Posts tagged ‘nonprofit’

December 16, 2020

Should Charity Begin in the Office with Employee Giving?

Should employees donate to the nonprofit organization they work for? Should they be asked, or even required, to give? Should employees never be asked to give?

Over the decades, I’ve had a number of clients ask me about the issue of employee giving. Over the years, my feelings about employee giving have flip-flopped any number of times. On the one hand, I’ve considered it a good idea to express one’s support for the organization before asking someone else to give. On the other hand, I’ve also recognized that nonprofit employees are frequently paid far less than they should be and often work many uncompensated overtime hours.

It’s a complicated issue.

Fortunately, there is now a new e-book that closely explores the subject of employee giving. Employee Giving: Does Charity Begin in the Office? is a free e-book by Ephraim Gopin, founder of 1832 Communications, an agency helping nonprofits raise more money through strategic and smart marketing and communications.

As part of the e-book project, Ephraim conducted a survey of nonprofit employees and consultants so he could explore all sides of a very contentious and complicated topic. The result is an e-book that will help you learn about:

  • Employee giving: The case for yes, the case for no, and why it’s complicated
  • Attitudes about Board and C-level giving
  • How employees working overtime affects giving
  • Can employee giving help when asking donors to give
  • And much more!

Learn from the survey data and over 30 sector experts. Whether you’re in the “oh hell no!” or the “let employees enjoy being a donor!” camp, this e-book will open your eyes to both sides of the issue. Reading the e-book might just change your mind. You can download your free copy by clicking here.

The topic of nonprofit employee giving doesn’t get much attention. So, I was intrigued when I saw Ephraim had written his e-book. Recently, I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions related to the project. Here’s what he had to say:

 

What workplace ask have you experienced that stuck with you, good or bad?

Here’s how I open my introduction to the e-book: “The honest truth? I never gave. Even when I was a CEO.”

No one ever asked me and I never asked my employees when I was CEO. (It could be cultural as where I live it is definitely not the norm to ask employees to donate.) For me it would have been double-dipping: “I give way more hours to the organization than what’s stipulated in my contract. Now you also want to take a portion of my salary check away?!”

In the survey, I asked how much overtime (unpaid time) employees work in an average month. 41 percent of survey respondents said they work 11+ hours of overtime each month. That’s A LOT!

So, you’re overworked and underpaid, certainly in comparison to the for-profit sector. How would you feel if, now, you also are being asked to donate back to the organization that “steals” your precious few off-hours of family and friends time? There’s a reason why people are very vocal about their opposition to employee-giving programs.

At the same time, the e-book includes a few stories of internal-giving programs done right. No pressure, employees can decide not to give and it won’t be held against them in any way.

As a consultant, I have given back to some of my clients. The truth is that while preparing the e-book, vendor fundraising did come up and I added it as a topic for thought.

However, if I were an employee, would I also be a donor to that organization? Tough one for me to answer.

Why did you decide to write the e-book?

As many things do nowadays, it all started with a tweet. I was curious to hear from my followers whether they donate/d to the nonprofit they work/ed for. My assumption was they did not.

Why would I assume that? Many nonprofit workers are underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. The thought of these employees also being givers — forced or not — never even crossed my mind.

Yet, the responses to my tweet surprised me: Most of the respondents were in fact donors to the charity they worked for! Obviously, it’s a big world out there and there are many nonprofiteers who did not answer my original tweet.

That’s how the ball got rolling. A year after that initial tweet I published a survey that aimed to measure attitudes related to employee giving and numerous issues surrounding it. My goal was to use the survey data as a backdrop to an e-book on the topic.

Post survey, I conducted almost 60 follow-up interviews via phone or video chat. Every single person I spoke to had very concrete opinions about the topic. Should employees be asked to donate? Plenty of NO! and plenty of YES! to go around.

Why write the e-book? It is a complicated topic I was interested in exploring and learning more about. Besides a blog post here and there, no one has really looked into it to understand why employees should or should not be asked. I feel my e-book can bring the discussion to nonprofit leaders who can make wiser and more informed decisions when considering an employee-giving program.

What do you hope to accomplish with the e-book?

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December 15, 2020

Listen to The Whiny Donor and Raise More Money

If you want to raise more money, you need to listen to your donors. Unfortunately, many of your donors do not feel comfortable giving you feedback about your fundraising appeals. Or, if they do feel comfortable, they won’t put in the time and effort to tell you what they think.

Fortunately, The Whiny Donor can help you. “The Whiny Donor” is the name of a Twitter account belonging to a woman who, along with her husband, is a significant donor and who has served on a number of nonprofit boards. Whiny is passionately committed to the philanthropy world making her a fantastic resource for fundraising professionals.

“The Whiny Donor”

Whiny lovingly tweets about charity issues, especially what works and what does not when it comes to fundraising. She provides meaningful, often actionable, insights from the perspective of the donor that she is. She’ll give you feedback that your organization’s donors won’t. Also, she’ll answer questions you would never dare to ask your own donors.

Recently, Whiny and her husband went through the year-end appeals that have inundated them. Then, she shared her thoughts in a valuable Twitter thread. With her kind, thoughtful permission, I’m going to share her helpful insights with you now.

Despite the name of her Twitter account, Whiny seldom whines. Instead, she provides insightful critiques, positive and negative. Here are 10 insights about some year-end appeals she has received recently:

COVID-19 Pandemic: Fundraisers should not be afraid to honestly tell prospective donors about the challenges their organization faces. Whiny says, “A couple of the appeals make a very clear case for their need for funds during the pandemic, and we are increasing our donations to them over last year’s amount. I am actually dumbfounded by appeal letters that DON’T mention anything about being affected by the pandemic. Where have you been all year?”

Mission: When a nonprofit organization has a well-articulated mission that is meaningful to donors, missteps will more readily be excused. For example, Whiny says, “There’s one local cultural nonprofit that always sends a reply form  with no appeal letter at all, and I’m so offended by that, I want to cut them off, but my husband insists that we continue to support them.” Whiny had this reaction to another appeal, “We keep donating to them, but I never read the very long, small-print, no-margin, weird-font appeal letter from a small local nonprofit. I simply don’t have the fortitude to tackle it.” Just be aware that, for most organizations, a clear, powerful mission will work best when paired with a well-crafted appeal, particularly one that is easy to read.

Fake Deadlines: Many charities like to use artificial deadlines for giving as a way to create a sense of urgency, especially at year-end. However, donors tend to care little about your deadlines and more about when they want to give. As Whiny says, “I don’t know how long it’s been sitting unopened in my stack of appeals, but one letter mentions a deadline of December 4, which seems weirdly arbitrary. I think they’ll still accept my gift, though. Don’t you?” I suspect they will. So, what’s the point of the fake deadline? Arbitrary deadlines just come off as hucksterism. When a fake deadline is impractical, it can become downright annoying. As Whiny has observed, “Another one I’m just opening, and it says ‘Nov 30 deadline!’ right on the envelope. But the postmark is November 23! C’mon!”

Postage: Unless you’ve tested a postage-paid response envelope versus one requiring a donor to affix a stamp, you should opt for a postage-paid response envelope as your default. You’ll likely get a better response rate. When requiring the donor to affix a stamp, avoid being condescending in the envelope’s postage box. For example, Whiny doesn’t like statements like “Place Stamp Here” or “Postage Stamp Required.” Whiny says, “I do know how to mail an envelope, you know.” A postage-box statement she likes is “Thank You for Your Support.”

Gift-Amount Suggestions: It’s almost always a good idea to suggest how much you would like a prospect to contribute. If you’re asking a past donor, the amount you seek should be related to what the donor has given in the past. In other words, don’t ask a $5,000 donor for $25; conversely, don’t ask a $25 donor for $5,000. When presenting a gift chain, make it legitimate. “The four choices on this gift chain are $250, $260, $265 and $275, which has got to be the narrowest range I’ve ever seen. They had the good sense to add a ‘Surprise Us!’ box, just in case I want to bust loose,” says Whiny. Generally, your gift-chain amounts should vary by more than $5 or $10.

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December 1, 2020

Here’s What You Need to Know about Charitable Giving, 2020-21

This year has been one of great uncertainty and change for everyone, including those of us in the nonprofit sector. As 2020 comes to a close, and we’re poised to begin a new year, I had the opportunity to answer a number of questions from Mary Jane Bobyock, CFA, Managing Director of the Nonprofit Advisory Team, Institutional Group at SEI Institutions. Bobyock says:

One particular area that’s been different in 2020 is how nonprofits raise money. … Michael Rosen graciously answers my questions about the future of fundraising, the latest trends and considerations for fundraising post COVID-19 for 2020 and beyond.”

One of Babyock’s questions concerned Donor Advised Funds:

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) have been steadily increasing as an effective fundraising vehicle but what are your thoughts about ways DAFs could change?”

My response is that DAFs will continue to play a growing role in the nonprofit world.

We will continue to see record in-flows and out-flows involving DAFs. While traditional DAFs have required the contribution of thousands of dollars to create an account, we are now seeing the rising popularity of micro-DAFs that allow even small donors to establish giving accounts with no minimum contribution required for creation. This means, in addition to the increase in money flowing through DAFs, we are seeing an increase in the number of individuals who have created a DAF account.

The CARES Act, adopted by the federal government this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, provides a number of tax incentives for charitable giving that will expire at the end of 2020. Not only will this encourage more donations directly to charitable organizations, it will likely encourage greater in-flows into DAF accounts.

Given the DAF trends, charities should let donors know they accept DAF gifts. For example, an organization might highlight a DAF supporter in a newsletter. Also, the organization’s website should remind donors that they can recommend a contribution through their DAF. While charities will provide a hard-credit for gifts to a DAF’s sponsoring organization, a soft-credit should be made to the individual recommending the gift. You should also thank that person. Later, when appealing to that individual, the charity should remind him that he can recommend another DAF gift.

Another way to encourage supporters to recommend a DAF donation to your organization is to include a DAF widget on your website. The free DAFwidget from MarketSmart makes it easy for individuals to support your organization through their DAF. As MarketSmart says:

You already make it easy for supporters to make donations online using their credit cards, so why not do the same for those with donor-advised funds? DAFwidget makes it simple and convenient to find theirs among over 900 funds in our system.”

When you visit the SEI Knowledge Center, you can read the full article containing my answers to the following questions nonprofit leaders are asking:

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November 26, 2020

Why am I Especially Thankful This Year?

This year has been, um, challenging for all of us. I know there’s a good chance that you have a more colorful word to describe 2020. So, given how tough the year has been, why am I especially thankful this year?

Quite simply, I’m grateful to still be alive. I’m not just talking about avoiding COVID-19. You see, it’s almost seven years since I was diagnosed with an exceedingly rare, deadly form of cancer, Appendiceal Carcinoma with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP). If it wasn’t for brilliant medical intervention, my last Thanksgiving would have been in 2014.

Because a number of people have been asking me how my health is, and because some people with PMP are seeking insights on the Internet, I thought I would take this opportunity to provide an update. In addition, I want to share some news that has implications for your fundraising efforts.

Since 2014, I’ve had two massive, 14-hour surgeries with each followed a short time later by an additional two-hour surgery. I’ve also undergone extensive chemotherapy treatments to slow the progression of the cancer. Furthermore, I’ve been receiving mistletoe extract injections to mitigate chemo side effects and, perhaps, enhance the effectiveness of the chemo. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PMP. The best I can hope for is to slow the disease and delay the need for the next huge surgery. Not only will that enhance my quality of life, it will extend my life because there is a limit to the surgical option.

Last week, I received my latest CT Scan result. That report, along with my recent blood test results, reveals that my cancer is stable! That means I’m able to take a break from chemo for two to three months, beginning just in time for Thanksgiving.

Thanks to an army of doctors and nurses, especially those at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania – Penn Medicine, I’m still here. I also need to mention that Lisa, my wife, is a critical part of my care team. I couldn’t have made this journey over the past seven years without her. Every time I look at her, I’m reminded that, despite everything I’ve been through, I’m still the luckiest guy on Earth.

My adventure hasn’t been easy. At times, it’s been absolutely brutal. On a daily basis, it’s a struggle. But, with a great medical team and the support of family, friends, colleagues, and clients, I continue to move forward. There’s too much to do for me to start wallowing now.

Recently, I received some additional good news. UPMC is expecting to receive approval soon for a clinical trial of a minimally invasive treatment that would further delay the need for another big surgery. I’m a candidate for this. The treatment has already shown promise in Australia-based testing. If all goes according to plan, the treatment will enhance the quality of my life while extending it.

This brings me to your fundraising program.

October 27, 2020

So, Wake Me Up When It’s All Over

There’s a line in the well-known Avicci song that goes, “So, wake me up when it’s all over.” It nicely sums up my feelings about 2020. It’s been a stressful year for us all in so many ways. Yet, despite the strain, I keep seeing articles and webinars full of unfounded optimism, particularly as they relate to fundraising in the post-COVID-19 world. Here are just a small number of the titles I’ve come across:

  • Rebooting and Managing After COVID-19
  • How to Keep Your Donors Once the Crisis Ends
  • Fundraising Predictions for After COVID-19
  • Fundraising Post-COVID-19
  • How Nonprofits Should Approach Grant Makers Post-Covid-19
  • After the Pandemic Fundraising

So, when is this post-COVID-19 time supposed to arrive?

No one knows. However, we do know it’s not going to arrive anytime soon. As I write this, the USA, and much of the world, is experiencing a coronavirus pandemic resurgence following efforts to reopen economies. We still don’t have a vaccine. While there might be a viable vaccine by the end of this year, experts say broad distribution will not be possible until probably the middle of 2021, at best. In the meantime, we still do not have solid, reliable therapeutics to treat the disease.

Even once people are vaccinated and the pandemic is brought under control, economists tell us it will take months, if not years, for the economy to recover. The Federal Reserve says that the jobless rate will remain elevated through 2022. The Congressional Budget Office believes it will take two years for the economy to recover to a pre-pandemic level. Even once things do return to “normal,” we do not know what that new normal will look like. For example, “about 2 in 5 Americans in a nationwide Bankrate survey from May, for instance, said they expect to shop less at traditional in-person retailers.”

While it will take time for the overall economy to recover, it will also take time for individuals to recover from financial as well as other physical and mental health issues made worse during the pandemic. For example, the percentage of individuals experiencing depression doubled even during the early months of the pandemic, according to the US Census Bureau.

So, if the lovely post-COVID-19 world is not going to arrive anytime soon, what should you really be focusing on over the next several months or longer? Here are just a handful of ideas:

October 13, 2020

Avoid Costly Mistakes and Raise More Money

A traditional formula for fundraising success involves having the right person ask the right person, in the right way, for the right gift, for the right project, at the right time. Another way for you to raise more money for your nonprofit organization is to avoid making mistakes that could prove costly by putting potential support in jeopardy.

The public’s trust in the nonprofit sector has been on a steady decline over the past several years. At the same time, the number of charity donors has been decreasing.

So, what can we do to rebuild donor confidence, and inspire much-needed support?

I’ll answer that question in a FREE webinar hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Delaware, Brandywine Chapter. Here are the details:

Avoid Costly Mistakes & Raise More Money

  • Date: Wednesday, October 28, 2020
  • Networking Time: 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM (EDT)
  • Program Time: 10:00 AM to 11:15 AM (EDT)
  • Audience: This webinar is open to AFP members and non-members everywhere.
  • CFRE Credits: This webinar qualifies for 1.25 CFRE education points.

During the webinar, I’ll cite real-world examples to identify seven common fundraising mistakes that can prove costly to your organization. You will get simple tips for avoiding those mistakes, and you will receive a decision-making model to help you avoid or minimize countless other pitfalls.

By avoiding mistakes and more consistently making solid decisions, you will be able to enhance the confidence that the public has in your organization and, therefore, you’ll raise more money.

September 30, 2020

5 Powerful Tips for Successful Year-End Fundraising

It’s here! Another year-end fundraising season is upon us. While 2020 has been, um, let’s call it a “challenging” year, there are nevertheless some reasons to be hopeful about the potential for philanthropic giving in the closing months of the year:

Economists say that the economy is rebounding and expect growth to continue, though at a modest pace, through the end of 2020.

The unemployment rate is declining as the economy begins to cautiously reopen.

The stock market, while volatile, continues to trend upward.

Home values are increasing and sales continue their upward trend.

Giving to Donor Advised Funds is up sharply making more money available for giving from DAFs.

Consumer confidence is rebounding.

At least one analysis predicts significant growth in contributions during Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1, 2020. Another forecast predicts that charitable giving will be robust in 2020 and 2021.

While there are a number of reasons to be hopeful about year-end 2020 philanthropy, we can’t just sit back and expect the money to roll into your charity. Changes in the current environment can easily affect results, either for the good or for the bad. Bringing in more donations for your organization will require you to work hard and remain nimble.

Here are five tips to help you maximize your year-end fundraising efforts:

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September 18, 2020

Should You Forget about Planned Giving as 2020 Closes?

Garvin Maffett, EdD, a strategic consultant in the nonprofit sector, recently asked the members of the CFRE International Network on LinkedIn:

What’s on the horizon for Gift Planning during this uncertain time in our economy?”

It’s a good question, and I thank Maffett for starting a needed discussion. Some fundraising professionals have wondered whether they should rollback planned gift marketing during the pandemic, or whether they should boldly engage in more robust charitable gift planning efforts.

My simple answer is this: You should definitely NOT forget about planned giving as 2020 draws to a close. While the economic future is definitely uncertain, now is a fantastic time for charitable gift planning. Let me explain.

The stock market, while volatile, continues on an upward trajectory. Most Americans own stock. Many of those who own stock have seen appreciation this year. This means there is a great opportunity for you to secure gifts of appreciated stock for your organization.

Motivated by the coronavirus pandemic, many more people have chosen to write a Will. With more people making end-of-life plans, there is an opportunity to encourage them to include a gift to your charity in their Wills.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has people contemplating their own mortality, life insurance sales have increased. This presents you with an opportunity to encourage beneficiary designations for your nonprofit.

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August 14, 2020

Will Move to Dissolve the NRA Hurt Your Nonprofit?

This post is about the attempt of New York’s Attorney General to dissolve the National Rifle Association. However, this is NOT a political post. Whether or not you support the NRA, the legal fight over its future has potential implications for your nonprofit organization. Let’s take a closer look.

Doug White, a philanthropy advisor, author, and teacher, writes:

In a 169-page document made public earlier today (you can read the entire lawsuit here), [New York Attorney General] Letitia James alleges that NRA insiders have violated New York’s nonprofit laws by illegally diverting tens of millions of dollars from the group through excessive expenses and contracts that benefited relatives or close associates. The suit alleges that longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre and three other top officials ‘instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight at the NRA,’ failed to properly manage the organization’s money and violated numerous state and federal laws.

The lawsuit asks for a dozen measures to be taken. The first one: ‘Dissolving the NRA and directing that its remaining assets and any future assets be applied to charitable uses consistent with the mission set forth in the NRA’s certificate of incorporation.’”

White further notes that the legal action has been filed against the 501 (c)(4) organization, and not against any 501 (c)(3) organizations related to the NRA.

So, how could the case of the NRA affect your nonprofit organization?

Erosion of Public Trust: The mere accusations against the NRA, whether or not they are ultimately proven in court, have the power to not only erode confidence in the NRA, they have the potential to erode trust in all nonprofit organizations. If that happens, it could make fundraising more difficult. A special report in 2018 from the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org found:

While the majority of respondents (73 percent) say it is very important to trust a charity before giving, only a small portion of respondents (19 percent) say they highly trust charities and an even smaller portion (10 percent) are optimistic about the sector becoming more trustworthy over time.”

Enhancement of the Public Trust: On the other hand, New York’s action could enhance the level of trust people have in the nonprofit sector. If the Attorney General can prove her case, it would show the public that government officials are exercising appropriate oversight of the nonprofit sector which could elevate the public’s confidence that their donations to any nonprofit will be used appropriately. We know there is a correlation between the level of trust people have and the likelihood they will give as well as the amount of their giving.

Impact on Support to Controversial Organizations: If New York succeeds in liquidating the NRA, it will have the power to disburse the organization’s assets as it sees fit. How will this affect support to other controversial nonprofits if donors know that their donations could be redistributed by the state? It’s possible that this could result in more cautious behavior by donors.

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August 11, 2020

What Can You Learn from the Moral Failing of the NAACP?

While the recent moral failing of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is distressing to all who oppose bigotry, the situation offers seven important lessons for every nonprofit organization.

Before I get to those critical lessons, let me offer you some background.

It’s been 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as the other concentration and extermination camps run by the Nazis to murder Europe’s Jewish population and others. Now, three-quarters of a century later, liberals and conservatives continue to find common ground by embracing anti-Semitism.

For its part, the NAACP has failed to fire Rodney Muhammad, President of the NAACP Philadelphia chapter, following his anti-Jewish social media posting in defense of anti-Semitism. The NAACP headquarters has not apologized for Muhammad’s comments, nor has it insisted that he apologize. Nationally, the NAACP’s inaction shows it condones anti-Jewish rhetoric while, at the local level, Muhammad and his board have turned the Philadelphia chapter into a hate group.

On July 24, 2020, the news website BillyPenn first reported on Muhammad’s anti-Semitic Facebook post from July 23:

[On] Muhammad’s public Facebook page, the meme referenced the backlash against Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, actor/rapper Ice Cube and comedian/TV host Nick Cannon, who have all attracted attention recently for advancing theories that blame Jewish people for the plight of Black Americans. Cannon and Jackson have since apologized for their recent posts, while Ice Cube doubled down.”

Muhammad shared the meme as a defense of sorts on behalf of Jackson, Cannon, and Ice Cube:

The post included a caricature of a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke and pressing a large, bejeweled hand down on a faceless mass of people. Similar caricatures trace back to before the Holocaust, and were often used to depict Jews as a force of greed and oppression. Next to the image was a quote falsely attributed to French philosopher Voltaire: ‘To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.’”

After being questioned by a BillyPenn reporter, Muhammad removed the post while denying any memory of having shared it. Later, he issued defensive statements that were devoid of apology. The closest he came was an expression of “regret.”

In the meantime, a number of community and religious leaders have called for Muhammad to either resign or be removed from his position. For example, Gov. Tom Wolf, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and State Sen. Anthony Williams joined the calls for Muhammad’s removal. While the Pennsylvania NAACP condemned Muhammad’s action, Kenneth Huston, President of the state conference, said that he was powerless to take any action which would have to come, instead, from national headquarters.

Unfortunately, the NAACP national office delayed its response by more than a week. Furthermore, its tepid statement supported Muhammad. Making matters worse, the NAACP headquarters has apparently failed to provide any direction to the Philadelphia chapter, according to WHYY:

Bishop J. Louis Felton, first vice president of the Philadelphia branch, said in an email that local leadership has not gotten any direction from the NAACP national office on the issue. ‘Congratulations on actually getting a response from the National office, as we certainly could not,’ said Felton.”

The Jewish Exponent reported on some of the community reaction:

‘We are truly saddened,’ the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition said in a statement, ‘by such a prominent leader’s rejection of this alliance and inexcusable failure to recognize his own role in perpetuating racist stereotypes.’ The Philadelphia Muslim Jewish Circle of Friends, convened by the American Jewish Committee, asserted that Muhammad’s actions were ‘in direct violation of the very principles upon which the NAACP was founded.’”

So, what can we learn from the NAACP’s moral failing?

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