By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA The pre-eminent source of annual data about giving and philanthropy in the United States — Giving USA Foundation — this week released its 2021 report. This year’s edition offers a mixed bag of news for fundraisers and sends a few warning signals about what we can expect in the balance of 2022. But before the warnings, some good news: Charitable giving totaled a near-record $484.9 billion in 2021, which was flat when compared to 2020. That’s considered a win, especially since COVID-19 sparked an 8.1% annual increase in giving in 2020, and many observers feared
Category: Individual Giving
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA A lot of donor information is hidden. Most donors aren’t advertising their net worth or telling us about the other nonprofits they donate to. So it’s up to us to do the research in advance of our conversations with them. Three Options Nonprofits have three options for conducting this research: Conducting In-House Research — Larger nonprofits with the financial means often build dedicated research teams into their organizational structure. Hiring a Consultant — Instead of hiring a full-time prospect researcher or having an existing staff member screen donors, you can bring in consultants like LAPA
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA A growing number of nonprofits are creating impact reports to show donors how their contributions have made a difference. When done well, impact reports can be powerful tools for showing results through hard numbers. But they truly excel when they amplify the metrics with real-life stories and voices that put a face on the organization’s work. The Massachusetts nonprofit Root Cause married numbers and stories beautifully with its recently released Impact Report: 2021. This piece is especially effective because it provides a clear snapshot of what the organization does, uses simple graphics to display information,
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA We try our utmost to avoid it, but feeling uncomfortable is key to fundraising mastery. In fact, the more advanced fundraising you seek, the more uncomfortable feelings rise. Yet it is an enormous (and lucrative) gift to yourself, and especially to your nonprofit, to work through these initial feelings. Aversion for being uncomfortable is understandable. Uncomfortable situations trigger feelings of being out of control. Anxiety and fear storm through us and our bodies get tense. Being uncomfortable goes against our innate desire to feel calm and at peace. Many fundraisers call me when they are
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA A superb case statement communicates to the donor why funds are urgently needed and why philanthropic support makes sense. It’s critical for that to occur on the first page of the case, as this sample does so well, since many people will only read that page. “How can we ever say no?,” the cover page asks. Right from the start the key question is posed and driven home. When executed well, a case statement inspires your donors to invest in your future — and become ambassadors for your mission and vision. Most people associate Cases
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA Sending annual giving statements to your donors and funders is a fundraising best practice — and an amazing opportunity to show love to your donors. An annual giving statement is also an opportunity to inform your donors about what makes your nonprofit unique. Donors tell me that they look more favorably at nonprofits that provide gift statements. These documents signal that the nonprofit is thoughtful and organized — and it gives many donors timely and highly useful information as they prepare their income tax returns. Here’s a sample gift statement that I like a lot.
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA We must ensure that all charitable donations are made available for charitable use, rather than languishing indefinitely in donor-advised funds (DAFs). After all, donors who contribute to DAFs receive an immediate tax benefit. But nonprofits have no idea when they’ll ever see a dime. DAFs have come under fire for the fact that they are not legally required to spend the money that they receive and can hold it for as long as they want. Plus, the fiduciary managers have an incentive to keep the money in the DAF. Granted, many donor-advised fundholders are both
By Ryan Carpenter November and December are a prime time for philanthropy, with 31% of donations occurring in December alone. But if you aren’t prepared to ride the coming wave of support, you could be leaving dollars behind. One of the best strategies to make the most of the giving season is to develop segmented messages for various donor groups. Given that donors have been shown to give 10% to 25% more when messages are personalized, you must not ignore the power of customized messages. Any fundraiser can apply the following segmentation best practices to #GivingTuesday and year-end campaigns. The
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA As Giving Tuesday comes around on November 30, I am asking you to think deeply before you commit to promoting it. My annual struggle over whether to include Giving Tuesday (GT) in my year-end fundraising plan is in full swing. This year, I am distracted by the gargantuan untapped revenue that you can access from those donors with Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) — upwards of $140 billion. I am asking myself if instead of focusing on Giving Tuesday, would it be more lucrative for me to focus on cultivating and soliciting those donors with Donor Advised Funds? Your
By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA To quickly understand the difference between a major donor and a transformational donor, here are three examples of very different donors, all of whom at one time were LAPA clients: first, a mega wealthy donor; second, a thoughtful philanthropist who made good use of his family fortune; and third, a widow who leveraged her own gift and invited her family and friends to join her. Michael Bloomberg gave a historic $1.8 billion gift to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) entirely for financial aid, allowing JHU to begin accepting students without regard to their ability to pay.