We are thrilled you’re here! In the blog posts below you will find resources, updates, news, and information about a variety of topics in philanthropy and the social sector. Enjoy!
You’ve made it through the busiest time of year for gift-giving! The ever-challenging journey of Year-End Fundraising might have thrown you a curveball or two, taken you down a path that wasn’t anticipated, or went exactly as planned with minimal hiccups.
Now comes the time for reflection.
Like any experience, it’s important to assess it before the memory becomes fuzzy. Below are some questions to get the juices flowing. So, gather your team and sit down to have a candid, eyes-wide-open conversation.
Let’s start with the anecdotal side.
Answer these questions: Continue reading
By Brenda B Asare, President & CEO, The Alford Group
The Alford Group sponsored this year’s Giving USA event in Chicago with Lipman Hearne and the Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise and Responsibility. We shared the recently released Giving USA 2018 numbers, discussed new research on megadonor archetypes, and hosted a panel of local experts to discuss what it all means for the social sector. Here are the main takeaways.
Giving USA 2018 Numbers
(Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017)
Total giving in 2017 reached its highest level ever, surpassing the $400 Billion mark for a total of $410.02 Billion.
Giving has been on the rise for the past few years. This year, giving increased among all four sources (corporations, foundations, bequests and individuals), with corporate giving increasing by the largest amount at 8 percent growth (5.7 percent adjusted for inflation). This growth from corporations is in part due to a $405 million bump in corporate gifts to natural disasters in 2017.
Don’t we all agree that the most precious things in life are worthy of our best attention, effort and care? In the fundraising world, the most precious “things” are our donors and their philanthropic dollars.
Who among us has the luxury of a daily schedule that is just waiting to be filled with new ideas and activities? Nobody that we know! So let’s take 15 minutes – only one percent of our day – to ponder ways to work smarter and multiply the impact of our efforts, and benefit the most precious “things” – our donors!
How do you make sure that your donor stewardship is intentional, timely and effective? You need to plan for it! Wonderful ideas for individual stewardship activities, timelines and plans abound on the internet, so we aren’t going to reiterate them here. The idea we are offering is a strategy for multiplying the impact of your stewardship planning process by also using it as an engagement opportunity for key donors, staff and board members. Continue reading
By Diane Knoepke, Vice President, The Alford Group
If you’re working in the social sector, you’ve probably said – or at least heard – things like this in discussions of the dynamics between grantmakers and grantseekers:
“We want this to be valuable for both sides of the equation.”
“I’ve sat on both sides of the table.”
“We need to understand how things work on the other side.”
Perhaps this “both sides” idea is a misnomer. At least that is what I walked away thinking after moderating two dynamic panels of funders and their not-for-profit partners at Friday’s “Straight Talk: Unpacking the Power Dynamic between Grantseekers and Grantmakers” event, hosted by Chicago Women in Philanthropy. When we think of partners in funding relationships as the “asker” and the “asked,” we are missing a lot of dimensions to the power dynamics present in these relationships. Continue reading
Are your volunteers worth their weight in gold, or are they simply weighing you down?
By Laura Edman, Vice President, The Alford Group Read Laura’s Bio
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why do I bother with volunteers? It would be so much easier if I just do this myself.”
I admit it; over my 30-plus years as a fundraising professional, that thought has crossed my mind more than once. Yet whenever that happens, I think about the many times during my career when volunteers have made the critical difference between success and failure, between reaching that stretch campaign goal and falling short, or between successfully recruiting that key board member and having them turn down the opportunity.
So, how can you make sure that your volunteers really are worth their weight in gold, instead of being too much trouble to bother with? Here are some tips that might help you and some resources for more information. Continue reading
By Molly Hansen and Laura Edman
During our recent webinar Getting the Most from Your Board: It’s a two-way street we had several questions from participants that we weren’t able to answer before the webinar ended. We’d like to share those questions – and our answers – with you here!
Q: Our board members are really busy people and never seem to have enough time to devote to our organization. How do you deal with that?
A: Be sure your meetings happen when the most board members can be there and change the day and/or time if needed. Be careful that board members don’t overcommit and sign up for too many activities or responsibilities. Think about how many meetings you have and cut back on unnecessary meetings or offer remote attendance options (video/phone).
Q: Our board attendance is really low. How can we encourage better attendance?
A: Be sure that your meetings are productive and really well-run. They should start and finish on time. Include key decisions and action items and discussion of strategic issues on the agenda, not just a bunch of reports. Include a “mission moment” that helps educate and inspire board members. Continue reading
Photo: Alford Group staff at As Good as It Gives: America’s Philanthropy Today on June 17, 2016 at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.
The Alford Group co-sponsored As Good as It Gives: America’s Philanthropy Today with Mesirow Financial in Chicago to share this year’s Giving USA numbers and discuss what the numbers mean for not-for-profit organizations.
Here are the main takeaways:
- Giving is on the rise
The Alford Group’s Executive Vice President Sharon Tiknis and Senior Consultant Diane Knoepke presented to the room and reported that 2015 was America’s most generous year ever, as donors collectively gave over $373 billion. Giving is on a two-year increase, as 2014 was previously charted as the most generous year of giving. Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, giving has increased by 23 percent. Individuals continue to represent the majority of giving in America at 71 percent of total giving in 2015.
Midway through last week’s Cause Marketing Forum (CMF), during Katrina McGhee’s great talk on personal branding, I noted that a significant number of the CMF presenters—representing both causes and companies—were explicitly emphasizing one key practice. These cause marketing leaders focus on their strengths. They understand their organizational strengths and partner with others to mitigate their organizational weaknesses. In contrast to the trends earlier this decade when it started to feel like major cause marketers were shifting to owning self-made cause platforms over building partnership portfolios, this strengths-based approach is facilitating significant creativity and impact.
Instead of adopting a certain trend in structure or activation, today’s cause marketing leaders are focusing on what will work for them. For some, that is creating an owned national platform with local and agency partners providing support. For others, it is forging one or more partnerships of complementary opposites who each bring what the other needs. Through collaboration, they are then able to achieve the business and social impact results that they could not have achieved on their own.
Four Examples from Cause Marketing Forum 2016:
A few examples (of many, many more) that I found particularly instructive from last week’s event: Continue reading
The following post comes to us from Maree Bullock, Vice President of The Alford Group, and wife of the late Jimmie Alford. We couldn’t think of a better way to ring in 2016 than to remember Jimmie’s contribution to our lives and the nonprofit sector, especially its future leaders. Enjoy the rest of 2015 and we’ll see you in the new year. Cheers.
Dear Colleagues —
We create legacies throughout our lives — Some we choose — Others choose us!
Several years ago Jimmie chose to teach, mentor and coach the future generation of leaders in the not-for-profit sector. He was very intentional about that goal. In a formal way he taught at North Park University and Notre Dame University. Informally he mentored and coached hundreds — never turning down a request or an opportunity to explore career opportunities in the sector with those seeking his advice and counsel.
A few weeks ago, I hosted 5 Alford Scholars currently receiving financial assistance from the Jimmie R. Alford Scholarship Fund at North Park University. During our lunch together each scholar shared their life story — their adversities and struggles — their determination to create their own legacies in the sector. Much of what they shared mirrored Jimmie’s own challenges and struggles. Each of the scholars learned about Jimmie’s life, determination and impact.
Today there is $250,000 in the Jimmie R. Alford Scholarship Fund. Fourteen scholars have benefited to date. Each year four new scholars benefit from the Fund.
As I write this I ask myself “What legacy am I intentionally creating? How lasting and impactful will it be?”
What legacy are you intentionally creating?
Merry Christmas and happy New Year to each of you! 2016 provides a new year to create new legacies and enhance already-created legacies.
Maree G. Bullock