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? Share on X

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? Share on X

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!

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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!

Tithing Is Down: Where to Go When the Brook Dries Up


Churches all over America are seeing declines in giving, stopping them short of their God-given mission. But asset-based and legacy giving strategies offer hope for churches looking at a future funding crisis.

One of the grave ways in which our world is changing is that people don’t give to their local house of worship like they used to. Pastors across the country are feeling the pinch of trying to accomplish 100 percent of their vision with only 12 percent of their congregation tithing regularly.

Of course, this could be the result of a handful of churches that just don’t know how to motivate and instruct their members in Christian charity. However, a recent study suggests it’s more of a spiraling cultural trend than a local problem.

Only 34 percent of households gave to a house of worship or religious organization in 2014, down from 46 percent in 2004. – Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

That’s 12 percentage points in just ten years! This is far more than a local church issue. This is a problem for the whole body of Christ.

Low tithe #giving is more than a local #church issue. It’s a problem for the whole body of Christ. Share on X

Unfortunately, there’s no indication that this downward trend in religious giving is going to end. So what should pastors and church leaders do to stem the tide?

Ravens and Widows

Once after prophesying about a coming famine, Elijah found himself suffering as a result of the famine he foretold. But God provided for the faithful prophet, albeit in a strange way.

“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.’ So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” – 1 Kings 17:2–6 (NIV)

God didn’t give Elijah money, or send him a check from a friend of the ministry. He sent ravens with food. (Perhaps this could be considered the wildest gift ever received by a ministry, ever!)

It was indeed strange—and it wasn’t how all of the other ministers were supporting their ministries. But it provided all of Elijah’s needs.

But suddenly, the brook dried up.

“Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.’” – 1 Kings 17:7–9 (NIV)

Many pastors feel that lower giving rates in tithes are the brook that’s drying up in their ministries.

It’s one thing to look at a national study and see a 12 percentage point difference—it’s quite another when you’re the leader trying to move your church forward on 12 percent less funding than you need to pay the bills!

Just like Elijah, God may have another way to provide that you may not have ever thought of before.

When the Brook Dries Up

God knew the brook was going to dry up on Elijah. The fact that the brook dried up was not a sign that God was not going to come through for the prophet. But that is probably how it looked to Elijah.

God had a plan from the beginning on how He was going to provide for the prophet’s needs. And He has a plan to provide for you.

God has a plan to provide for your ministry, even when the brook dries up. Share on X

But you might have to do something a little different than you’re used to. You might even have to do something different than every other pastor in your denomination or location. I’m talking about asset-based giving and legacy giving.

Asset-based Giving

Asset-based giving happens when one of your members gives ownership of an entire asset or a portion of an asset like property, buildings, or businesses to the church. Legacy giving happens when a member makes a gift that is given from their estate upon their death.

Funding from tithes and offerings is instant, liquid cash for your church to use for the Kingdom. They’re usually small amounts compared to asset-based giving because 91 percent of the average American’s wealth is made up of assets, not cash.

Asset-based gifts are hard assets that may take time to liquidate, or they appreciate in value over time like an investment. They’re typically much larger in amount because they come from the much greater portion of the average person’s portfolio: their assets.

The reasons pastors should consider cultivating asset-based giving in their church are many:

  1. Asset-based gifts are transformational gifts that have the potential to change the face of your ministry and ease the stress you feel from the effect of lower tithe giving.
  2. Asset-based giving and legacy giving have been shown to increase regular giving among church members!
  3. Cultivating asset-based giving ensures that the church is as generous as its members.
  4. Asset-based giving helps you break through giving slumps so that your ministry can do things never before thought possible.
  5. Asset-based giving forces church leaders to focus on education and discipleship when it comes to giving, not manipulation.
  6. Asset-based giving motivates church leaders to expand their vision beyond the walls of their local church.
  7. Asset-based giving and legacy giving can bring mature believers from your congregation in to help you raise funds rather than you doing it all on your own.

The Provider

In the first book of the Bible, God reveals Himself to Abraham as Jehovah Jireh, the God who will provide. He always sees to it that His leaders have what they need to accomplish the mission He’s sent them on.

But it may not look like the provision that He gave to you yesterday.

So if you are finding yourself in the valley and the brook is drying up, I encourage you to consider how asset-based giving and legacy giving could move the Kingdom of God forward through your church, despite the national statistics.

And if you need some help with that, let’s talk! The call’s free, and there’s no obligation.

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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.

Finding the Perfect Donor


All successful capital campaigns since the very first one recorded in Exodus are dependent on this kind of donor. Identifying them and knowing how they think can make all the difference for your next big initiative.Exodus 25 begins a story of the first recorded capital campaign in history. In later chapters, the writer tells us the results of the campaign and what they did with the funds raised.

It’s fascinating how this case study showcases all the elements of the successful capital campaigns we see today.

Each donor gave freely. This wasn’t a tax or government procurement. Moses clearly portrayed the vision to the people. The vision matched the desires of the donor base — and they responded!

Uniquely, the campaign focused on soliciting and receiving asset-based gifts. Moses saw tremendous success in building the Tabernacle by going deep with this commonly missing component of capital campaigns.

But there’s another ingredient of successful capital campaigns that I want to dive into today.

Donors make capital campaigns a success, not their gifts. It’s all about people. Share on X

This final element of success is distinct because it’s a component of the donors that make capital campaigns a victory for your nonprofit, church, or ministry. To hit your campaign goals, you’ll need to identify, cultivate, and solicit campaign gifts from these special people.

Characteristics of the Perfect Donor

The kind of donor that makes capital campaigns successful are those who know that…

  1. Their wealth is a gift to them,
  2. They are responsible to steward it well, and
  3. They must use it to further their values rather than accumulate more valuables.

Take a look at the results of this ancient case study and see how these ingredients were present in the donors who gave to build the Tabernacle.

“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]

The capital campaign goal was reached, and the donations kept coming in so much so that they had to restrain the people. (Imagine writing a letter/email/blog post telling your donors to stop giving because you have more than enough!)

Not one person gave a check. Nobody gave a CD. These people were giving assets.

Where did those assets come from?

They came from the “plunder” of Egypt. As the Jews left Egypt, God instructed them through Moses to go to their neighbors and ask for things. The Egyptian people, knowing that God was with the Israelites, gave the Israelites — former slaves — anything they asked for including silver and gold.

“The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” – Exodus 12:35–36 (NIV)

There’s nothing in Scripture to indicate that the Israelites would have asked for these items on their own. God had given them the insight to go to their neighbors and request these precious assets. So they left Egypt with more than enough to build the Tabernacle a few years later.

Recognizing God’s Hand

Everything the Israelites had to give to the capital campaign came as a direct result of God’s favor and direction in their lives. In our modern society, isn’t the same?

Whether you have a multimillion dollar company or you have 50 dollars leftover in your pocket, what you have comes from the hand of God.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to think as hard-working Americans, “Look at what I’ve done. I’m a self-made person.” It’s easy to give credit to our free market system, our business-friendly government policies, or the massive amount of information available at our fingertips for our wealth.

But how foolish that would be! Sometimes we need to be reminded of the truth.

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” – Deuteronomy 8:17–18 (NIV)

Whatever we have comes because of God’s blessing. He enabled us to produce the assets that we have. He gave us the skills, the insight, the heritage, the education, the right piece of land — whatever it might be.

It all came from the hand of the Lord.

Becoming the Perfect Donor

So you and I do the same thing when we participate in capital campaigns. We’re taking the resources God has blessed us with and now using those as a part of our worship to the Lord. It’s part of our thanksgiving to him.

Knowing our wealth comes from God motivates us to give generously of our assets, not just our money. Share on X

The difference today versus thousands of years ago is that most people sell their assets (such as a business or a piece of land or a warehouse), pay the taxes, and then give the cash to charity. But asset-based giving allows to give the asset itself rather than write a check — just like the Israelites did when they built the Tabernacle.

Knowing that all your wealth comes from God motivates you to give generously of your assets, not just your money.

And this comes with some significant benefits to you and your donors! By giving assets, you and your donors can avoid those taxes, get a handsome charitable deduction, and at the same time use the resources God blessed you with to further His Kingdom.

Want to know more about finding, motivating, and serving the perfect donor to do great things with their God-given resources? Let’s talk!

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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. Share on X

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.

It’s Both/And: How Cash & Asset-based Gifts Work Together


For today’s tight-budgeted nonprofit organization, it is tempting to neglect cultivating larger, more complex Gifts of Assets or planned gifts that take time to come in and just go for the cash gift today. But there’s no need to sacrifice anything—you can have both!There’s an unfortunate myth among nonprofit leaders that transformational gifts such as gifts of assets or planned gifts, which take time to come in, discourage donors from giving cash-based gifts today.

The basis of this myth goes like this: because the gift amount for the Gift of Asset or planned gift is so large, church members will feel their obligations have been met and will neglect their tithes and offerings.

And because most nonprofits live hanging desperately on from one fundraising campaign to the next, this myth effectively stops most nonprofits and ministries from even trying to cultivate an asset-based gift.

When you are strapped for cash it’s hard to think of anything else but that next cash-based gift. And it’s especially hard to ignore the fear of losing a current gift for the sake of a transformational gift that would come in much later.

The Tragedy of Neglecting Asset-Based Gifts

This myth is dangerous because when you neglect cultivating transformational gifts, you doom yourself to an endless cycle of raising money just to keep the lights on. Current cash gifts are the lifeblood of any organization, but cash flow from current gifts varies randomly and uncontrollably.

Transformational gifts such as endowments, philanthropic trusts, and Gifts of Assets may take some time to cultivate and execute—but when they “turn on,” your organization or ministry will receive regular, consistent income that can help you weather the turbulence of cash-based giving.

The truth is you need both cash-based and asset-based gifts to propel your mission. This is not an either/or decision—and if you approach it that way, your mission will suffer for it.

And here’s the good news:

Asset-based gifts and planned gifts do NOT discourage current cash gifts. You need both. Share on X

Asset-based gifts and planned gifts do NOT discourage current cash gifts.

In fact, the evidence shows it’s really the opposite: When donors engage in giving from their assets and estates, they are more likely to give current gifts and their average amount per gift goes up!

The Synergy of Asset-based Giving & Cash-based Giving

Texas Tech professor and planned giving expert Russell James conducted a recent study which discovered that donors who added a charity to their will increased their cash-based giving by “more than $3,000 dollars after making the planned gift.” Check out the breakdown of James’ research below from Pentera’s planned giving website:

Average Annual Giving Before and After Making a Planned Gift
Prior to Making Planned Gift
Average Annual
After Making Planned Gift
Average Annual
$4,210 $7,381

This study reveals an encouraging synergy between asset-based giving and cash-based giving—when you cultivate asset giving, you automatically increase cash giving.

When you cultivate asset giving, you automatically increase cash giving. Share on X

The results of this study should motivate us to cultivate as many asset-based gifts as we can—because it increases our annual, cash-based giving. And Professor James is not the only one to have found this to be true.

Another study, done by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in 2007, showed that donors who put a charity in their wills gave more than twice as much in annual gifts to that same charity as donors who did not have that charity in their wills. Here’s the breakdown of that stat from the Pentera website:

Average Annual Giving by Charitable Bequest Status
Charity in Will
Average Annual
No Charity in Will
Average Annual
$4,490 $2,043

Raise Annual Income through Transformational Gifts

Despite coming out with slightly different numbers, both of these studies clearly show that by cultivating and raising funds through asset-based gifts and planned gifts, you can raise the yearly cash-based income for your organization or ministry!

It just makes sense.

The members who put your organization in their will and those who give from their assets are fully invested in your mission. In other words, they’re “all in” and are more than happy to give as their cash flow situation allows.

So when it comes to asset-based giving, your annual revenue doesn’t have to suffer. In fact, your annual income will be bolstered by educating about and encouraging asset-based giving.

For real answers and guidance when it comes to asset-based giving and planned gifts, our team of asset giving experts at The Giving Crowd can help.

The first call is free and there’s no obligation on your part. So if you’d like to see if we’re a good fit for you, let’s talk!

The 3 Reasons People Give Transformational Gifts that You Must Understand


Transformational gifts may be large and complex, but the underlying reasons that donors give are not. Understanding the three primary motivators that donors give transformational gifts is critical for you to cultivate more of these gifts to drive your mission forward.Too often we find that giving is made up of smaller gifts that are given as a “tip” or an obligatory gift where the donor feels like they have to give. The donor feels like giving is just the right thing to do.

But the real transformational gifts that can change your organization are driven by three primary motivations.

These three reasons for giving will vary in a person throughout the different stages of their life. For example, an individual who’s approaching the twilight years of their life will have a different reason for giving then the 30-year-old tech mogul.

As the seasons of life change, so to the reasons for giving change.

But even though these reasons can change throughout a person’s lifetime, they almost always give based on one of three simple motivations. Get to know these motivations well and learn how to identify them in your potential donors so that you can better show them how your organization or ministry can serve their reason for giving.

Giving Motivator #1: Family

Top of the list is family. The main reason that people give transformational gifts is that they want to provide for the needs of their family as well as use their gift to promote the growth of their values within the lives of their family members.

Donors want their spouses and children to have the financial means they need to buy a home, go to college, or start a business. Providing for the physical needs of the family after death is an easy motivator to understand. But this is just the beginning of how a donor wishes to use their transformational gift to bless their family.

Donors are motivated to bless their family by using a transformational gift, like an asset-based gift, to instill their values in the lives of their children.

Especially with estate planning, donors have the unique chance to create financial and legal environments that help develop and grow noble or virtuous attributes in the lives of their heirs.

The astute donor will want their inheritance to launch their children, not endow them.

The astute donor will want their inheritance to launch their children, not endow them. Share on X

Some want their holdings to inspire their children to be givers. Others wish to inspire their heirs to be involved in their communities and churches, to be good citizens.

Family Concerns

Conversely, many high net worth individuals are concerned that the inheritance they leave will turn their children into “trust babies” or destroy their kids.

Unfortunately, most financial services professionals are more concerned about transferring the wealth of the individual instead of the motivations of the wealth giver—and they miss out on the opportunity to pass on the values of the donor to their children through a transformational gift.

When communicating with donors, make sure you communicate how giving a transformational gift can help them instill their values in the generations of their family to come and avoid the destruction that can come through the weight of sudden wealth.

Giving Motivator #2: Taxes

Sometimes people are philanthropic simply because they don’t want to give more money to the government. They’ve given so much to local, state, and federal governments in their lifetime that the idea to give more through their estate simply disgusts them.

Tax avoidance is a common motivator for people on both sides of the political aisle. Both right and left-leaning people would like to see their hard-earned money go to the causes they care about the most.

Now, this isn’t the most altruistic reason out of the three, but tax avoidance is really a wonderful driver for transformational gifts. Here’s why:

The United States of America has the most charitable tax system in the world by design. It is designed to motivate people to generosity. This feature is unique to our governmental and economic structure. For all the things we wish they’d do better, Congress has purposefully rigged the system to promote generosity to charitable causes—and that’s a blessing that we should never take for granted.

Because of these charitable tax incentives, many of the taxes we face are, in effect, optional. This means you and your donors can opt out of these taxes—especially capital gains taxes and estate taxes—with an act of charity.

So I encourage you to leverage the perhaps selfish motivator to avoid taxes for its intended purpose—to promote transformational giving! Take full advantage of this tremendous blessing and give thanks that we live in a country that values philanthropy as much as you and I do.

Giving Motivator #3: Impact

Impact is a powerful motivator that you don’t want to miss communicating to your donors… like this Californian businessman.

One day in a conference room overlooking Monterey Bay, I was talking about these three common gift motivators with a man who owned a string of businesses on the West Coast from Washington to Southern California. When I got to “Impact,” the guy reached across the table suddenly and grabbed my arm.

“Greg, that’s what I want to talk about!”

He continued. “I don’t need any more money. What I want to know is… how can God use my life to make a difference in the world?”

The desire to make an impact with his God-given resources was his driver, his motivation.

He was blessed. He had a charmed life. And he was so grateful for his blessings that he wanted to leave the world better off when he left it than when he lived.

How can God use my life to make this world better?

This is a strong motivation lying deep in the hearts of your donors, whether you’re shepherding a small church or leading an international nonprofit organization.

There are all kinds of ways for people to make a significant impact through an asset-based gift or estate gift—and you can pivot off of this strong desire to do good to connect with what your donors are looking for through you.

Your donors want to leave a mark—and if you’re sensitive to detect this beautiful motivator inside them, you’ll be able to cultivate more transformational gifts for your ministry or organization.

Need some help identifying and pivoting on these motivations to inspire transformational giving in your organization? Let’s talk!