If the Shoe Fits: The Changing Face of Corporate Philanthropy

When the economy began to turn for the worse, nonprofits saw their corporate partners pull back on their giving. While, corporations don’t give for the “tax-deduction”, they enjoy the community visibility can receive for their donation often in the form of an event sponsorship. The corporations association with doing good work in the community can also provide goodwill in the form of customers.

Recently, we have seen that corporations are including a philanthropy component in their business model by actively supporting their chosen nonprofits. Can an active role in the philanthropic world ultimately do good and attract more customers for these businesses?

One of the leaders, TOMS Shoes has a “one for one” philosophy. For every one pair of shoes purchased by a customer, TOMS Shoes will donate one pair of shoes to a child in need. Same with their newly launched eyewear line: “With every pair of eyewear purchased, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need.”

Instead of becoming experts in delivering nonprofit direct services, TOMS Shoes partners up with humanitarian organizations worldwide that provide new TOMS Shoes to children along with their own health, education and community development programs. TOMS Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie “We’re here to do more than to give. We’re here to learn about the needs of these communities; to listen and to act.”

While other wineries like FlipFlop Wines donate a portion of the proceeds to one charity: Soles4Souls, (http://www.soles4souls.org) the international shoe charity dedicated to providing footwear to those in need. Their goal is to provide one-pair of flip-flop sandals for each bottle of wine purchased last year up to 100,000 pairs for the first 100,000 bottles sold. Melanie Amezaga, Brand Manager for flipflop says “Partnering with Souls4Soles was a natural fit and is as simple as allowing those who enjoy a good bottle of wine to also make a personal difference in the lives of countless others.”

Since 2005, Soles4Souls has delivered over 16 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes. The shoes have been distributed to people in over 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States. “The reality of life for many individuals in developing nations is that having a pair of shoes is a rarity. It is not uncommon for children to grow up in these areas without ever having had a pair of shoes at all.”

Pinot Noir Philanthropy? Wineries “Doing Good” With Profits.

“Fans of our wine buy and drink our wine because they love it. The philanthropic component is a bonus to them.”

-Kat McDonald, Art+Farm Wine, Napa, CA




In recent years, winery philanthropy has increased by making donations to designated charities through their sale of wine. Interesting concept. In most cases, a certain percentage of each bottle sold goes to a charity like in the case of ONEHOPE Winery (http://www.onehopewine.com), a wine made in partnership with Winemaker Rob Mondavi Jr. in Napa Valley, who gives 50% of profits from each bottle sold. Their mission is two-fold: to create high-quality wines that will raise awareness and give back to noteworthy causes year around. In 5 years, they have donated over $750,000. ONEHOPE pairs their wines  – not with food – but with specific causes. Their California Sparkling Wine will help stop childhood hunger; Sauvignon Blanc: Environment, Gold Medal Long Beach Grand Cru
Chardonnay: Breast Cancer, Gold medal OC Wine Competition
Cabernet: Autism, Gold medal OC Wine Competition
Merlot: AIDS, Gold Medal Long Beach Grand Cru
Zinfandel: Our Troops, Silver Medal National Tasters Guild.




Napa-based and environmentally conscious, Art + Farm (http://www.artfarmwine.com), maker of famed the Girls in the Vineyard wine, allows the customer to designate the charity with their purchase of wine. Since 2008, they have made over $100,000 in donations to over 110 of charities all over the US with an average donation of $2 on an $18 bottle of wine. They opted to let the wine consumer choose the charity because Kat McDonald, owner and winemaker, felt there are “so many good causes doing amazing things. We have our favorites: our children’s schools, educational foundations-but it seemed presumptuous for us to choose. It means a lot of work on our part. We write tons of checks! But it gives us a thrill each time.” They also learn about new charities that they have gone on to support in other ways through donating wine and volunteering their time.


Kat explains that making philanthropy a key part of their business plan was easy: “From case one we had a philanthropic component. As a business and a family we are part of a bigger community and with that comes an obligation to that community. It was also a natural outgrowth of who we are as people and business owners. Our winery partnership started with a conversation about making wine as a fundraiser for our children’s school. We wanted a philanthropic component that was sustainable and could make a difference.”




High school sweethearts, Kerith and Brian, fell in love with Napa (apparently in the town’s Mental Institution park) and started Bruliam Winery (www. bruliamwines.com) as a fun project with 25 cases of wine… that has quickly grown into something much more serious with 400 cases of wine this year. Even more impressive, is that they have a mandate to donate 100% of their profits to charity. Yep, 100%!!


“We don’t aim to make money with Bruliam Wines,

we try to break even on our direct operating costs

(buying fruit, barrels, custom crush fees, etc.)

 and then give the rest away.”


Due to their previous professional success, Kerith and Brian pay for much of the expenses out of pocket and Kerith does not draw a salary. “It’s all a labor of love so we’re happy to do the work for the rewards we’ve already been given and the non-economic rewards that come to us from this endeavor (lasting friendships, professional and personal growth, and the opportunity to raise our kids with an appreciation for hard work and giving back).”


Bruliam asks their supporters to decide where the money goes (usually in tranches of $250-$1000). To date, they’ve donated to about 40 different charities http://www.bruliamwines.com/bruliam-beneficiaries/  recommended by our supporters for a total of approximately $20,000. The generosity doesn’t stop there. Brian reports “in the years where we didn’t have any profits, we dipped into our marketing budget and spent that on charitable donations instead.” Yep, generous!


They see their philanthropy “as a way to explore a shared passion, to teach our kids about philanthropy and following your dreams, and to give back to our communities.”




In the case of Kalyra Winery (www.kalyrawines.com), they dedicated their aptly named NV SCHOOL HOUSE RED to exclusively to benefit their children’s school, Ballard School.

“Kalyra has always tried to be tied into the community in different ways. 

Most of the philanthropic choices stem from things that are near and dear to our hearts (cycling, children’s education, etc.).  Making a special wine for a fundraising cause is a natural fit for a winery.”


There are a number of “winemaker” families in the Santa Ynez area who have kids at Ballard School. Kathy Brown, owner of Kalyra with her husband Mike, said: “We were just sitting around brainstorming and my husband Mike just threw out the idea of asking all the ‘wine’ families if they would be willing to donate a bit of bulk wine to make a wine to benefit the school.” Not surprisingly, the winemakers all agreed to chip in with Mike doing the legwork of blending, bottling and labeling the wine. Since the release of this vintage, they have raised $6,000 for the School.


Their next project? Arts Outreach, a non-profit in the Santa Ynez Valley that brings art to the schools and elderly.  Arts Outreach holds an annual fundraiser called Real Men Cook and Kalyra will be selling the “Arts Outreach Red” at that event as well as at the tasting room. Five other wineries have donated bulk wine to make the blend and we are doing the blending and bottling.  As funding has been cut and/or eliminated in the public schools we feel a huge obligation to help organizations that are trying to bring these important parts of education to our children.  Kathy and Mike have a vested interest: “We want our kids to have art in school – so we feel very strongly about helping in any way we can.”


Capital Campaigns: When the Going Gets Tough

The launch of a capital campaign is exciting and filled with hope. Six- and seven-figure dollar gifts are being solicited pushing you quickly towards your financial goal. Like my clients, I am inspired during this time and caught up with the fever of success.

At a certain point, the large donations have all been solicited and the campaign isn’t operating at the same fever pitch. At this time, the goal may be continuing to increase but at a much slower pace. This is where I am often brought in as a consultant to be the “clean up hitter” on the team.

Based on my experience, here are some ideas for pushing forward during a capital campaign:

1. Make new friends.

Once you have solicited your inner circle of donors, you are going to need to cultivate additional donors by expanding to your outer circles. Ask you current donors to host small receptions in their homes with their group of friends and neighbors. This exposes your organization to potential donors they would have never had the chance to meet. Additionally, ask you inner circle to bring their friends out for a tour of your facility or join you at lunch to learn more about the capital project.


2. Look to different sources of funding.

As you near the end of your campaign, private foundations are often interested in helping through grants for specific projects within the campaign. The Kresge Foundation was infamous for its matching challenge portion of its grant making. When I worked with both the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest County and The ARC of San Diego, they successfully applied and received funds from the Kresge Foundation. This match funding, gave both organizations an opportunity to solicit donors to give to the match. When donors know their money can be matched 1:1, they are more likely to give. (Note: Unfortunately, Kresge doesn’t make capital grants any longer.)

3. Re-visit your donor list (again).

Often names on a donor list get pushed down to the bottom because we are unsure of their capacity to give or how to engage them as potential donors. So, do your homework either through free online resources or software like Wealth Engine to determine each individual’s capacity to give. Once you have an idea of who could make a significant gift, prioritize those who have the closest relationship to your organization. Next, determine what cultivation each individual needs in order to be solicited. Let no individual go untouched. Reach out to everyone, but in priority order starting with those individuals who have the best relationship with your organization, followed by propensity to give.

4. Ask your inner circle to give again.

Re-soliciting campaign donors who have already given is a harrowing thought. Many fundraisers worry if they will offend their current donors and ultimately jeopardize a current pledge. Let me share two successful stories of a re-solicitation in a campaign.

At the Colorado Rocky Mountain Schools “Forging the Future: Preserving the Past,” one of the Board (and capital campaign committee) members was eager to see the next phase of the campaign completed and knew that her increased pledge could make it happen. She generously offered to double her half million donation for a total of one million. She then went and asked two other Board members to join her by giving again.

On the homestretch to raising the last one million of a $17 million campaign for on the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest County’s “Campaign for Kids”, we solicited the Board to make an additional donation to the campaign by adding one more year to their pledge payment. If they had committed $50,000 over five years, we asked for $10,000, adding one more payment onto their pledge. In the end, we were able to raise an additional $250,000 towards the campaign.

Above all, stay positive. Jim Lord, author of The Raising of Money, says, “For people to work effectively within our structure, we also want to create a positive climate – a climate of optimism, enthusiasm and confidence. Good things rarely happen in a bad atmosphere.”

The Raising of Money

Recently, I read The Raising of Money by Jim Lord to prep for a Board meeting client training. Although the book is extremely short and an easy read, I went ahead and made a Book Summary (below) as a cheat sheet just in case any of the Board members did not get a chance to speed read the book.


  • The Volunteer is Still the Key: Philanthropy is at its core voluntarism. The sheer presence of a volunteer – one who shows evidence of having invested themselves in the cause – makes the most compelling and persuasive statement. This exemplary commitment serves to encourage by example, rather than advice. (p. xxvii)
  • And Our Own Quest:  You have the great honor of giving people a way to make a difference of heroic proportions. People already want to give. It’s up to us to allow them. (p. xxix)


Working from the Perspective of the Donor

  • Organizations Have No Needs:  Many organizations believe that the more compelling their needs and the more desperate for funds they appear, the more successful at fund-raising they’ll be. But donors are tired of hearing these please over and over again. In fact, from the viewpoint of the donor, an organization has no needs.  The organization has strengths and capabilities. (p. 3)
  • Seek Investment, Not Charity: Invite your prospective donor to make a wise investment that will produce benefits. Donors are tired of giving handouts to the needy. (p. 4) A new fundraising strategy was adopted, (the organization) presented itself as a community asset that carried the city’s name worldwide. The new strategy was successful. (p. 6)
  • Position Your Cause in People’s Minds: What does the organization do well – or what can it do well – that matters to the community? (p. 8) The institution had identified its distinctive competency –  the major benefit it was in a position to provide better than anyone else. (p. 9)
  • Listen to the Community: It’s essential to listen to the donor community. If we can find out what’s on their minds and where they’re going, we’ll be in a strong position to shape our offering accordingly.
  • Listen to What Each Donor Has to Say: If we listen to (donors) as individual, find out what they want, and make our approach accordingly. (p. 12)
  • Donors Will Tell You What They Want: We never know what a person wants – until we ask. Understanding what people want is vital to the practice of raising money. We’re in conversation with them, rather than assuming that we already know. (p. 16)
  • Make your Case Larger Than the Institution: The effective case for support is like an investment prospectus for a business. It is designed to attract donors – who are, after all, investors. What works best is to present a vision of the future – one that people find attractive, achievable and worth working for. The case demonstrates how the organization can make a special contribution to building that future. (p. 17)


Getting People Involved

  • Go For the Gold:  In enlisting volunteer leadership, it’s best to begin by “going for the gold” – the winners. The best person to lead your program is the one who has a reputation for allowing nothing to fail. (p. 23) What makes for good leadership? Affluence, Influence, Availability and Team spirit. (p. 24)
  • Create Authentic Involvement: The best way to develop that sense of involvement is to invite a person to do something important for us – something they are especially qualified and suited to do. (p. 26) The person will then begin to become an insider. (p. 27) It is the best way to invite someone (who deserves the role) from being an outsider to being an insiderand finally to enable that person to engage and develop ownership in the organization. (p. 28)
  • The Process of Planning is More Important Than the Plan Itself: Use the planning process to get people involved in mapping the organization’s future – especially those who have the power to help bring about that future. (p. 30)
  • Share Your Plans Without Asking for Money: This approach (feasibility study) seeks to cultivate relationships with donors by involving them – the best kind of cultivation. (p.35)
  • Use a Feasibility Study to Build a Strategy: What was remarkable about this experience is that the very process of conducting the feasibility study may have done more for the success of the campaign than did all the information that was obtained, and all the strategy that was built upon it. (p. 38)


Setting the Pace for Giving

  • If You Seek Average Gifts, You Get Below-Average Results: One problem with raising money by the multiplication table – $5,000 times 20 – is that not everyone will participate. Even worse, seeking $5,000 from each donor will, in effect, set a ceiling on what an inspired donor may want to pledge. (p. 44)
  • A Few Will Do the Most: Ninety per cent of the funds will come from about ten per cent of the donors. (p. 45) Experience shows that the best donors for the immediate future are those who have given in the past. (p. 47)
  • The Early Donor Sets the Pace: He who gives early gives twice. (p. 48) It’s the people who give first who set the pattern for those who follow. (p. 49) “My practice,” explained Franklin, “is to go first to those who may be counted upon to be favorable, who know the cause and believe in it, and ask them to give as generously as possible. When they have done so, I go next to those who may be presumed to have a favorable opinion and to be disposed to listening, and secure their adherence.” (p. 49)
  • Trustees Have an Opportunity, Not an Obligation: Whatever example the board sets, the effect will be felt through the enterprise. “As the board goes,” according to the old saying, “so goes the campaign.” (p. 51)
  • Staff Giving Can Lend Credibility: Staff contributions can have a powerful impact on the rest of your donor constituency. (p. 53) Those who see it everyday – do believe in its value and respect its leadership. (p. 54)
  • Make Great Investments Possible: Provide donors flexible payment terms through a subscription period. This will allow them to spread the payments, and the tax benefits, over a period of years. In this way, the donor can often make a large commitment. (p. 56)


Applying the Campaign Principle

  • People Prefer Structure: Human beings work best with goals and deadlines. (p. 61) For people to work effectively within our structure, we also want to create a positive climate – a climate of optimism, enthusiasm and confidence. (p. 62)
  • Take One Step at a Time: “A successful development effort results from a series of steps, take one at a time, each done in correct sequence, according to a plan and schedule.” (p. 63) Each group of prospective donors is visited in sequence, to set the best possible pace for the effort. Prospective donors for six-figure contributions are seen before five-figure donors. (p. 64) Before the person (donor) is invited to invest, they deserve to be informed about the program. And before the volunteer makes the call, they deserve to be informed about the prospective donor. (p. 64)
  • Scheduling Creates Momentum:  One principle to keep in mind is synergy. (p. 65). “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (p. 65) When three events – for example, three major commitments – happen at the same time, or in rapid succession, they can have a powerful impact on the campaign, far more than if the three events had occurred a couple of weeks apart. The point is that synergy gets people excited. (p. 65)
  • Build a Sense of Campaign: The winners of this world are those who set a goal, set a deadline, and place milestones along the way. (p. 66) The dynamics that come into play during intense campaign activity can be truly exhilarating. (p. 67)
  • Create a Climate of Universality: One reason the concept of a campaign works so well is that everyone in the community can join in: individuals, corporations, foundations, clubs, unions, churches and even (praise be!) governments. (p. 67) Be selective. Enlist people who are known for coming through. Plan for the best in people, not the worst. What you plan for is what you’re likely to get. (p. 68)
  • Winning is Fundamental: Set a dollar goal for your program – and set smaller goals along the way. You want the goal to be high enough to stretch people, and low enough for them to reach. (p. 69)
  • Meetings Keep Things Moving: Meetings are the glue that keeps a development program together. Experience has shown that a person’s effectiveness as a volunteer is directly related to their attendance at meetings (p. 70) Well-run and well-attended meetings provide tangible evidence of an effective organization and a strong development program (p. 71)

Asking for Money

  • People give to people: The volunteer (solicitor) is an investment counselor – not a salesman. (p. 73) People give for people. (p. 75)
  • The Right Person Makes the Difference: When we ask for money, we are friends, not adversaries. We are counselors, not salesman. It’s not a game of predator and prey. We are trying to help the donor do something significant for the community and for society. After all, we’re not asking for anything for ourselves.
  • The One Who Asks First Gives: In business or in philanthropy, a person’s actions are more convincing than their advice. This is the cardinal rule of raising money: A volunteer first makes a personal commitment before asking others. That is a given. (p. 79)
  • See Each Person Face to Face:  If we really believe that people are more important than dollars, then we owe it to our top prospective donors to visit them in person. Besides, seeing people face to face works better than any other method. (p. 80)
  • Ask for a Specific Amount; Ask for Enough: “Whatever you can do” is a recipe for failure. Many volunteers are surprised to learn that prospective donors prefer to be asked for enough: enough to reflect their stature and capacity, and enough to really get the job done. (p. 81)
  • Qualify the Person: A qualified prospective donor is one who has the financial capacity. They would have some rationale for giving to the program – a philosophical rationale, if not active interest or involvement in the organization. And they would have some history of giving – to other organizations, if not to your own. (p. 84)
  • Tenacity Prevails: Let’s face it: Before a commitment can be secured from a person, a volunteer may easily end up calling on the person two, three, or four times. (p. 85) You may spend the first visit or two just providing information, answering questions – being a good investment counselor. (p. 86)
  • Ask for the Order: We can do our research; we can cultivate their interest, involve them. But if we don’t move ahead and invite them, we may have missed our opportunity. (p. 87)

Practicing Stewardship

  • The Donor Deserves Good Stewardship:  Good stewardship means protecting and managing the donor’s investment – so that is produces the best possible return. (p. 71) If donors only hear from us when we’re asking for money, they’ll be less likely to respond. The principles of good stewardship apply to the way we treat volunteers, as well as donors. The people who raise the money deserve our thanks and recognition. We want to stay in touch with them, to keep them involved. (p. 92) Good stewardship is well worth the extra effort it requires. It is the bedrock on which the future of an organization is built. (p. 93)

Kindling the Spirit of Philanthropy

  • The Best Advocate is Both Donor and Volunteer: To inspire the best people to become our best advocates. If you believe in this cause, as I do, will you make as large an investment in it as you can, and will you ask another to do the same?” (p. 97)

How to Fundraise as a Missionary

Recently, I have been working with the missions team at my church and helping individual missionaries fundraise for their work. While I know very little about missions fundraising, I do know some extraordinary missionaries who helped me with great ideas for fundraising. I owe a BIG thank you to Rachel (pictured below with me) who planted a church with her husband Mike in Cork, Ireland.

 Here’s a few ideas on how to kick off your fundraising if you want to serve as a (funded) missionary in the field:

Idea #1: Gain support of a church as a paid staff missionary. In this case, individuals in the church will give as they feel led (through the church), and the church will make up the difference from the general missions fund so the missionary receives the same amount each month.

  • Present your vision before your home church missions board and ask for their blessing and possible support (usually a few hundred a month). Sharing on a Sunday morning is vital as well to get the congregation behind you.

Idea #2: If paid staff is not an option, gain speaking presentations at a number of your “hometown” churches; craft unique and appealing donation requests to offer during presentation as well as donation cards/envelopes.

  • Host a country-themed dinner where people pay to get in and then solicit guests to support your mission’s work (and hopefully you can renew their support year after year).
  • Print up new prayer cards every year with your photo and support information to give out as many people as possible.

Idea #3: Create a social media profile in order to share your work with potential donors.

  • Facebook profile (update daily with photos and short updates on work)
  • Twitter account (update daily with photos and short updates on work)
  • Blog and/or Website (update weekly or bi-weekly with pictures and stories)
  • Ask your friends/followers to share your messages with their friends/followers to broaden your exposure

Idea #4: Gain donations from your friends, family and their friends and family.

  • Send out prayer/support letters to Christian acquaintances,
  • Host an information night in your hometown at your house (or your parents or a prominent church member) to explain your ministry and your calling to go help a specific region/culture. Provide visuals of the country, the population and the location of your mission. Explain (in detail) what you will be doing
    • At the meeting, ask people to sign up to sponsor you for a specific amount ($50, $100, $1,000+) each month for a year. This way you know how much you will receive consistently throughout the year. This also creates success for you to share with other individuals who you want to support you (i.e. we have 60% support raised)

Idea #5: Gain online donations from anyone and everyone.

  • Utilize an online donation-processing tool like PayPal or Network for Good. Or partner with a church/nonprofit who will accept your donations and offer a tax-deductible receipt and thank you letter
  • Place “donation button” on your blog or website
  • Offer specific opportunities for individuals (or groups) to sponsor projects within your ministry:
    • Purchase a cow that will provide the orphanage with milk and meat = $1,000
    • Sponsor one game of soccer with 20 kids (cost of uniform, soccer balls, goals, nets, cones, flags, staff time, etc.) = $250
    • Sponsor ne Sunday church service (let donor pick the date) = $500
    • Send out an email twice a year directly soliciting everyone on your email list. Tell a personal story of success that came from your mission’s work (include pictures). Ask for support to continue this work. Direct people to your online donation link.
    • It’s important to make it easy for people to support you. Not everyone will donate online, so make sure that your online presence also gives individuals an option to donate through cash, bank transfer or check by providing an actual postal address or bank information.

Idea #6: Invite churches and youth groups to take a mission trips from US churches to your mission location. This will provide exposure to your work by potential donors. Also, consider requesting a donation from each group that visits you.

Check out my published white paper!!

X + Y = $

Generational Philanthropy

By Renee C. Herrell, M.A., CFRE

(published as a white paper in the July Compass Group Newsletter)

So what is Generational Philanthropy? Generational Philanthropy simply refers to the way each generation engages in donating their time, treasure and talent. As fundraisers, it is important for us to understand how and why each generation donates, so that we can approach them through the proper vehicles and build long-lasting, loyal relationships.

In this article, we will take a look at the different characteristics and giving habits for Generation X and Y, as well as strategies on how to effectively engage these younger generations as donors. Research shows that over half of Baby Boomer and Traditionalist donors first learned about their top charity in their 30’s[1], so a strong case can be made for engaging Generation X and Y now to build major donors for the future.


Generation X

Generation X has a population of 62 million individuals born between 1966 and 1980 and makes up 24% of the total population[2]. Defining people and events in the lives of these individuals include the collapse of the Soviet Union, Reaganomics, corporate downsizing, punk rock, Iranian hostage crisis, space shuttle Challenger tragedy, O.J. Simpson trial, video games, MTV, Rodney King riots, and computers in school.

Generational characteristics include skeptical, pragmatic, adaptable, self-reliant, informal, techno-literate, diversity-minded, and focused on today[3]. Gen X thinks their generation is unique because of their technology use, work ethic, conservative and traditional views, intelligence, and respectfulness[4].

Gen Xers makes up 32% of the current work population with 51 million workers[5]. They are a well-educated group, holding more degrees than their older counterparts. They are problem solvers, entrepreneurial, and known for taking risks. Gen Xers place great importance in finding a balance between work and home; choosing to “work to live,” as opposed “live to work”[6].

Over half (58%) of this population makes donations comprising almost 36 million donors. The average Gen Xer contributes $796 annually for an estimated total of $28.6 billion per year[1]. Gen X is first engaged with nonprofits (in priority order):

  • By making a direct donation
  • Visiting an organization’s website
  • Volunteering, supporting a friend participating in a charity walk or run or promoting the charity online.

Of all the generations, they donate the most through websites. Gen X philanthropists are often moved to donate after hearing inspirational stories from a nonprofit regardless of their past support.

They first learn about their top charities (in priority order):

  • Through mainstream media
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Mail
  • Peer-to-peer events
  • Work
  • Product purchase[7].

Almost a third of Gen Xers first learned about their top charity during their childhood[8]. Charities with whom they had pre-existing relationships, Gen X donors said the most appropriate form of solicitation was via a friend, followed by a letter mailed from the charity, then an email from the charity, and lastly a message on Facebook from the charity[9].

Gen Xers tend to give the same amount to their top charity every year, typically for seven years. Their giving is influenced by their friends and family and sometimes based on “heart string” stories that move them rather than a sense of loyalty to a particular cause. Of all the generations, they donate the most through websites, making them more of a viral donor and harder to recruit and build a personal relationship with.



Generation Y

Generation Y is the youngest generation born 1981 to present with a population of 83 million individuals in the United States[10]. Defining events and people in the lives of Gen Y include 9-11, Iraq conflict, Enron scandal, emerging countries and global economy, the Columbine shooting, President Obama, American Idol, iPods, reality television, Mark Zuckerberg, and the new mainstream reality of social networking. Generational characteristics include being technology savvy, connected 24/7, optimistic, confident, comfortably self-reliant, entrepreneurial, success driven, inclusive, and environmentally minded[11]. Gen Yers think their generation is unique because of their technology use, music, pop culture, liberal and tolerant views, intelligence, and their clothes[12].

They are digital natives and fully immersed in the online world (i.e., Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogs). Not surprisingly, when staying in touch with friends and colleagues, Gen Y uses email most frequently, followed by Facebook and texting[13].

It is a generation of strong-willed, passionate, and optimistic youth. They have great expectations and are known for expecting (and demanding) to get what they want.

They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults[14]. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history[15].

Gen Y is the fastest growing population in the U.S. workforce. With 40 million workers, they constitute 25% of all workers[16].

Generation Y is the youngest group of philanthropists, but an increasingly active group. Over half (56%) of the population are donors. The average Gen Y individual contributes $341 annually for an estimated total generation contribution of $9.7 billion per year. These younger donors plan to increase their charitable contributions to their top charity next year[17]. In 2009, nearly 15% of Gen Yers gave at least one gift of $1,000 or more[1].

They first learn about their top charities through:

  • Mainstream media
  • Word-of-mouth
  • School
  • Peer-to-peer events[18]

Charities with whom they had pre-existing relationships, Gen Y donors said the most appropriate form of solicitation was via a friend, followed by an email from the charity, message on Facebook from the charity and lastly, a text from the charity[19]. As philanthropists, they value volunteering as well as financial giving. Members of Generation Y are more likely than any other generation to cite the “desire to make the world a better place to live” as a key motivation for their philanthropic giving[20].

Gen Y is techno-savvy and responds positively to building a relationship with a nonprofit online. Nonprofits can utilize low cost online relationship-building tools like email, websites, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to engage these younger donors. Not surprisingly, direct mail solicitations have little to no impact. Not only are Gen Yers willing to donate their own funds, they are more likely than other generations to fundraise for their favorite causes and ask for donations from their peers. They donate through a variety of channels: online, in person, and by check. It behooves nonprofits to understand the ways that Gen Yers give now, as the generation will probably continue to use the same giving channels as they age.


Six Steps to Engage Young Donors

Despite their younger age, Gen X and Y desire to donate to nonprofits because they want to leave a mark now in order to leave an impact. Often they become initially engaged because of a personal experience but ultimately, they want to make philanthropy a part of the way they live. So how do you effectively engage the next generation? Here are six steps to engage young donors:

1. Host events for young professionals

Events are a popular way to engage young people because they enjoy socializing with their peers.There are a few easy steps to creating a young professionals’ event.

  1. Choose one evening mid-week to host your event after work hours.
  2. 2.     Select a location. Your organization is ideal if you have space. Otherwise, choose cost effective, up and coming or trendy eating/drinking establishment.
  3. 3.     Choose an enticing focus for the event like art or music that will attract a younger crowd.
  4. Determine a minimal entrance fee between $5-$15.
  5. Spread the word to Gen X and Yers using social media and other media outlets.
  6. Provide tasty drinks and food.

Lastly, and most importantly, provide event attendees an opportunity to make a donation, become a member or get further involved with your organization.


2. Recruit for board & committee roles

Volunteering is a form of donating time and human resources. This is a favorable way to give for many young people, as they tend to have more time and fewer funds. Diversity on boards is highly desired and often hard to obtain. Did you know that diversity can include age as well? Look to recruit board members who are under the age of 40. If the board is hesitant to recruit younger members, invite younger individuals to join a board committee first allowing you to groom them and see how they might serve in a larger volunteer capacity in the future.

3. Engage in multi-channel communication

Having a multi-channel communication approach is an effective way to reach younger people. Social media is another tool to cultivate and stay in touch with young donors. Utilize social media outlets to tell and share stories from organization. Tell stories that demonstrate the success of your programs – such as stories about individuals who were positively affected by your organization. Post pictures and include quotes.

4. Ask young professionals to engage their peers

Young people like to fundraise for their personal causes. Often your organization will need an activity for your young fundraisers to focus their efforts around a walk or a run. Ideally you would be able to utilize an established event instead of creating a new one.Provide these young fundraisers with tips and tools for raising money, sample solicitation letters and thank you letters, individual online fundraising pages, and one-on-one training in fundraising. Let them lead the process as much as possible and be ambassadors for your organization. Your investment in their efforts will pay off in the long run.

5. Offer tiered membership structures

Offer a membership rate that is affordable to Gen X and Y like $25 or $35/year. Offer the same benefits to the younger folks as they would receive at a higher level membership. The idea behind membership is repeat customers. Your Gen X and Y to be visiting your organization on a regular basis.  This also means you need to have events and activities that will be attractive to their age group.


6. Provide philanthropic resources & trainings

Host a philanthropic training for your up and coming philanthropists to provide them with resources and information to help them enter this new role. Believe it or not, many young people are eager to learn how to become philanthropic. The training can be similar in style to hosting a planned giving luncheon or tea for your older donors. Provide the next generation of philanthropists with resources on philanthropy, such as information on developing a personal giving plan or how to research causes who need help. Your organization could provide a venue for training on multi-generational philanthropy or share practices on creating a personal giving plan. Ask your older donors if they have children or grandchildren who would like to learn more about philanthropy. This will develop lifelong family giving to your organization and a continued investment across multiple generations.


A solid understanding of the characteristics and defining moments in the lives of each generation will help you build a more solid relationship with your donors of all ages. While the generational preferences are helpful in building strategies to approach younger donors, they are not the rule. Each individual is unique in his or her own giving philosophy and method.

Engaging Younger Donors Checklist:

ü  Take the time to engage young individuals now as donors. Their gifts may be small, but their lifetime giving has great potential.

ü  Offer different opportunities for the younger generations to engage with your nonprofit through events, volunteering, and membership.

ü  Utilize your current donors to help make peer-to-peer asks.

[1] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[2] United States Census Bureau, 2006-2008 American Community Survey, Population Estimates (July 1, 2008).

[3] Deloitte. Gen Y: Powerhouse of the Global Economy. 2009.

[4] Pew Research Center. Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next. February 2010

[5] AARP. Leading a Multigenerational Workforce. 2011.

[6] Lancaster & Stillman, 2003

[7] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[8] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[9] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[10] United States Census Bureau, 2006-2008 American Community Survey, Population Estimates (July 1, 2008).

[11] Deloitte. Gen Y: Powerhouse of the Global Economy. 2009.

[12] Pew Research Center. Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next. February 2010

[13] Achieve and Johnson Grossnickle Associates (JGA). 2010 Millennial Donor Study. 2010

[14] Pew Research Center. December 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS)

[15] Pew Research Center. Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next. February 2010

[16] AARP. Leading a Multigenerational Workforce. 2011.

[17] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[18] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[19] Bhagat, Vinay, Pam Loeb and Mark Rovner. The Next Generation of American Giving, A Study on the Multichannel Preferences and Charitable Habits of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures. March 2010.

[20] Report by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University in a study funded by Campbell & Company. 2008.

Are you needy?

Often we talk about our organization’s services that offer a “hand up” not a “hand out”. Teach a man to fish, right?

So, why do we, as fundraisers, make pleas to our current and prospect donors for money citing how needy we are for their money? Essentially asking for a “hand out.”

“Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities.”

– Napoleon

What if we changed our request by positioning our organization as a wealth of resources for people in the community? And then we asked donors to make an “investment” in our organizations resources and the capabilities of the staff to deliver these resources?

By asking for an investment from a donor, you are stating that your organization is worthy of their funds because you will provide a return on their investment (ROI) by delivering services and resources to the community. An investment also gives a donor an active role: with their donation, they are able to make a difference in the community. So, not only are donors able to invest their money with your organization, they invest themselves.

“You have the great honor of giving people a way to make a difference of heroic proportions. People already want to give. It’s up to us to allow them.”

–       Jim Lord, The Raising of Money

You are also empowering donors to change the world. Their investment in your organization leads to positive results: your organization services being delivered and ultimately positively changing lives.

“Imagine if everyone who wanted to change the world knew they could.”

–       Jim Lord, The Raising of Money

This investment approach, shifts the job of fundraisers from beggars to investment managers. As fundraisers, we are offering a wise investment that will produce benefits. In doing so, we are offering donors an opportunity to give money and get something in return as opposed to asking them to “give away” their money.

So, ask yourself: Is your organization’s stock rising? If so, that means you have valuable resources to offer to the community.

With that premise in mind, present your organization as an asset, not a deficit (i.e. if we don’t raise the annual budget, we will have to close our doors). Distinguish yourself as an investment opportunity.

Shorthand advice: Don’t be needy.

Go Take a Hike!

On Sunday, I went on a 6-mile hike up Iron Mountain with these fun folks:

The hike was a clever fundraiser for an international organization supported strongly by two of my friends: Cindy and Tim Stallo.

Led by Cindy, we all climbed the 3 miles to the top of the mountain, enjoyed the beautiful vistas of San Diego and then scrambled back down the mountain. While it was a nice day in the sun, an opportunity to be active and surrounded by great people – the purpose of the hike was to raise money.

No, we didn’t pick up loose change on the way up the mountain. The hike was the first of a 7 hikes in 7 days fundraiser to benefit kids living in Malawi, Africa. Cindy asked her friends, family, colleagues and friends of friends via Facebook to hike with her on 7 different hikes throughout San Diego over 7 days. Cindy said that, “Tim and I wanted to raise money for Malawi and I wanted to do a physical challenge.” Thus the 7 Hikes in 7 Days was born.

The Stallos have long since had a heart for Malawi and its children.

They have traveled to Malawi, Africa many times over the past 7 years to support and work with two organizations: Youth Care Ministries and RiseMalawi. The goal of these non-profits is to provide children (many of whom are orphans) with basic needs five days a week: a meal, school supplies, tutoring, counseling and education. The after school and summer camps provide these things as well as support for their families, such as building a roof for a family during the rainy season or purchasing shoes for all the children in the family.

While Tim and Cindy had hoped to return to Malawi this summer and bring donations with them, they were unable to do so. But this didn’t stop them from fundraising for their favorite cause. Their goal for the 7 Hikes in 7 days fundraiser is to raise over $7,000 to underwrite the costs of 20 street kids to attend summer and after-school camps in Malawi for an entire year.


So far, they have recruited 38 hikers in the first 3 and have raised around $2,400 this month!

The hike was also symbolic. We’ve heard the saying: walk a mile in another man’s shoes. In this case, we were walking miles in little kids’ shoes.  Everyday Malawi children walk approximately 5 miles from their village to school. The concept of a fundraiser hike was a great one for this cause!

Cindy got the word out on Facebook with details about each hike and how people could get involved. The beauty of this fundraiser was that the logistics were pretty easy. Through Facebook, Cindy provided prospect hiker/fundraisers all the details like meet up time and place, trailheads, length/difficulty of hike and who was going. And then all she had to do was show up at the trailhead, collect checks and cash and take the group up the mountain. Thanks to our national park service, we have beautiful and well-maintained trails in San Diego. There were no permits to be obtained, streets to be closed, equipment to be rented rentals, centerpieces to be arranged… just a dirt trail to follow.

Not only did the hikers make a personal donation, they were encouraged to raise funds from their friends. This automatically multiplied the amount of money that Cindy and her husband could raise from just their set of friends. And it worked. I brought my mom on the hike who so kindly and generously made a donation stating: “I like giving directly to people and knowing that the nonprofit won’t sell my name.” Mom donated cash; impersonal as it gets and no one sends her unwanted mail.*


Cindy already has plans to expand the hike next year including a Skype session between the hikers and the kids in Malawi right before the hike. Engaging friends outside of San Diego to hike along for 7 days in their own cities.

If you would like to support Cindy and Tim’s efforts to fundraise, please email Cindy at cindystallo at cox.net or make a tax-deductible donation at www.sixthhourministries.org.

*I did explain to my mom on the hike that most nonprofits are not in the habit of selling her name and address to other nonprofits. After all, nonprofits don’t want to lose their donors to other organizations. But there is a big scheme when it comes to direct mails and purchasing lists. She was a bit shocked and appalled that I could purchase a one-time use list of individuals who made a certain amount of money and lived in a wealthy zip code.

What a group of fundraisers… er, hikers!

“I don’t like to ask for money” and other “wa-wa” excuses

I know that most people don’t like asking for money. It is an uncomfortable thing to do. It also makes my job possible so I’m okay with it. Unless, I hear it from a Steering Committee member. I can’t tell you how often I hear: “I don’t like to ask for money.” Which is pretty ironic considering that these same individuals were recruited with a sole purpose: to raise money for the capital campaign. As a director of development, this puts you in a bind. A committee meant to raise money who hosts members who don’t like to ask for money. It’s a quandary.


What to do? What to do?


The Challenge: Our committee members won’t ask for money.

The (other) Challenge: You have not trained your committee members to ask for money.

The Solution: Set up a one-hour training session with your Steering Committee. Start by discussing the importance of a peer-to-peer ask: If an individual who has already given $1,000,000 to the campaign asks another individual for $1,000,000. It is a “peer-to-peer ask”. It is also much stronger if an “ask” comes from a volunteer leader instead of a staff member. Once the members understand why it is so important for them (yes, each one of them!) to make the solicitations, move onto a step-by-step instruction on how to engage a prospect donor. I often provide a generic script and role play it with a committee member.

Script should include speaking points for:

  • Initial phone call to prospect donor to ask for a meeting and/or invite them to a cultivation reception
  • At the meeting/reception
  • Follow up phone call conversation
  • Solicitation

The Challenge: Our committee members are really and truly not skilled at asking for gifts.

The Solution: Find them another role. There are many steps to making a solicitation from the initial cultivation steps to the actual solicitation. Find a strategic role for each member to play in engaging prospect donors. Perhaps your committee member has many important relationships with key individuals who are prospect donors and socializes with them on a regular basis. Utilize him or her to start talking about the capital campaign improvements and the need for donations. They don’t have to ask, but building the case for campaign verbally is really important. It gets the prospect donor’s mental wheels turning. This same committee member can also be the one to invite the prospect donor to the solicitation meeting and participate, but someone else solicits. I have a client and they use the Executive Director for solicitations because he is a very effective “asker” who is sure to make a solicitation with exact amount before the meeting closes. You may have a committee member who is an eloquent writer and will help you communicate the need of the campaign through handwritten letters to key individuals.

The (other) solution: Or ask them to step off the committee. For detailed instructions on how to respectfully usher a committee or Board member through the exit process, read this.

In full disclosure, the picture is my cutie patootie niece with her “wa-wa” face on.