Presented by Valerie Harkins, Housing Specialist
The pandemic showed us just how delicate our fundraising strategies are to unforeseen events. Many nonprofits found themselves financially vulnerable in 2020 without the ability to host their annual fundraising events or apply for a specific grant upon which they had become reliant. It’s been three years since then, and the trends have continued to speak a sobering message.
Fundraising trends are on the move in 2023. With the turbulence of the economy, the unpredictability of the environment, the shift in the generation of the primary donor base, and adjustments to the new post-pandemic norms, homes are finding that—now more than ever— they have a critical need for diversified revenue streams. Overall, we have seen a national increase in donations; however, this has been matched with an even greater decrease in purchasing power, frequently resulting in a realistic net loss for organizations. As is common during times of economic hardship, the number of individual donors on average has decreased with an increased amount per monetary contribution made. This means we have fewer people making contributions but larger individual contributions, creating an elusive financial projection that appears strong at the bottom line but is built upon what is likely akin to a Jenga tower.
Financial resilience is the golden ticket to stability in this season. This necessitates fundraising strategies built upon multiple revenue streams. A personal recommendation is to maintain an average of five sources of income. This provides you with a broad donor base and the gift of time when catastrophe strikes. Examples include minor events, major events, monthly donors, and grants. To learn more, check out our webinar Diversifying Your Home’s Revenue Streams where we take a deep dive into this topic. And there is no time like the present to strengthen your funding strategy by getting in on the Development Tack at Pregnancy Help Institute. There’s still time!
A couple of years ago, while working on a capital campaign for a center, I made a commitment to walk in the center’s Walk for Life. Because I don’t live in the city where the center operates, I set up a personal fundraising page through MinistrySync, which took all of five minutes.
That evening I posted a link to my page on Facebook and met my goal within hours.
Today’s donors want giving to be quick and easy, so why don’t we help? For those of us who are involved in fundraising, we can use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to casually mention from time to time, “If you are interested in supporting the ministry where I serve, here is the link.” Then of course, we post the link!
We don’t have to wait for a Walk or any other event to ask our friends to kick in a gift. They already believe in us, so some will want to go the next step and support our work.
We can link to our donor page and if we use this method, ask friends to mention their connection to us so we can track gifts. For instance, “When you give, add the comment, ‘Kirk sent me!’
Or, we can use a funding page such as You Save Babies (more on that HERE!).
Set a Goal
“Would you mind giving?” is not nearly as powerful as, “I’m looking to raise $1,250 for . . .” A goal, and updating friends every few days, gives friends more connection and the ability to say, “I helped Kirk accomplish his mission.”
Give a Reason
“Support my work” is nice, but, “I want to raise $1250 so that this ministry can . . .” is better.
Start with a Gift
Asking is more effective when people see themselves as joining, instead of starting a process. Consider what we wish to be an average gift and make that gift to start the process: “I chipped in $25; please join me with a gift of any size.”
Giving needs to be simple today because fewer and fewer of us are willing to sit down and write a check. Let’s continue to look for ways to connect our friends to our work—as quickly as they can click a mouse.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Local pro-life pregnancy help organizations have a new way to grow the support of their community, with the launch of YouSaveBabies.com, a web platform that connects donors with the life-saving work of pregnancy centers, pregnancy medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.
Launched by Heartbeat International, the world’s largest network of pregnancy help, YouSaveBabies enables groups and individuals to promote and raise funds for the life-saving outreach of their choice.
Ideas for starting a fundraiser—which can be promoted via social media channels—include races and other personal goals, birthdays, in memory of loved ones, or as a way to coalesce the support of local church groups around a local pregnancy center. Starting a fundraiser is as simple as selecting an organization and filling out a brief fundraising form. All donations—less credit card transaction fees—go directly to the organization of choice.
“We’re confident YouSaveBabies will play a vital role in what Heartbeat International is most committed to doing—advancing life-affirming pregnancy help at the local level,” Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey said. “Pregnancy help organizations are rescuing lives and helping to build strong families every single day. Donors and other supporters are invigorated to see that, and YouSaveBabies is a great way for them to connect.”
The giving platform utilizes FundEasy, web software by Ministry Sync that has helped faith-based nonprofits raise over $35 million since its rollout in 2010. Individual pregnancy help organizations can choose to embed a YouSaveBabies giving badge on their donor websites to raise awareness for newly unveiled platform.
Heartbeat International affiliates in the U.S. and those available through Heartbeat International’s 24-7 contact center Option Line (1-800-712-HELP, OptionLine.org) are automatically listed in the YouSaveBabies network, which includes over 2,000 pregnancy help locations.
“This is a great step forward for our friends on the local level, and it’s another way we can work together to build a culture where no woman ever feels so alone or coerced that she feels abortion is her only choice,” Godsey said. “Pregnancy help provides compassionate support and real choice, and these life-saving organizations have a new friend in YouSaveBabies.”
About Heartbeat International Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
How many of us have sat down and begun penning ideas for the future of our ministry or organization, dreaming big dreams of what we could do if we just had more funding? I know I have, many times.
I've sketched out additional rooms, even a new building. At other times I scribbled down notes on new initiatives, created a list of new staff members and more.
The challenge for me—and perhaps for you—is in the "getting there" part of the equation. As an executive director, investing millions of hypothetical dollars in the future of our ministry was easy. Finding those funds; well, that was the hard part.
As we launch into 2015, let's throw out a realistic way to at least begin our journey toward a bright, fully funded future for our ministries: An endowment.
We might say, "Endowments are for hospitals, colleges, universities—big organizations. Not for us." We would be quite incorrect.
Endowments are for all of us, and an endowment is a terrific way to build up a funding stream for our basic needs so we can stretch our organizations into new initiatives, new and improved facilities and other places God is leading us.
In short, an endowment is a fund whereby only the interest earned or a pre-determined amount is spent each year for our organization's overall budget or for a specific area of ministry.
C'mon, dream with me for just a second. Let's take off our "realism" hat and ask, "Wouldn't it be nice if our basic budget was funded by an endowment and every dollar raised could go toward something new to better reach and serve those we see?"
Maybe it's just me, but I think this would be great. While I realize that creating an endowment of this size for any ministry would be quite a reach in the realism department, it is possible to start building an endowment today that, over time, could fund a growing portion of our work. And one day, who knows where that might lead?
We will only know how far we can go once we get started. And if we don't already have an endowment, the time to start is always "now."
In this issue of Advancement Trends in the Life Community, let's take a good look at this funding mechanism. As we do, we might find a path to a bright future for our ministry.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
Making the case for an endowment begins with not only knowing what an endowment is, but also understanding what it is not.
For instance, an endowment is not our Rainy Day Fund. Every ministry needs to have some cash on hand for times when giving slows, so that the work goes on and staff is paid. Experts tell us that having 3-6 months of cash on hand—just in case—is a good number.
Also, our endowment is not our savings fund for a future project. If our board of directors is wanting to set aside funds for a new initiative, a building fund, or to invest in a new staff member, this would be separate from an endowment.
With an endowment, we build a principle amount and either withdraw interest earned (some or all—this can be a board decision made annually), or a specific amount (Ex.: "We will withdraw $5,000 per year for budget purposes, unless endowment gifts are under the withdrawal amount.") on a pre-determined basis.
We can be flexible with endowment withdrawals, based on need. Or, we can let the endowment grow for a period of time, with no withdrawals.
Overall, our goal with our endowment is to continue to grow its principle so that more and more of our basic ministry needs are met with these funds.
Endowments can be general (for the overall budget) or specific (an endowment for our medical arm, for instance). We can also have multiple endowments. As an example, should a donor family want clients to receive Bibles, an endowment can be created (a minimum amount for an endowment should be established by the ministry; perhaps $10,000 is a starting point).
With multiple endowments, a donor may ask, "How can I give toward your abstinence program?" and we would be able to respond, "We can direct a portion of your gift toward today's need, and set aside a percentage of your gift in our Abstinence Initiative Endowment." This allows us to be more creative in building our resources; but more important, allows donors to be more involved in where their gifts go and how they are used.
Every ministry needs its Rainy Day Fund, and when new ideas arise, Capital Funds can get us started toward funding these ideas. In addition however, Endowments make sense and as we will see elsewhere in this issue, help us raise more funding.
Endowments are not only a good idea for our ministries as we look to the future, they are also a strong avenue toward attracting donor interest and support today.
First, endowments allow donors to see their gifts (to the endowment) as more permanent. Knowing that a gift is not going into the ministry account only to be spent within days is attractive to certain donors; especially those who can give major gifts.
Second, simply having an endowment tells our financial partners we are in this for the long haul. This long-term outlook gives us more credibility and lends itself to more gifts.
Third, as an endowment begins funding (even small) portions of the organization, we can communicate this to our donors. They are more likely to respond to our future requests because they see their gifts as funding "bigger" aspects of the ministry.
Finally, keep in mind that endowments are a particular niche for—as we mentioned above—certain donors. They are attracted by the concept of saving for the future, and of a "permanent" fund that keeps their gifts mostly intact—giving those gifts longevity.
As an example, when your author became an executive director I noticed we had almost no memorial or honorarium gifts. To spark interest in this type of giving, we created our "Commemorative Fund" whereby all gifts went into an account where only the interest earned would be used for the ministry.
Immediately, after implementing this idea (and the fact that we placed memorial gifts and gifts in honor of the living on our response devices), these gifts soared. Our fund grew into the tens of thousands of dollars over a few years, after receiving just $25 in the year before changing our approach.
An endowment then, is not only a way to fund the future; it can also be an avenue to reach donors in a new—and for many, a more attractive—way.
"We don't have anything like an endowment," I'm told by many pregnancy help organization CEOs. If this is the case, starting at zero means something good: We are starting! From any beginning point, we can build, step-by-step. Here are several ideas:
Start with Commemorative GiftsYou'll find in the article, "Why an Endowment is Attractive to Donors" the idea of taking gifts in memory of a person (or in honor of a living person) and placing them in an account where only the interest is used for advancing the ministry. This is an endowment.
If you are currently using many of your memorial and honorarium gifts as part of the budget, you can take even a percentage of those gifts and place them in the new endowment, so as not to harm your current budget. You might find that these gifts rise when you make the announcement.
Announce your intentions publicly in E-blasts, newsletters and appeal letters. Make sure response devices (in print and on your donor web site) clearly point out where these gifts will go and how they will be used.
As an example, if your ministry receives an average of $250 per month in these gifts, placing them all in an endowment will give you a $3,000 endowment in your first year. It's a start, right?
A percentage of each gift . . .As we look at starting, consider placing a percentage of every gift in your new endowment. At just 2 per cent, a center with a $200,000 income budget will place $4,000 in an endowment in that first year. Again, we have a beginning!
Ask!Why not place one more appeal letter in your yearly development plan and ask specifically for gifts toward a new endowment that one day will fund a large portion of the ministry? Recipients can be reminded that these particular gifts will "keep on giving" for generations to come.
This is a way to not only begin a fledgling endowment; this letter will identify those who are endowment minded and who may be capable of continuing to build your endowment in the future.
The key to starting an endowment is getting started. Even a "small" start is a start.
Click here for more of this month's Advancment Trends in the Life Community.
Endowments, even "small" ones, can begin providing regular income for your organization. But with interest rates so low, where do we go to find that income?
This is where a financial advisor comes in. The board can choose a financial advisor by asking interested parties to "interview" for handling the endowment funds on behalf of the ministry, or perhaps there is a trusted advisor who will invest the funds for the board on a pro bono basis.
To fulfill its fiduciary responsibility, the board appoints the advisor to make day-to-day decisions and report back to the board regularly, so the board is aware of the account's status. This way the advisor is not constantly asking the board, "Can I move this portion of the fund into cash? May I invest in this particular mutual fund?"
In this scenario, the board sets parameters with the advisor and gives the advisor its capacity for financial risk. Boards are generally risk averse; a good thing. But, "no risk" can mean "no return." A board that balances its concern over immediate risk with an eye to long-term objectives does well. In the end, a ministry is going to be more conservative in its investment risk than many individuals, but will always have a percentage of its funds in stock funds.
Two quick notesFirst, a ministry may want its stock investments to reflect the ministry's views on abortion, not wanting to invest in companies that choose to support the abortion industry. There are mutual funds available with this in mind. Consult with a financial advisor.
Second, a board does not want to weigh itself down with managing individual stocks given by donors. A good policy is to take any individual stock gifts and sell them, turning the stock into cash. From there, the financial advisor (in the case of an endowment) can invest the funds with the overall investment plan in mind.
By Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
We all know Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. And yes, how can we forget Cyber Monday, when all of the online retailers rally for our attention?
The newest of them all is Giving Tuesday (represented online as #GivingTuesday), begun in 2012 and now catching on across America and in many nations around the world.
Launched by groups from Google to the United Nations, #GivingTuesday is a day to remember charitable giving—and we don’t need to miss out. Here are several ideas to place your ministry at the forefront:
Make sure your online site is ready
Update your giving site to remind readers of #GivingTuesday. The actual date is December 2; this should be prominent as this day approaches.
If your center has not emphasized #Giving Tuesday in its first two years, a modest goal would be sufficient. In the goal, show exactly where funds would be directed and connect the goal to client outcomes. This is not the time to ask for a computer or materials: “On Giving Tuesday, help us raise $2500. Every dollar given online on Giving Tuesday goes directly toward our Operation Ultrasound Initiative, paying for 25 ultrasounds that will bond women and men with their children, saving lives and changing the lives of moms and dads.”
Remind, remind, remind
In the weeks leading up to #GivingTuesday, remind your constituency through E-Blasts, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Make sure it is announced wherever you can.
One Takeaway . . .
#GivingTuesday does not replace your Year End Appeal. There is room for both in your development plan.
Click here for more of this month's Advancement TLC.
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