CREATING MARGIN: First Step Toward a Systematic Cultivation of Planned Giving Opportunities

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There’s an irrefutable law of nonprofit leadership: Consistent growth and long-term sustainability are largely dependent on an organization’s ability to monitor and maintain a healthy balance between 1) solicitation of gifts from discretionary income and 2) solicitation of planned gifts from net worth. It’s the latter that usually lags far behind the former. Last month I talked about the reasons for that gap. This month I will offer a few common sense suggestions on closing it. Continue reading

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OBSTACLES & DISINCENTIVES: Reasons for the Gap between Future Gift Potential and Future Gifts Secured

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Recently, the CEO of a hospital commented quite matter-of-factly, “At this point in my career, I’m not concerned about future gifts. I’ve got four more years before I retire. As he was congratulating himself for his own sense of clarity and purpose, I was thinking, “How deep of a hole will he dig for his successor in the next four years?” I have a lot of thoughts on why there’s such a gap between future gift potential and future gifts secured. A few of those observations are below: Continue reading

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PHILANTHROPIC PORTFOLIOS: Conservative and Aggressive Charitable Giving Tendencies

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Over the last decade there’s been a lot of emphasis on quantifying and measuring the results of charitable gifts. More and more donors view gifts to a nonprofit as social investments and evaluate their giving decisions in terms of the ROI (return on investment). Strategic donors have long seen themselves as change agents who evaluate their philanthropic investments like venture capitalists. That’s generally a good thing because it constantly reminds nonprofits that it’s not their money. They are stewards of donors’ investments. Continue reading

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STRATEGIC PLANNING — Part 3: Donor Doctrine as the Starting Point

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A couple of years ago I published two articles on strategic and tactical planning and continue to be surprised at how those posts from 2012 continue to show up on the list of top reads. So here’s one more thought about the strategy-tactic idea and how it relates to charitable gift planning. The word “tactical” is the adjective form of the verb “to tact.” A sailboat heading into an opposing wind will tact back and forth, temporarily veering off course, in order to work its way toward its destination — the STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE. Simply put, TACTICAL PLANNING is a response or reaction to an immediate need (i.e. opposing wind). Continue reading

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ORGANIZATIONAL MOMENTUM: Why Fundraising Is Hard for Some and Easy for Others

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My ‘62 Chevy is a perfect example of why organizational endowments are so important. If you do the math, you’ll discover that propelling a 3,000-pound car down a quarter-mile track in five seconds from a dead stop requires quite a lot of energy (i.e. gasoline). You can also discover that the same car traveling the same distance in the same amount of time but with only a five mile per hour rolling start requires about one-third less energy. So, momentum at the starting line has a huge impact on both fuel and efficiency. Continue reading

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PROCESS AND PROFILE: Success Essentials for Nonprofit-Sponsored Charitable Estate Planning

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When it comes to planned gifts and bequests to your organization, a standard consultant’s reply is that organizations “have not because they ask not.” However, it’s usually not quite that simple. If success were based simply on the number of asks, then success would be a lot more easily attained, and many more organizations would achieve it. Thompson &; Associates makes thousands of requests each year on behalf of client organizations. However, the number of asks is only the third-most important factor determining success. Continue reading

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CASE FOR ENDOWMENTS: The Long and Short of Fundraising

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Not many people spend the better part of a decade in college with the goal of becoming a fundraiser, and neither had I. However, I was intrigued and astounded at what I heard in a meeting of college presidents. As a result, my dissertation topic became an analysis of institutional outliers—university fund development programs that stood head and shoulder above the average. And my career launch eventually became Thompson & Associates, Inc. Continue reading

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