Fundraising Talks
News and updates from the USM Office of
Advancement Research
A recent study, Sharing Power?: The Landscape of Participatory Practices & Grantmaking Among Large U.S. Foundations found that 83 percent of large U.S. foundations seek input from the nonprofits they fund, along with people, organizations, and communities that are directly affected by their funding. However, foundations rarely give these stakeholders decision-making authority by letting them help set priorities or giving them a say about where grant money goes. The study, which assessed the practices of 500 of the largest U.S. foundations, suggests that foundations are facing mounting pressure to direct more grants to underserved communities and have incorporated some stakeholder outreach into their work. Overall, the study found that on the low end, foundations collected information from stakeholders through surveys. On the high end, foundations let stakeholders evaluate grant applications or make decisions over grant awards. The majority of foundations said they obtained input from at least one person or organization affected by their work, and only ten percent said they delegate any authority to their stakeholders. This matters because foundations have not typically been representative of the communities they aim to serve and often lack insight into the challenges these communities face. Read more here.
DAFs and cryptocurrency are the hottest buzzwords in fundraising. In this blog post, Kenny Tavares of the Helen Brown Group takes a critical look at these two hot-topic vehicles for fundraising. A common misconception about cryptocurrency is that it is actually currency. In reality, cryptocurrencies are an asset similar to publicly-traded securities and are subject to a capital gains tax. Their volatility creates risks for organizations that receive them. While cryptocurrencies are anonymous, they are trackable but may require more effort to track than organizations are capable of. On the other hand, DAFs, which we discussed in the letter from the director above, are charitable giving vehicles in which the individual or organization surrenders ownership of funds but retains advisory privileges over where funds may be given. Donors receive immediate tax benefits, but there is no immediate benefit to charitable organizations. Institutions know that both DAFs and cryptocurrencies allow donors to hide their identities from your organizations which make stewardship and cultivation nearly impossible. Furthermore, many are skeptical about the stability of cryptocurrencies long-term. Fundraisers should keep a critical eye on both of these donor vehicles.
Alumni engaged with their alma maters at record levels during the pandemic thanks to the rise of virtual events that allowed them to participate regardless of location. However, major gift officers struggled to engage new prospects and qualification numbers decreased significantly at many institutions. For FY22 and FY23, major gift officers should leverage the success of engagement programming and identify prospects who are ready to be further cultivated. EAB suggests proactively sourcing major gift leads from events, having development officers reach out before interest fades, and creating expiring offer urgency to drive visits. Read more here.
This infographic-article from EAB is full of information on the next generation of major gift donors. In order to ensure future fundraising success, EAB says that advancement shops need to get in the door early with Gen X and Millennial philanthropic leaders. Some findings from the article include:
  • The average age of investors worth $25+ million dropped by 11 years from 2014 to 2019.
  • Millennials will inherit $68 trillion in total assets by 2030.
  • 68 percent of CEOs on Forbes next billion-dollar startups list are under the age of 40.

By now, you have likely heard of Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or her show on Netflix, Tidying Up. Marie Kondo's organizational method is shaped around the question "does this spark joy?" In this blog post, Apra reframes Marie Kondo's methods for a fundraising landscape by asking "does this spark stress?" Many fundraisers have bogged-down portfolios of prospects that they plan on soliciting, making it difficult to focus on prospects that they require attention now. Apra suggests fundraisers consider narrowing their typical portfolio of 150 prospects to no more than 40. By doing so, fundraisers can make strategic, thoughtful solicitations. Northwestern University tested working with smaller portfolios with 20 fundraisers. They found that their solicitation rate increased by 170 percent, the number of major gifts grew by 211 percent, and the dollars they raised increased by 595 percent. Read more here.