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Nonprofits Must Be Ranked Essential is Jim Eskin’s take on charity & COVID-19. Debating what is and what isn’t “essential” work has become a hot topic. For several well-founded and compelling reasons, I’m proudly arguing that our nation’s non-profits deserve to be ranked high on any list of the “essentials.”
There is no part of the quality of life that they don’t improve and enrich. They exemplify the best spirit and values of our American character.
After conducting 100 workshops, training sessions and now webinars over the past two years, we’ve met and worked working with numerous board members, volunteers and staff from a wide cross-section of organizations. We’re inspired by the selfless devotion in their continuous unwavering commitment to improve the lot of others.
We live in a stressful time in which uncertainty is the new norm, and there’s so much more that we don’t know than we do know.
These are especially anxious times for America’s 1.5 million registered non-profit organizations. How will philanthropy respond to COVID-19, and how will non-profits hold up?
Nonprofits Must Be Ranked Essential
American donors contributed a vast and wondrous enterprise of $428 billion in 2018. People from all different socio-economic backgrounds, not just the wealthiest among us, support charitable missions near to their hearts.
Melissa Brown, Principal, Melissa S. Brown & Associates, one of the most respected philanthropy researchers in the country, recently shared her rich insights during one of our webinars. She emphasized there is a long road ahead, but philanthropic gifts are responding to the crisis in ways that didn’t happen as quickly or at such significant levels during the Great Recession of 2008.
There are several tangible signs that philanthropy is rising to the challenge of supporting the non-profit sector at this moment of profound need:
- It’s well documented that charitable giving mirrors the stock market, and Wall Street has held up remarkably well.
- BBB’s Give.orgsurvey shows that 31% of individuals intend to give more to charities in 2020.
- This is reinforced by Fidelity Charitable research, which shows that three of four donors plan to give as much or more to charity this year than they did in 2019.
- Donor Advised Fund (DAF) grants, the most dynamic and fastest growing segment of philanthropy, are also booming. In March alone, Fidelity Charitable grant volumes increased 36% from the prior year with 136,000 grants recommended. Keep in mind that Fidelity Charitable enjoyed a record year in 2019, reaching an unprecedented $7.3 billion grants.
- Leadership donors are stepping up. Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, is providing $1 billion in equity to the other company he co-founded, Square, to go to good causes started with COVID-19 responses.
We’ve enjoyed hearing from several fundraising and communications experts in recent webinars. Their advice and counsel is that for non-profits, and fundraisers in particular, the key is keeping to the time-tested basic building blocks of sound resource development. Among the highlights:
- Communicate, communicate and communicate with donors, donor prospects and other friends, and nurture these precious relationships. Articulate clearly how the work of the non-profit’s noble mission continues and, in most cases, how needs are escalating.
- Ask for gifts of time and money without anxiety, fear or hesitation. Your donors have already proven their belief in your organization’s mission and are ready to be solicited again. Never lose sight of the reality that gifts from individuals comprise the overwhelming majority of philanthropy.
- Consider asking for both the funds responding to on-going program needs and, where applicable, funds responding to COVID-19 relief efforts.
- Face-to- face meetings have always been the gold standard in donor cultivation, but we are seeing “virtual hugs” work within the boundaries of social distancing. We’re even experiencing positive results in major gifts via video-conferencing asks.
Non-profits are all around us and improve the world through advances in education, healthcare, arts and culture, economic development, animal welfare, human services, seniors, children and other vital areas. They touch the lives at least of more than one in five Americans. They remind us that more is possible and that we can take matters into our own hands and overcome the gravest of situations — including COVID-19. On May 5, 2020, #Giving Tuesday Now, as a special day of unity, will give everyone an opportunity to come together and support communities and non-profits around the world. This will take a variety of effective forms, from advocating for an issue you’re passionate about, sharing a skill, helping a neighbor, or giving to important causes. Every act of kindness counts and makes a difference.
More than ever, we should look inside ourselves, and ask how we can share money, time and the networks of family and friends to empower non-profits to continue to play a robust leadership role in making the world a better place to live.
Nonprofits Must Be Ranked Essential was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY
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Jim Eskin’s leadership roles span more than 30 years in fundraising, public affairs and communications in the San Antonio area. During his career, he established records for gifts from individuals at three South Texas institutions of higher learning. He enjoys training non-profit boards on fundraising best practices and overcoming the fear of asking for gifts. His consulting practice Eskin Fundraising Training builds on the success of his fundraising workshops and provides the training, coaching and support services that non-profits need to compete for and secure private gifts. He has authored more than 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers and business journals across the country, and publishes Stratagems, a monthly e-newsletter exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy. Sign up here for a free subscription. He is author of 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons, which was recently released and can be purchased here.