Community Foundations: First Responders of Philanthropy

by Steve Seleznow

After a year full of crises and uncertainty, the dawn of 2021 seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the work of community foundations across the country. Any reflection must consider a nation dealing with a public health pandemic, social justice issues taking a prominent space on the national stage, and an unprecedented presidential election. This confluence of … [More]

Tell Me a Story and Capture My Heart 

by Richard Tollefson

Who doesn’t love a great story? The complex characters, engaging plot, drama, tension and, finally, the memorable outcome. And like a page-turning novel or an Academy-award-winning movie, storytelling in the business world can be powerful — influencing how consumers make decisions and persuade others. Storytelling is as old as business itself, and has been adopted and used … [More]

New Report Sheds Insight on Pandemic’s Impact on Nonprofits

Common Impact

According to a new report from Common Impact, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nonprofit organizations is staggering and the skills and expertise of corporate employees are a critical part of restoring and sustaining the sector. The COVID-19 Nonprofit Impact Report: A Guide for Providing Philanthropic and Skilled Volunteer Support , released today, indicates the … [More]

Virtual Events: Embrace the Opportunities

by Jeri Kendle

A recent study conducted by Charity Navigator and Reuters News gauging the impact of COVID-19 on the nonprofit sector showed 83% of respondents are suffering financially. The pandemic has also restricted their ability to raise critical funds; 74.6% of nonprofits reported cancelling in-person fundraising events. Nonprofits struggle to envision an online event that has the same … [More]

Deepening Donor Relationships in a Virtual World 

by Carla Vargas Jasa

As local and global communities grapple with the immediate and long-term effects of the pandemic, many organizations and businesses are struggling to stay afloat in these uncharted waters. Meanwhile, the nonprofit sector is feeling the severe economic impact of the crisis at the same time that requests from individuals and families they serve are at record highs and … [More]

It Is Time to Truly Embrace Donor Advised Funds

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

The secret has been out on Donor Advised Funds for some time now. Once a misunderstood niche giving vehicle, DAFs have been growing at an astonishing rate over the last decade, by as much as three times the overall growth in giving, according to the Giving USA Foundation. The appeal is obvious — the model allows donors to centralize and simplify their giving, easily transfer … [More]

Best Communications and Fundraising Practices during COVID-19

by Richard Tollefson

The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably left everyone dealing with feelings of uncertainty and fear. This is hard and, for some, scary. Many local nonprofit organizations and their employees are suffering. Offices are shut, budgets are getting tighter by the day, valued staff is being furloughed and programs are at risk of being slashed just when they are needed most. As … [More]

The Changing Nature of America’s Donors

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

At first glance, the state of philanthropy in the United States appears strong. The second decade of the century has seemingly proved beyond doubt the resilience and adaptability of the American philanthropic model — one which the rest of the world continues to emulate. While the global financial crisis of 2008/2009 roiled the philanthropic community and severely dented overall … [More]

Optimizing the Role of the CEO in Fundraising

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

Today’s nonprofit CEOs and presidents are expected to set the strategic direction of the organization, ensure organizational efficiency and accountability, inform and be answerable to the board and key stakeholders, and serve as the public face of the organization. With so much on their plate, it may seem logical to delegate the responsibility for fund development to the chief … [More]

Beyond People and Place – to Purpose

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

Appealing to aspirational and transformational donors requires moving beyond typical prospect development — moving beyond simply looking at people and place — to purpose. Ask any competent development professional how to enhance fundraising performance, and he will tell you to work prospects from the inside out. Typically, this involves focusing on people — those within an … [More]

Measuring Success

by Dr. Wayne Parker

Tracking success is at the core of creating a culture of evaluation within a nonprofit organization, where program decisions are made based on facts rather than impressions, hopes and wishes.  When a philanthropic foundation reviews the performance of its investment portfolio, it looks at its financial return on investment, the calculation of which is dollar-based and clear … [More]

Need to Amp Up Your Creativity, Efficiency and Productivity Fast? Outsource!

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

It takes a lot to keep a nonprofit organization at the top of its game. Just like for-profit companies, not-for-profits are concerned with the financial bottom line, operational efficiencies, human resource regulations — and more. Not-for-profits have an extra layer of scrutiny many for-profits don’t. They report to more than just their shareholders; their performance is … [More]

Communicate the Transformative Impact with Social Return on Investment

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

For nonprofits, communicating impact and value is crucial. While most businesses answer to a select group of owners, investors and shareholders, nonprofits must justify their existence and performance to a wide range of stakeholders. Donors, program partners, volunteers, board members, legislators, clients and local leaders all want constant assurances that their time, money … [More]

The New Tax Law 

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

The recent overhaul to our nation’s tax code has many of our clients expressing confusion and concern about how these changes will affect their fundraising efforts. Using the analysis provided in a recent whitepaper by Robert Sharpe of The Sharpe Group, and The Phoenix Philanthropy Group’s own perspective, we hope to combat misinformation and provide some clarity for what … [More]

Engaging a Fundraising Consultant – the Why and the How

by Richard Tollefson and Michal Tyra

As nonprofit board members and professionals, it can be hard to ask for help. Emotion, pride and passion can be difficult and often cloud the more practical pursuit of enhanced business performance. Additionally, in a sector that often prides itself on making do with less, the idea of “scaling” programmatic and fundraising performance — and paying an outside consultant to lead … [More]

Philanthropy on the Rise – for a Third Consecutive Year!

by Richard Tollefson and Michael Tyra

As this year’s “Giving USA Annual Report on Philanthropy” notes, 2016 was certainly an unusual year for giving in the United States. Between a tumultuous and all-encompassing election and increasing societal tension, it wouldn’t have been too surprising to see an off-year for philanthropy. Instead, we saw the opposite! Total giving increased for the third consecutive year, … [More]

Avoiding the Operational Black Hole 

by Richard Tollefson 

“There is not enough time in the day to get my job done.” It’s a complaint echoed by a majority of fundraising leaders. For many who have risen through the ranks as chief development officers — or even CEOs — it often boils down to an excess of time spent on operations. Unused to managing people and processes, new leaders can become mired in operations tasks, often … [More]

Cultivating Mobile Philanthropists

by Richard Tollefson 

Don Budinger, chairman and founding director of The Rodel Foundation of Arizona, supports Arizona’s public K-12 schools through a variety of programs. His philanthropic endeavors extend nationally to the communities where his business, Rodel Inc. — now part of Dow — grew its manufacturing facilities and, more broadly, to national public education issues. Budinger is among a … [More]

Life After a Campaign

by Richard Tollefson 

Life after a successful campaign is filled with rewards and benefits. New buildings, improved facilities, innovative programming, expanded services, research and scholarships, and working capital infuse nonprofits with a sense of momentum. Campaigns also bring enhanced visibility, strengthened reputation and increased community impact that makes future fundraising less … [More]

Quiet Does Not Mean Silent

by Richard Tollefson 

Today’s comprehensive fundraising campaigns often include a quiet phase before going public. But what does quiet really mean to executives who sit on nonprofit boards? “The quiet phase is really about growing your circle of influence every quarter and progressively amplifying what you are doing to achieve your strategic plan,” says Lori Bachand, Sacramento State’s associate … [More]