Friday, February 8, 2013

Moving Donors From Annual To Planned Gifts

Originally Posted On The NonProfit Times

Planned giving programs can be big-time fundraising mechanisms, but starting such a campaign can be a daunting task for any nonprofit organization.

Speaking during an international conference on fundraising, Judi Smith of Funding Services Now and Dianne S. Johnson of Endowment Builders offered advice on building a planned giving campaign from something that already exists as a proven fundraiser for many nonprofits – the annual fund.

Smith and Johnson said that a planned giving campaign needs to start with the board. If not the chair, then a key member needs to “own” planned giving. Further, the board needs to be the first group of people to document their own planned gifts.

They suggested ranking the likelihood of planned giving prospects:
  • People who support the mission.
  • Regular donors of small gifts.
  • Donors of major gifts.
  • Older donors.
  • Volunteers.
They also said to consider the following ideas when trying to build a planned giving program from an annual fund:
  • Start with an Endowment or Planned Giving committee (with each member to make their own planned gift).
  • Target an event to include planned giving prospects.
  • Review the database for a mailing program to a planned giving prospect group.
  • Mail to existing members to reconfirm gifts and survey them.
  • Look at offering charitable gift annuities.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Problem With Personal Devices

The proliferation of easily portable communication devices has changed the working landscape dramatically, but not all changes have been for the good.

Speaking during the 2012 Risk Management and Finance Summit for Nonprofits, Cecil Lynn of Littler, Phoenix outlined some of the problems employers have encountered by providing employees with personal devices at work or allowing employees to use their own devices on company business. This practice is referred to as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

Lynn said that although cost saving is the major motivation for BYOD, some employers have found that it has increased their costs rather than lowering them. There are also problems with employment law and organizational security.

He offered the following recommendations for BYOD that can help avoid problems or lessen their consequences:
  • Decide whether all employees should be permitted to participate in a BYOD program or whether certain groups should be excluded;
  • Install mobile device management software on dual-use devices;
  • Require employees to consent to the company’s access to their data on the device;
  • Modify or create employee agreements;
  • Restrict employees from using cloud-based apps or cloud-based backup or synchronizing with home PCs for work-related data;
  • Ensure that use complies with wage-and-hour obligations by prohibiting off-the-clock work and ensuring pay for all hours worked;
  • No use by friends or family members;
  • Training; and,
  • Revise exit interview processes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Benefits Of Limiting Choice

The concept of “choice” might seem like an odd one in the nonprofit sector, especially when it refers to consumers rather than prospective donors. After all, many nonprofits are established to help people who have little in the way of choice.

In the updated edition of his book “Managing a Nonprofit Organization” Thomas Wolf discusses choice, especially as it pertains to marketing and branding. Choice is not just about donors, but also about constituents and name recognition.

In an age when people have an unprecedented array of customized choices they can make with the flick of an index finger, nonprofits must be aware of personalized consumer demands. On the other hand, Wolf warned, research shows consumers opting out altogether when offered too many choices. He offers these considerations about choices:
  • In most cases, the greater the opportunity for consumers to choose the features of what they purchase, the better they will like it. For example, symphony organizers have learned that despite numerous subscription offerings, a “select your own” series is often most popular;
  • Despite the desire to customize, it is important to limit offerings to a small number so that consumers will not be overwhelmed and thus discouraged from acting; and,
  • Consumers often flock to “experts” and becoming familiar with them and gaining entry to their preferred lists can be extremely beneficial.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

12 Reasons For A Board Retreat

Board members don't usually react with excitement over the idea of a retreat; they tend to retreat from those plans as quick as they can. While they may not be thrilled about the idea of a board retreat, these trips often have tangible benefits and are worth pursuing.

Dennis Miller, founder of Miller & Associates in Denville, N.J., an expert on nonprofit board governance, leadership development and strategic planning, and frequent contributor to The NonProfit Times,  maintained that retreats are an excellent opportunity to envision the future, establish new goals and develop desired standards of performance.

This is all in practice, of course, and preparation is key to ensuring retreats have their desired effect. Specifically, that means managers should:

  • Solicit input from as many key internal and external stakeholders as possible.
  • In conjunction with the CEO, board chair and/or retreat committee, develop an agenda with two to three specific goals.
  • Consider requiring "homework" to be completed before the retreat.
  • Set approximate timelines for each topic to be covered and stick with them as often as possible.
  • Involve as many members from the senior executive team as practical.
  • Make sure everyone is called on to participate.
  • Select a comfortable place, preferably away from the site where the daily workings of the organization take place.
  • Allow ample breaks between key topics.
  • Build consensus on all key issues discussed and create key action steps.
  • Consider engaging an experienced facilitator or consultant.
  • Provide a retreat summary for all participants on key issues discussed, what consensus was developed and required action steps.
  • Perform a retreat customer satisfaction survey prior to leaving the room.

Monday, February 4, 2013

5 Ethical Decision-Making Steps

While a host of news stories about nonprofit executives making poor ethical decisions should not diminish all the good many organizations do, the reality is that the public perceptions is that nonprofit malfeasance has taken center stage in the past decade.

Ethical decision-making should play a central role in every challenge an executive faces, according to Barbara R. Levy, Yulanda N. Davis-Quarrie and Art Taylor during the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 49th International Conference on Fundraising.

Representing the AFP International Ethics Committee, the speakers noted that poor ethics will result in a drop in fundraising, as donors begin to lose trust in the organization. They offered five steps in ethical decision-making, also referred to as five questions to ask when trying to determine a more ethical path. The steps are:

  • What are the critical factors of the situation? Take time to review the problem from all sides. Write down the critical facts. Review them.
  • What are the key, perhaps competing, values and ethics at stake? Is this an issue of honesty, respect, justice, accountability or fairness, or all of these?
  • Who are the players and stakeholders in the decision? Does it involve donors, clients, staff, the community, volunteers, oneself or even philanthropy?
  • What are the driving forces in the situation? Where is the pressure originating? Are the sources of pressure reliable?
  • What is the worst-case scenario and the effects on all the players who are stakeholders? Who is the most vulnerable, the most resilient?

Nonprofit Arguments On LinkedIn

UPDATE 2/4: Our first discussion topic is now available. The topic is whether nonprofits should get postal discounts when the USPS is bleeding money.


LinkedIn is one of the more popular tools for job seekers today, as it allows them to connect with individuals who can help them land a job. Did you know it's also a great place for provocative discussions?

There are literally thousands of groups on LinkedIn on a variety of topics, including the nonprofit sector. The NonProfit Times has such a group, and we want to invite our readers to join our group to participate in some discussions regarding topics in the sector. In the next few weeks or so, we will be posting some of these questions and we want you to be a part of it.

Head over to our LinkedIn page now and join before the fun starts.