Author: Laurence A. Pagnoni

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Everyone Is Asking About How To Apply To MacKenzie Scott

By Laurence A. Pagnoni Much has been written about the extraordinary grantmaking of businesswoman MacKenzie Scott. With a net worth of $65.3 billion, much more giving is expected. Scott is a member of the Giving Pledge. When she signed the pledge, she said, “I have a disproportionate amount of money to share. My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort, and care. But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.” Despite its name, the pledge is not legally binding. The Nonprofit Quarterly’s editor, Ruth McCambridge, wrote

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Philanthropy Operations: What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

By: Laurence A. Pagnoni What the heck is Philanthropy Operations, and why is it important?   The fundraising positions of Director of Development or Chief Development Officer are familiar, but what do Directors of Philanthropic Operations (DPOs or Ops. Dir.) do? And why is the function less well known? (Those of you in higher education may know the function as “Advancement Services.”)  A focus on Philanthropic Operations becomes necessary as your development function grows and as you seek to deepen the quality of your advancement work. The position or function is less well known because so few nonprofits truly invest in

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How to Pay for Fundraising, and Why Commission-Based Fundraising Is Unethical

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA, Chairman Paying a fundraiser based on the revenue return you potentially will receive exposes you to pay a much higher fee than you should. It’s an unwise business proposition. The Association for Fundraising Professionals (AFP) even deems it unethical. In AFP’s position paper, they describe six specific reasons why. AFP believes that individuals serving a charity for compensation must first accept the principle that charitable purpose, not self-gain, is paramount: “It is our view that if, by definition, private financial benefit cannot inure to the charity, it should not inure to the worker. By law,

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How Much Time Should It Take To Close a Major Gift?

How much time should it take to close a major gift? The short answer is less time than you think.   You see, I have observed that fundraisers spend far too long cultivating donors. Cultivation can even mask procrastinating over making the ask!   I hear this from fundraisers quite frequently: “I don’t feel like it’s the right time to ask this person for support. I am scared they will say ‘no,’ and then what will I do?  So, I keep ‘cultivating’ them.”  Such delays lead to protracted cultivation and solicitation period and likely a missed opportunity—or clarity about the donor’s intent to

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Six Steps To Setting The Right Fundraising Goal

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA  Knowing how much revenue you’re raising is essential. It seems obvious doesn’t it? Yet many fundraisers don’t know how to go about setting the right goal. There’s often silence whenever I ask a Chief Development Officer or the CEO, “How much revenue are you seeking to raise?” Recently, Jane, a mid-career Development Director, was honest with me: “That’s a seemingly simple question, she said, but I really don’t know.” I am empathetic. There are many good reasons why we fundraisers do not know our goal. For example, organizational budgets may not have been shared, or

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Biden’s Tax Policy: What’s Ahead for Nonprofits?

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA  The Biden administration has been making the case that to avoid paying the administration’s proposed additional taxes on high earners — an increase from 37% to 39.6% — wealthy Americans will give more to nonprofits. You can hear a detailed discussion about this on our recent webinar. Indeed, President Biden’s  plan to raise taxes  on high earners and the wealthy is likely to entice more rich Americans to give property or other assets to charities before they die to avoid paying large tax bills. For example, taxpayers making more than $400,000 per year would be taxed

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New Donor Giving Trends

By Laurence A. Pagnoni Fidelity Charitable conducted an initial survey of 3,055 charitable individuals in March 2020. They then conducted a subsequent survey in January 2021 to detect any shifts in donor attitudes and behaviors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other events of 2020. You can read the full survey results here. There are more than a dozen takeaways, but here are the top four: A quarter of donors have donated to charity through a social media platform, and 4 in 10 have made donations through crowdfunding platforms. The study doesn’t say so, but if 25% of donors donated

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Are You Making The Most of a Booming Stock Market?

Are You Making the Most of a Booming Stock Market? By Laurence A. Pagnoni & Jay Frost The stock market has hit historic highs, and most of the gains have gone to a small number of extraordinarily wealthy and very philanthropic individuals. You can watch the full treatment of this critical subject on our recent webinar. There’s an extraordinary opportunity at hand. Is your fundraising adapting to capture it? Charities should be taking dramatic measures to make it easier for donors to give. Donor behavior has also been changing, and people are adopting different types and methods of donations. For

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Foundations Aren’t Much Interested in You

“America’s foundations are not particularly interested in receiving your proposal.” – Bradford K. Smith, President of Candid

Grateful for Brad Smith’s candor and leadership over the years, I rang him up for a chat. Initially, I wanted to know if what our grant officers suspected was in fact true—that most foundations do not welcome your proposals.

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Virtual Parties With A Purpose: A Compliment to Large Galas

Do you want to throw small virtual fundraising events? If so, this blog post is for you. Big galas have their place, but smaller online events can be impressively lucrative when done well. Sometimes called “Parlor Gatherings,” we call them “Parties with a Purpose” (PWAP). These events can complement your large gala—or even be held in lieu of it.

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