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Client Advisory: The Giving Gap

The 2016 Fidelity Charitable survey, The Giving Gap—Donor Awareness and Use of Strategic Giving Methods, examines giving strategies and vehicles used among wealthy individuals.

Compiled of individuals with at least $100,000 in investable assets who gave at least $10,000 to charity in the last year, 34% of the survey pool were affluent individuals with investible assets less than $1 million, 34% were high-net-worth individuals with assets of $1–2.9 million, and 32% were high-net-worth individuals with assets of $3 million or more.

Key Findings of the 2016 Fidelity Charitable Report

Donors plan ahead. Donors are actively planning their charitable gifts into their financial plans. Of the respondents, 80% of donors have a set amount or budget to guide their charitable giving. Two-thirds of donors are spending five or more hours per month gathering information on charities, either through volunteering or researching. Additionally, the planning process is ongoing as more than half of those surveyed are confident they can give the same amount or even more in the future.

Donors lack giving vehicle awareness. Despite a strong commitment to charity, many donors lack awareness of all of available giving vehicles and options. While 80% of donors have appreciated assets such as stocks, mutual funds, or bonds, only 21% of those donors have contributed this type of asset to charity. Additionally, 90% of donors have retirement or life insurance plans, but only 9% have named a charity as a beneficiary of the plan.

Donors under 50 are generous and savvy: Younger donors (those under 50) are far more likely to use giving vehicles and are also giving at higher levels. The survey’s results showed that 62% of donors under 50 use a charitable giving vehicle other than outright cash gifts, including 25% who use 3 or more vehicles. Additionally, 47% of respondents under 50 who make $200,000 or more per year give $20,000 or more annually, compared to only 16% of those over 50 in the same income range.

What does this mean for your organization?

Educate your donors. Donors need to be aware of the range of available giving vehicles and opportunities for charitable giving, including using appreciated financial assets, appreciated property and real estate, charitable provisions for retirement accounts and life insurance, and IRA charitable rollovers. Listen to what donors tell you about the importance of their charitable giving and financial plans and then tailor information about specific giving vehicles accordingly. Clearly articulate different giving vehicles, including real stories, on your website, e-communications, and in marketing and solicitation materials.

Steward your donors. Your best major gift prospects are your current donors. Donors are actively planning their charitable giving and are confident they can give the same amount or more in the future. Gift officers need to ensure that donors understand the impact their gifts are having and how renewing and increasing their gifts can increase their impact.

Prepare your staff. Giving vehicles can no longer be for just for planned giving specialists. All development officers should able to discuss and promote them, and then use specialists when necessary. Gift officers should also be aware of which giving vehicles may be attractive to which types of donors. For example, including charitable provisions in retirement plans may be of more interest to older donors.

Bentz Whaley Flessner understands the importance of providing donors with options that best match their giving objectives, asset composition, and financial plans. To learn more, please contact us at (952) 921-0111 or visit www.bwf.com. Together we transform philanthropy.

Originally published May 11, 2016

Copyright © 2016 Bentz Whaley Flessner & Associates, Inc.

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