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.

Millennials, Online Giving, & Asset-Based Giving: How It All Ties Together

Vanco Payment Solutions recently published their Churchgoer Giving Study: Findings Report. While delivering some sobering news, there are seeds of opportunity for the future.

The findings of Vanco’s study is similar to the studies we shared with you HERE and HERE.

While you may not feel the need to change what you’re doing based on the findings of one study, all of these different studies being done by various organizations are pointing to the very same results.

This isn’t a fluke or a gimmick being pulled on us by a special interest. This is the way things are, and we’d do well to heed what the data is saying.

The Findings

The Vanco study will sound like an echo from the previous studies we’ve spoken about, but here’s a quick list of the results:

  1. More people prefer e-Giving than before.
  2. e-Givers participate more in church life than those who give by traditional means and they give a higher percentage of their salary.
  3. Church attendance is down. Church giving by traditional means is also down.
  4. Millennials love e-Giving, give more of their annual income than others, and participate more than other age groups.

This is an interesting set of information with lots of implications.

Online Giving

But first, let me just repeat what Vanco said in its analysis. If you haven’t done so yet, you NEED to implement an online giving strategy for your church! My friend, it’s time to embrace technology and give your people options in how they can give to the mission of your church.

Especially since Millennials prefer e-Giving, one of the biggest ways church leaders can engage with these generous young people is to provide them with the platform they are most comfortable and familiar with.

Coming Into Their Own

There used to be a lot of doubt in the upcoming Millennial generation being expressed in church and business publications. So much so, this young man was inspired to ask us all to pray for them!

But the fact of the matter is that they’re showing the world their own set of values and ways of doing things. The Vanco study revealed several key points about Millennials in our congregations that we need to take note of and celebrate.

They give more of their annual income than other age groups. Specifically, they were more likely to give a tithe of their annual income. And Millennials were more involved in volunteering in their church than other age groups.

These two findings reveal a deeper aspect of the Millennial generation: a devotion to Biblical teaching and living.

A Stewardship Opportunity

This is not something we should take lightly. Church leaders should pick up on this fact and run with it!

In this study, we see a generation that has a proven track record for reacting to biblical teaching on giving and stewardship.

So while it’s true that most Millennials don’t have a lot of assets to give to support the mission of your local church now, you can form their understanding of biblical stewardship to include asset-based giving as well as online giving.

Take time to invest in upcoming Millennial leaders and we can change the way we fuel our church's mission. Click To Tweet

Vanco’s study is packed with present-day, actionable insights for church leaders. But it also lays the groundwork for how church leaders can pave the way for the financial future of their church.

If we take the time to invest in this young generation of upcoming leaders, we can dramatically change the way we fuel the mission of our churches.

If you’re ready to know more about how asset-based giving can sustainably fund your church into the future God has for you, let’s talk!

The call is free, and there’s no obligation.

The Lifestyle Finish Line: When Is Enough… Enough?

The most important conversations are the hardest ones to have. Nowhere is this truer than in conversations around finances, generosity, and contentment. That’s why an objective third-party stewardship professional is critical to engaging your donors on these topics.

There is a point—an amount—at which a person or family has more than enough money to pay for what they want out of life. The home, the cars, the education, the savings, etc.

This number will not be the same for everyone. And not everyone will attain it.

But it is very real.

Our friends at Generous Giving refer to this number as the “Lifestyle Finish Line.” This is the financial line that when crossed, the person or family has enough to cover the ongoing expenses of their lifestyle.

Mark the Lifestyle Finish Line Well

A big problem you see all the time is that most people (your donors) do not know their number. They do not know when enough is enough.

And so they keep working hard to get even more money, assets, investments—the list goes on and on. They get stuck on the treadmill of materialism thinking that if they just had more, they would be satisfied.

This is a tragedy.

When an individual does not clearly mark out their lifestyle finish line, they’ll never find it. They’ll never know they’ve crossed it.

When a person doesn’t clearly define their lifestyle finish line, they’ll never find it. Do you know yours? Click To Tweet

For people who’ve not clarified that number to themselves, the line keeps getting moved. Success avoids them like the elusive carrot on a string. So close… but yet so far.

How Much Land Does a Man Need?

Not knowing one’s number can be dangerous. There’s a short story told by Leo Tolstoy about a Russian peasant named Pahom. In the story, an ill-fated thought comes into his head.

“If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!”

One day, an opportunity came for Pahom to buy some land from an uneducated, indigenous tribe who offered him all the land he wanted for a low price. The catch?

Pahom could only buy the land he could walk around in one day—he had to start at one point and walk an entire circle back to that same spot.

Pahom was ecstatic. The land those dimwitted tribesmen owned was by far the richest soil he could imagine to farm on. He could easily walk 35 miles in a day, which meant a lot of land—and a lot of money from farming it!

He started out early. He made good time, marking his way with a spade shovel as he went. But as the heat of the day wore on, Pahom got wearier and wearier.

But each time Pahom thought to make a turn to make his way back, he decided to go even further ahead because “The further one goes, the better the land seems.”

Suddenly, he realized that he could never get back in time. The sun was almost to the horizon—and he was 10 miles away!

Pahom pushed himself hard. And he made it, to the cheers of all the tribesmen.

But he wouldn’t enjoy it. Pahom died of exhaustion, watching the Devil laughing at him.

Pahom’s servant buried him there. Come to find out all the land he needed was six feet from his head to his heels.

The Line Where Generosity Begins

While the personal tragedy of Tolstoy’s story is profound, the tragedy goes deeper than one’s own life.

When a person does not know their lifestyle finish line, they’ll never have enough, and therefore, they’ll never feel like they have any extra to give.

But if they clearly mark their lifestyle finish line, they can find the freedom they need from the hamster wheel of always working for more, and begin to give more.

A clear lifestyle finish line frees you from the materialism treadmill. When is enough, enough for you? Click To Tweet

In this sense, the lifestyle finish line is where generosity begins.

When your donor knows they’ve reached their number, they are confident in giving extravagantly to your cause because they fully realize just how safe, satisfied, and blessed they are.

Everything above and beyond the number they’ve set is ready to be invested in the causes that are dear to their heart.

There’s complete freedom, complete confidence, complete joy in giving when they’ve crossed their lifestyle finishing line!

How do you get them to mark out their line?

Most of the nonprofit and ministry leaders I speak to understand this concept very well. They want all of their donors to be comfortable and have all they need for their lifestyles.

But you probably know that you have some donors who could give much more than they do. You know that giving more would not interfere one iota with their lifestyle or personal security.

So how do you bring it up?

You don’t… You can’t.

This is the hard truth about leading a nonprofit or being a fundraiser. You know certain donors could make transformational gifts that would change both your organization and them in beautiful ways. You know that giving to their potential would bring them greater joy and satisfaction in life.

But you can’t bring it up. You’ve got something to gain—and that creates an unavoidable conflict of interest.

Helping Donors Mark Their Finish Lines Well

That’s what The Giving Crowd is here for. We are a team of stewardship professionals that are committed to having these kinds of confidential conversations with your donors—so that your donors can find their finish line.

And when your donors find their lifestyle finish line, they’ll find the starting line for a new level of generosity.

For example, my family and I are devoted to Compassion International’s mission to sponsor children in impoverished areas around the world. But, I’d never talk with a Compassion International representative about how my financial life is doing or how to decide on my lifestyle finish line.

And I wouldn’t have that conversation with any other nonprofit representative—it would be just too awkward! Worse yet, it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to know me that intimately.

That’s where financial and stewardship professionals can come alongside both donors and nonprofits like you.

We can talk with donors about these deep, important issues because we’re an objective, third party with a proven track record of helping donors not only discover how much is enough but also where they want to make a difference in this world.

If you’d like to know more how we can help unlock your donor’s giving potential and level of joy in life through biblical stewardship, let’s talk!

The Time for Change is Now


No matter how explicit or urgent the warnings may be, we human beings have a tragic history of ignoring what the facts are telling us. Don’t be the leader who runs your organization into the iceberg. You can rescue the ship now.

The sinking of the Titanic was a catastrophe that has burned itself into the psyche of the Western world. The multiple ironies of the horrific event give it a sinister feeling.

But for me, the most striking part of the tale is that the Titanic’s wireless radio operators received multiple warnings of possible danger from pack ice ahead from several ships in the area. The most infamous warnings came from Cyril Evans, the wireless radio operator on the SS Californian.

Cyril sent numerous messages to Jack Phillips, the Titanic’s wireless operator, telling him to slow down and watch for the ice ahead. The Californian was only an hour away when the Titanic struck the fatal iceberg. The Californian had stopped its journey for the night because there was just too much ice to avoid safely in the cold, dark night.

As you know, the Titanic’s wireless operator ignored Cyril’s urgent warnings.

The Titanic barreled ahead into the ice field at about 22.5 knots. Its top speed was clocked at 24 knots, so basically, the crew didn’t even try to change their course, speed, or… anything.

The Danger of Ignoring the Warnings

Sadly, some nonprofit and ministries leaders will also ignore the clear warning signs of today’s philanthropic trends—and not change the course of their fundraising strategies.

Massive shifts are coming as the Millennial generation begins to make its mark in philanthropy.

Massive shifts are coming as the Millennial generation begins to make its mark in philanthropy. Click To Tweet

Are you preparing your organization to cultivate gifts among this distinct audience?

And are you making the changes necessary to cultivate asset-based gifts now from the Baby Boomers in your donor base to give you the resources you need to thrive during the shift?

Annual Giving Is on a Downward Trend

My friends and colleagues, Greg Ring and Richard Blackmon, have been sending out clear warnings based on some troubling giving data.

Greg shared a study in his blog post that documents how fewer people are giving tithes to their local church. Richard offers insights in his blog post on how across the nonprofit sector, annual giving is steadily decreasing.

But we’re are not about doom and gloom! In each article, we reveal effective ways you can handle the coming changes so that your mission can thrive in spite of the turmoil.

We live in a nation of great abundance so there are real opportunities for your ministry or nonprofit to continue making tremendous impact on this world—if you don’t ignore the warning signs.

Don’t let these two common mistakes stop you from making the change necessary to secure the future of your organization.

Too Busy to Change

Even worse than ignoring Cyril Evan’s warnings of the ice up ahead, Jack Phillips, the Titanic’s wireless radio operator, told Cyril to “shut up!” Jack explained that he was busy sending personal messages from the passengers to their families and friends on the coast.

In other words, the Titanic’s wireless radio operator was too busy doing his everyday, normal routine to heed the warnings sent to him.

Jack Phillips wasn’t an evil man. He wasn’t a lazy man. He was a busy man.

Too busy to change…

And being too busy to listen to the warning signals and make the necessary changes led to his and 1,513 other deaths. Out of all of those aboard that fateful night, only 32% of the passengers survived, with many of the lifeboats making it to safety only half full.

“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” – Charles Hummel

As a nonprofit leader, you’ve got a hundred different priorities screaming for your attention. But you must be careful that you don’t become too busy with your daily events, tasks, and routines that you fail to look ahead for upcoming dangers or opportunities.

Afraid of Change

Another reason many nonprofit and ministry leaders ignore warning signs is that they’re afraid of change.

Change can bring failure. Change can bring mistakes. Change brings uncertainty. However, continuing to do things the same way you always have and expecting the same results is a recipe for something much worse.

But that’s why we come to work every day here at The Giving Crowd: To help guide you through one of the most powerful changes you can ever realize in your organization—implementing asset-based giving.

You don’t have to go it alone. And you certainly don’t have to sink into financial failure.

Let us help you tap into the opportunity of asset-based giving. Let’s talk!

7 Ways to Cultivate the Soil for Asset-Based Giving


It’s one thing to tell donors how they can give asset-based gifts. It’s quite another to cultivate an authentic relationship over time that motivates asset-based giving. The former results in information—the latter brings about transformation.

Just outside the limits of my hometown in Ohio, acres upon acres of fields stretch across the foothills of the Appalachians. It’s the perfect place for a Sunday drive that winds through what looks like oceans of wheat, corn, and soybean fields.

It’s a refreshing, relaxing sight to behold.

Cultivating an authentic relationship with #donors over time motivates asset-based giving. Click To Tweet

The beauty of the place didn’t come through relaxation though. It came through the hard, consistent work of dedicated farmers. Each day, they get out early and cultivate their fields to produce an abundant harvest that quite literally feeds America.

There are few analogies that so strikingly show what it’s like to cultivate asset-based gifts in your nonprofit or ministry.

Too many times when nonprofit leaders hear about the benefits of asset-based giving, they think all they have to do is print up a few bulletins or crank out a direct mail campaign to let donors know about the many ways they can give from their assets to the mission. Even the big guys will do this, as you can see in the video below.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with creating content that informs your donors of their giving options. But unless you know how to cultivate asset-based gifts among donors in your donor base, informing your donors of their options won’t result in very much at all.

The Art of Cultivation

There are several things nonprofit and ministry leaders must do to cultivate asset-based gifts from their donor base. And these cultivation activities have to be applied consistently throughout the years before any asset-based gift is realized.

But once you’ve cultivated the ground, it’s almost miraculous how these gifts begin to come in from unexpected places.

1. Align Your Mission with Your Donor’s Heart

This requires that you spend time with your donors to hear what they believe in, what they want to accomplish, and what they fear will happen.

Donors of all ages see their giving as an extension of themselves, an investment in their values and the change they want to see in the world. Because of this, it’s imperative that they see your mission in alignment with their internal sense of mission.

#Donors see #giving as an extension of themselves, an investment in their values. Click To Tweet

But you won’t be able to see how your mission aligns with your donor’s values if:

  • When you visit your donors, you’re doing all the talking.
  • When you send communications, you’re always asking for more.
  • When you ask for information, you don’t ask questions that reveal their desires and values.

Likewise, you must ensure that your messaging has values-based statements in them. Don’t just state what you do. Tell them why you do it.

2. Show Your Credibility

Donors need to know that you are a credible organization or ministry—they want to know without a doubt that you are the source of social change they want to see in the world.

Of course, you could, like so many organizations just tell them about your awards, your affiliations, or the bottom-line results and numbers of your work. But this is not an effective way to build credibility because it only speaks to one aspect of your donors’ decision to give, the logical side.

Besides the purely rational reasons to give, your donors need to hear the emotional reasons that they should give. That’s why powerful storytelling is the best way to build trust in your donors.

Storytelling immerses your donor in the emotional pain and joy of the stories of impact while at the same time demonstrating the facts of the matter. Tell your impact stories and testimonials well.

3. Create a Plan for Impact

Donors with the capacity to give transformationally understand that great impact requires a well-devised plan of action. They also can tell easily if you know exactly how to put their asset-based gift to good use or if you’re just making it up as you go.

First, you must have a vision that goes well beyond keeping the lights on. This kind of vision naturally requires the kinds of resources available through asset-based giving.

Then, you need a plan that justifies the need for high dollar asset-based gifts by connecting the needs of your vision to concrete steps of action. You must be at the place where all you need is money to begin moving forward with your plan.

4. Reach Out Often

So many donors tell me that they don’t feel a meaningful connection with the organizations they give to. This comes from the fact that the charities see them only as money bags, not people.

Don’t fall into this trap!

Reach out as often as is appropriate for each of your major donors. Keep them in the loop on projects they’re involved in. Call to find out how they’re doing. Be a friend.

5. Say Thank You

There’s a lot of great articles out there telling you to show gratitude to your donors, so I won’t belabor the point.

But it must be said when talking about cultivating asset-based gifts. There’s no generosity without gratitude.

So tell your donors thank you through cards, letters, phone calls, and emails each time they volunteer, make suggestions, or give.

6. Stay True to Who You Are

No matter who the donor is, you must be authentic to who you are. Whether optimistic, realistic, light-hearted, or intense, know who you are and stick with it.

Donors connect with organizations and ministries that aren’t trying to be like everybody else. So be unique consistently across all your messaging.

7. Educate Donors

Now, you might think I’m saying to educate your donors on the various ways they can give, but I’m not. What I mean by donor education is educating your donors on living a life of generosity.

Not every nonprofit can do this, but if you’re a religious nonprofit, you’re uniquely positioned to teach your donors the principles of biblical stewardship.

Most Christian donors are well aware of biblical giving concepts such as the tithe. But to cultivate asset-based gifts, you must instruct them on the various ways that asset-based gifts were used to further God’s mission on the earth.

Also, talking to your donors about the benefits of giving generously is a part of educating donors to generosity. When donors see the value in generosity for themselves, asset-based gifts begin to happen naturally.

Getting Help to Cultivate Asset-Based Gifts

Cultivating asset-based gifts is hard work, but it’s rewarding for both your organization and your donor.

If you need someone to come alongside you to get your cultivation efforts underway, let’s talk!

Leadership Survival Guide: Lower Greed and Increase Generosity


Most nonprofit and ministry leaders cannot engage in these perilous conversations because of the inherent conflicts of interest. But sometimes donors need a safe, objective third-party to talk through delicate issues like biblical stewardship, generosity… and even greed.

The affluence of our modern world has brought so many blessings to humanity. More people have risen out of extreme poverty than ever before. More people have access to education, food, and basic human rights than ever before.

Yet despite its massive benefits, modern day affluence comes with the moral hazard of anchoring our sense of self-worth in our wealth.

Greed. It’s a tragic place to be. It robs us of one of the greatest joys in life—making a difference.

A Disease Afflicting Us All

When individuals seek to affirm their value by the stuff they own, giving generously becomes a burdensome obligation rather than a joyful opportunity to create good in the world. They’d rather keep their goods than create good.

Anchoring our self-worth in the stuff we own is a hazard of the modern day affluence we enjoy. Click To Tweet

It is an insidious moral disease that can afflict anyone—including you and me. It’s human nature to point to something tangible to validate who we are, to hold on to things we don’t really need in order to fill the need in our heart for affirmation.

Greed cannot be measured by wealth. It can’t be identified by the size of someone’s portfolio.

It’s a heart issue that besets both rich and the poor. There are greedy billionaires as well as generous ones. There are greedy paupers as well as generous ones.

When you and I talk about asset-based giving, we tend to focus on those with significant wealth. But I don’t want to give you the impression that wealthy people are, by default, greedy people—absolutely not!

Every week, I’m privileged to meet some of the most kind-hearted, generous people in the world… and they have extraordinarily large balance sheets.

Even so, there is a component to the greed we suffer as members of an affluent society that others with lesser means do not share. I call it “the scorecard.”

The Scorecard

When a person has more resources than they need to provide long-term for their family, they must decide what to do with the excess they’ve been blessed to receive. Sadly, some people choose to hoard their assets in order to win the money game.

To them, the bottom line is a scorecard. The higher the number, the more they’re “winning.”

The problem is, there’s no end to that game. No one wins. There is always someone with just a little bit more.

It’s a dangerous game. Fortunately, the Bible gives basic instructions on how to please God in the way we manage these abundant resources.

Biblical Stewardship vs. Conventional Wisdom

Because biblical stewardship is vastly different than today’s conventional wisdom, it’s not always easy to follow, as illustrated in this parable.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13–21 (NIV)

In this story, the landowner had a surplus of resources—more than he ever would need. This is very much like many of us in today’s world. We have much more than we need.

But instead of giving his goods to help those with less than he had, he decided to build bigger barns to store it all. In telling this story, Jesus leads us to believe that the only reason the landowner chose this path was to show off his affluence to others. Looking at his amassed wealth in the barns made him feel like a success.

For him, the size of his barns was his scorecard.

An endlessly growing bottom line was where he anchored his sense of self-worth. It was his identity.

How to Lead Donors to Generosity in Asset-Based Giving

Needless to say, if your donor has this kind of a heart attitude, it makes cultivating asset-based gifts difficult, if not impossible.

It takes time and numerous heartfelt conversations to walk with them from stewardship based on fear to stewardship based on faith in God and His Word. And as the leader of your nonprofit or church, you can’t approach your parishioner or donor to speak with them about how they relate to their wealth.

It takes time and numerous heartfelt conversations to walk donors into generosity. Click To Tweet

For one, there’s an inherent conflict of interest that you can’t eliminate. Your organization has something to gain from the conversation, even if you have the best of intentions.

And then there’s the risk that your donor will wrongly think that you’re bringing up the conversation due to selfish motives. If this happens, you could lose a faithful donor in an attempt to “upgrade“ their giving.

There is a better way.

Objective, Safe, and Service-Oriented

Having a third-party professional come in to speak with your donors and congregants about the opportunities available to them in asset-based giving is the best way to lead donors out of the trap of greed and into joyful generosity.

Because we’re an objective third-party with nothing to gain from the conversation, donors can share information about their wealth, the causes they care about, and what’s holding them back from giving transformationally. Because we are strictly confidential, donors feel safe to open their heart.

Most of your donors understand the biblical principles described in the parable above, and they want to be generous. Sometimes they just need a gentle reminder to walk in what they know.

Sometimes they need a gentle, trustworthy person to help them put down the scorecard and begin using their earthly wealth to be “rich towards God.”

Your donors have so much to gain spiritually, emotionally, and financially through generous giving. If you’d like to see better how we can help, let’s talk!

Asset-based Giving: 7 Essential Elements to Transition to Millennial-based Giving


It won’t be long before Baby Boomers cease to dominate the landscape of philanthropy and Millennials take their place as the most populous generation. With this significant change on the horizon, what are you doing today to build a bridge to the future of giving?

With a population of 76.4 million members, Baby Boomers have long provided the economic power behind nonprofit causes. But as of 2015, Millennials have surpassed them boasting 83.1 million members, and within that same year, more Millennials are now working than Baby Boomers.

Another factor in this perfect storm is that Millennials will be the primary recipients of the largest transfer of wealth in the history of humankind. An estimated $41 trillion will be transferred to Millennials over the next 25 years.

“The times, they are a-changin’,” and Millennials are set to receive the baton as America’s next leaders in philanthropy.

Millennial Giving Behavior

The good news is Millennials are undeniably generous. According to The 2015 Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of Millennials donated to charity in 2014. This show of generosity is proof that they have a heart for social causes, much like their forebears.

The bad news is that many nonprofits, ministries, and churches will not benefit from the generosity of Millennial donors, at first. There will be a steep learning curve as most nonprofits work hard to unlearn everything about cultivating and soliciting gifts among Baby Boomers.

This is because Millennials give for different reasons and in different ways than their predecessors.

This Business Connect article points out some great examples:

  1. Millennials Are Always Digitally Connected
  2. Millennials Are Always Sharing Information With Others
  3. Millennials Care About Results More Than Institutions
  4. Millennials Resonate With Stories
  5. Millennials Monitor Social Media For Causes
  6. Millennials Value Transparency

This list alone reveals a vast difference between the way Millennials and Baby Boomers approach giving. And I’m sure there are more nuances to be found as Millennials continue to rise to economic power.

There’s a massive shift coming for the world of nonprofit leadership and fundraising.

This change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it will cause instability in annual revenue for many organizations as they make the internal changes necessary to raise funds in the new market.

Becoming a Startup… Again

Organizations that will thrive during this historic shift in philanthropy will be those who are as adaptable and innovative as a startup organization.

To thrive during the shift to Millennial support, organizations must be as agile as a startup. Click To Tweet

Even if your organization has been in action for decades, today it’s a whole new giving landscape with all new rules. It’s like becoming a startup organization all over again. You can’t take anything for granted.

You’ll have to hire new people with new ideas. You’ll have to make room in your policies and annual budget for experimental fundraising strategies, like digital fundraising. You might even have to rebrand.

The real challenge to all this is that every internal change you need to make will require time and funding (think years, not months) throughout the process to generate significant revenue. You’ll need a cash runway like a startup entrepreneur.

How will you build your cash “runway” you’ll need to make the shift?

Savings is an option. But most nonprofits don’t save money because every penny is devoted to the cause. A more realistic solution is expanding your asset-based and legacy giving strategy.

Asset-based gifts & #plannedgiving can sustain #nonprofits as they transition to Millennial-based support. Click To Tweet

Asset-based gifts and estate gifts can bring stable, recurring income to fund your daily operations during the funding gap during this massive shift in your donor demographics.

Preparing for Winter

The time to prepare for winter is in the summer when food is abundant. Right now while your annual giving is still predictable and stable, you must begin cultivating asset-based gifts and planned gifts.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6–8 NIV

Of course, the winter I’m talking about is the impending funding gap the vast majority of nonprofits will experience as they struggle to transition from a Baby Boomer donor base to Millennial support.

But like the ant, you can prepare right now for the inevitable change in seasons.

Thriving in the Midst of Change

To ramp up your asset-based giving and estate giving strategies, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary conditions in place. To meet outside conditions in your donor base, you must change internally first. You will need…

1. A vision big enough for transformative gifts.

Asset-based gifts and legacy gifts are typically high-value gifts. As a rule, the size of your vision determines the size of the gifts you can bring in. So, does your vision go beyond the walls of your organization in a way that inspires transformational giving?

2. A foundation of trust between your organization and your current donors.

Trust builds long-term advocates and increased commitment. It requires frequent, clear, and authentic communication as well as consistent, organizational stewardship of donor funds. Do you have enough trust built with your donors to warrant transformational giving?

3. A story-based approach to fundraising.

Stories connect donors to causes. Stories inspire sacrificial generosity. Stories bypass the rational, cynical part of the human brain and go right to the heart. Are you using stories consistently in your fundraising to illustrate the impact donors can make by giving a transformational gift?

4. A commitment to long-term, holistic donor care.

Donors are the heroes of the story, and successful, well-funded organizations spend the time and money necessary to make sure they are fulfilling their donors’ dreams of change in the world. Is donor care merely a task you have to check off or is it the core of what you do as an organization?

5. A comprehensive plan for impact.

When we talk about asset-based and legacy gifts, we’re talking about sizable amounts of money. Donors who’ve carefully built their financial portfolios to achieve their wealth will demand that you have a clear plan of how you will use their money to create the highest amount of impact. Do you have a clear and well thought out plan for impact?

6. A generous, authentic organizational culture.

Donors respond to authenticity, so if you’re not walking how you’re talking, chances are you’ll miss out on a lot of asset-based giving opportunities. Besides being generous, you must have a plan to communicate your stories of generosity to your donors so that they see it. Is your organization known for its generosity?

7. An effective, proven strategy for cultivating and soliciting asset-based gifts.

Too many nonprofit leaders give up on cultivating asset-based and legacy gifts because of the complexity and challenges involved in approaching potential donors. But there is a simple, proven strategy that my colleagues have used over and over again to raise transformational gifts. Do you have a strategy that is working for you?

The greatest transfer of wealth in history is happening right now. The largest living generation has now changed. The shift has already begun and will continue to shape the future of nonprofits, ministries, and churches.

Asset-based giving and estate giving are key strategies to prepare your organization to thrive while others struggle.

Need help crafting your asset-based giving strategy? Need experienced donor consultants to help your donors navigate their estate planning and asset-based giving options?

Let’s talk! The call is free, and there’s no obligation.

Analysis of a Successful Capital Campaign


Fundraising has a long and honorable history — and it all started with asset-based giving. In this case study of an ancient capital campaign, I want to show you how to reach your funding goals through gifts of assets.It’s easy to think capital campaigns are an invention of modern society. But as Exodus 25:1–9 demonstrates, capital campaigns have furthered God’s work for millennia.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.’” Exodus 25:1–9 NIV

Why is this bit of ancient history so interesting? Because of the phenomenal results Moses saw!

“Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.’

Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: ‘No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary. And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. Exodus 36:2–7 [Emphasis mine]

Not only did they reach their goal, but they also had to restrain people from giving more because they already had enough! Those are incredible results.

So what was it that Moses did to achieve those results? What made this campaign successful?

Fundraising Is Not Dirty

First of all, Moses had a healthy understanding of wealth and giving. He understood the principles of godly stewardship and the benefits of giving both to individuals and the nation.

Fundraising is not a sleazy practice or transaction for those who have faith in God. In fact, God was the one who initiated this capital campaign!

Unfortunately, too many faith-based organizations and churches have negative feelings about asset-based fundraising, feeling as though they’re taking away someone’s hard-earned assets. But the truth is that giving is beneficial for both the giver and for your organization.

  • Understand the concept of biblical stewardship on a whole new level,
  • See the possibilities of changing their tax liability,
  • Uncover the full impact they could make possible, and
  • Make their greatest impact now rather than waiting until they die.

Clear Vision

God gave Moses clear instructions on what to do. Moses then shared the vision of a dwelling place for God to the people.

It was clear. The way Moses described it to the people painted a picture in their mind of the future in vivid colors and precise measurements.
There were no vague promises here. Everyone knew the progress of the campaign and where the money went. The clarity built donor trust and excitement around giving because the people could see what their gifts were doing to create change.

Cheerful Givers

There was no manipulation or extravagant gimmicks to Moses’ capital campaign because the vision itself was so compelling that people gave out of the willingness of their hearts.

Now when I say there was no manipulation, I don’t mean that no one coerced their neighbor into giving, although it’s true that there was no coercion in their campaign, in fact see the context, “You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.” What I do mean is something much more profound and intuitive.

I mean that there was no manipulation of the people’s desires.

The Tabernacle was something the people wanted. The vision was not contrived or forced upon the people (e.g., “You should care about this because it’s the right/Christian thing to do!”).

The vision of Moses’ capital campaign aligned with the values, goals, and desires of the givers. The Israelites wanted to get in on God’s plan.

When your campaign lines up with the aspirations of your #donors, they will respond generously. Click To Tweet

When campaigns line up with the aspirations of your donor base, they will respond generously. After speaking to so many donors in organizations like yours, I know for a fact that many of your people want in on God’s plan just like the Israelites.

Asset-based Giving Equalizes Opportunity

Because every gift in Moses’ campaign was in assets, not currency, both rich and poor alike could participate in the building of the Tabernacle. Everyone could sacrifice at the same level even though not everyone could give at the same level.

Look at the list of things that Moses asked for. There were high price items like gold, silver, and brass. But there were also things like yarn and goat hair, items that were accessible to the common Israelite.

Asset-based giving empowers us to sacrifice at the same level even if they can’t all give the same level. Click To Tweet

The same dynamic is at work in a campaign setting. On the one hand, you have people that are making a sacrifice if they give 50 dollars. On the other, you’ve got people giving a half a million dollars (and that amount could be a rounding error on their balance sheet!).
Campaigns work when everyone sacrifices at a similar level as opposed to everyone giving at the same level.

The Final Analysis

In this ancient capital campaign, we see how Moses blew past the campaign goals — and not a single check was written. The first successful campaign ever was purely built upon asset-based giving.

You and your donors can still have this kind of success with asset-based giving by using the same principles they used back then.
For more information on reaching your capital campaign or asset-based fundraising goals, let’s talk! The call is free, and there’s no obligation.

Why Testimonials are a MUST


Testimonies are a powerful tool to cultivate transformational gifts in your organization. Don’t miss out on the chance to shine a light on the great stories of generosity among your donors.

With most things in your financial life, you have the opportunity to learn by trial and error. If you don’t get it right, you can normally get the knowledge that you need and try again until you succeed.

But with the estate planning, you only get one shot. I don’t mean to be crass, but this is a fact that has profound implications for estate planning.

For most people, a gift from their estate is the single largest gift they will give in their entire lifetimes. With so much on the line, and with so many people that it will affect, the decisions facing individuals during the estate planning process can make it a harrowing experience.

I believe this is why the question I’m asked more than any other when speaking with donors about their legacy gifts is “What have others done in my situation?”

Because this is a one-time decision, they want to get it right. And the best way to do that is to hear stories of how others have left their mark on the world through their planned giving.

This is why testimonies are such a powerful tool in cultivating transformational gifts within your organization.

Testimonies are a powerful tool in cultivating transformational gifts within your organization. Click To Tweet

Donors want to know what others have done to get the inspiration and information that they need to make the right decision for themselves and their families.

The Power of One

You might think that in order to leverage the power of testimonies that you have to get some kind of celebrity endorsement of sorts. But nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t need the testimony of a high profile, wealthy individual to inspire others to give generously. In fact, in my experience, the most powerful testimonies come from regular, everyday people, like you and me.

The most powerful testimonies come from regular people. That's more compelling than hearing from celebrities. Click To Tweet

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a presentation speaking to groups of potential donors about considering a transformational to the organization, when a guy who owns a small widget company or runs a string of dry cleaners gets up and shares his story—and this is all it takes to unlock several new transformational gifts.

It wasn’t the president of the university, the hospital administrator, or the executive director. It was a regular person just like you and me—and that’s where the power truly lies in testimonies.

This is a guy that your donors identify with. He’s built a business. Dealt with the competition. He’s dealt with disappointment and other types of challenges in his life. And instead of hoarding all the fruits of his labor, he’s electing to take care of his children and make an impact in the community.

Now that’s an inspiring story for many of your donors to hear!

The story of a guy your donors identify with is often a more compelling motivator than to hear the leader of your organization talk about the various needs that need to be met.

The Nuts and Bolts

The simplest way to use testimonials to cultivate transformational gifts is to have someone they identify with stand up and share their story. This can work great in various types of small groups or even in a large group setting.

But don’t forget to leverage the power of testimonies in your blogs, newsletters, websites, and print media. If you can’t fit the entire testimony in a section, simply use a quote.

Another powerful medium to use for testimonies is video. Video is an incredible channel to use for testimonies because you can’t amplify the message across multiple platforms like your website, social media, and even live presentations with a projector.

For example, these five videos below feature donor testimonies:

Don’t be intimidated by the professional production of these videos. Even with a small budget, you can create videos that compel donors to give generously because it’s the power of the testimony more than the medium that motivates donors to give.

In all of the marketing and fundraising communications that you create, do not forget this all-important tool to cultivating transformational gifts in your organization.

Be sure to include testimonials in all of your media channels to make sure that these incredible stories are getting out to your audience.
For more tips and advice on how you can leverage the power of testimonials to cultivate transformational gifts for your organization, let’s talk!

The call is free and there’s no obligation.

Storytelling in Legacy: Begin with WHY


If we’re doing our job right here at The Giving Crowd blog, then you’re beginning to see how asset-based giving are an essential part of fully funding your mission. But how do you as the nonprofit or church leader cultivate these gifts for your organization?

Of course, there are lots of moving parts to a proper fundraising strategy for your ministry or organization. But like any well-built house, no matter how fancy the home is, the foundation is always simple and basic.

The foundation for a fundraising strategy that cultivates transformational gifts is telling stories that communicate the purpose of your organization in a compelling and stirring way.

Begin with Your WHY

I absolutely loved the book by Simon Sinek Start with WHY. In this best selling book, Sinek breaks down the secret sauce to world-changing organizations in both the for-profit and nonprofit world. So what is the magic formula that makes customers buy into a product, company, or mission?

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

The most successful organizations not only understand clearly what their purpose is, but they have found a way to consistently convey that compelling purpose to their audience, employees, and stakeholders.

“All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”

The most successful businesses know at a profound level that they exist for something higher than making a profit. In the same way, nonprofit organizations like yours have to know deeply that you exist for more than not making a profit.

Well-funded ministries and organizations have something in common—and it’s not the size of their marketing budget. Successful organizations have clearly identified their purpose and have created a language that ignites their donor base with a sense of purpose.

“Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”

The most effective language you could use to articulate your why is the language of stories.

The most effective language you could use to articulate your WHY is the language of stories. #startwithwhy Click To Tweet

The Language of Stories

Stories are the language of the soul. Stories stir the emotions of our hearts—and that’s where your message has to go in order to motivate giving in donors.

Too poetic or mystical? Then consider the science of it. Research is showing that the language of stories is hard-wired into us!

Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, recently shared in a LifeHacker article what happens when people listen to a story.

“When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.”

Stories engage all the parts of our brain that we would have used if we were experiencing the same situation as the story is telling us. This means that stories come alive to us in a way that facts and figures do not.

Good #storytelling makes your organization’s purpose come alive to your #donors. Click To Tweet

There’s simply no better way to make your purpose “come alive” to your donors than to tell stories that illustrate, explain, and advocate for your organization’s great WHY.

Two Kinds of Stories You Should Tell

First, you must begin with the WHY of your organization, ministry, or church. You must understand at the deepest most emotional level why you exist and why anyone should care that you exist.

There are two major categories of stories you can tell about your organization’s purpose.

The first category is the positive category where you tell stories that illustrate why you are here. These are stories that have happy endings of impact, results, and testimonies. They may start with a problem, but they end with your solution.

The second category is the negative side where you tell stories showing your donor what would happen if you did not exist.

These stories answer the question, “What would our community be like for women/children/families/animals/politics/education if we closed our doors tomorrow?”

Both positive and negative stories are powerful ways to show rather than tell your donor base why your mission is critical and worthy of funding—especially funding through Gifts of Assets like real estate or planned gifts.

Your Donor’s WHY

To use storytelling effectively to cultivate transformational gifts for your organization, you must also understand your donor’s WHY.

Why do they give? What kind of change do they want to see in the world? What about the current state of things makes them angry, fearful, guilty, or sad?

On an even deeper level, you must get to the point where you understand what your donor believes in. Why does your donor get up in the morning and do what they do every day? How does the purpose of your organization match up with their great WHY?

By thinking through the big WHY motivating your donor, you’ll make them the hero of every story you tell—and that’s exactly what they are.

Your organization or ministry is just a dream broker. You make donor dreams become reality.

You’re the bridge between your donor and the impact that they so long for in this world. You’re the vehicle that can make the change they desire happen—but that change can only come when they act as the hero of the story with a gift.

So in your storytelling, make sure your donor is always the hero of the story.

Storytelling in Legacy

Every transformational gift—whether it is a gift of assets or in an estate gift—is a story the donor is trying to tell the world about their purpose in life.

Every gift is a story the donor is telling to themselves and to the world about their purpose in life. #tellastory Click To Tweet

This is seen most clearly when a donor leaves a bequest. This last gift is a story the donor is telling the world about their values… about their legacy.

So are your stories compelling, inspiring, and relevant to your donor and her purpose?

Do the stories you tell portray values and emotions that resonate with the story your donor wants to tell the world through their giving?

Start today and make sure that every marketing message, fundraising appeal, or content piece you create contains a story conveying the reason why you exist and why your donor should care.

At The Giving Crowd, we love helping great organizations like yours cultivate asset-based and estate gifts by telling their unique story. If you want to know more how we help nonprofits and donors just like yours, give us a call today!

It’s free and there’s no obligation.