Make Some Lemonade in These Stressful Times!

We all know the phrase “cash is king”, but what does that mean in the midst of stressful times such as we are now experiencing with COVID-19?

As we consider group meetings, working from home and washing our hands continuously, life goes on. For some, the quarantines and public gathering limitations will create financial stress. Restaurants, airlines and of course cruise ships would all fit into this category.

But for others, this will simply be a momentary pause.

During this season, as we see interest rates at the lowest in our lifetimes, some assets will still sell. A friend of mine has had his house on the market for several months and although he received an offer that is much lower than his anticipated selling price, he plans to accept that offer because of the uncertainty of the future.

So, how does this relate to your donors, the folks who sustain our non-profits?
Example: We are currently working with a donor who is selling a business. His business has been growing by double digits for years. Their earnings in 2019 were more than $21 million. Just a few months ago, they would’ve expected a selling price of between $100 and $120 million.  But today, in this uncertain environment, they plan to accept an offer of roughly $80 million, or 4 times their profits. Not ideal, but a reality in these times.

This donor and his wife are in their early 80s. He is on the Board of Directors of a major international charity and are very generous to that organization and many others as well. Let’s look briefly at what happens if he sells this business outright, fully exposed to long-term capital gain taxes versus if he sells it through proper legacy planning.

If he sells it outright, assuming it is an all cash offer, his portion of the company worth about $30 million would be taxed at federal and state levels of roughly 29%. This will leave him with a net after-tax of $21,300,000. If he were able to earn 5% on those funds it would equal $1,065,000 per year in pretax income for his remaining retirement years.

Fortunately, our client charity introduced us some time ago. We have been working on both his anticipated business sale and his estate plan and were able to execute documents a few months ago. At this point, he has established a charitable remainder trust as well as a donor advised fund in anticipation of this sale. His plans are to put 40% of his company ownership into the charitable remainder trust prior to sale. He will also put 10% of his company stock into the donor advised fund prior to sale.

This would leave he and his wife with 50% of the company to be sold outright. Normally, this 50% would be subject to long-term capital gain taxes, however because of our planning he will receive charitable income tax deductions of $8,900,000. The result of this will be the 50% sold outright will pay no long-term capital gain taxes, leaving them the full $15,000,000 to invest.

As a result of anticipating a sale and proactively doing strategic legacy planning in advance, these donors will now have more income during retirement years, the ability to make current gifts to their favorite charities as well as legacy gifts in their estate. See the summary below.

No planning
Net after tax – $21,300,000
Income at 5% – $1,065,000
Gift to charity – $0

Strategic Legacy planning
Net after tax from 50% sold outright – $15,000,000
Plus 40% sold through CRT @ $12,000,000
Income at 5% – $1,350,000 (combined)
Gift to charity – $3,000,000 via DAF and $12,000,000 from CRT

Please Don’t Assume

Perhaps the biggest obstacle we must overcome as we work with charity executives is their assumption that high net worth donors “have all this planning done already”. The facts are that your high net worth donors became successful by identifying a product or service and focusing like a laser on that business. But for the vast majority of them, liquidity planning as part of a philanthropic strategy is a foreign language. This gives you an opportunity to serve them while also creating milestone gifts for your organization.

It is not intrusive nor is it crass to help a donor reduce taxes and increase their retirement cash flow through smart legacy planning. And, if they can also benefit their favorite charities versus sending millions of dollars to Washington D.C. – so much the better.

Tangible steps you can take

OK, so let’s assume that the message in this article has caught your attention. What are some practical steps that you can take? I would suggest there are three steps toward strategic legacy planning.

  1. Analyzing data
  2. Communicating with your benefactors
  3. Focusing on the relationship

1. This message of pre-sale planning for liquidity events is not something that you would mass market to 25,000 donors. Note: in our next article we will look at practical ways you can address the Middle America segment of your donor base during this Covid-19 pandemic. But within most databases, there will be a few donors (2-5%) that can identify with these issues. So how do you identify those donors?

There are several successful methods for identifying prospects for gifts of complex assets among your constituents. Predictive modeling focused on finding principal and planned giving prospects, wealth identification techniques that center on business, stock, and/or multiple property ownership as well as high-end giving to other nonprofits are some of most proven strategies.

Lawrence C. Henze, J.D.
Analytics Architect, Senior Principal Consultant
Blackbaud Target Analytics

2. Communicate with your donors. During stressful times, your business owner donors are even more intensely focused on “keeping the ship upright during the storm.” But in the midst of that you can communicate two things to them. First, the compelling mission and vision of your organization. Remind them as to why they are involved. Give them a recent uplifting story of a successful example of your organization’s mission or impact. Second, remind them that for their own benefit during this stressful time, making current gifts to charity out of appreciated assets versus cash will help them protect their cash position and retain the strength of their organization rather than depleting business cash resources.

3. Perhaps most important of all is to maintain the relationship. During these times when hopping on an airplane and flying across the country is probably not going to make sense, take advantage of technology using communication tools. Two of my personal favorites are Zoom ( and BombBomb ( You’ll be amazed at how appreciative donors can be of a quick one-minute video email using BombBomb or as I said to one donor this morning, “in lieu of getting together, why don’t we set up a Zoom video call and have a ‘social distancing’ cup of coffee?” He laughed and quickly accepted the invitation.

The bottom line here is to encourage you to make lemonade during these stressful times. Look for ways that you can maintain relationships; communicate the vision of your mission while at the same time offering helpful information to those who might benefit from protecting their cash by gifting assets or by enhancing their financial outcomes during a liquidity event. Remember, Cash is King.

Assets: the Missing Component of Capital Campaigns


There’s a huge piece missing in most capital campaigns today. Gifts of Assets are the key to leading your campaign with historic results for your ministry or organization.These days, capital campaigns are commodities. Everybody kind of does them the same way:A need is identified. A feasibility study is done. A campaign goal is set. The case for support is communicated through various marketing channels. Solicitations are made at various events and in person. Honors are given. Acknowledgements are made. And this cycle is repeated until the goal is met—or nearly met.Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The only real differences in these cookie-cutter campaigns are the personality of the capital campaign consultant or how well the church or nonprofit staff organized the campaign.

But there’s a missing component here that separates the mediocre, minor league campaigns from campaigns that bring in massive funding that can bring about a profound impact on a community—and it doesn’t depend on how well your rockstar marketing team performs (So go ahead… give ‘em a break.).

The Glass Ceiling

The missing component of most capital campaigns is that there is no cultivation or solicitation of Gifts of Assets.

Most all gifts cultivated and solicited during capital campaigns are current, cash-based gifts. These gifts are straightforward and relatively fast transactions, which is why we tend to focus on them.

But cash-based giving places an invisible ceiling on how much money your campaign can raise.

You see, even wealthy people have a limited ability to give in cash because the majority of their wealth is locked up in non-liquid assets. Most Americans have about 91% of their net worth in assets—which means cash-based gifts can only come from the remaining 9% that donors have in liquid assets, such as savings and cash on hand.

But on the other hand, your donors can give transformative gifts… if someone spoke to them about giving Gifts of Assets.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

If you want to break the glass ceiling in your capital campaigns, you’ve got to empower your donors to unlock the transformative gifts lying dormant in their asset portfolio.

You’ve got to focus on those financial leaders within your donor database who could make some kind of asset gift if they were informed and motivated to do so… just like this donor of a Giving Crowd client did.

A Transformative Gift that Broke the Record

During a conversation about their upcoming capital campaign, a potential donor said to the giving officer, “I’d be happy to make a campaign gift, but right now, I’m trying to sell this piece of property. Once I’m through with the sale, I’ll make a gift to the capital campaign.”

Luckily, the gift officer contacted us right away to come speak with his donor about his charitable goals and how he could benefit both himself and the charity from the sale of the property.

This is exactly the kind of donor we want to talk to!

During our conversation with the donor, he realized that he could save himself thousands of dollars in capital gains tax by giving the property to the charity as a Gift of Assets. So before he sold the property, he gifted it to the charity: 60% of the property was to be managed by a trust and the other 40% of the property was to be owned outright by the charity.

The charity and the trust then sold the property to the buyer: 60% of the sale’s proceeds went to the Charitable Remainder Trust set up beforehand, and 40% went to the charity in cash.

That 40% added up to $357,000 toward the capital campaign. Up until that point, the largest gift this donor had ever given to the charity had been $25,000. But this Gift of Asset unlocked the donor’s ability to give a record-breaking amount that he never could before from cash!

Benefits of Asset-based Giving for Donors

I’m sure you can imagine how much this Gift of Asset benefited the charity, but think about how much this Gift of Asset benefited the donor.

First of all, giving an asset-based gift saved the donor hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital gains tax. Secondly, it gave him a tax deduction for the year in which he gifted it… and for five years going forward. Lastly, the 60% gift through the charitable trust provided he and his wife a lifetime of income from the Charitable Remainder Trust.

How to Cultivate Record-Breaking Gifts of Assets

The first thing you have to do to begin unlocking your donors’ potential giving for your next campaign through asset-based gifts is to start now. These kinds of gifts take time.

One time after a presentation I gave at a church, the pastor stopped me and said, “Richard, I could kick myself. A year ago, one of our largest donors sold his business, and we weren’t having this conversation with him.”

How sad is that?

If you want the shade today, the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago. Cultivation and solicitation of asset-based gifts take time. Start now.

Identify and Educate

That leads us to how you cultivate Gifts of Assets among the financial leaders in your donor base or congregation. You can’t simply go up to them and ask them about their net worth and the plans they have to sell off their assets.

So your job is to identify potential asset-based givers and educate them on the benefits and concepts of asset-based giving.

Show them through your marketing messages how asset-based gifts can drive your mission forward. Give them examples of how asset-based giving can also benefit them and their loved ones financially. Demonstrate how gift annuities and other such planned gifts can provide stability for their loved ones in the future as well as secure their legacy.

And when the time comes for those critical conversations, bring in some help.

Real help when you need it

At The Giving Crowd, we’ve got more than 100 years of combined experience among our staff consulting with donors on how to use their assets to make the impact they dream of while maximizing the financial benefit for themselves and their families.

Every sale of property, business, or other major asset takes time and pre-sale planning. These business owners and entrepreneurs need time and help to think through the benefits and possibilities of Gifts of Assets.

More than likely, the financial leaders in your church or donor base are not going to open up to you about their net worth or their asset portfolio. And with such a conflict of interest, it’s helpful to bring in outside expertise as a service from your organization or ministry to your donor. We call it a “safe third party”.

That’s why The Giving Crowd is here.

Our asset-based giving consultants can help you have the conversations you need to have with your donors in order to cultivate, solicit, and execute record-breaking Gifts of Assets for your capital campaign or annual fund.

Ready to make the call? It’s free and there’s no obligation.

So call us right now—and see if we’re a good fit for you and your donors.

The 5 Fundamental Needs of Major Donors You Must Fulfill


Cultivating major gifts can be an intimidating prospect. But if you learn to fulfill these five fundamental needs of every major donor consistently, major gifts will not be a problem.When you look past their level of wealth, major donors have the same human needs you and I have. They want certainty, significance, connection, and a sense of their personal contribution to society.

These five fundamental human needs become part of the criteria donors use when looking for a charitable partner for their philanthropic goals.

After decades of working with donors from successful entrepreneurs to average middle-class Americans, I know these five fundamental needs are either attracting or repelling your potential donors.

Major Donor Need #1: Impact Alignment

The major donors (or prospective major donors) you interact with are expert businesspeople. Many have started their own business, become a vice president, or gained wealth through wise investments.

Donors are looking at your actions, comparing it to their vision, and looking for impact alignment. Share on X

Impact alignment happens when the results of your organization’s hard work lines up with the change — the impact — the donor wants to see in the world.
For example, that well-advertised fundraising event that you did last year…

  • What was the impact of those generous gifts?
  • How did you communicate that alignment and community impact to your donors, community, and social networks?
  • Learn to identify the change your events, programs, or initiatives create in the world and then communicate the stories of that change to potential donors to create impact alignment.

Major Donor Need #2: Applied Credibility

Every year, the news reports scandals of all sizes from inappropriate behavior, mishandled transactions, and miscommunications. But in reality, donors don’t normally sniff you out for these kinds of vices.

The typical vice of the average nonprofit is the lack of organizational integrity. They just don’t keep their promises.

What do average donors care about more than anything: That you keep your word. (TWEET THIS)

Donors expect you to refrain from corporate sins like embezzlement, private inurement, and unethical treatment of human beings. It’s taken for granted that you’ll be ethical and transparent.

But do you follow through on your promises? This is what will set you apart from other charities.

  • When you say you exist to dig wells, where are the stories to show your impact?
  • When you say your donor can create a legacy through their planned gift, what are the internal controls that protect their legacy?

As a prospective donor, I am looking at how you are protecting your credibility — because if I donate, it will become part of my own legacy.

Major Donor Need #3: A Game Plan for Impact

Your potential donors have spent decades building their own legacies. They planned for it, executed it, and are now reaping the benefits.

Today, their portion of the $49 trillion dollar distribution of wealth is looking for an organization that has a plan, has been making an impact, and has the ability to receive large gifts.

Major donors will not consider an organization without a plan or the ability to handle large gifts. Share on X

Having a plan for major gifts and the ability to receive them is another way of saying that you must have a big enough vision. If your vision is too small, you will attract small gifts.

  • What is your game plan for large (and small) donations?
  • Do you have the necessary internal controls already in place?
  • Do your marketing materials refer to these plans?

Expanding the scope of your vision, developing the plan, and crafting the language to communicate all of this to major prospective donors takes time. Examine your current plan to see if it’s really worth a major investment from a wealthy donor.

Major Donor Need #4: Connection

A common complaint I hear from major donors is that there is little to no connection between them and the organization they gave to.

This lack of connection has an easily fixed cause: very little donor development. Donors are not a means to an end — they’re like a classic car.

If tended to correctly, major donors will want to serve the organization’s needs.

  • When was the last time you made a connection with your donors for the sake of serving them?
  • Do they feel that you have their best interest at heart, even while serving your organization’s needs?
  • How much have you researched your donor to determine their philanthropic goals rather than identify their giving capacity?

Make a point to check in to share the stories with an impact or connect about how they can redistribute 401k taxes.

Major Donor Need #5: Gratitude

It always surprises me how few donors hear the words, “Thank you.” This really bothers me — and it should bother you.

Major gifts represent the time, values, and resources your donors have built up over a lifetime.

They are giving part of themselves to your nonprofit. Consider the significance of that legacy and heritage.

Too often, we ask donors to partner with us to accomplish our vision — but this is a poisonous perspective that will kill your major gift program.

Truth is, you’re partnering with them to accomplish their dream for the world.

Gratitude means we’re thankful for them allowing us to be a part of their legacy, their story, their impact on the world. And of course, it’s not enough to feel it — you have to communicate your gratitude to them.

How are you saying thank you and keeping them up to date?

Keeping individuals connected with consistent communications, impact stories, and finding ways to serve your donors’ needs are just a few ways to honor their legacies and values.

Donors are looking for consistency, connectivity, and communication. Share on X

If you are blessed to have donors who recognize that you are a viable, impactful force in your community, keep in touch and remind them of their legacy’s impact.

If you are struggling to cultivate major gifts, take a good look at your development priorities. A small investment into engaging donors consistently can revolutionize your nonprofit.

Tactics like consistent blogs, website updates, newsletters, or simply face-to-face conversations can all work to fulfill these five fundamental needs of every major donor.

And when you switch from asking for money to fulfilling their needs as a major donor, the gifts will take care of themselves.

If you need a trusted guide who knows the way to higher donor engagement, we’re here for you.

The Giving Crowd team has over 50 years of combined experience in major donor development and legacy giving. If you’d like to see how we can help you exceed your fundraising goals, let’s talk.

It’s a free call. No obligations. So get a hold of us today!

5 Tests to See if Your Church is Ready for Asset-based Fundraising


Serving vs. Soliciting

So, you’re convinced. But if you launch an asset-based fundraising strategy in your church, how do you know it won’t just be another passing fad in your church? Here are 5 iron-clad tests to see if your church is ready.

Every year we see new trends — cars, fashion, technology — we even add new words to our vocabulary. Some trends are fleeting but others become a long-term classic like cellular phones, Facebook or a 1960s muscle car.

The Church has its own share of leadership, growth strategy, and ministry program trends, too.

So when it comes to asset-based stewardship strategies, many churches struggle with determining if this will garner long-term impact.

Asset-based giving seems to have had a slow learning curve and adoption rate within the church community. But the biggest obstacle boils down to a simple question…

Does this help our people or does this feel like a new fundraising fad?

Of course, there are several significant benefits of asset-based stewardship strategies:

  • Asset-based giving can result in significant gifts both today and in the future.
  • Asset-based giving may lead to ministry-changing gifts.
  • Asset-based giving allows the giver to tap into a much larger pool of resources.

Right away, you can see how asset-based stewardship strategies have the potential to change how people think about and act upon the desire to be generous. The increase in ministry funding alone is enough to get any nonprofit excited about implementing an asset-based fundraising strategy.

But for long-term Kingdom impact to occur with our asset-based strategy, we must stop a moment to gauge the motives of our heart.

Colleges, health institutions or well-known nonprofits request funds on a regular basis—and asset-based stewardship is just one of the tools they use. Their donor base is not surprised when approached for a non-cash gift such as stocks, real estate, or mineral rights.

However, a church or a church-based organization must take a different approach. In fact, the direct appeal used by other nonprofits might not always be the best approach.

That’s because the Church is more than a cause—it’s a community.

And a divine one at that… led by none other than the Son of God Himself.

Within the Church, the key is to move beyond a simple appeal and help people see how giving out of assets helps them become more deeply involved in the work of your ministry.

How do you ensure that your heart and your ministry are positioned correctly to fulfill this tall order? These five tests can lead us to the answer:

Test #1: Is your church known for it’s generosity?

  • Are you and your congregation already investing in the lives of the community outside the church walls in a meaningful way?
  • If so, how well are you telling that story?

Test #2: Does your church participate in open-handed giving?

  • Do you encourage your congregation to donate to other organizations?
  • What is your response to hearing that news?

Test #3: What is the condition of the heart of the “asker”?

Consider the individuals tasked with being the face of the organization to the potential donors:

  • Are they good stewards?
  • Reputable?
  • Do they have a healthy view of “wealth”?

Test #4: How is the church going to use the money?

  • Is it going to salaries or overhead?
  • Or will it be going to something else?
  • Does this “something else” align with the values, goals or desires of the giver?
  • How transparent are you being with your congregation about how funds are used?

Test #5: Are you an equipping church (Eph. 4) in other ways?

  • Is your church already supporting and equipping as outlined in Ephesians 4 – OR –
  • Would the asset-based stewardship appear to be disjointed from the church’s heartbeat?

If you thoughtfully answer the five questions posed here, you’ll see that asset-based giving can be an integral part of your church, and not a trend.

It can be sustained to give you long-term results if it fits the cultural heartbeat of your church, embodying integrity and consistency.

Here is a great example: There was one such moment that came to one of the ministries with whom we partner. An individual was retiring and wanted to make a sizable donation from the person’s stock portfolio to assist the ministry to pay down a significant debt.

It blessed the church, because it lessened the deficit. It blessed the donor by alleviating the individual’s tax bill.

How did something this incredible happen?

This gift was made possible by a mindset and heartbeat that permeates the leadership and staff of this church: every member of their congregation is someone to be served, not someone to serve them.

How do we know this?

Because everyone on that leadership and staff could answer each one of the above five questions. This wasn’t a fad or a trend for them.  It was a heart-level commitment that spurred a game-changing gift that blessed many and will never be forgotten.

Putting It into Action

So, what about your organization? Where is the heartbeat of your team?

There are individuals in your community who can bless you in a significant way. Are you purposeful about serving them?

If you’ve passed the test, and are ready to begin integrating asset-based fundraising into your church fundraising strategy, schedule your free 30-minute discovery call to see how!

3 Modern Myths Holding Your Fundraising Back


Stop Focusing on the 9%

Nonprofits, churches, and higher education organizations often fall into the trap of going for quick cash gifts instead of tapping into the abundance of asset-based fundraising. See if one or more of these three modern myths are holding you back from your full fundraising potential.  Every season has unique giving opportunities – from the ringing of holiday bells outside a store to the cookies or popcorn sold door to door.  Giving opportunities are everywhere.

But they all focus on the same thing – the money in your wallet or checking account.

Many organizations excel at creating an emotional tug to spur a moment where you reach for your wallet. But here’s the thing…

I have done the math and it’s eye-opening.

The sum of all those moments = 9% of the individual’s giving potential.

How did I get 9%?  Let’s look at the types of things that make up one’s net worth.

Fluid cash sources like saving accounts, money under a mattress, etc., are easily accessed funds that people can use to purchase items.

Assets are tangible objects that would need to be sold to purchase something else like stocks, real estate, and businesses.

Most Americans have about 91% of their net worth in assets. That leaves 9% for liquid assets, such as savings and cash on hand.

While it will always make sense to have a robust, cash-driven church fundraising strategy, just imagine how much more you could accomplish by developing an asset-based approach as well!

Here are three myths that hold people back from the 91% of donor gifts available through asset-based funding strategy.

Myth #1: Asset-based fundraising isn’t worth the effort.

I’m not going to lie to you. Asset-based fundraising is more work for gifts that won’t come for a while (if ever).

However, the long-term gains far outweigh the effort.

Assets are an untapped resource that most ignore when it comes to giving. By offering ways for people to give out of the 91%, you can help your already generous donors be even more generous while also saving on taxes.

And the gifts you receive will also often be exponentially larger than your largest cash gifts.

Myth #2: Asset-based fundraising is manipulative.

Your donors spend a lifetime building their asset portfolios. This represents a manifestation of their long-term efforts, goals, family values, and dreams to make a lasting impact.

For many of us, it seems greedy and calloused to ask someone to give you a significant part of the wealth they spent a life building for their family — but this couldn’t be further from the truth!

By educating them on what’s possible in terms of asset-based stewardship, you expand their horizons, exposing ways for them to make a lasting impact with the wealth they have created, while also reducing tax burdens they weren’t aware of.

In short, you serve your most passionate supporters in a whole new way when you engage in asset-based fundraising.

Myth #3: High capacity donors already have accountants and lawyers that help them with these things.

It is true that these donors often have great legal and financial assistance.  However, the primary focus of these professionals is preserving resources NOT helping their clients give assets away to impact great causes.

In fact, it’s the opposite.  Most lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors consider it their job to advise clients to keep as many assets as they can.

As a result, the conversation about asset-based generosity rarely comes up, if ever.  

Of course, this opens the door for your organization to serve your donors in a whole new way by educating donors on the benefits, methods, and joy of giving their assets to the causes they care deeply about.

This issue of asset-based giving is such an important topic that we will be talking about in much more detail on future posts.

When we work with a person who has a deep passion for a mission or cause and help them create a larger gift than they realized was possible, it is a beautiful experience.

In working with individuals and organizations for many years, I’ve never heard someone say, “I wish I had been less generous.”  What I have heard many times though is, “I had no idea that I could give out of my assets to the missions and causes that I love.”

It’s time that we start having a new conversation about giving — one that releases people’s ability to make an impact. So, let’s stop focusing on the 9% and tap into the 91% of the untapped assets.

Is your ministry ready to help people go beyond the 9%? Schedule your free 30-minute discovery call to see how!

Genesis: The Beginnings of The Giving Crowd


TGC Origin Story

You may not know it, but we’re in the middle of a giving movement — a movement driven by the dedication of individuals who want to change the world with their resources. We’re here to serve these amazing heroes — The Giving Crowd. Their story is our story.

Over and over again, the American people have proven themselves to be the most generous people on the planet in terms of charitable contributions.

But their views on generosity have changed significantly over the years.

For one, people view charities, houses of worship, and other nonprofit organizations differently than they did before — insisting on seeing a return on their charitable investment rather than being content giving for giving’s sake.

Their view of their own role in giving is changing too.

Now they take it personally. This is their cause. Their fight. Their crusade.

And the organizations they give to are merely extensions of themselves which they arm with resources to get the job done they care about.

Their view of the gift itself is also changing.

The Digital Age has introduced new forms of giving that didn’t exist before. Think…

  • Text giving
  • Social media fundraising
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Crowdfunding campaigns

Technologies like these are changing how people think of the resources they have at their disposal — including their ultimate resource…themselves.

Now volunteerism is in somewhat of a revival as people are realizing that “sweat equity” is many times more useful than a check.

Cause advocacy has also been emerging for decades now as people are using social media shares, likes, comments, blogs, and video blogs (vlogs) to spread awareness about causes they care about.

Technology has enabled more people to be involved in their causes than ever before.


Yet there still was an insurmountable wall in front of middle-class Americans who wanted to give in ways that were more long-term and effective.

They don’t have a multi-million dollar investment portfolio. They’re not the heirs of a vast fortune. So they were limited to current cash-based gifts.

The most common alternative at the time — planned giving — wasn’t much of a solution for most people.

Life-long givers were quickly becoming a growing crowd of people stuck in the gap between giving cash-based gifts faithfully but not having enough to leave an endowment.

So how could they give in the highly impactful way in which they were moved to give?

Planned giving expert, Greg Ring, saw this gap clearly growing in his work of over 30 years establishing healthy legacy giving programs in nonprofit organizations.

Greg opened up to colleague Richard Blackmon, a fundraising veteran of 20 years with experience in current gifts, about the barriers in front of today’s middle-class donor and the high impact gifts they wished they could give.

Together, they began looking for a way to get more people involved in non-cash giving — to move generosity to a new place.

They were inspired by the idea of providing a better way for churches and nonprofits to offer planned giving and non-cash giving options to their supporters.

“We knew that if we helped donors engage in life stewardship, rather than just momentary stewardship, we’d help people find ways to resource the Kingdom long after they’ve left this life behind.”

Richard Blackmon

Several big questions moved them to find a new approach to giving that would bring about more generous outcomes for both the donors and organizations.

  • How can we make Planned Giving easier for the nonprofit?
  • Can we make Planned Giving cash-flow positive for them?
  • How can we serve both mid-level donors and high-wealth donors?
  • How can organizations bring real value to their donors instead of asking them for stuff all the time?


The Giving Crowd was born out of Greg and Richard’s search for a new model to serve donors in helping them glorify God.

This meant helping donors glorify God with everything they had to give, not just the cash they had at the moment, while helping them avoid burdensome taxes on their non-cash assets.

The Giving Crowd would serve both nonprofits and donors through breakthrough technology, top-notch consulting, and easy-to-understand curriculum.

To make this happen, Greg and Richard began looking for someone who could help them develop a scalable way to help millions of  donors explore new giving options that make an impact while still blessing their heirs and avoiding taxes.

They found Steve Caton, an experienced leader in leveraging technology “to release assets for the Kingdom — either people or financial or some other resource that God wanted to use.”

For the previous eight years, Steve had helped ministry tech innovator, Church Community Builder, to serve more pastors in connecting, discipling, and growing their congregations.

“My career journey has taken me through various positions that were all centered around using technology to release assets for the Kingdom, either people or financial or some other resource that God wanted to use.”

With the belief that the work Greg and Richard were doing fit beautifully with his passions and experience, Steve transitioned off the Church Community Builder team and joined The Giving Crowd in April 2016.

The story of The Giving Crowd is the story of moving more generous people into a new kind of crowd.

  • This crowd knows that giving means more than responding to annual fund or capital campaigns.
  • That generosity means more than tossing more into the basket.
  • That legacy means more than an inheritance plan.

By empowering this giving movement, The Giving Crowd has the potential of changing the way church and nonprofit leaders are funding Kingdom ministries.

“We’ve got a huge opportunity to re-frame the conversation around giving and planning and stewardship. I really want to help churches and nonprofits experience the possibilities of an asset-driven generosity strategy.”

Steve Caton

Greg, Richard, and Steve bring together a unique blend of skills and experience in giving tech, consulting services, and fundraising education.

They’ve dedicated themselves to help churches and nonprofits find more generous outcomes by helping donors discover legacy giving and non-cash giving options that free them to make the Kingdom impact they desire to have.

So there you have it — our story really is their story.

The Giving Crowd is here to help you and your donors be the most generous version of themselves and move what matters most to us all.