Would Your Nonprofit Succeed With Donors Who “Give With Purpose”? (part 2)

Written for Philanthrogeek.com and cross-posted at http://www.philanthrogeek.com/creative-fundraising/nonprofit-succeed-donors-give-purpose/

Let’s try a quick exercise: pull up the website of your favorite nonprofit. Can you answer any of these questions based on the information on that site?

  • Does the nonprofit demonstrate familiarity with evidence and best practices related to the need it addresses by citing research, data, reports, past experience, or other reliable sources of information?
  • Does the organization demonstrate cultural awareness and roots in the community?
  • Are its results likely to stick over time for the intended beneficiaries?
  • Do the board members play a meaningful role in supporting the organization through their work and financial support?

These are just four of the 35 questions from the new RISE Assessment Tool to evaluate nonprofits. The Learning By Giving Foundation offered this tool to thousands of people who participated in its Massive Online Open Course on philanthropy, Giving With Purpose, this summer. The course describes “giving with purpose” in two goals: a) satisfy your personal motivations for giving, and b) invest in high-performing organizations. In my last post, I gave my assessment of the course itself and its ability to meet the first goal. In this post, I’ll dig into the second goal.

The RISE Framework

Course instructor Rebecca Riccio created the RISE Framework for Social Change to define four “hallmarks of strong organizations”: Relevance, Impact, Sustainability, and Excellence. The RISE Assessment Tool has a set of questions and rating criteria for each hallmark. The Foundation hasn’t released a final version to the public yet, but I pasted the questions into a document (download the PDF – RISE Assessment Tool – 2013-Aug Vsn) as an example.

Hundreds of the participants in this summer’s course tried using the assessment tool on the web sites of the 700+ nonprofits nominated by other participants. The nonprofits ranged from all-volunteer, faith-based efforts to large, long-time civic anchors. Ms. Riccio briefly encourages people to visit nonprofits in person. But, the design of the course biases participants toward finding information on nonprofit websites and online services such as Guidestar and Charity Navigator.

What if Donors Use the Tool?

In my use of the RISE Assessment Tool during the course, and in feedback I saw from other participants, nonprofit websites mostly came up short on answers. The tool will likely inhibit donations if, as Ms. Riccio suggests, donors use it before they choose to make a donation.

First, most nonprofits are small and underinvest in their communications, technology, fundraising, and evaluation capabilities. Of the 1 million public charities in the U.S. that submit 990s to the IRS, about 75% have budgets of less than $500,000. (There are also 386,000 congregations and an unknown number of very tiny, local charities that don’t have to make information available publicly.) Only a small percentage of these nonprofits choose to focus their limited resources on the operational and program management criteria in the tool.

Second, not all nonprofits are in the business of “social change.” In the course, Ms. Riccio notes that the nonprofit sector is very diverse. However, I think the assessment tool and thrust of the course work best for nonprofits providing direct services (e.g. mental health, education, or international development). Historical societies, conservation groups, arts organizations, and others will fail many of the tool’s criteria for relevance and impact.

Lastly, nonprofits are receiving conflicting advice on the focus of their websites. Ms. Riccio tells participants to look past good stories and packaging to find answers to the assessment tool’s questions. Her advice, of course, isn’t new. The Better Business Bureau and others publish checklists of nonprofit information that should be publicly available. And, her questions about results and impact are similar to the new, controversial effort by Charity Navigator to rate nonprofits on the reporting of their results.

However, nonprofits hear a different story from experts who advise on fundraising communications, Millennial and Gen X giving, and engaging donors in social giving and crowdfunding models. Those advisors tell nonprofits to lead with compelling stories, share-able multimedia content, and pictures and quotes from donors’ peers. These might describe results, but not in the ways that match the expectations of the RISE Assessment Tool and its peers.

With all respect for Ms. Riccio’s hopes for success with the course and tool, my bet is still on the nonprofit websites filled with compelling, share-able multimedia content. Here’s why…

Hearts Still Win Over Heads

Ms. Riccio joins a chorus of philanthropic advisors, authors, and consultants who earn money trying to convince donors to stop, think, research, and create criteria before they give. As an example, most issues of the Chronicle of Philanthropy have a new opinion piece telling donors and foundation what they should do. All their work isn’t changing mainstream donor behavior, at least yet.

Hope Consulting’s Money for Good reports, the 2013 Millennial Impact Report, the annual Burk Donor Surveys, and other sources report that donors say they want to see tangible results and good performance in nonprofits. This hope for giving with purpose reverberates through the philanthropy media and is amplified as a real trend. But, we donors are only human. Our behavior frequently doesn’t match our intentions and we’re susceptible to all types of cognitive and emotional biases.

We have a variety of motivations for making charitable gifts, and the emotional, social, and spiritual reasons win over the intellectual ones. One of the classic books on donor motivation, The Seven Faces of Philanthropy, showed that only 15% of donors selected nonprofits based on considerable research and evaluation. The more recent Money for Good research showed that only 16% of donors were driven to primarily support high impact nonprofits.

The Money for Good research also shows that donors don’t spend much time researching nonprofits before they give. Only 35% of the 5,000 donors researched reported doing any research. And, when donors did research, it was to validate their donation, not to find the “best” nonprofit. They were looking to see if the nonprofit seemed reputable, had low overhead, and did good work (not necessarily defined as theories of change, performance measures, business plans, etc.).

Do I Now Know How to Invest in High-Performing Nonprofits?

The Tool didn’t add to my knowledge or skills. But as a long-time philanthropoid, I’m not the target audience for the Giving With Purpose course and RISE Assessment Tool.

In my previous post, I identified some potential audiences for the course – college classes, giving circles, professional advisors, and nonprofit staff and board members. Those audiences may be predisposed to spending more time exploring their giving preferences and evaluating nonprofits. The RISE Assessment Tool could be helpful if they’re realistic about the capabilities most nonprofits have (or lack) and what information is easily publicly available (or not). If the recent research on Next Gen Donors is to be believed, Gen X and Y donors may be predisposed to ask nonprofits harder questions. The Tool’s questions wouldn’t be a bad start, though the five Charting Impact questions might be a simpler start.

Despite my critiques and challenges over these two posts, I very much hope the Learning By Giving Foundation sees the summer 2013 version of the course as a good beta test. Hopefully the foundation will take the course’s advice and evaluate the participants’ behaviors and knowledge over time, use the participants’ feedback to update the content and process, and offer future, improved versions.

Should you take the course? If you’re at the point in your life that you have more time to consistently think about and act on your generosity, the course could be a helpful launchpad for that process. If a MOOC isn’t your style, ask Nathaniel James or me about the other strategic philanthropy and philanthropic planning tools on our bookshelves and browser bookmarks.

If you took the Giving With Purpose course too, I’d love to hear your experience, especially if you disagree with my take on the course.

Giving With Purpose: Will It Stick? (part 1)

Written for Philanthrogeek.com and cross-posted at http://www.philanthrogeek.com/creative-fundraising/giving-purpose-will-stick/

learnbygivingfoundationThis summer, the Learning By Giving Foundation launched its Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on philanthropy, Giving With Purpose. News reports played up the fact that Doris and Warren Buffett were backing the course and that some nonprofits would receive “Buffett money” because of the course. That financial carrot likely drove the initial registration to upwards of 10,000 people.

I have to give kudos to the Learning By Giving Foundation and the course presenter, Rebecca Riccio. I’m thankful for their commitment to providing free philanthropy curricula, to openly experimenting with the still-evolving MOOC format for learning, and to being willing to learn from the feedback provided by thousands of course participants.

The course encourages people to “give with purpose” – described in two goals: a) satisfy their personal motivations for giving, and b) invest in high-performing organizations. In this post, I’ll cover my thoughts about the course as a whole and its ability to help participants understand their personal motivations for giving. I’ll write about the “invest in high-performing organizations” in the next post.

The Experience

The six-week course combines about an hour of video content with about an hour of  homework each week. There are a few short quizzes, but no final test and no grades assigned. Participants optionally choose to spend more time on the “Giver” track. Givers complete an initial online profile of a nonprofit to nominate it for a grant and assess six or eight other nonprofit profiles based on what they learn through the course. This summer, at least 1,300 participants also posted thoughts and commented on others’ posts on a Google+ Community.

Ms. Riccio delivers all of the educational content in short video segments. She also interviews donors ranging from Warren and Doris Buffett to the founders of Ben & Jerry’s (previews are available on YouTube.)

Ms. Riccio is often an engaging instructor and the course mercifully lacks endless slide decks. That said, if a student isn’t attracted to Ms. Riccio’s teaching style, he or she is out of luck. Some points are reinforced by visuals. However, new ideas often go by quickly or in quick lists of options that should be reinforced by written materials or downloadable slides. And, there isn’t always an easy connection between the videos and other online content. I don’t know if this disconnect is due to the Foundation’s first experimentation with online learning or to the limitation of the platform (Google’sCourse Builder). I do know there are more sophisticated online learning platforms available (the instructional firm In The Telling has one example).

At the end of the course, I was left with four questions.

1. Who is the target audience?

The course’s web site says it is “for students who are passionate about or interested in philanthropy.” It doesn’t define if it means the Learning By Giving Foundation’s traditional audience of college students or a broader audience. Judging by profile pictures in the Google+ community, most users this summer were adults.

The content is too basic for practiced philanthropists, philanthropic advisors, and foundation staff. But, I think these audiences would find the course useful:

  • College classes – while the content seems designed to stand on its own, people unfamiliar with the nonprofit sector or new to giving would benefit from a teacher or tutor providing context and reinforcing some points.
  • Giving circles – the content could be useful fodder for discussion in a giving circle and/or for new circle members who aren’t familiar with the basics of the nonprofit sector and options for giving. It could serve the same function for corporate giving offices to educate employees and service clubs to educate members.
  • Professional advisors – accountants, financial planners, and lawyers who don’t have charitable giving as part of their regular practice could use the course as a quick grounding. That said, see the caveat in the next question.
  • Staff, volunteers, and board members of nonprofits – the majority of the participants this summer seemed to already be connected to one or more nonprofits (likely because of the incentive of grants at the end of the course). Many said the course provided useful background on the sector and how to look at their favorite nonprofit(s) through a new lens. A nonprofit CEO could use the content to help staff see the nonprofit sector through the eyes of donors.

2. Is it too much of not enough?

The instructor, Rebecca Riccio, does a good job of synthesizing dozens of ideas from the literature on strategic giving and on nonprofit assessment. And, she frequently counsels participants to be fair and realistic when looking at issues such as evaluation and nonprofit overhead.

That said, participants may end up with too much of not enough information. As an example, she spends less than four minutes total introducing three tools: theories of change, logic models, and performance measurement practices. Participants are encouraged to look for these tools as signs of an effective nonprofit, but aren’t shown examples or provided context to judge quality if they do see them. Even seasoned foundation staffers have trouble assessing these tools, and too few nonprofits have good ones.

This felt like the equivalent of telling average consumers to buy a car based on the engine components. Sure, we can memorize a couple basic facts and ask the auto dealer to pop open the hood so we look like we’re being smart buyers. But it doesn’t mean we really know what we’re looking at.

3. Do I better understand my personal motivations for giving?

Each week included content designed to help participants reach both course goals (learn to satisfy your personal motivations for giving and learn to invest in high-performing organizations). Unfortunately, I don’t think the course succeeds on the first goal.

Ms Riccio poses good questions at the beginning of the course, for example: “Does a nonprofit have meaning for me?”, “Is investing in it a meaningful way for me to make a difference?” and “Does a contribution fit into my financial plan for giving?” But, the course doesn’t provide concrete tools to explore these and other values-driven and personal finance questions posed.

Truly understanding your personal motivations for giving takes time. In my experience in working with donors and donor families, they’re far more likely to take time for self-reflection and soul-searching in two circumstances. The first is when they’ve encountered a big change (e.g. selling a business, a parent dies, or inheriting wealth). The second is when they have an ally (e.g. an advisor, pastor, or life coach) and/or peer group regularly holding them accountable for the activity and documenting the results. Simply giving a scan of the ideas or presenting information freely online won’t change donor behavior.

4. Will it stick?

Thousands of people have now viewed content designed to help them be more purposeful givers. A subset of them attempted to practice what they saw on a few nonprofits’ web sites, 990s, and the often-incomplete nonprofit profiles submitted by participants. The course will accept another round of students at some point (TBD at the time of this post).

I’m not convinced that the content will stick for the majority. Like many great resources on strategic giving, the course provides a useful roadmap but following the map takes too much work for the donations under $100 that comprise most of charitable giving. In addition, even for wealthy donors, the motivation to give to high-performing nonprofits is easily undermined by other motivations and emotions (see Money for Good and other research on donor behavior).

Returning to our car-buying analogy, we may know all the right technical features we should value, but our purchases end up being driven more by emotion – the status the car conveys, the feel of the drive, the hot new color or style, loyalty to a brand, etc.

What if it does stick?

But, what if I’m wrong? What if the Giving With Purpose content does stick for hundreds or thousands of donors over time? Then, the nonprofit sector could be in trouble. The course raises expectations for the information donors should be able to easily learn about nonprofits. Most small- and mid-sized nonprofits won’t meet those expectations. That’s the subject of my next post.

If you took Giving With Purpose, please feel free to weigh in with your experience and reactions by commenting on this post! 

Why Your Grant Proposal Is Unwanted

Question: If you had $1 million or even $5 million to give away to charities, would you want to be bombarded by grant proposals from organizations you’ve never met? Be honest…

Over the past couple months, there’s been another debate about the merits of strategic philanthropy. The typical pundits have been involved. Bill Schambra, Pablo Eisenberg, the right-leaning Philanthropy Daily, the left-leaning National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), and others weighed in with their cautions and sometimes downright revulsion to strategic philanthropy. Paul Brest, Phil Buchanan, and others have weighed in with the advantages of strategic philanthropy done well.

Frankly, the same pundits have made many of the same points before, and some used this debate as a platform for their other beefs with foundations. That’s fine – as a philanthropy geek, I love that the debate comes up from time to time and I see merits on both sides.

However, Pablo Eisenberg and Niki Jagpal from NCRP committed an unfortunate logical fallacy. Eisenberg quoted a statistic from the Foundation Center:  60% of the 86,000+ foundations in the United States state that they do not accept unsolicited proposals. They then make the leap to assume that most or all of the foundations in that 60% are strategic grantmakers. They paint those foundations with phrases such as “[we] know what’s best for nonprofits, their constituencies, and the greater good,” “philanthropic arrogance,” and “technocratic and top-down.” An unsavory lot, indeed.

Here’s the fact they glossed over: more than 80% of all U.S. foundations and 86% of family foundations are under $5 million in assets. Small foundations and family foundations choose not to accept proposals for these reasons and more:

  • They have a few organizations they love and continue to support. They’re actually following the advice of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and many of the pundits listed above by providing general operating support over time.
  • They don’t want inundated with requests because they don’t have paid staff or the personal time to deal with requests. Would you rather be generous in ways that are meaningful to you or spend time reading through mind-numbing piles of requests and screens of emails? Would you want to spend limited charitable resources hiring someone to screen proposals or would you rather use that money for grants?
  • They’re using their own networks of relationships, personal wisdom, local and international news about needs, site visits, presentations to churches and civic clubs, social giving resources, and more to find good charities. The pundits (looking at you Schambra) who describe strategic philanthropies as “technocrats removed from real needs” should be lauding these families.
  • They’re attempting to be quiet about their grantmaking due to their personal values or religious beliefs, or because they just plain don’t want hit up with proposals at the grocery, at parties, or even in the restroom. (I’m not lying – all three have happened to friends or me).

Put yourself in their shoes – would you really create an open proposal process? (If so, I know talented people who would happily be paid to help you with this.)

Why Your Evidence Is Ignored

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest 

Thanks to the wonders of social media (specifically Darin McKeever’s Twitter feed), I just read a fascinating article – Why Policymakers Ignore Evidence – by Gerry Stoker, Professor of Politics and Governance at the University of Southampton, U.K.

Stoker’s article is meant as advice to other academics. Based on my experiences, I’d argue his advice is equally useful to nonprofit and foundation staff trying to communicate with politicians, donors, and other community leaders. From Stoker’s many points, I’ve pulled out nine questions that could be swirling in someone’s brain when presented with your facts or your proven solution:

  1. Why is this important right now, and more important than other issues?
  2. Why are you bringing me a problem analysis and no solutions?
  3. What are the administrative, financial, and/or political challenges we’ll face in doing this?
  4. How much social and political capital will we burn trying to get this done?
  5. What are the opportunity costs of diverting time and resources to this?
  6. Is the information coming from a trusted resource or ally?
  7. Does the idea match my personal values and world view?
  8. What are the unintended consequences?
  9. Are you communicating to me in language I understand?

If you’re a program officer trying to sell your board on a strategy, could you predict their answers to these questions with confidence? If you’re a nonprofit advocating for a program, how would your city councilors or state legislators respond to these questions?

I see too many of my colleagues get caught up in their causes – in the “rightness” of their ideas and evidence – that they forget to see the world through others’ viewpoints and experiences. Lord knows, I’ve made the mistakes too.

Stoker’s advice is similar to counsel provided by lobbyists and political communications strategists. Fortunately, there are free resources nonprofits and funders can use to be more successful in turning facts into persuasive communications. Two good places to start are Spitfire Strategies, and if you lean more liberal, the FrameWorks Institute.

What’s On Your Charitable BOLO List?

Part of the recent scandal surrounding the IRS’s Exempt Organizations office was its use of BOLO (“Be on the Lookout”) lists. IRS staffers used the lists to screen groups applying for tax-exempt status based on certain phrases and criteria. Groups that didn’t make it through the screen were subjected to longer and deeper reviews (see the Treasury Inspector General’s report here).

I’ll leave arguments about the appropriateness of the IRS’s processes and staff to others. But, the screening process and lists got me wondering about my grantmaking and philanthropoid peers: “What’s on your charitable BOLO list?”

Foundations and other grantmakers often have public guidelines that describe their priorities. At their best, the guidelines provide clear signals about how inquiries and proposals might be screened. In too few cases, they may even meet nonprofits’ hopes for transparency as recently reported by the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

The Treasury Inspector General’s report described BOLOs as an internal “shorthand way of referring to a group of cases.” I’m likely confirming the suspicions of nonprofit leaders everywhere: grantmakers have BOLOs too, even if unwritten or not labeled as such.

At their most benign, these short-hand BOLO lists are a way to streamline internal communications, e.g. “the founder’s favorites,” “the grantees from initiative X,” or “groups using evidence-based practices.” The lists might signal shorter due diligence processes or a shared sense of internal trust.

At their most constructive, the BOLOs are a means of prompting increased due diligence to better understand how the grantmaker can be most helpful, e.g. “groups that have cashflow problems” or “groups going through executive transition.”

At their most troublesome, the BOLOs can prevent good ideas and organizations from receiving fair consideration. The lists become an automatic gatekeeping mechanism that might not accurately describe the diversity of opinions and interests you’d expect from a group of people at an grantmaking organization. In my work with and around grantmaking groups over time, I’ve witnessed* BOLOs such as:

  • Thresholds around overhead ratios or other financial ratios that don’t take into account the variety of business models and stages of organizational growth
  • Expectations about board composition or behavior that may not fit the cultural norms of an ethnic group or community or 21st century, networked practices
  • Expectations of particular personality traits of nonprofit CEO
  • Groups of nonprofits that are deemed “too small” or “too large” to be effective
  • Nonprofits’ policy or advocacy work unnecessarily preventing them from receiving consideration for program support

My Take

Grantmaker staff and board members, like all people, carry biases, experiences, and relationships that influence their perspectives on their work and on their potential customers. We’re all human – it’s impossible to avoid these influences completely. I suspect BOLOs exist in nonprofits as well – “clients that are abusing the system,” “ticket buyers that will never convert to donors,” “those irresponsible parents from that neighborhood,” etc.

Board, grantmaking committee, and staff members of grantmakers need to uncover and discuss our BOLOs on an ongoing basis, even if they seem benign or useful. I encourage new members to be brave enough to ask about them – to BOLO for BOLOs if you will. And, veterans (myself included) have to challenge ourselves not to let cynicism and years of work create accidental BOLOs. My grantmaker mentors cautioned me always to question my own assumptions and biases before talking with a nonprofit or reading a proposal. I know I haven’t succeeded 100% of the time on this. But I’m willing to dig deeper to ensure any short-hand lists don’t get in the way of my being open to ideas that come my way.

So, what are the BOLOs, even unwritten, at your grantmaking shop? And, what are you going to do about them?


* DISCLAIMER: The examples are not and should not be interpreted as the views of my current or past employers or consulting clients. That said, ask me sometime about a former BOLO regarding audacious ideas mounted on foam core. 

The Case of the Overhead Overload

From the files of the Generosity Gumshoe

Jim Barker / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

She walked into my office last night, dripping in cold cash and hot tears. She was a rich socialite from one of those mini-mansions on the edge of town. Before I could lay out my philanthropic detective fees, she spilled her guts. Five shots of bourbon later (for me, she only had three), here’s what I knew.

Four months ago, she was a happy donor, comfortable in her giving. Like most donors, she responded to fundraising requests that tugged her heartstrings but assured her the organizations had integrity and could make smart use of her donations. She shied away from organizations that seemed wasteful, you know the ones. And yet, there was one Smarty-Pants Guy that kept sending her articles on “effective giving” and suddenly her confidence was shattered like cheap glass donor recognition plaques crashing to the floor. There’s always that one guy.

First, he forwarded a video by a slick salesman by the name of Dan Pallotta. Pallotta was provocative and charming, and he put the mental moves on her like nobody’s business. Before the end of his pitch, she was convinced that the way we think about charity is dead wrong. Suddenly she’s a canary for the praises of investing in nonprofit salaries, fundraising programs, and other overhead costs. She says it made sense – she doesn’t ask her favorite restaurant to only charge her for the actual ingredients in her cocktail and couscous salad. Turns out the poor dame didn’t research the controversy around Pallotta’s previous fundraising firm and the beef philanthropy heavyweights like Phil Buchanan and others have with him.

Then she received an appeal from a charity shouting, “Look at us – 97% of your donation goes directly to our programs! And, we’re rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator!” Sounded awfully tempting so she dropped the group a C-Note and checked out this Charity Navigator. Those jokers told her that charities shouldn’t spend more than 25% on overhead and gave her a bunch of Top 10 lists for good and bad behavior for fundraising and compensation. I didn’t even have to open a new case to tell her that nonprofits can cook overhead and fundraising ratios faster than my bookie Big Belly Bob. And even the good ones (nonprofits, not bookies) have suspect numbers because the IRS doesn’t provide clear guidance on how to allocate costs. Go figure the feds screw something up.

Smarty Pants Guy sent her more articles from the philanthropy rags like this and this. Real smart writers, see, but they go for nuance and the gray areas of the problem. Who has time for nuance these days?

Then she saw a CNN show Above the Law: America’s Worst Charities and now the canary’s singin’ the blues. High overhead costs, paid family members, expensive fundraising contracts, outright fraud…all kinds of flimflam artists running supposed charities and bilking old ladies for cash. I’d plug those palookas full of daylight myself, but I ain’t that kind of private dick.

I told her the CNN show doesn’t tell the whole story. They never do. The newshounds found 50 real bad apples in an orchard of more than a million nonprofits. The hype leads you to believe the 50 are the front for a whole mob of bad charities when Guidestar’s data shows only 6.8% of charities reported spending more than 50% on overhead. Not outstanding news, but not the majority.

After her third shot of the strong stuff and half a box of hankies, the dame asks me, “Mr. Generosity Gumshoe, what am I to do? Can you investigate all these nonprofits for me?”

Dollar signs danced in my eyes as I imagined having enough jack to pay off Big Belly Bob, ditch my rusted heap, and take this dame to Tahiti. Plenty of advisors to wealth donors make easy cash answering those questions. But Grandma Gumshoe raised me to be ethical and moral (“or else the cane, boy!”) and I couldn’t bring myself to charge the socialite for easy answers. So, I told her:

  1. Turn off the news and the emails from Mr. Smarty Pants. Instead, trust your instincts, find the things that make your heart sing, and enjoy being generous.
  2. If tax deduction’s your thing, check out Grantr.com for free and look for the green checkmark.
  3. If you want to learn more about an organization, the five questions at Charting Impact are a pretty damn good place to start. If you don’t understand or like the answers, it’s OK to walk away. There a million nonprofits in this naked country, that was just one of them.
  4. If you’re really stuck on overhead issues, the FAQ from this new Overhead Myth campaign is on the square, even if those hinky Charity Navigator folks like it too. Better yet, go visit the group in person. Nothin’ like laying eyes on their offices and staff to get wise to their work.
  5. If you still can’t decide, then get on the blower to your local community foundation and they’ll likely have a bead on the group. Or, I’ll do some snooping around free of charge.

It might have been my honesty. It might have been the booze. It might have been my rugged good looks. But the lipstick on my cheek and new appointment tomorrow night labeled “fundraising gala with socialite” tells me this is the start of somethin’ beautiful.

Hopefully she’ll pay for the drinks.

Raising the Philanthropy Question


Kudos to Jim Coutre from The Philanthropic Initiative for his recent article on the importance of financial advisers discussing charitable giving with their clients. He cites studies showing that wealthy clients expect the conversation (or will go elsewhere for it) and that the conversation will increase long-term client retention. Community foundations and other nonprofits that work with professional advisers will also gain insights.

Jim also posted the article with additional links in three blog posts in March of 2013.