Tag Archives: donation

Taxes Don’t Motivate

Deductions, Taxes and Tax Day

Donors are not primarily motivated by taxes when they make their giving decisions. Rich, middle, or poor, we all have other considerations and motivations that trump the tax code’s financial incentives. This New York Times piece by Judith Warner, “The Charitable-Giving Divide” explores those greater influences.

I have always believed the Obama proposal to limit charitable deductions for high earners will not have the devastating impact on charitable giving that many predict. The decrease will be small and temporary.

History has shown that giving rebounds within a few years of depression, recession and tax code changes, then continues its gradual rise.

Best Prospect Research Comes From The Prospect

The Association of Prospect Researchers in Advancement met recently, and a hot topic was the May Wall Street Journal article, “Is Your Favorite Charity Spying On You.” The article didn’t portray prospect research in the best light, suggesting it’s a furtive, unseemly practice. The Chronicle of Philanthropy covered APRA’s reaction. The Journal focused on finding new prospects through research, and The Chronicle cites stats on new donors found for a campaign. I’m interested in a different kind of prospect research. The kerfuffle (a word I’ve always liked) gets me thinking: The best prospect research I’ve obtained and seen has come from the prospect themselves. No research site or algorithm can substitute for a shared meal and conversation between a prospect and fundraiser. You don’t have to meet over a meal, but I prefer it for several reasons.

You’re sharing the table and the meal. Sharing is a good place to start when the discussion is around a charitable gift–the sharing of the prospect’s money, contacts and/or time with an organization they love. Office distractions aren’t as plentiful in a restaurant. I always silence my cell, because I really don’t want to disturb our meal, and I’m hoping my dining partner will do the same. (Many do, some don’t.) Our timing is controlled by a neutral party, our server, and is familiar to both of us. We know the waitstaff will come at appointed times and we know when we’ll be left alone for long stretches. Our shared understanding of the meal ritual furthers our conversation. That’s a sufficient dining digression.

Nothing beats talking to a person when you want to get to know them. And get to know things about them. Prospects are people, not research projects (I’m not implying prospect researchers think of them that way), so have conversations with them. I’ve talked about children, spouses and siblings, wealth, asset mixes, CEOs and fellow trustees, worries, loves, illnesses, professions, boats, homes, economic forecasts, fears, vacations, country club fees, other charitable interests and estate plans. After technical expertise, the skills I most desire in a fundraiser are listening and conversing.

After a meal with your prospects, you should be rushing to write your notes, which go into your prospect report, to get channeled to your prospect researcher for analysis and thought. That’s the best prospect research, much better than any data points you can buy.

Take The Money And Run Sprints

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241970 Photo made from television screen showing LeBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy asks how Boys & Girls Clubs of America should react to the controversy around ESPN’s donation of advertising revenue from the LeBron James TV spectacle.

They should take the money and run.

If James, ESPN, other media and the NBA have embarrassed themselves, that’s a matter for their CEOs, consciences and PR agencies. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America was the recipient of a donation and press attention that are enviable.

The nonprofit doesn’t look bad. It looks like an agency accepting gifts to support its good work. The controversy swirling around the donation shouldn’t stand in the agency’s way of graciously thanking Mr. James for his support.