No doubt about it, many fundraisers have experienced another difficult year. This follows a challenging 2021, in which Giving USA found an overall dip in inflation-adjusted giving compared to 2020.
Instead of following the one-size-fits-all strategy of donor engagement, take the time to consider which methods will work best for soliciting small, medium and larger gifts. For the largest gifts, consider special approaches for planned, major and blended gifts. The future will depend on donor acquisition, retention and upgrading, according to the donor’s capacity, interest and stage of life.
Recognizing Giving Opportunities
As we begin 2023, a number of charitable giving techniques look very attractive in the current environment:
- QCDs up to $100,000 per IRA and what to do if the prospective donor has a 401(k) or 403(b).
- Noncash assets to fund planned and major gifts. In most cases, cash makes up a small percentage of a donor’s net worth.
- Donor advised funds (DAFs) have grown in popularity and impact in recent years.
- Charitable gift annuities should be more attractive in the new year, with suggested rates increasing again as well as a rising number of older prospects entering the
prime age for CGAs.
- The generational transfer of wealth will see the transfer of business interests and real estate primarily to younger generations but also to charity through outright and other split-interest gifts, like charitable remainder or lead trusts.
- Charitable bequests were one of the fastest-growing sources of charitable giving between 2019 and 2021 and are likely to continue to grow now that the oldest
baby boomers are in their mid-70s. Meanwhile, make sure you continue to communicate with your oldest donors who are currently the primary source of continued bequests each year.
- Planned gifts for younger or middle-aged, affluent, high-net-worth donors. With the increased interest in estate planning in the “Covid World,” don’t forget to occasionally mention planned gifts to a younger audience. Deferred gift annuities might create supplemental retirement income, or the younger person might establish a charitable remainder trust (CRT) for an older relative or another person. They get the tax deduction, and the relative or friend receives fixed or varied payments.
Ask yourself these questions: Do you really know your donors and why they support your work? Is your donor data up to date and sufficient for segmentation and solution purposes? Are you telling donor stories that illustrate the philanthropic impact?
Consider investing in professional development opportunities for new and existing staff to avoid missing gift opportunities. This may also be an ideal time to review and revise your gift acceptance and administration policies to make sure that they are current. For example, do you have a policy concerning the conversion of blockchain assets like bitcoin or NFTs that is similar to the one for publicly traded securities?
If you are expanding your gift development staff, consider how to hire and retain the best possible people for the positions needed. Review all donor communication
channels and consider the effectiveness of each one with different donor segments. Make sure that your data management system is able to handle additional tasks. Review policies, procedures, metrics and standards, and revise and update them and your development plans in light of the current fundraising environment. Consider the
return on investment for all fundraising efforts and stretch your budget dollar for maximum impact.
Look to Sharpe
Now may be an excellent time to seek some “Sharpe” advice on these and other issues in order to meet the challenges and find the opportunities that lay ahead. Depending upon your needs, we can assist you with a variety of questions related to your data and analytics needs, specific fundraising strategies and tactics and help you measure and evaluate your metrics and results. ■
Barlow Mann has more than three decades of experience in charitable gift planning and serves as general counsel for Sharpe Group. He is a member of the American and Tennessee Bar Associations and has authored articles on gift planning for many publications.