Like it or not, the key for a truly successful planned giving/endowment development strategy is to “take the long view.” Based on nearly 60 years of analyzing charities’ bequests, our research that forms the Sharpe KnowledgeBase® includes two important findings:
- First, you want to be in the LAST will because it’s the document that provides final distributions of estate assets.
- Second, a donor’s LAST will is generally created one to six years before their death.
We’ve found the time between the final will and death varies and is often related to the mission of the charity. Health-related nonprofit organizations experience a shorter lapse of time between creation of the last will and the death of the donor. Faith-based charities see a longer, if not the longest, length of time between the last will and the donor’s death.
It is critical that boards and senior management have realistic expectations for the length of time necessary to cultivate planned gifts and endowment gifts from donors. It is important to invest capital and labor with a long view to develop a parallel endowment strategy alongside a planned giving strategy in order to provide funds regardless of annual variations in fundraising results. Starting a planned giving program in good fundraising years and stopping in poor fundraising years will negatively affect results.
Taking the long view is also a key strategy to the ongoing success of a planned giving consulting firm. Often, succession in a small business is from the founder to a child or close family member. This is not surprising because small businesses are viewed by the founder as a family business to be passed down from generation to generation. But sometimes, it is best for long-term success to look elsewhere for the right leader. Effective leadership is as important and difficult for a small business as it is for a nonprofit.
Sharpe Group’s CEO and board looked outside the family of founder Bob Sharpe Sr. for our new president, and we employed technology to do so—the very same technology we use with our clients who have interest in taking the long view.
Sharpe Group has a cost-effective Hiring Platform App that automates the mind-numbing work of reviewing large numbers of applicant resumes. Many of our president applicants were screened out by the App before any time was invested in reviewing resumes. Those remaining were easily reviewed along with other qualifying features in order to develop a short list of highly qualified applicants.
Additional features of the Sharpe Hiring Platform App include an online process to review personality strengths and motivational attributes of those on the short list. We combined those attributes along with education level, previous responsibilities and prior successes and selected five applicants to be interviewed for our president position. Because of the limitations from COVID, we developed successful interviewing techniques that were used in making our final selection.
This issue of Sharpe Insights introduces Eric Eilertsen, Sharpe Group’s new president. Because of the initial work of our senior management and board, the usual integration process of new leadership with existing senior management was minimal and has been fun for everyone. Eric has clearly demonstrated the efficacy of the Sharpe Hiring Platform App.
We are excited every time we use the Hiring Platform App with a nonprofit client. Over the past two years, Sharpe Group has successfully recruited and hired five long-term employees. That is 100% of our hires, and each has proven to be an excellent addition to our team.
Just think of it … if there needs to be a minimum of one to six years of relationship building for a large gift or bequest to be received, clearly the turnover of planned giving staff is a major impairment to building long-term donor relationships. Studies show the average employment term for a planned giving officer is between two and four years, and the cost of replacing them can be greater than $125,000 for each new employee.
We invite you to share in our experience with hiring qualified people for your open positions using the Sharpe Hiring Platform App.