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Bryan Clontz Speaking at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Bryan Clontz Speaking at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Some people were reportedly shocked to have remained awake and energized during a two-hour presentation about the miracle of planned giving this morning. But if anyone could bring home the message of just how simple and important planned giving is, national speaker and consultant Bryan Clontz, CFP was our man.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Southwest Florida Planned Giving Council hosted a presentation with Clontz for a group of nearly 100 local nonprofit development professionals, executive directors and board members, and the overarching message was this: 90% of planned gifts are simply bequests.

With the enormous transfer of wealth we are seeing, imagine the possibilities if we simply did a better job of communicating to donors that it’s possible to continue the charitable work they are most passionate about through their wills and trusts.

Witty and no-nonsense, Clontz left us almost laughing at ourselves for not investing more time in planned giving. For every planned gift your organization expects to receive, he says, there are at least four planned gifts coming that you do not know about. Dedicating the time to create a pipeline for your nonprofit’s future can and will pay off.  If your organization never makes the time to do more than “keep the lights on,” your nonprofit may not have a future.

Here are some planned giving questions answered during this powerful presentation:

Why should we reconsider how we spend our time?
Let’s talk about corporate sponsors and partners for example. Consider the fact that 9% of all charitable giving comes from bequests and only 5.6% comes from corporations.  How much time are you spending seeking corporate support and sponsorship? Are you spending more time, less time or no time on planned giving? Does your answer make sense?

How do you get the board involved in planned giving?
Find a board champion who understands the importance of planned giving and who can influence your board members to step up. Just like all fundraising efforts, if your board members are not personally committed to leaving your organization in their wills, who will be? By arming your board and staff with the knowledge that your volunteer leaders have the confidence to leave your nonprofit in their estate plans, others will have confidence as well. According to Clontz, when two-thirds or more of your board members actively participate in your planned giving program, your efforts will not fail. When fewer than one-third participate, it is destined for failure. Great food for thought.

Will a planned giving program decrease annual giving?
To answer this question, Clontz asked us to put ourselves in the donors’ shoes. If we have personally committed the highest level of trust in a nonprofit by committing to a planned gift, is it likely that we will we be interested in what is currently happening at the organization? Probably. It just make sense. Annual gifts will continue to grow when planned giving programs are developed thoughtfully.

What is the average planned gift?
The average planned gift received (nationally) is $65,000, but the average amount that these donors give annually while living is $110. And the best planned giving prospects may not be your one-time $10,000 donors but those who give something every year–even if it’s less than $100.

Who are the most likely prospects for planned gifts?
Your organization’s founders, present board members and past board members are excellent prospects for planned giving. Are you almost positive that a certain donor has left your nonprofit in her will? Don’t be so sure. She is a prospect and should be treated as such unless she has confirmed otherwise. (This means having a meaningful one-on-one conversation about the possibilities.) Remember your loyal, consistent givers and always listen and learn from those you speak with regularly.

Work with your Community Foundation and the Southwest Florida Planned Giving Council to stay connected to the professional advisor community and planned giving resources.  Your Giving Partner profile is the link we share with donors and others in the community who could be your next major prospects. Keeping your profile updated and compelling, simple and clear, you can continue to share your story as a point of introduction for those who may be passionate about your mission.

Learn more about Bryan Clontz at http://charitablesolutionsllc.com/bryan-clontz/.

 

casTruly, you would have to be living in a cave to have been spared exposure to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the unbelievably successful awareness/fundraising campaign for the ALS Association. (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is frequently referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”  It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, eventually leading to the patient’s death.)

Why People Love the Challenge

  • It’s easy, social and daring. Who doesn’t love to see ice water dumped on someone you love, respect, hate or have seen in high heels at Michael’s on East?

  • You can make it a family event. We love the videos with parents, kids, and ice buckets…or better yet, kids challenging their parents.

  • It’s something anyone can do. (Except John Annis?)

  • Peer influence is an intrinsic part of the campaign. Drawing your colleagues, rivals, and friends into this—especially when you know they are trying to quietly hide from it all–is irresistible.

  • It’s impossible to argue that the Challenge is raising a LOT of awareness about ALS and a LOT of money for ALS.

Why People Criticize the Challenge

  • “How can socially conscious people waste water like this?”

  • “I don’t get the connection to the ALS mission.”

  •  “Some people are making the videos but aren’t donating. It’s not either/or.”

  •  “What’s the likelihood that new donors who have no connection to ALS will give again?”

What “The Giving Partner” Perspective Might Be 

  • We have loved seeing this campaign because it has garnered so much diverse participation: young people, old people, people of every ethnicity, famous people, eccentric people, “normal” people. And people have fun while they are doing it. That’s the viral appeal. Critics are lurking around the corner of every good and great effort, just because. Let’s enjoy the enormous success here!

  • ALS organizations everywhere are coming into sudden cash they couldn’t have imagined long ago. This is why building capacity from the ground up is so important. A committed board of directors, strong internal controls, sound policies, a strategic plan, and other financial, governance and planning ingredients are vital whether your organization is a baby or a giant. Things can change quickly. Be nimble and prepared for greatness with a stable, thoughtful underlying structure.

  • The question about whether new donors with no connection to ALS will give again is an interesting one. And it’s a question we ask after each Giving Challenge in relation to some of the socially inspired gifts that were made. Clearly some people are just participants in the fun. But for many others, the big answer will be generated by the organization itself. What will it do to engage the donor? Will the donor hear stories of hope and progress? Will she know how her dollars made a difference? Will she receive the right number and type of follow-up communications going forward?

  • Equally creative tactics have been locally deployedSnooty’s Lettuce Challenge at the South Florida Museum this summer generated some amazing buzz. An awareness and fundraising event rolled into one, the organization leveraged community leaders who participated in an unconventional food challenge that related to the mission. It created some powerful energy during a matching campaign–another notable model for us to reflect upon!

  • If we offer a Giving Challenge in 2015, we anticipate some extra creative campaigns that will no doubt be inspired by the Ice Bucket Challenge. The wheels are turning… But why wait? You could try your own version at any time using the best of what you observed.

Other Must-Read Pieces About It

-Susie Bowie, Director of Nonprofit Strategy
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Short answer: it is.

The enthusiastic follow-up: yes, yes, yes.

Remember That Board Member Duty?

We cannot forget that charitable nonprofits exist for the public good and are not owned by an individual or group of individuals. Each nonprofit board member must exercise the “duty of loyalty,” placing the interests of the nonprofit before personal or professional concerns when serving, therefore avoiding potential conflicts of interest.

It’s Not that Complicated

We hear from all sorts of well-meaning folks who (unintentionally) complicate the concept of conflict of interest. In a basic example, it’s the kind of thing that should stop a board member from voting on an issue when there may be financial benefit to herself, her spouse, her family, her company or another organization where she may serve as a volunteer leader.

Who Wants to Know, Anyway?

When your organization files its IRS Form 990 each year, the Internal Revenue Service asks you to indicate whether or not your organization has a conflict of interest policy. You don’t have to say “yes.” But if you don’t, it looks a little shady, yes?

Local organizations in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and Desoto counties with a presence in The Giving Partner are also asked if they have conflict of interest policies right on their profiles.

Surprisingly, 32% of nonprofits with profiles indicate they do not have a conflict of interest policy.  We are pretty sure that some of them may have adopted a policy years ago, perhaps when founded, but current leadership does not remember or can’t find the document. In any case, we can do better than this.

A new development in the State of Florida will make conflict of interest junkies jump up and down. The recently approved changes to the Solicitation of Contributions Act require 501(c)(3) nonprofits to adopt a conflict of interest policy and to provide annual certification of compliance with the policy by all directors, officers, and trustees of the organization.

Two Simple Actions for Nonprofit Boards Everywhere

  • Adopt an organizational conflict of interest policy that is frequently reviewed by board members and staff members.
  • Require board and staff members to complete a simple disclosure form each year certifying that they have reviewed the conflict of interest policy and sharing conflicts and potential conflicts of interest.

It is very likely–especially in this community–that your board members may have conflicts from time to time. Many caring individuals and their businesses are deeply intertwined in the work of more than one charitable organization. The conflict of interest policy will provide the necessary guidance to ensure that board members disclose conflicts and potential conflicts and do not vote on related issues if they arise in the boardroom.

And Finally…

The best charitable organizations out there focus on what is best for the missions they are upholding every day. They protect the charitable intent of the donors and funders who make their missions possible. So upholding a good, trusty conflict of interest policy is just natural.  And to add to the glory of it all, it’s not rocket science.

The National Council of Nonprofits has an excellent set of conflict of interest resources, including sample policies and sample annual disclosure forms.

 

Kevin Baird, a national leader in educational publishing and professional development, spoke at Sarasota County Technical Institute last night, energizing educators, nonprofit staff and funders who are innovating through EdExplore SRQ, an online platform connecting teachers to local community arts, cultural, historical, and science field-based organizations that provide opportunities to enrich the school curriculum.

Thanks to the generosity of The Patterson Foundation and Sue Meckler, Angela Hartvigsen and Brian Hersh of Sarasota County Schools, we tapped into creative approaches to bring Florida Standards to life in our public school system.

We explored ways to encourage students to make intelligent inferences instead of memorization, ways for teachers to expand their own perspectives and openness to new teaching methods, and ways organizations can deliver a newfound excitement and spark for subject matter to both teachers and students.

Making more connections to the “real world” in reading, writing, math and science are more important than ever before–not just because it constitutes life readiness (vs. college and career readiness alone) but because it is far more likely to engage students in relevant, lasting skill development.

What are the top four skills we’re trying to master?

  1. Critical thinking
  2. Complex problem solving
  3. Judgment and decision-making
  4. Active listening

I can’t imagine what skills could be more important to prepare young people for nonprofit careers.

Can you imagine how agile our social sector organizations could be if we appointed board members and hired staff based on their skill or promise in these four areas?  The complex issues we face on a daily basis require flexibility and decisiveness, thinking and action, and the ability to quiet ourselves as we absorb others’ experiences and points of view.

If you view your organization as a learning laboratory for solving a social or environmental issue, consider how well are you doing on these core questions:

  • Is your organization investing in developing critical thinking, complex problem solving, judgment, and active listening skills for individuals at every level?
  • Are board members given the space to practice critical thinking and complex problem solving to move your organization forward during board meetings?
  • Do your leaders model active listening with staff, donors and clients?
  • When interviewing new potential staff and board members, do you ask behavioral questions that help you understand an individual’s critical thinking skills?

Kevin challenged us to think about how we can “help the science lesson become the science lab.” In other words, how can we build interactive (and sometimes fun) solutions to our most persistent challenges to achieve more? Whether that occurs in the classroom, in the field, or behind our desks at local organizations, novel approaches are needed to move us out of status quo.

Thanks, as always, to The Patterson Foundation for stimulating more thought about new possibilities.

 

Kevin Baird serves in a variety of education related posts through EdLead, his education fund and support organization. He is a founder of the Center for College & Career Readiness and a regular speaker and consultant working with schools and districts to create effective school management systems and processes.

The 2014 Fundraisers Forum at State College of Florida's Lakewood Ranch Campus on Friday, July 11, 2014

The 2014 Fundraisers Forum at State College of Florida’s Lakewood Ranch Campus

At the center of every great story is the hero.

Our nonprofit work is made possible by those who invest in our missions, so at the heart of every success–every person, animal or place made better through our programs–is the donor.

On Friday, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Southwest Florida Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals welcomed 150 local nonprofit fundraising leaders to the tenth annual Fundraisers Forum.  We found a number of takeaways to help us position donors as our heroes for long-term, sustained relationships with our organizations.

Are you putting your donors in the superhero costumes they deserve? We bet you are if…

  1. You see your constituents three dimensionally. The focus of Andrea Berry’s keynote address was the “3D” aspect of our constituents, knowing that each donor is not just someone who gives, but a full person, complete with a unique personal situation, interests and capabilities.  Donors may also be patrons, volunteers, clients.  Coordinating  messages from your organization and speaking to each aspect of your donors helps them to see us as smart, caring institutions that want to involve them at the highest level.

  2. Your donor management system captures good information. If your organization is to survive transitions in staff and board members over time, having a good donor management system to track the history of donors’ interactions with your nonprofit—as well as their preferences and backgrounds—is essential. The continuity this provides allows your donors to always be front and center, weathering changes that are destined to occur at your organization.

  3. Special events are strategic and mission-focused, allowing donors to easily see themselves in a compelling position to help. Consider Neuro Challenge Foundation’s Cause for Fashion event. It’s not just another nonprofit fashion show. The models are Parkinson’s patients and donors, connecting the event to the mission, presenting each person as someone who is more than the disease.  At Girls Incorporated of Sarasota County’s annual luncheon, it’s the girls who run the show—serving as table ambassadors, making the speeches, greeting guests as they enter. Donors receive a first-hand experience of the difference their funding has made in building strong, smart, bold girls.

  4. Your written fundraising plan guides strategies to cultivate donors. Without a fundraising plan, each person on your board or staff may have a different idea about your fundraising goals for prospecting, annual giving, major gifts, planned giving. When you have a written plan with goals–and strategies and human resources assigned to them (whether those resources are board or staff members)–you can better focus on the true center of your development efforts: your donors themselves.

  5. Your relationships with donors include lots of one-on-one time. Strong personal connections are built with one-on-one conversations, meetings, and follow ups. The more interactions we have in which we are simply connecting, not asking, the more we cultivate possibilities for long-term support. And the hero in this kind of personal, continuous relationship is always the donor.

 

Special thanks to 2014 Fundraisers Forum keynote and breakout presenter Andrea Berry, director of development of Hardy Girls Healthy Women and former national training director for Idealware; and to breakout session leaders Janet Ginn, CFRE, senior vice president of development for the Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Lisa Intagliata, CFRE, director of philanthropic events of Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation; Carisa Campanella, care coordinator of Neuro Challenge Foundation; Kay Mathers, director of community relations of Girls Inc of Sarasota County; and Tom Melville, executive director of the Literacy Council of Sarasota County.

 

We have enjoyed some great content published over the last couple of years highlighting the importance of mission statements with eight words or less.  Speaking from a funder’s point of view, there is incredible value in getting right to the point.

Eight-word mission statements do not attempt to define every activity your organization carries out. They include action words. And, most importantly, they are short enough to remember.

As we get ready to embark on another partnership with Sarasota Magazine, the publisher of the annual Guide to Giving magazine listing local nonprofit organizations and sharing moving feature stories, we urge you to take a look at your organization’s mission statement in The Giving Partner.

We have discovered some thesis-style mission statements hiding there! These run-on missions are complicated and sometimes confusing. If you can’t articulate your mission in a simple sentence or phrase, you are asking yourself and others to remember too much. And you may be inadvertently asking someone else to slice and dice your mission for you during the editing process. (Don’t let your nonprofit fall victim!)

As you are re-visiting your mission statement, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many words are in your mission statement?
  2. Can your staff and board members recite the mission with ease?
  3. How can you cut right to the chase?

On Tuesday morning we issued a challenge on The Giving Partner’s Facebook page: in three words or less, describe your organization’s mission. It was met with enthusiasm by some talented nonprofit staff who had no trouble dipping into the heart of what they do without long-winded explanations.

Take a look at what some of your peers were able to do in boiling down their missions to three-word taglines. Bravo!

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Can you do the same for your organization?

Visit our Facebook page to see the other great nonprofit responses. And don’t forget to check your profile online in The Giving Partner to tune up your mission statement.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

 

 

Did we love seeing our community raise more than $3,127,000 in 24 hours on May 6 and 7?  We absolutely loved it.  We are proud to live in a community with such inspiring causes, generous donors, and hardworking nonprofit board members, staff and volunteers.

As we look at our community’s great accomplishment in the 2014 Giving Challenge, here are a few things we loved watching–and they’re not about money.

    1. We became more knowledgeable about the world around us.
      Nature’s Academy is one of many organizations that used the Giving Challenge as a platform to educate the community about issues relating to its mission. Staff carefully planned a 30-day Facebook countdown to the Challenge featuring a different factoid about Southwest Florida’s environment or science education each day.  Donor thank you letters included support levels corresponding to marine species, complete with a short descriptions of the animals.  Kudos to Nature’s Academy and other nonprofits that infused learning in philanthropy all the way through.natures
    2. We watched community building in action.
      Charlotte County organizations came together—I mean really came together—for the Giving Challenge.  Connie Kantor dreamed up a collaborative effort to bring the community together, encouraging every organization in Charlotte County to showcase its programs and services at Charlotte Community Foundation during one hour of the campaign. We’re feeling grateful for the example she set.  Kudos to Tracy Hille (Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Gabrielle Reineck (Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity) and Randy Dunn (Charlotte County Family YMCA) for their key roles in this partnership.

      AMIKids Build a Wall for Habitat for Humanity Charlotte County at the Community Foundation of Charlotte County During the Giving Challenge

      AMIKids Build a Wall for Habitat for Humanity Charlotte County at the Community Foundation of Charlotte County During the Giving Challenge

    3. We watched creativity emerge in unexpected ways.
      Some organizations exude creativity by nature–Realize Bradenton and the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County, for example. The Pines of Sarasota Foundation decided to depart from a more formal approach to messaging and produce some very creative videos (in-house) that shared the faces and services of The Pines in a way we haven’t seen before. The result was a super high-energy campaign that engaged residents, families of residents, board members, staff members, and volunteers in giving, sharing content and celebrating the feeling of community at The Pines.

There’s more. Stay tuned for our second list, and while you’re waiting, how about commenting on this post with some of the great things you noted during the Challenge?

They can be general observations about what you enjoyed seeing in our community or special “insider” information from your organization. We may publish them.

Enjoy your week!

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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