Archive for April, 2011

April 28, 2011

5 Must-Do Tips for Fundraisers from a Major Philanthropist

In my previous blog post, I focused on the advice donors themselves provided for how nonprofit organizations can enhance their planned gift marketing efforts. The seven tips they provided covered things that organizations should embrace. For this post, I want to share some wisdom from Peter Benoliel, Chairman-Emeritus of Quaker Chemical, who is a generous philanthropist and recipient of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning of Greater Philadelphia’s Legacy Award for Planned Giving Philanthropist. Benoliel offers five development tips for every development officer, as an individual:

Development professionals, senior staff, and volunteer leadership should be passionate about the organization and its mission.

If you’re not able to be passionate about the organization you represent, how can you be effective? You can’t. So, either get passionate or get out. Prospective donors will take their cue from you. If you’re not genuinely passionate about the organization, they won’t be either. Be passionate, and share your passion. When you do, just be sure to be sincere since prospective donors can smell pretense a mile away.

Staff and volunteer fundraisers should be morally armed by making their own donation first.

Yes, I know. Your organization is probably not paying you enough. But, you’ve still decided to work there. And, donors, like Benoliel, expect you to support the organization with a donation. They feel that since you have a vested interest in its well-being, you should support the organization before asking them to do so. If you don’t care enough, why should they?

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April 24, 2011

Donors Know Best: 7 Tips to Improve Planned Gift Marketing

If you want to enhance your planned gift marketing efforts, you can discover what your peers are doing that works, test different approaches, or talk with a consultant. However, I think the best place to start is with donors themselves. Finding out what your intended audience wants, and learning what they think is appropriate or inappropriate is essential to creating an effective marketing strategy. Fortunately, researchers Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay have already done much of the work for us. In a series of focus groups, the researchers found out from donors how nonprofit organizations can improve the promotion of legacy giving. Here is some of what the researchers learned from donors:

“Make it clearer that smaller amounts are useful, too.”

The terms “legacy” and “bequest” are often misunderstood. Many prospective donors either do not know what the terms mean or think that a legacy gift is something massive that only rich people or celebrities do. Prospective donors, whether rich or not, want to know that you are looking for gifts of all sizes, not just multi-million dollar donations (assuming that’s true for your organization). So, tell them. And, when doing articles that spotlight planned gift donors, think about diversity. Don’t just tell the stories of the major philanthropists to your organization; share the stories of smaller donors, too.

“Be specific as to the goals of the bequest. What gains are expected? How will the community gain?” “Explain what the organization does with its gifts.”

Donors want to know what impact their gift will have. It’s true with current giving. It’s also true with deferred giving. The more you can help prospective donors understand how their contributions will allow the organization’s values to live on in the future, and how the gifts will impact those served by your organization and the community at-large, the greater your chances of securing planned gifts.

“By publishing actual cases of how they have helped.” “Storytelling—reflecting future work, past work, spiritual legacy of work well done.”

Prospective donors don’t want to hear made-up, composite stories. Fictional stories are hollow. Donors want to know how actual planned gifts have really helped. Prospective donors want to know why others have been inspired to give. So, tell real stories about real donors. Share what moved those donors. Tell how previous planned gifts have helped your organization with mission fulfillment. And, to the best of your ability, relate how future realized planned gifts will allow your organization to continue to do its fine work and maintain its values.

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April 14, 2011

National Child Abuse Prevention Month: What are You Doing to Help?

This is National Volunteer Week (April 10-16) in the United States. Among American adults, 26 percent volunteer, according to a new report from the Corporation for National and Community Service. This is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the U.S. So, my blog post this week is dedicated to those two occasions.

I serve a number of nonprofit organizations as a volunteer. I almost always receive back more than I give. Volunteering allows me to make a difference, allows me to engage with the organizations I donate to, allows me to better understand the organizations I support. For the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA), I sit on the board of directors. PCA brings justice and healing to the victims of child sexual abuse.

Percentage of Children Sexually Abused

Did you know that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control? Did you know that the vast majority of these child victims will be sexually abused by someone they know?

I did not know any of this before serving as juror for a child sex abuse case a number of years ago. Like most people, I thought that the sexual abuse of children was rare. Based mostly on occasional news coverage, I assumed that the perpetrators were predator-strangers or religious leaders. However, during the course of the trial I learned a great deal. I learned that one in five children are sexually abused before reaching adulthood. I learned that those closest to children are more likely to be the abusers since they are the ones with access; in the court case I heard, we eventually found step-granddad guilty. Following the trial, I did a fair amount of research on the subject and eventually found my way to PCA.

Here are some of the haunting words that PCA staff have heard from just three of the children they have served:

“He said that if I told anyone he’d kill my sister.  So if I told and she died it would be all my fault.”

“I love my dad, and I don’t want him to go to jail. I just want him to stop doing that to me.”

“I just want to be like a normal kid.”

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April 8, 2011

Snooki & Morrison, Wise Use of Nonprofit Dollars?

Recent events make me wonder, what’s in the drinking water in northern New Jersey? Have people lost their sense of proportion? You be the judge. There are two stories that are entwined and raise an interesting stewardship issue for nonprofit organizations.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, of Jersey Shore television show fame, was recently paid $32,000 to make two one-hour campus appearances at Rutgers University. (The money came from the mandatory activity fee paid by students.) By contrast, Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will be paid $30,000 to deliver the commencement address for Rutgers next month.

My brain hurts! Snooki was actually paid $2,000 more than a national treasure!!! To make matters worse, this is happening at a major university. This would still be a startling situation even if Snooki had been paid $2,000 less than Morrison. Couldn’t tomorrow’s future leaders spend their money to host a somewhat less frivolous, more enriching speaker? Was this really a worthwhile use of student funds?

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April 1, 2011

Should Your Legacy Society be Inclusive or Exclusive?

During the recent Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference, a great event, I was approached by someone serving on an AFP Foundation committee. This person raised a very interesting question that I thought I’d share with you. The question deals with a fairly common planned-giving recognition issue frequently debated by nonprofit boards: Should a legacy society be inclusive or exclusive?

Since 1990, the AFP Foundation has recognized planned gift donors/pledgers as members of its Omega Circle. To become an Omega Circle member, one simply has to make a planned gift or planned-gift commitment of at least $5,000. Now, an AFP Foundation committee is reviewing the minimum threshold, which has not been increased in over two decades. Because I’m the author of Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing, I was approached by a member of the committee and asked how I felt about the idea of increasing the minimum threshold from the current $5,000 to $10,000.

I responded to the inquiry by pointing out that legacy recognition societies should be inclusive rather than exclusive. So, I think raising the threshold is a bad idea. Furthermore, I said that I think the committee is asking the wrong question. Instead of asking whether the Omega Circle minimum gift level should be raised, the committee should consider whether or not there should even be a minimum. I do not think there should be one. Again, legacy societies should be inclusive, not exclusive.

When I spoke with Curtis C. Deane, CFRE, CAE, President of the AFP Foundation, he defended the minimum threshold. He pointed out that there are hard stewardship costs in the Foundation’s gift planning program. One of the challenges in running a planned giving program for a professional association is that donors tend to be fairly young and active. This means that the Foundation will be waiting a long time for a gift to be actually realized. To underscore the point, Deane said that stewardship costs have exceeded realized planned-gift income over the six years he has been at the helm of the Foundation. By maintaining a minimum gift threshold, the Foundation hopes to ensure that a gift will retain some meaningful value when finally realized and that the costs associated with long-term stewardship will be more than offset.

While I understand Deane’s position, his arguments have not moved me. While eliminating the minimum gift requirement may result in some very small gifts, I doubt that it will result in a burdensome number of small gifts. Besides, with proper stewardship, some of those small donors will increase the value of their commitments over time.

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