Posts tagged ‘Giving Pledge’

February 24, 2017

What is the Special Ingredient that Leads to #Fundraising Success?

Do you know the special ingredient for creating fundraising success?

You’ll notice I didn’t say “secret ingredient.” That’s because it’s not a secret. It’s actually common sense. The reason I’m writing about it is that it is not yet common practice to the degree it should be.

The special ingredient is: building relationships.

Gerry Lenfest, 21st century philanthropist and Giving Pledge member, explained the importance of developing relationships when writing the Foreword to my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing:

Knowing your prospects and understanding what motivates them are two critical steps in the [philanthropic] process. Quite simply, you cannot skip cultivation and relationship building and expect a successful outcome…. Do not make the mistake of forgetting about us once you receive our gift commitment. We may truly appreciate how efficiently and effectively you handle contributed funds so much that we entrust you with another planned gift. We are also in a position to influence others to do the same…”

While Lenfest’s comments were about planned giving, they certainly apply to any type of fundraising. Strong relationships are the key ingredient to a successful philanthropic process. By building meaningful relationships, you will:

  • Acquire more donors
  • Retain more donors
  • Upgrade more donors
  • Acquire more planned gifts
  • Generate more major gifts
  • Inspire donors to become ambassadors for your organization

Unfortunately, the nonprofit sector in general is terrible at building relationships. This is one major reason that donor-retention rates have been steadily falling for years, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project. While there is no shortage of great how-to material out there, charities are still failing to grasp the importance of embracing a robust stewardship program as part of the philanthropic process. You can search this site for donor retention to get some great tips.

For now, however, I want to share a heartwarming story of what can happen when you establish strong relationships with donors and inspire them to be ambassadors.

John’s Roast Pork is a destination sandwich stand in Philadelphia. John Bucci’s family-owned establishment has been around since 1930 serving the best roast pork sandwiches in the city. (Hey, Philly is about more than john-bucci-of-johns-roast-porkcheese steak sandwiches, though they serve those, too.) The James Beard Foundation designated the establishment as an “American Classic” for roast pork.

Unfortunately, earlier this month, John’s was burglarized. The perpetrator(s) got away with a few thousand dollars. The burglary also shut down the business until repairs could be made. The stolen sum included $1,500 that had been collected to benefit Be the Match, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program. The charity maintains the world’s largest and most diverse bone marrow donor registry.

Be the Match is important to Bucci. Several years ago, he fought a fierce battle with leukemia and was ultimately successfully treated with a bone marrow transplant. Since then, Bucci has been a supporter. At one point when he contacted the organization, he requested to meet his marrow donor so he could thank the person. However, he was told that the organization’s guidelines did not permit this. Here’s what Bucci told Philly.com he did instead:

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June 26, 2015

Are You Wasting Time by Hunting Unicorns?

Go to any fundraising conference, and you’ll find unicorn hunters. You might even be one. You can see the unicorn hunters in seminar sessions about Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts (CRATs), Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs), and Charitable Remainder Uni-Trusts (CRUTs).

Unicorn hunters believe that Trusts are the cornerstone to a healthy planned giving program. Unicorn hunters scour the wealthiest portion of their donor files to find Trust prospects and then focus an enormous amount of time and energy trying to close big Trust gifts.

Unicorn by Rob Boudon via FlickrSome would-be unicorn hunters are overwhelmed by the hunt. They fear they have no prospects and/or they fear they have insufficient knowledge to pursue such gifts. So, they don’t implement any kind of planned giving effort.

Well, here’s your reality check, courtesy of Giving USA 2015: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2014.

As the chart below reveals, the number of Trusts is tiny compared to the number of Public Charities which stood at 963,234 in 2012 (not including religious congregations and organizations with less than $5,000 in revenue), according to the Urban Institute’s The Nonprofit Sector in Brief 2014.

Even if every single charity that received a Trust gift only received one, that would mean that less than 12 percent of charities would have received a Trust gift in 2012. In other words, the likelihood that a fundraiser will close a Trust gift is very small in any given year. Moreover, the odds have been getting smaller as the number of charities has grown while the number of Trusts has declined.

Of course, that’s not quite how it works in the real world. In the real world, large organizations with large donor files containing plenty of wealthy supporters are far more likely to close Trust gifts than smaller organizations with smaller donor lists. If you don’t work at a large, established organization, the chances that you’ll close a Trust gift this year are miniscule.

 Trust Chart - 2015

While the dollars associated with Trust gifts are certainly significant, the actual number of such gifts is small. By contrast, far more people name a charity in their will, make beneficiary designations, give appreciated securities or personal property, or donate from their IRAs.

Keeping your eyes open for Trust-gift opportunities can be beneficial. However, you’re much more likely to close other types of planned gifts. This means:

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May 5, 2015

Will You Help Me Celebrate My (Re)birthday?

On May 2, I began my month-long (re)birthday celebration. One year ago, I underwent a 14-hour surgery to remove the rare cancer that had spread throughout my abdomen. The surgery was a success, and I am now in remission!

First Birthday Balloons by akadruid via FlickrPrior to surgery, I was told my life expectancy would be about two to five years. Following surgery, my doctor told me I can expect a full life. That’s why I consider May 2 my (re)birthday.

Having gone through what I have during the past year, I’m returning to professional life with a reinvigorated commitment to help the nonprofit community be more efficient and effective so we can make the world a better place.

I’m doing a number of private and public things this month to celebrate. While I normally ensure that my blog site remains largely non-commercial, I’m making an exception with this post because I want to enlist your help as I mark this important time in my life.

There are a number of ways you can join my (re)birthday celebration:

New Clients. I’m looking for at least three new clients. If you’ve found my blog posts helpful, imagine what we can achieve by working closely together, as some readers have already discovered. If you work for a nonprofit organization, I can help you with annual fund enhancements, donor retention efforts, ethics education and policy development, phone fundraising improvements, planned gift marketing, and training for staff and/or boards. If you work for a for-profit company serving the nonprofit sector, I can help you with service/product enhancements, new service/product development, and marketing.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss how I can help you achieve your goals.

Paid Speaking Engagements. As part of my return to professional life, I’m looking forward to getting back out on the speaking circuit. I’m an experienced, well-reviewed presenter and AFP Master Trainer. I’m also an adjunct faculty member at Drexel University where I teach Advanced Fund Development to graduate students. For your organization, I can facilitate a variety of training programs for your board, staff, or volunteers. For your professional associations, I can offer a variety of seminars or keynote presentations to meet the group’s needs and particular interests.

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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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April 6, 2012

Stewardship: More than a Thank-You

“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” — Henri Frederic Amiel, 19th century philosopher and poet

“Those of us who make planned gifts do not expect, nor do we want, lavish thank-you presents or excessive recognition. However, we do want to know that the organizations we support appreciate our philanthropy and will use our gift in the way we intend.” — H. Gerry Lenfest, 21st century philanthropist and Giving Pledge member

 

Stewardship is undeniably an essential part of any development effort, whether for annual fund, capital, or planned giving support.

Much of what is required for good, solid stewardship is simple common sense. Unfortunately, it’s far too often not common practice. That’s why mega-donor H. Gerry Lenfest reminded nonprofit professionals of the importance of stewardship when he wrote the Foreword for my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing. 

Good stewardship means sending out an appropriate thank-you letter immediately after receiving a gift. But, as Henri Frederic Amiel pointed out, gratitude is about much more than simply sending a thank-you letter. Organizations need to demonstrate that they truly appreciate the support of donors.

As Lenfest suggests, stewardship need not involve a huge expense and lots of trinkets. Let’s face it, planned giving donors, for example, don’t exactly want a t-shirt that says, “I’m dying to give!” Instead, stewardship should involve a show of appreciation and an explanation of how gifts have been or will be used.

Janet L. Hedrick, author of Effective Donor Relations, asserts that donors should be thanked seven times for each gift. This does not mean one has to send seven thank-you letters. One should be much more creative than that. However, it does mean that one should look for multiple ways to express appreciation once a donor makes a gift. For example, here is a list of seven ways an organization can show its appreciation:

  1. The donor gets a written thank-you letter from the development professional within two business days of a gift or gift commitment being received.
  2. The organization’s CEO or Board Chair sends a thank-you letter.
  3. A board member calls the donor within a week of receipt of the gift to express appreciation.
  4. The organization thanks donors by name, unless the gift was anonymous, in its newsletter.
  5. The organization thanks donors by name, unless the gift was anonymous, in its annual report.
  6. The donor gets thanked with an invitation to a donor recognition event.
  7. The donor gets thanked at other types of events throughout the year.

Legendary fundraiser James M. Greenfield, author of several books including Fund Raising: Evaluating and Managing the Fund Development Process, reveals the benefits associated with a luncheon event to recognize planned gift donors:

Hosting an annual luncheon for planned gift contributors has multiple benefits for each participant. First, they are reengaged after the gift has been made. Second, they can share this special time with one or two family members and/or their financial advisor who they are encouraged to bring as their guests. Third, they can enhance their legacy by serving as a testimonial for gift planning by sharing their story, which can also be used for a newsletter, magazine, or annual report. Fourth, led by a volunteer member of the planned gifts committee, the luncheon program should feature the CEO and professional staff members’ reports on current activities and future plans.”

As Greenfield suggests, thanking donors has many benefits. And, when the show of appreciation includes information about how gifts have been or will be used, donors will appreciate the effort and powerful things will happen as a result. 

For example, I once implemented a phone fundraising campaign for a hospital. For our control group, we simply explained the purpose of the current campaign and asked for support. For the test group, we told prospects how annual fund support was used in the previous year. Then, we told them the purpose of the current campaign and asked for their support. The test group, generated 68 percent more support than the control group!

In the context of planned giving, Lenfest, from the donor’s perspective, puts it this way:

Do not make the mistake of forgetting about us once you receive our gift commitment. We may truly appreciate how efficiently and effectively you handle contributed funds so much that we entrust you with another planned gift. We are also in a position to influence others to do the same, so bringing together current and prospective planned gift donors for an informational event may have a very good outcome. Publishing stories — with or without the use of the donor’s name — can show prospects the many backgrounds of planned gift donors. Even a reluctant philanthropist may be urged to serve as an example for others to follow.”

When it comes to stewardship, remember these three simple things:

  1. Thank donors promptly and warmly.
  2. Give donors information about how gifts are or will be used.
  3. Honor the intentions of donors. Use a donor’s gift how you told the donor it would be used. Recognize the donor in the way you agreed to.

If you do these three things, you’re organization will distinguish itself from many other nonprofits and will be better able to maintain and increase the support of its existing donors while attracting new support as well.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

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