crime. You already know that. However, do you know that sex abuse survivors continue to feel the effect for years? Here are just some of the terrible consequences, according to the Centers for Disease Control:

Experiencing child sexual abuse is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can affect how a person thinks, acts, and feels over a lifetime, resulting in short- and long-term physical and mental/emotional health consequences.

Examples of physical health consequences include:

  • unwanted/unplanned pregnancies
  • physical injuries
  • chronic conditions later in life, such as heart disease, obesity, and cancer

Examples of mental health consequences include:

  • depression
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Examples of behavioral consequences include:

  • substance abuse including opioid use
  • risky sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners
  • increased risk for suicide or suicide attempts

Another outcome commonly associated with child sexual abuse is an increased risk of re-victimization throughout a person’s life. For example, recent studies have found:

  • Females exposed to child sexual abuse are at a 2-13 times increased risk of sexual victimization in adulthood
  • Individuals who experienced child sexual abuse are at twice the risk for non-sexual intimate partner violence

The odds of attempting suicide are six times higher for men and nine times higher for women with a history of child sexual abuse than those without a history of child sexual abuse.”

Sex abuse affects children of every race, income level, religion, and region. In 91 percent of the cases of child sex abuse, the child or the child’s family knows the perpetrator. That means teaching children about “stranger danger” is not enough to keep them safe.

Fortunately, organizations exist that can educate us about what we can do to protect children and what we can teach them so they can protect themselves. One such nonprofit organization is the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, which brings justice and healing to children who have been sexually abused. PCA is one of my favorite charities, and I’m honored to have served on its board.

PCA recently stated:

It’s never too early to start talking to children about consent. Kids need to be empowered with the knowledge that THEY are the BOSS of their BODY and the importance of TELLING if someone violates their personal boundaries.”

Because teaching boundaries is so important, PCA shared a two-minute video that it believes does a good job of explaining bodily autonomy and consent to kids of all ages. You can watch it here:

PCA and other childcare professionals understand that it is essential to respect each child’s personal space. PCA explains: Continue reading

April 7, 2021

When Things Become Challenging, We All Need Some Inspiration

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first big challenge we have faced, collectively or individually. Today, it is not the only challenge that confronts each of us. When confronted with difficulties, it’s easy for us to experience frustration and stress. We can even lose our will to continue to move forward. We can doubt ourselves and lose our way. We can feel burned out and uninspired.

From time to time, we all need some inspiration.

Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta understood that. On the wall of one of her homes for children in India, someone had hung a poem by Dr. Kent M. Keith. He wrote the poem in 1968 and revised it in 2001. During his long career, Keith has served as a YMCA executive, President of two private universities, and CEO of two nonprofit organizations. He understands the pressures faced by those who work in the nonprofit sector. He also understands our need for inspiration.

My wife recently shared Keith’s poem with me. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to share it with you. I hope you like it as much as I do. If so, you’ll find some information at the end of this post for how you can get a free copy of Keith’s latest book.

Here is The Paradoxical Commandments: Continue reading

March 23, 2021

7 Easy Tips to Boost Your Fundraising-Appeal Results

I’ve recently come across some conversations on social media about the readability of nonprofit communications. The bottom line is that your loving cultivation messages and inspiring fundraising appeals will fail unless the people who receive them can read them.

Once you get people to open the envelope, click on your website link, open your email, or view your text, will they be able to easily read your message? If they can’t, it won’t matter how brilliantly written your message is. So, what do you need to do to ensure your audience reads what you send you to them?

While I’ve written about this before, I want to take this moment to share seven easy tips with you:

1. In print, use a serif font such as Times New Roman.

Serif fonts have little flourishes at the tips of letter strokes while sans-serif fonts such as Arial do not. Studies have shown that most readers have an easier time reading printed text that uses serif fonts. The exceptions to this are children and adults who are learning to read.

It’s unclear if serif fonts are easier to read because it makes letters more recognizable for experienced readers or if it is because it is simply what people are accustomed to seeing in print. In any case, readers will usually prefer reading printed material in a serif font. However, it’s important for you to know your audience and be guided by their preferences.

2. In electronic communications, use a sans-serif font such as Arial.

Some studies have shown that readers have an easier time reading electronic media messages that use a sans-serif font. The cleaner lines of a sans-serif font make it easier to read a message on a low-resolution screen. Fortunately, as screen resolutions have increased over the years, the choice between serif and sans-serif makes less of a difference.

However, with smaller screens, such as those on smartphones, a sans-serif font will be more readable. The issue really is no longer print vs. electronic. Instead, the issue is screen size. On smaller screens, cleaner fonts tend to be easier to read.

3. Never use reverse type.

Reverse type, whether in print or electronic media, is more difficult to read than dark type on a light background. It’s also easier to cut-and-paste, photocopy, and fax (Do people still do that?) copy that uses dark type on a light background. Some designers like to use reverse type for emphasis or because it looks pretty. Nevertheless, you should resist the temptation to use reverse type for the reasons stated. The darker the type and the lighter the background, the better. Continue reading

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