Step 8: Planned Giving: The Philanthropic Philosopher’s Stone
He’ll be the first one to tell you that he doesn’t like the “fundraising machine”, yet this is one of the reasons Paul Nazareth is a fundraiser.
Paul’s mission is to “empower Canadians to have greater social impact through well planned charitable gifts today and estate gifts tomorrow”. As a networking wizard with a strong professional and personal interest in social media, Paul is dedicated in discovering how such channels can be implemented in the for-profit and social-profit setting.
He spoke to us about the changing landscape of fundraising due to the presence of philanthropic and resource development programming in educational institutions and shared tips for successful planned giving.
How has academic programming in fundraising and philanthropy changed the fundraising and not-for-profit landscape?
It has changed it quite a bit. This kind of programming never really existed in the 1970s and 1980s. It adds a new dimension to fundraising, but they’re still not mandatory for success. These educational offerings are there if you want to commit to them for work or to grow in your career. If you want to get into fundraising and philanthropy, you just need to start at the bottom, as with anything else in life. It’s like getting married. Most people wouldn’t marry someone they think would be a good partner, it helps to date a bit. To get into fundraising, you need to test the waters. Volunteer, join a campaign, join a board, but most importantly, network your way in.
What are your thoughts on the “fundraising machine”?
I really don’t like it. It’s the reason why I am a fundraiser, because I don’t like how fundraising has permeated our lives so much. I acknowledge that I’m being cranky and biased, but I don’t want to grow a mustache, or walk and ride a bike for charity. It bothers me that fundraising consumes so much of our lives. People never consider that asking less will get more money, but it’s true. On the other hand, I respect the passion that people have when they do these things and have passion for the cause and passion for the people they help.
Sometimes fundraising campaigns disconnect us from the cause. More fundraisers need to be allowed to walk their shop floor, meaning spending as much time in the mission and understand the organization. If you are fundraising at a homeless shelter, get in the shelter and understand the story, mission and people. The machine makes us disconnected, so you need to spend as much time with the people as possible. It is true, we will never be free of chocolate almonds, but the space between the volunteer and fundraiser is growing. There is a danger there.
What should organizations do to combat the “fundraising machine?”
Charities, as they grow, need to be strategic. Hospitals are the most diversified shops. They have bake sales, runs and so forth. Other organizations may not have the staff, but that means they have to be more strategic about how they invest their time. Meet the donor where they are. Diversification is good but not at the loss of connecting to the cause. I met a board member who was bragging about a golf tournament that made $25,000. When I included the staff time and lost volunteer hours, it actually lost money. When a student fundraiser from a college program volunteered to help them, their board chair held a small private dinner with donors for one night and they made $50,000 with minimal staff time.
Has philanthropy and planned giving changed in the past 25 years? Do you expect it to change in another 25 years?
The world has changed in 25 years. What hasn’t changed is that relationships drive gifts, which create the stories for an organization. In 25 years, relationships will still be the key and legacy gifts will continue to be the stories. What has changed is the speed in which it is done; rather than phone, it will be email or whatever we use in the future. Due to the speed of our daily lives, busyness is making relationships fleeting and meaningless. People don’t value relationships. Creating meaningful relationships is a strategy, it isn’t about being nice. This is why I believe in digital media, it allows us to create and steward relationships in a busy world.
What is the secret to “planned giving?”
Planned giving is a collection of stories, and a donor’s feeling on a story is going to reflect how much they give to you. There is an understanding that it is someone’s life story being told in your mission. The charity has a need and the gift has to align with that need, but the motivation is switched as planned giving is about the donor’s need to create a legacy and impact.
The secret is, there IS no secret. Giving is giving, we need to dispose of the mystery and jargon.
What is the key take away from your chapter, “Planned Giving: The Philanthropic Philosopher’s Stone” of The Vigilant Fundraiser?
I’m a realist. Board and leaders want fundraisers to make the most amount of money in the least amount of time. In the book I explain three things that are vital for planned giving: first, cover your bases. Make sure there is a bucket to throw money in. You would be surprised by the amount of organizations that don’t have a bucket. If you’re a busker, you will always have a place to throw money into so make sure giving money in all forms is easy. Secondly, integrate your ask. Make sure gift planning and training is included in every facet of fundraising and keep your language and material simple. Thirdly, partner with advisors. Having expert fundraising consultants and professional advisors in law, accounting, financial planning and insurance is key.
What does a ‘vigilant fundraiser’ look like to you?
When you think of the word ‘vigilant’, it is one who is always on guard to protect and serve the donors and advance the profession. Always learning, networking and acting. A ‘vigilant fundraiser’ is someone who walks their talk.
Julie Dorsey is a Writer for The Goldie Company. She interviewed Paul Nazareth for his thoughts on planned giving and the future outlook of fundraising.