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E-Newsletter

Click on the links below to access the full articles from our council e-newsletter.  The e-newsletter is distributed three times a year (March, June and September).  If you are interested in providing an article for future issues, please email info@pgcgp.org.

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  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020 4:30 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Anat Becker, JD

    Dear Friends,

    I hope you are safe and well. We've missed seeing you at the educational events of the Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia, and we were glad that so many of you joined us online in March and June. September is right around the corner, and with it our traditional kick-off to Fall programming. You will see that we've adapted our programs and courses to today's realities. 

    The PGCGP has a robust lineup of programs scheduled for the Fall, including a Planned Giving Day keynote presentation on Diversity and Philanthropy. Please see a summary of this extremely important and timely session directly below. We hope that these educational programs will be helpful to your work in the greater Philadelphia philanthropic community.   

    On September 11 we will hold a webinar featuring Russell James, J.D., Ph.D., CFP®. Russell is a professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University where he directs the on-campus and online graduate program in Charitable Financial Planning (planned giving). Russell will review 100 years of data about charitable bequests.

    On September 24 and 25 the
    Planned Giving Course will take place online. This course is designed for new and emerging planned giving professionals and development officers who want to add planned giving conversations into their interactions with donors, and wealth advisors and financial professionals who seek to increase their understanding of charitable planning strategies.

    Our Planned Giving Day Series
    is arriving Wednesday, October 14, with two educational sessions scheduled every Wednesday through November 18. While we'll miss seeing everyone at the Union League, we are pleased to offer pertinent topics by renowned speakers.

    Finally, another educational program will take place on December 3. Additional information will be shared closer to that date.

    I invite you to enjoy these topics and to sign up for these programs at your earliest convenience. Registration is available at
    pgcgp.org and via emails that are ongoing. I also encourage you to join one of our many committees that encompass membership, programming, sponsorships and much more.

    Best wishes to you all.

  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020 4:26 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Viken Mikaelian, CEO, PlannedGiving.Com

    A sad moment during this pandemic was my mother’s death. Because of the lockdown and travel restrictions, I could not be with her during her final days (she lived in Nevada). Although I’m told she passed in peace, which was a blessing, it doesn’t take away the sting — and I know there’s many people right now who can relate.

    The pandemic has affected each of us in different ways, and we all have stories to share.

    But if you know me, you know it’s not in my nature to sit around and wring my hands over what was, or even what might be. I choose to focus on the positives during tough times. So, with that in mind, I’ve been treating the pandemic as an opportunity for personal development: The lockdown has inspired me to experiment with new habits and new lifestyles. Some of them I’ll keep. Others … not so much.

    For instance:

    The Good

    I’ve been getting in touch with clients just to say “hi!” (you should do that, too — call or write to a donor daily).

    I’ve been brainstorming with staff to develop new ways for clients to market their planned giving programs (you should be brainstorming ways to reach prospects).

    I updated my estate plans (you should probably do that, too).

    I’ve been working seven days a week, and yet still setting aside time for my wife. I cherish our happy hour at 7 PM every night on the deck (OK, truth be told I was usually working seven days a week before the pandemic, so not much of a change there. The point is, it’s time to double down, not hurry up and wait).

    The Bad

    I’m only shaving once a week.

    I’ve been letting my hair grow.

    I’ve cut down on exercise.

    The Silly

    I’ve become a scofflaw; a true rebel without a cause: Due to lack of traffic, I often take a right on a “No Turn On Red” (and then suffer Driver’s Remorse that evening…).

    I’ve been considering teaching Chloe, our Yorkie, how to drive. What could possibly go wrong?

    Email us some of your good, bad and silly habits. And be brutally honest.

    I’ll respond. Honest.

  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020 3:54 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Aruna Pappu, LLM-Tax, J.D., MSTax, Director of Development, Gift Planning, Drexel University

    As this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis continues, more and more Americans are facing uncertain futures.  In the past few months, an interesting trend has been evolving from this uncertainty:  Attorneys across the country are being besieged by clients requesting new Wills and Estate Planning Documents.  COVID-19, it appears, has been a resounding wake-up call to many who have avoided facing these important personal and family decisions in the past.  As Mary Kate D’Sousa, a veteran estate lawyer and co-founder of Gentreo observed, “[A]s awful as the pandemic is, at least it will enable people to take action they need to protect their families and loved ones….This has moved from the ‘to-do-list’ to ‘I really have to get that done.”

    So who are these folks now clamouring for their Wills to be done?  Attorneys are reporting that these new clients represent all ages and segments of society, rich and poor, old and relatively young.  It appears that what’s happening in lawyers’ offices now reflects the “Best Practices” promulgated in the industry for years: Namely that Wills and Estate Planning Documents are beneficial to all individuals, regardless of financial standing or age.  Now more than ever, Americans across the board are poised to draft/update their Wills, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogates, Living Wills and End of Life Directives.

    My fellow PGCGPers, by now you should be hearing the not-so-faint strains of harps and the pot o’ gold image should be coming into sharp focus.  As more and more Americans are updating their Wills and planning documents, they will inevitably also be making decisions about their Charitable Giving.  Our Prospective Donors are primed to GIVE NOW, so this is a HUGE opportunity for us.

    The obvious question at this point is “HOW?”  HOW do we undertake meaningful discussions with our Prospects during these socially distant times and still manage to move the Gifting process forward?  Although the “Best Practices” for this aspect of our profession are new and continually evolving, it is widely recommended that Charitable Gift Planners make the following modifications to their Gifting strategies:

    1. Delay IN-PERSON meetings with older Donors.  Instead, use tools such as Zoom meetings, FaceTime calls, etc. to schedule VIRTUAL Visits with older Donors.  This is a useful method to remain in contact with Prospects and an effective way to keep the Gift Planning discussion active during these times of socially distancing;
    2. Remind Donors about the benefits of CGAs.  Take this opportunity to  assure Donors that their annual CGA income will NOT be affected by Market volatility;
    3. Educate Donors about the SECURE Act.  Educate Donors about the SECURE Act’s new rules regarding Retirement Accounts and Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs), also known as Charitable IRA Rollovers.  Clarify that the SECURE Act affects Donors who own IRAs, 401(k)s or any Qualified Retirement Plan.  Further, the demise of the “Stretch IRA” will likely motivate Donors with large IRAs to Gift a larger percentage, or possibly all, to charity;
    4. Encourage Donors to consider other deferred Gifts.   For example, discuss the benefits of Gifts from Wills, Trusts, Life Insurance or Payment/Transfer on Death designations – since these do not require a current transfer of assets, Donors may find them more appealing;
    5. DISCOURAGE Gifts of DEPRECIATED Capital Assets.  Explain to Donors that, under the current Market downturn, depreciated capital assets such as securities or real estate, should not be donated.  Encourage Donors to Gift cash instead.

    With the aid of available technology, these recommendations seek to help us “pivot” to more “Virtual” interactions with our prospective Donors – at least for the foreseeable future.  Remember my friends, we’re all in this together.  So let’s all do our best to use this “Silver Lining” to Planned Giving’s advantage!

  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020 3:27 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Delia Perez, CFRE, Director of Planned Giving, Fairleigh Dickinson University

    As gift planning officers, we focus on relationship building with our benefactors to ultimately connect their passion with our nonprofit’s needs. As we get to know and build trust and rapport with our donors, we come to understand what they value and want to achieve with their philanthropic investment. The Marzan brothers and their love of running led them to Fairleigh Dickinson University and ultimately, the creation of legacy gifts for scholarships to honor the memory of their FDU mentors. 

     

    Paul (left) and Peter (right) Marzan run into FDU cross country stardom in 1977.

    Twin brothers, Peter and Paul Marzan, unexpectedly found their way to Fairleigh Dickinson University, and it all started with their love of running. They grew up in Park Ridge, N.J., where they attended elementary school and graduated from Park Ridge High School in 1976. Their mother, Geraldine, worked hard to raise her boys on her salary as a cashier in a local supermarket and knew that a college education was far beyond their means. She encouraged them to study hard and get good grades.

    The Marzan brothers were outstanding athletes at Park Ridge High School and their track records caught the eye of a volunteer ‘talent scout,’ Elia Stratis, who ultimately directed them to FDU. Elia, BS in accounting (’67), MBA (’76), was a member of the FDU Board of Trustees, had served as president of the FDU Board of Governors, and was an avid soccer player.

    Paul says, “We were contacted by Elia who was working with FDU’s Athletic Department. We didn’t respond right away, so Elia kept calling us throughout the spring and summer of 1976. He had a video of Peter and I winning track and cross country events. He wanted to meet us and our Mom, and we invited him to our home. Elia arrived with a fruit basket for us and discussed FDU athletics, and the rest is history.”

    According to Peter, “Elia was shopping for talent to help the assistant athletic director and coach, Walter Marusyn, build better soccer, cross country and track teams for the University. He made it his personal quest to recruit exceptional runners for FDU’s athletic teams.” After that conversation, Peter and Paul were offered scholarships and enrolled at FDU for the 1976 fall semester. Peter says, “Paul was the top recruit that year and the scholarships made a college education possible for us. Mom was thrilled beyond words and always left two dollars on the kitchen table for us to take to FDU each day. Our teammates told us that Elia showed up in their living rooms with fruit baskets too and also encouraged them to consider FDU athletics. His strategy worked.”

    During their running days at FDU, Peter and Paul, and their teammates, made Coach Walter Marusyn very proud, especially with the record-setting performance of the 1977 cross country team. In 1978, Paul was the Mid-Atlantic Region nationally ranked team’s MVP (most valuable player) in cross country and co-captain of FDU’s cross country team in 1979. Through it all, they remained grateful for their track and cross country athletic scholarships that funded their FDU education.

    Ever the entrepreneur, Elia left a prominent accounting firm and founded his own firm, Campos & Stratis, in 1969. He was a pioneer in the field of forensic accounting. During their four years at FDU, Peter and Paul worked as summer interns with Elia, who also mentored their educational, athletic and early professional lives.  

    Peter earned his BS (’80) in marketing and was hired as an internal auditor for Butler International. He also enrolled in FDU’s MBA program and in March 1985, Elia hired him to work with his firm. Peter completed his MBA (’86) in accounting and passed the CPA exam that same year. He continued to work at Campos & Stratis as a senior auditor until Elia’s unexpected passing in December 1988.

    In March 1989, Peter accepted a position at Evonik Corporation and became an accomplished lead buyer for 25 rail-to-truck transfer terminals, a bulk-truck transportation program, and a 40-site 3-PL (third party logistics) warehouse network. In July 2014, he was promoted to Category Manager within the logistics department at Evonik Corporation, until his retirement in January 2016. Peter now volunteers with the Humane Society of Broward County, FL., invests in real estate and start-up biotech companies, and is still running.

    Similarly, Paul earned his BS (’80) in marketing. He worked with the marketing department at Mikasa China & Glass for four years and then advanced to its crystal inventory control team for eleven years. In 1995, Paul began his new role as a logistics manager with Waterford/Wedgwood USA in charge of three of the nine departments at the main warehouse. Starting in 2000, he oversaw the design and opening of a new satellite distribution center for Wedgwood USA in Cranbury, N.J., and served as one of six project managers implementing its bar code driven warehouse management system.  

    In 2004, Paul left corporate life behind as his entrepreneurial spirit urged him to start his own landscaping business. At the same time, he also began his own real estate investment company, purchasing undervalued residential real estate, rehabilitating the properties, and marketing these as rental properties. He now considers himself ‘semi-retired’ as he successfully manages his portfolio of residential rental properties located in Hamilton Township and Trenton, N.J., and New York City. And just like his brother, Paul is still running. 

    In retrospect, the Marzan brothers credit Elia Stratis as their insightful “angel investor,” along with Coach Walter Marusyn, who recognized their talent and potential at FDU. Their FDU education and experience provided a pathway to success, fostered enduring friendships with members of their cross country team, and changed their lives forever.

    The Marzan brothers believe in giving back and making a difference in the lives of others. Peter says, “As we get older, we feel more of a responsibility to give back. Philanthropy and charity to others take on a higher priority. We didn’t have much when we were young and now we want to open doors for other students to have a chance at FDU too.” Paul agrees and says, “We went to a school that did its best for us and now it’s time to give back. FDU is a good place to put your money to work helping students achieve a great education.”

    Peter and Paul truly appreciate their FDU education and experience. Their estate plans include legacy gifts to further the impact of existing scholarships honoring the memory of their mentors, Elia Stratis and Walter Marusyn. Now it’s their turn to open doors for the next generation of student athletes who are ready to run with FDU.

    Peter (left) and Paul (right) Marzan with Delia G. Perez, CFRE, FDU Director of Planned, in Hamilton Township, NJ (June 22, 2019)

  • Wednesday, August 12, 2020 2:56 PM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written By: David L. Eldridge, Ph.D., Associate Director of Individual Giving, Swarthmore College, and Carol Blakely Buchser, M.S., Swarthmore College Class of 1967 (in consultation with Renée Atkinson, Director of Gift Planning, Swarthmore College)

    The philanthropic partnerships we form via planned gift discussions are grounded in the sensitive topic of mortality as we plan a donor’s final gift. These discussions also involve the complexity of matching donors with a myriad of possible planned gift structures with varied tax and financial implications and requirements. In this case,the creation of Carol’s flip trust accelerated a pre-existing bequest of real estate that she had established years before we began our work together. The transformation from a revocable bequest to an irrevocable life income gift nearly doubled Carol’s impact on Swarthmore’s Changing Lives, Changing the World campaign, expanded her class scholarship’s impact, and added to Carol’s delight in giving. Swarthmore’s donor-centric approach prepared David to follow Carol’s lead from our first meeting.

    David:
    When we first met, you were so excited to show me how much your bequeathed property had increased in value! Listening to you talk about how your cancer experience inspired that gift demonstrated deep trust and motivated me to discover ways to turn the additional equity into philanthropy.


    Carol:
    Attending Swarthmore changed my life in so many ways. When I contracted thyroid cancer in 2014, I set up a Living Trust and bequeathed the condominium I purchased in 1977 to Swarthmore. I am thrilled that the condo valuation has increased dramatically over 43 years.


    David:
    I had no idea if it was possible to convert the added equity of Carol’s property into an expanded gift. After some consultation with colleagues, we discovered a solution: a flip trust! You were excited about the strategy, but you had a caveat.


    Carol:
    I am devoted to my long-term tenant, who moved into the property in 2012. She is retired and lives alone but has two grandchildren living nearby whom she cares for. I felt strongly that it would be mean-spirited to inform the tenant that I was giving her a
    month’s notice to move out.

    David:
    We then wrestled at the office with a new question: would the tenant’s ending the lease constitute a qualified flip event? Some of our external advisors furnished an answer. Since Carol would sell the house after her tenant leaves, we could use the standard flip event of the property sale.

    Carol: I was thrilled with David’s news: my tenant stays in the condo until choosing to vacate. It’s a win-win situation! My tenant remains in place as long as she wants, and I get to see how Swarthmore benefits from this endowment, continuing its mission of changing lives, changing the world.

    David: We worked hard together with a number of my colleagues and the vendor that manages our trust investments to establish Carol’s trusteeship and to make sure that everyone shared an understanding of how Carol’s flip trust operates. As the current trustee, Carol will continue to receive rent and will pay all property expenses, including those accrued at sale (taxes, advisement, etc.). Swarthmore will then assume trusteeship over the sale proceeds and distribute quarterly trust revenue to Carol.

    Carol:
    The process of setting up the flip trust was a smooth one. I received excellent guidance from the Swarthmore team and the trust investments vendor. I consulted with my trust attorney, and we were able to get all documents completed in short order. I would recommend a flip trust solution.


    Planned giving is best conceived as a creative, solution-generating collaboration among donors, gift officers, and external advisors (Carol and David’s team comprised over 15 people and four organizations).

  • Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:56 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Anat Becker, JD

    Dear Colleagues,

    The gift planning field is ever changing. We regularly adapt to new laws, regulations and market conditions. These days we also have to consider a pandemic to which our legacy donors are particularly vulnerable both physically and financially.

    How do we talk to our most loyal supporters in a sensitive way while conveying our philanthropic mission and good work? In addition to tact and a thorough understanding of our respective missions we also educate ourselves about pertinent changes in law, taxes and even our own organizational operations.

    Please join us on June 4th for a presentation by Laura Solomon, Esq., who also penned an article below. Laura will address how the CARES Act affects charities specifically.

    On June 18th Ronald Brown will talk about charitable gift annuities and their long history in Philly. CGAs, which offer fixed income for life, may be especially appealing to your donors now. But they may also pose a risk to your organizations, which back the annuities with their full faith and credit, considering sharp market fluctuations.

    The Planned Giving Council of Greater Philadelphia will continue to provide resources as we navigate this new reality. Stay tuned for additional programs in the fall. We certainly hope to see you in person. But if we cannot, we will adapt.

    Best wishes to you all.

  • Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:51 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Laura N. Solomon, Esq., Founder of Laura Solomon & Associates

    On March 13, President Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic to be a “qualified disaster” under the under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.  This designation means that employers and charities may make tax-free “qualified disaster relief payments” or reimbursements to employees and other individuals who have been affected by COVID-19.

    Qualified relief payments can include:

    • Reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19
    • Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for the repair or rehabilitation of a personal residence, or repair or replacement of its contents, to the extent that the need is attributable to COVID-19 
    • Compensation for the death or personal injuries incurred as a result of COVID-19, by a company engaged in the furnishing, sale, or transportation as a common carrier
    • Payments to promote the general welfare or in connection with COVID-19, if paid by a federal, state, or local government, or agency or instrumentality 

    These payments are not considered income to the recipient, need not be reported on a Form W-2 or 1099, and are fully deductible as business expenses of the employer.  Employers seeking charitable contribution deductions for their relief payments may also use charitable organizations and even donor-advised funds, for this purpose.

    Charitable organizations can also make income tax-free qualified disaster relief payments, including payments to their employees if the payments are:

    • To a large (e.g. community) or indefinite (e.g. current and future employees) group affected by COVID-19, rather than a specific group of individuals, and
    • Based on an objective assessment of need. 

    The IRS recommends that charitable organizations making qualified disaster relief payments maintain a qualified disaster relief policy or other records to show that the organization’s payments further the organization’s charitable purposes and that the victims served are needy or distressed.  Such documentation should include:

    • A complete description of the assistance provided
    • Costs associated with providing the assistance
    • The purpose for which the aid was given
    • The charitable organization’s objective criteria for disbursing assistance under each program
    • How the recipients were selected
    • The name, address, and amount distributed to each recipient
    • Any relationship between a recipient and officers, directors, or key employees of, or substantial contributors to, the charitable organization
    • The composition of the selection committee approving the assistance. 

    For additional guidance on qualified disaster relief payments, see IRS Publication 3833.

    Please let us know if you have questions or require assistance as you navigate qualified disaster relief payments or any other COVID-19 related legislation.  We will continue to highlight new legislation and other opportunities to support and provide relief to those impacted by COVID-19.

    You can contact us at (610) 645-0992 or on our website www.laurasolomonesq.com.

    Click here for Laura Solomon’s Lunch and Learn program on June 4th.

  • Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:48 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Ronald A. Brown, Author, “A History of Charitable Gift Planning” (Amazon 2017)

    I am excited to bring this presentation to Philadelphia, home for so much American history! It is not surprising that your fair city is important in shaping gift planning today.

    This will not be like any other webinar. A few years ago, I realized something is missing in the way America trains its charitable gift planners. Something important.

    Where do gift planners turn for knowledge about our rich history? Seminars rarely venture beyond the last few years. No one else is teaching or writing about the fundamentally important charitable bequests, trusts, annuities, and gifts of complex assets by colonists and by citizens of the newborn United States. Even recent events, like the national crisis that led to the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995, have disappeared from our agendas.

    I lead a campaign to own what came before us. The goal of my campaign is to enable you to recognize new facets of yourself through true stories and well-documented historical facts. Enlightened gift planners have clearer vision and are empowered to recover our proud American heritage.

    My campaign is based on thousands of hours of scholarly research and writing. I make the results available through my book A History of Charitable Gift Planning (Amazon 2017), my free website at www.giftplanninghistory.org and my presentations for planned giving councils and conferences across America.

    On June 18 my session for PGCGP has four chapters.

    1) We begin the story of charitable bequests and trusts where America began. That is the best way to understand what comes later. Our early history is not told this way anywhere else. You don’t want to miss it!

    2) You will see the important roles Philadelphia plays in the history of gift planning. Some of these roles include:

    Bequests, trusts, and gifts of complex assets provided vital support for the Pennsylvania Hospital, founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin.    

    America’s first known gift annuity in 1831 was funded by John Trumbull’s best paintings of the American Revolution, including a 1776 scene in Independence Hall and a portrait of Philadelphia hero Dr. Benjamin Rush.

    Stephen Girard’s bequest to found Girard College, the largest gift to that point in American history, was challenged by greedy distant relatives. A Supreme Court decision in Vidal v. Girard’s Executors (1844) changed national policy on charitable trusts.

    A Philadelphia actuary named George Augustus Huggins introduced data-based decision making into American fundraising at the first ACGA conference in 1927. Huggins created a risk-management system for gift annuity programs based on business practices of life insurance and commercial annuity firms. His actuarial model is now enshrined in federal law governing all life-income gifts.

    3) We revisit the crisis created by a class-action lawsuit that threatened 1,900 charities with triple damages, and that led to the Philanthropy Protection Act of 1995. This far-reaching law affects the work of gift planners and investment firms every day.     

    4) We end with tax reforms in 1969 and 1986 that caused a great wave of planned gifts but opened a door to self-dealing abuses. A group of volunteers, including me, responded by founding the National Committee on Planned Giving, now known as the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners.

    What will you gain from participating in this unique webinar? You will see yourself and your work in a fresh new light. A world of gift planning stories and ideas will be opened for you. I can’t wait to get started!

    Click here to register for the June 18th webinar.

  • Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:45 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Joseph Tumolo, CAP®, CEO, Gift Planning Development, LLC

    The hot topic on all the social media posts, emails, and zoom webinars center around fundraising during a pandemic. Do we call donors? What do we talk about? Do we ask them for a gift? Every one of our donors are in a different place financially, in their life stage, and their health status.  How can we make a blanket decision regarding our donor’s interest and ability in making a gift? We can’t. There are plenty of donors making large current and deferred gifts during the pandemic. So why take away their right to make a difference and have an impact on the people we serve?

    Don’t make decisions for your donors. It’s my favorite phrase to use with my clients and in my work. How many times do we decide on behalf of someone what we think they will prefer without asking them? Here are a few examples I have heard recently; “A donor just made a large major gift a few months ago, we can’t possibly talk to them about a gift from their assets”.  “We upset the donor by misspelling their name in the annual report last week. We can’t possibly talk to them about doing more at this time”. And of course, “we are in a major pandemic, the economy is so uncertain, we can’t possibly talk to our donors about making major gifts”. Sometimes our assumptions are more subtle, and we don’t realize we are doing it. Here is one I caught myself making recently “this person has never made a gift; how could they possibly be open to a conversation about a planned gift”? Turns out the person was a retired, long time employee of the organization and in fact, had provided for the organization in their estate plans already. We most likely never would have known that (during her lifetime).

    I am not suggesting that we ignore the reality of what is going on or be apathetic towards what our donors are going through. I am suggesting that we let our donors decide what is best for them. The easiest way to continue to have fundraising conversations with donors is to ask their permission to have a conversation. Take their temperature, ask them if it is appropriate for you to bring up the conversation about them making a gift. I will often say to a donor something like “I know things are very uncertain right now and I was not sure if I should bring up the gift conversation with you, but I do not want to make that decision for you. Is it appropriate for us to have the conversation”?

    Stop making decisions for your donors. Present the opportunity for them to decide. This applies to all aspects of your interactions with your donors. Ask them how they would like to be cultivated, asked, and stewarded for their gifts. It will separate you and your organization from the competition.

  • Thursday, May 28, 2020 9:42 AM | Anna Matheson (Administrator)

    Written by: Lynn Johnson-Porter, VP Philanthropy & Mission Support, HumanGood

    The last few months certainly have forced many of us to reframe how we engage our most loyal benefactors.

    Regularly, I reach out to one particular resident at our largest Life Plan community to hear about her experiences as she navigates recommendations to “shelter in place” which ultimately disconnect her from the socially enriching experiences that have traditionally afforded her so much pleasure. Through it all, this resident exemplifies the spirit of philanthropy by affirming her commitment to annual donations, annual major gifts and an estate donation to honor the memory of her husband.

    Throughout this unprecedented time, she has remained optimistic, often upholding her pledge to “give back”, primarily in tribute to the unselfish actions of front-line staff who care for her and in tribute to the members of her extended family, who have given her happy memories for nearly 15 years.

    These days, many of us continue to field advice about how best to navigate the “new normal.”  Working from home, decreased personal interactions with benefactors, teleconferencing, etc., continue to transform the manner in which we conduct donor relations. Nonetheless, my experiences in recent months remind me that when motivating prospects and donors toward Planned Giving opportunities, the “old norms” are perfectly fine.

    Philanthropy and Planned Giving, especially, aren’t solely about the achievement of goals. Instead, we need to sustain those fundamental practices that motivate others toward transformational gifts.  

    As this crisis causes us to pause and evaluate strategies toward the attainment of goals, remember that basic fundraising principles still have tremendous value.

    Moving forward, let’s consider infusing these four “C” s into our programming:

    • 1.      Connect: Personal phone calls are one of the most impactful ways to foster relationships with donors.  Many benefactors, particularly seniors, truly appreciate such gestures as they may be isolated from so many who mean most to them.
    • 2.      Create New Planned Giving Opportunities:  Uncover ways to deepen relationships with major gift benefactors who have not yet made deferred commitments. This crisis is prompting many visionary philanthropists to give careful thought to ways to make a meaningful impact upon the lives of others long into the future. 
    • 3.      Communicate: Design a series of touch points from now until the conclusion of 2020 for your benefactors and prospects, including emails and direct mail, to reinforce your mission and express appreciation for their decision to include your organization among their philanthropic priorities.  Make certain to share stories about the front-line heroes and heroines across your organization, whose dedication to service fosters the well-being on myriad levels.  Such messaging will serve you well in 2021 and beyond.
    • 4.      Celebrate:  A stewardship event to demonstrate appreciation to your most loyal benefactors—when this crisis is behind us-- will be a worthwhile investment to not only acknowledge generosity, but uncover sentiments about giving at all levels.  In addition to fostering good will, you will gain valuable insight into the inclinations of those who have supported your organization in the past-- and hold promise for its future.
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