Save the Johnson Amendment

Recently, our current President and certain Legislators have indicated they want to weaken or eliminate the Johnson Amendment. Signed into law in 1954, the Johnson Amendment prevents 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from endorsing (or opposing) candidates from office, and prevents nonprofit organizations from making significant contributions to elect or defeat a candidate for office. For over 60 years, the Johnson Amendment has enjoyed bipartisan support. And no matter how you feel about our current Administration, you should know how much a change to the Johnson Amendment would impact our fundraising efforts.

Nonprofit organizations are trusted problem solvers in our society. They are expected to be nonpartisan and they often bring people from both sides of the political chasm together to address social concerns. All of this could change if the Johnson Amendment is eliminated. Contributions could dry up if donors fear your organization will spend their donations to support a politician with whom they disagree. Donors could also pressure organizations to support a specific candidate in order to earn their financial support. These difficulties are not far fetched – they are merely the beginning of how nonprofits will be impacted.

Last year, Giving USA reported the highest annual charitable contributions in our history, despite the very contentious presidential election. While millions of dollars were donated to campaigns, millions were also donated to nonprofits willing to address the needs of our communities. I feel very uncertain that nonpartisan nonprofits would continue to enjoy the same level of support if political donors could basically get a tax deduction for their campaign contribution when it was funneled through a nonprofit.

Any weakening or repeal of the Johnson Amendment is bad news for nonprofits everywhere, but good news for politicians. Here’s what you can do:

1. Sign the Community Letter, which has already been signed by over 4,500 organizations.

2. Add your comments to the letter, which Givevoice.org will share on the Hill and in each State.

3. Set up local meetings when your Legislators are home in August and share with them personally how this will impact your organization.

4. Call the offices of your Senators and Representatives in DC and let them know this matters to you. Tell them the Johnson Amendment gives you the ability to focus on your mission without political interference and it needs to stay in place.

Stopping this change won’t be easy, but we’ll be more successful if we stay focused and work together. If you have additional questions or want to coordinate your efforts with those of the Colorado Nonprofit Association and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Colorado Chapter, please contact me.


Photo by Maxwell Young on Unsplash

Posted in Why Fundraising?

What You Need to Know about Giving USA 2017

Despite economic and political uncertainly, philanthropic giving still increased in 2016, hitting a record high $390.05 billion. Every year in June, Giving USA releases the “Annual Report on Philanthropy” and provides us with an overall picture of philanthropic giving in the United States. Thanks to Giving USA and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, we have the benefit of analyzing the trends over time since they have done this report for 62 years in a row.

Read on for a snapshot view of the results and what they mean for your organization. You can also download a free copy of the report highlights or check out this fun Infographic below in full size .

Individuals and households play a starring role in overall giving, providing 72% of all contributions. Another 15% is given by Foundations, of which half are Family Foundations. Bequests made up 8% of all giving last year, and Corporations stayed steady at 5% of all contributions.

When you look at which types of organizations receive these gifts, the sector is broken down into 9 categories. The biggest ones are Religion (32%), Education (15%), Human Services (12%), and Foundations (10%). The others each bring in between 3 – 8% of all contributions and include environment/animals, international affairs, arts, culture & humanities, public society benefit, and health. All nine of these subsectors experienced increased giving in 2016, and this has only happened six other times in the past 40 years.

But how can this information actually help you with fundraising? Understanding overall giving over time can help you plan for future fundraising efforts at your organization. For example, these trends can help you:
– be more informed when entering into strategic planning
– incorporate international data into your donor communications
– enhance your case for support showing how your organization compares to national trends
anticipate how developing trends might impact your organization in the future
educate your stakeholders about charitable giving

For a more detailed analysis of these trends, join me at AFP’s Coffee Chat on August 10, 2017. I’ll be presenting a summary of the Giving USA results and facilitating a discussion with development professionals about how to apply this information to our organizations. It’s free to attend, so add it to your calendar now:

AFP Coffee Chat
Fluid Coffee Bar
August 10, 2017
8 – 10am

I hope to see you there!

Posted in Giving USA

Does Your Board Support Your Fundraising Event?

If you gathered all the board members who really support your fundraising event into a room, how full — or empty — would that room be? I am willing to bet that that events with board support are much more successful than the ones without board support. I would even argue that you CAN’T have a truly successful fundraising event without board support.

I have seen terrific events fail miserably when the board wasn’t behind the idea. I have also seen brand new events flourish and bring in huge profits because they enjoyed extensive board support. So how do you get it? Here are a few things to remember:

Think Strategically
What is the real purpose of the event? Hint: “because we have always done it” or “because everyone else is doing it” are not acceptable answers. Here are some of the most common answers:
• Fundraising: prioritize keeping expenses low and revenues high
• Acquisition: prioritize introducing NEW donors to the organization
• Education: qualify prospects by providing necessary information
• Recognition: invite existing donors for upgrade and renewal cultivation
When you raise the conversation to a strategic level, you’re more likely to engage the board and entice or renew their involvement.

Consider Personalities
What do your board members need and want from their involvement with your organization, and how can this event address those desires?
• Some board members are passionate about your program and will engage when they see how you plan to highlight the program or mission at your event.
• Some board members need to be involved up front in creating the idea or making strategic adjustments so they can point to their personal impact.
• Some board members need to be seen and recognized by those in their community as a supporter or a leader.
Just like a corporate sponsor, if you focus on what they need from the event, you’re more likely to get what YOU need from the event as well.

Get Peer Support
So how do you do these things? It’s most successful when you have a board champion who can speak to and engage their peers in these conversations. Start with one, and with planning and intention, the others will follow.

If your board doesn’t support your event, really ask yourself if you have engaged them strategically while considering their individual personalities. And if you haven’t, start by engaging with one board member, and watch your board support grow from there.

This post originally appeared on the Bloomerang blog. You can check out some of their latest research on outstanding success with fundraising events. You’ll see that Dr. Adrian Sargeant and his team focus on ten key factors and “Create Board Champions” is number 10. Click here to download the full report and read more about how your organization can transform your event to make a greater impact than ever.

Posted in Fundraising Events