Klein & Roth Consulting E-Newsletter
Issue #3 – July 2011
If you’re a new subscriber to our e-newsletter, welcome! We send this out every 6-8 weeks to provide some useful fundraising tips, reflections on current issues facing nonprofits and links to resources we like and think you might, too.
In this Issue:
Check out short video on our website – www.kleinandroth.com - Kim Klein explains four key principles of successful fundraising
State Registration Requirements for Fundraising
Giving Remains Dominated by Individuals – New GIVING USA Report
Working with Fundraising Consultants by Nancy Otto
Need good fundraising resources? Check out our books – www.http://kleinandroth.com/kr_pages/ourbooks.html
Registration Requirements for Fundraising
You may be aware that if you’re raising money for a nonprofit organization in the U.S., you’re required to register in each state where the individuals you’re soliciting reside (with the exception of five states that don’t require registration). To register in multiple states, you can use the Unified Registration Statement which is available online at www.multistatefiling.org.
There is some confusion however, about the need to register in all 45 states that require it if you’re ONLY soliciting online and if that consists of having a “Donate Now” button on your website, but with little active solicitation. Cliff Perlman is a lawyer in New York who specializing in nonprofit law (www.perlmanandperlman.com). He suggests that if you are actively soliciting contributions online and the income you are generating online becomes substantial, it may be worth considering registering in every state in which you’re soliciting people by email. For more information check out his website.
Giving Remains Dominated by Individuals
By Kim Klein
In 1977, I was volunteering to help the new shelter for battered women in San Francisco raise money. After three months of grinding out grant proposals that all garnered rejection letters, I thought to myself, there has to be an easier way to get money. At that time, the source of all knowledge was the library, so I went to the San Francisco Public Library and found a little book called “Giving USA” that changed my life. There in plain black and white was the answer to my question, “Where does money come from and what should I do to raise the money I need?” Answer: Individuals. I believe the total amount given that year was about $30 billion, and about 80% of it came from living people, 5% from bequests, 10% from foundations and 5% from corporations. With that revelation in hand, I changed course and spent most of my time raising money from people and very little time seeking funding from foundations. I learned that it was a much more successful strategy, and my learning was reinforced by the fact that year in and year out GIVING USA reported about the same proportion of funds raised from individuals, through gifts and bequests, each year.
Today, GIVING USA continues to inform us about where philanthropic dollars come from and where they go (you can find them online at www.aafrc.org. Even though some controversies have arisen regarding the accuracy of their data (they had to revise 2008 and 2009 data to reflect a downward trend in giving at the start of the Great Recession), the overwhelming sense of all researchers is that the majority of money given away continues to come from individuals, not foundations or corporations. The effect the recession has had on giving is the latest debate, which you can read about in a very interesting article from Nonprofit Quarterly: http://tinyurl.com/3stdvts
For fundraisers, however, it’s important to keep the following basic truths about fundraising in mind:
The data gathered for GIVING USA is from the tax filings of the 29% of the population who itemize their giving on their tax returns. The other 71% of Americans file a short form, which means they receive no tax benefits from their giving, and the extent of their giving is not known by the IRS. The only way to find out how much money is given away by nearly three-fourths of the US population is by polling and other econometric models.
The source of most money that is given away is income that the donor earns at a job, and most people are still employed.
At the same time, many people are underemployed and the cost of living has increased even as wages and salaries have not. As a result, although working people will still be the major source of philanthropic giving, their giving may decline.
The reason there is not enough money for all the nonprofits that need money is only partially because of declines in individual and foundation funding. It is mostly because of government cutbacks requiring far more effort on the part of the nonprofit sector to make up for the losses in social services, education, the arts, health care, and so on. Until the common good becomes the touchstone for the creation of fair and just tax policy, we will continue to see rising need against declining income (for more on this topic, see my blog: kimkleinandthecommons.blogspot.com.
Our experience at Klein and Roth is that organizations that raise most of their income from individuals are moving through this recession without having to make cuts. Some are even growing. Many organizations that derive most of their income from foundations or government, however, have seen that funding decline and are having to make at least some cuts. For organizations that can, focusing on building a broad base of donors is the only way through this recession.
Working with Fundraising Consultants
By Nancy Otto, Senior Consultant, Klein & Roth Consulting
Perhaps you have heard a nonprofit leader say, “if only I could find the perfect fundraising consultant, we would be set.” Unfortunately, the right fundraising consultant is only part of the equation. In working with many organizations as a consultant over the past 7 years, I have seen some of my clients excel at individual donor fundraising, surpassing all the goals that they set. And while most of my clients come very close to making their goals, there is a subset who are unable to garner the momentum needed to make sustained progress toward their fundraising goals. I wanted to stop and take a look at why some clients have more success in reaching their goals than others.
Here is my top 10 list of what elements contribute to a successful individual donor program, and to working effectively with a consultant:
- Clarity about the goals
— identify what the overall goals are for the fundraising program or campaign and for working with the consultant, as well as what each meeting should accomplish
- A value for individual donor fundraising
— those at the highest levels in the organization feel deeply committed to individual donor fundraising and help lead the way
- Compelling leadership
— whomever is identified as the leader of the campaign — the ED, a board member, a donor — is charismatic and kind, easily attracting people to the effort
- A deep base of volunteer and community support
— the organization has an established value for volunteers (board members, ad hoc committee members, program volunteers, etc.) who step up when asked to solicit contributions, give themselves, or help on a campaign; staff use volunteers wisely, thoughtfully considering how best to use everyone’s precious time
- The right people are at the table
— from the outset, careful thought is given about who should participate on the fundraising team combining staff, board, and donors who bring unique strengths and relationships to the effort
— once trust is established, the fundraising team bravely moves out of its comfort zone to experiment with new strategies and tactics, especially with meeting and asking donors for money
- Strong communication skills
— the whole fundraising team responds to emails and communication in a timely way (both from each other and from the consultant!), makes sure to close the loop on a conversation or a decision making process, and tries to be as transparent as possible about what is happening and why
— at least one third of the fundraising team are systematic thinkers, methodical, with consistent follow through so that no one worries about details falling through the cracks
— no one gets away with shirking their responsibilities, everyone knows that they will be asked how the follow up went, and if it did not happen, why and what to do to make it happen
- Quick learners
— after the plan or campaign is done, the team evaluates the effort and starts planning for the next one, each time improving upon the methods and outcomes
Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these conditions in place. Every organization I’ve worked with has areas to improve and develop. But those that aim for these qualities and strengths are better able to make significant gains from their investment in a fundraising consultant.
We welcome your feedback on any of our posts, so let us know what you think. And we hope you’ll take some time this summer to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. We’re going to try to do that, too!
All the best,
Klein & Roth Consulting
Our mailing address is:
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 517
Oakland, CA 94612