In my last article, It’s Fundraising Malpractice Not to Build Future Reserves, I introduced the subject of having both an organizational checking and savings account so you don’t risk going belly up when people rely on you. I talked about building a case for endowment and bringing your board on board. Then I tried to…Details
Just like it’s prudent for individuals to have both a checking and savings account, it’s prudent for nonprofits to have both operating funds and endowment reserves.
Living paycheck to paycheck is less than ideal, especially when constituents rely on you for services that really matter. Seriously ask yourself:
- Are we potentially one lost grant away from having to close our doors? Funders change priorities all the time.
- Would losing one major donor gift mean we might not make payroll? People move. People die. People change their loyalties and areas of interest.
- If we don’t do a big special event every year, will we need to cut programs? This happened to many nonprofits during the pandemic.
- Am I regularly losing sleep over not being able to pay rent? Without insurance against funding cutbacks, your focus is always on survival rather than effective planning and management.
If your answer to any of these questions is affirmative, you’re living on quicksand. When you’re not actively safeguarding your future, you’re robbing your community of precious resources.
Does this sound like a prudent, caring way for your nonprofit to behave?
Not if you see yourself as a community.
A Community Cares for its Members
Without caring, you’re just a zip code or a building, not a community.
Make this the year you demonstrate your caring by planting seeds for future harvests.
You can’t care for people, animals, places, things or values without nourishment and fuel. As a recipient of philanthropy, it’s your job to steward the resources others give so you’ll be there for the community when they need you most.
- If you don’t plan ahead to survive and thrive…
- If you don’t plan for growth that may be necessary as new needs arise…
- If you allow vital resources to run out…
Your community fails too.Details
There’s a lot of potential legacy giving out there in the universe. Per Giving USA 2022, giving by bequest was an estimated $46 billion, (an increase of $5 billion from just two years previous). What are you doing to assure some of it will flow to your cause?
First, Identify Your Audience for Legacy Gifts
I cover this subject in depth in Where Are Our Nonprofit’s Legacy Donors? Contrary to the way most nonprofits behave, legacy gifts don’t simply fall from the sky. They’re not delivered by storks carrying baskets filled with wills, trusts and beneficiary designations. You need to do something proactive.
You can’t simply rest on your reputation, however solid it may be. You could be raising tons and tons of money annually, and it won’t necessarily translate to bequests. It’s not because your donors aren’t the will-writing kind. That may be true for some of them, but there are other simple ways to leave a legacy accessible to all. Donor willingness is not the problem.
Key: Your Willingness to Prioritize Building a Legacy Giving Program
No charity succeeds simply waiting by the phone for folks to call. You’ll receive a bequest or two, perhaps. But nowhere near what you could receive if you took the bull by the horns and created a program that speaks to why people make legacy gifts.
There are two main reasons: (1) they’re asked, and (2) it feels meaningful to do so. So, given this, what do you incorporate into your program? What if I told you there’s a way to take charge of your own destiny, as you simultaneously help donors take charge of theirs?
STEP #1: Figure out a strategy to get folks thinking of you as a recipient of their philanthropic largess after death. There are elements to include in a full-fledged legacy giving program, and I’ve written about that plenty (e.g., see here and here).
STEP # 2: Help donors connect their giving to their personal identity and meaning. People may believe you’re awesome. But when it comes to distributing the hard-earned income accrued over a lifetime, they just don’t think of you that way. As an extension of their family, deepest values and essential identity. This is where many nonprofits fall down on the job, and it’s what I want to discuss today.Details