Thursday, June 29, 2017

Namings for donors- When is forever not forever?

Recently, there have been many questions in the donor relations community about naming opportunities for donors and whether or not we should include perpetuity or provide term limits for the donors. Every time this comes up for me, I am reminded of the dangerous precedent that NYC's Avery Fisher Hall and Lincoln Center created for us when they re-sold the naming rights to David Geffen even though they had a gift agreement that provided the naming in perpetuity. They paid off the family of Avery Fisher and had the name taken down because they were blinded by the cash that Geffen waved in front of them. It was a gut wrenching episode in donor namings because it further undermined trust they may have in our organizations and the idea of permanence. The TV show "Billions" even based an episode off of one billionaire buying the naming rights out from underneath another family out of spite. So where does that leave you and your donors? Is perpetuity an outdated concept or a changing reality?

Probably the safest thing you can do when naming spaces in recognition of a donor's generosity is to provide term limits. It could be a certain year benchmark like 20 or 50 years but I prefer a clause that follows along the lines of the "utility of the space until the first renovation". This also must be accompanied by allowing the original donor family the first right of refusal on the naming of the space. But what happens if the naming recognition isn't tied to a specific space? When do namings expire and how is that communicated to donors? In other words, your plan must be a sound one and must be communicated with donors clearly in order to avoid donor mistrust.

If a donor believes that once they pass away they cannot trust you or your organization to preserve their legacy, it can undermine your fundraising efforts. That's why unclear policies can lead not only to bad press but also to a decrease in future naming donors mistrusting your intentions and believing that in reality we sell to the highest bidder. Having a comprehensive naming policy is vital to the success of any donor relations program. Morality clauses, naming minimums and term limits are some of the components of these policies. For example, will you allow a donor's name to go up on a building if you have less than 50% of the gift in the door? I would advise against it. I have personally had to take namings down because they never fulfilled their pledge, and I have seen other examples of it as well. The importance of having a donor relations mindset when discussing namings is vital and a good policy is the first step.

What are the challenges you run into surrounding donor namings at your organization? How do you balance the needs of the organization with the best interests of the donor? I would love to hear your thoughts.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wonder Women and Generosity!

Wonder Woman is the top grossing movie this past weekend.   Everyone who has seen it has left saying they want to see it again.  Why?  Maybe because the movie shows a strong female superhero who is able to take on a whole lot of evil.  She can do it all!  
It is a perfect time in our history for a movie with a strong heroine to be in theaters - women are fierce and we are fired up.   We came together and marched.  We are signing up for leadership roles.  We are running for office in record numbers.  Women have a lot to say and we want to be heard. 
This was made very clear when I attended the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) Symposium hosted by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University this spring.  I attended the symposium to learn more about gender differences so that UC Davis could create a Women in Philanthropy program.  We want to get more women involved in our future – both as donors and, more importantly, as leaders.

The WPI helps to better understand the role of women as leaders today and how to leverage their strength.  The WPI has been studying gender differences since the early 90’s with grants from many donors including the most recent study funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2016).

Consistently this research has shown that women and men give differently. 
·       Women baby-boomers and older gave 89% more to charity than men their age.
·       Women in the top 25% of permanent income give 156% more than men in that same category.
·       Women give more than their male peers at virtually all income levels, even though women in general earn less and have less money in retirement than men, and have a greater life expectancy.
·       Women tend to be more altruistic and empathetic than men, partly because of the way men and women are socialized.
·       For men, money may represent power, achievement, or prestige, while women tend to view money in terms of personal security, freedom, and a way to achieve goals.

What’s more, a 2013 U.S. Trust survey on women and wealth found that “women are nearly twice as likely as men to say that giving to charity is the most satisfying aspect of having wealth.”

We harnessed all of this amazing research and hosted two visioning sessions with UC Davis women philanthropists to begin a dialogue about gender differences in giving.  We shared data with them and they were not surprised.  They shared stories about when they made their first gift and  how they make philanthropic decisions.  They told us about how they teach their own children to give back.  They told us that big goals mean nothing to them, but knowing that their gift made a difference  was their motivation for giving.  They were excited that UC Davis was interested in their feedback and want them involved in our future.

Today 65% of all college graduates are women.   We cannot continue to fundraise and steward all donors the same way.  If we are to be successful then we need to think differently.  We need to understand what motivates our donors to give, to embrace their differences, and we need women in leadership roles.  We need more Wonder Women involved in our organizations!

Thank you to Angie Joens for this great blog post- she is indeed a Wonder Woman!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

These are a few of my favorite things…An Homage

These are a few of my favorite things…
With apologies to Julie Andrews and in homage to The Sound of Music, here’s a tribute to some of my favorite Donor Relations things.
Big 3-D images and clear envelopes on invites

Imprinted worry stones and customized stamps


Exploding champagne bottles and cheap plaques

These are a few of my favorite things…

ThankView videos and Uviaus greeting cards
Parkers Crazy Cookies and Adobe Spark


Wunderlist and wireless nametag printers,

Summer and the living is easy, so here are some ideas to make your work easier or add a little fun to your stewardship efforts.  Big 3D produces lenticular prints, what I used to call holographic images.  They will take two images and mash them together—perfect for an invitation or other print pieces, and it’s surprisingly affordable.  Have an invitation that’s too pretty to hide in a plain white envelope?  Use a clear envelope to send out a mailing people can’t wait to open!  Want more pop?  Zazzle will print US Post Office approved stamps using your image. Look for periodic discount codes that will waive set-up fees.

Do you have a dedication coming up?  What’s better than an exploding confetti-filled champagne bottle?  (Is there anything that Amazon doesn’t carry?)  Parkers Crazy Cookies will immortalize your donor in edible form.  Worried about calories?  Hand out custom worry stones—the price drops dramatically for bulk orders from LoveRocksInc.  And to commemorate it all, inexpensive plaques that ship in 48 hours or less from
Never handwrite a nametag again!  Cannon manufactures inexpensive wireless label (nametag printers) with template options to add your institutions logo or other graphics.  Do you lack an in-house communications team?  Adobe Spark to the rescue with templates for newsletters, videos, and web.  Once you have your video, Uviaus can embed it in card-form to mail out or deliver by hand.  ThankView can help produce customized videos to let your donors hear—and see!—the impact of their philanthropy.






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Thanks to Mary Solomons for this fabulous themed post! What are your favorite things?