I was recently reminded of this article about nonprofit sustainability which I posted on my blog a couple of years ago. Upon reviewing it I realized that some of the lessons and information are as relevant today as they were back then so I’m sharing this again.
Are you a nonprofit leader or board member who has been part of conversations about sustainability? If you are shaking your head yes you might find the responses from this Bloomerang survey of interest:
Over 50% of nonprofits are:
- Identifying priorities,
- Ensuring that job descriptions are in place, and
- Utilizing a fundraising plan.
While a majority of nonprofit respondents are utilizing a fundraising plan, a surprising 72% did not have a communications plan in place to make donors aware of planned giving opportunities. Planned giving, why would marketing planned gifts be a factor in nonprofit sustainability? We need money today!
What if you wanted to build a facility that would enhance the quality of life of your clients, but your nonprofit had only a portion of the money needed to do so? What if your board agreed to borrow money toward the project, but it would still not be enough to bring the project to fruition? How would a planned gift factor in?
If your nonprofit had a fund to which unrestricted bequests or other unrestricted planned gifts could be directed, you could potentially employ those funds to support the construction project. You might even consider using the monies in that fund to match $1 for $1 every gift made to a capital campaign that would finance the new facility.
That was precisely the scenario employed by a continuing care retirement community that wanted to build a therapy pool on its campus. When I was Director of Development at that nonprofit we developed a capital campaign, the first ever for that nonprofit, which employed $600k from an unrestricted gifts fund to match $1 for $1 new gifts toward the therapy pool.
The board agreed to either draw down on reserves or borrow the remaining $600k needed to bring the project to fruition. However, the board never needed to take either of those steps thanks to the generosity of donors who together contributed $1M. By the way, the $600k came from a $550k unrestricted bequest, plus a bit of income that had accrued on that bequest while it had been invested.
Note: The pool was built and has been in place for several years. I was recently told by a resident of the retirement community that it is making the kind of difference in the lives of residents for which the organization hoped.
Thanks to @vikenmikaelian from plannedgiving.com for the reminder. How about you, have you launched a planned giving program? If so, how has it factored into your nonprofit’s sustainability? If you haven’t launched a planned giving program, what is holding you back? I hope to hear from you because we can all learn from one another.
Sophie wears several hats, she is the President of i5 Fundraising. Sophie is also the Senior Program Coordinator and a Lecturer for Penn State’s all online certificate programs in fundraising (one graduate one undergraduate).