Searching for New Ways to Volunteer in the New Year?

TrendsA rising trend among corporations today is to engage in skill-based volunteering. This model has long been used on a smaller scale with graduate students who serve as interns or fellows. The students come to the nonprofit with a designated project and spend a semester or more addressing it. The students are chosen because their skill set matches the nonprofit need.

Now corporate philanthropy is taking this idea to a larger level, aiming to create long lasting and potentially transformational partnerships while giving nonprofits the potential to have sophisticated infrastructure otherwise unavailable with their limited staff and budget restraints. This is not just pro bono volunteering, but customized volunteering.

A few successful examples include:

  • Employees of Adobe, Inc. pairing with young writers to create unique and compelling cover designs for their manuscripts,
  • Toyota employees in San Antonio pulling from their assembly line experience to identify efficiencies and maximize the flow of donated food items to the floor for a local food bank,
  • Des Moines’ annual DSMhack bringing together skilled volunteers from across the IT spectrum, creating new websites, mapping tools and even a nutrition calculator for worthy nonprofits–all in one fast paced weekend!

In order to work the process must start with a nonprofit’s needs, then match those needs with a corporate partner having a focus and skill set that meets them. Additionally, the nonprofit must have the staff and capacity to invest in guiding and supervising the process, which can prove challenging.

Sometimes referred to as ‘The Knitting Factor’, skill-based volunteering is designed with a focus on long term training, long term connection and long-term effect. With 75% of corporations incorporating employee citizenship activities into their model and since, from the corporate perspective, skills-based volunteering has been found to enhance employee skills and talents, improve retention, and is attractive to millennials, this idea is likely to grow!

How do you thank the hundreds? One at a time.

Small Gifts

The big donors get their name on the building, or the wall, or at the top of the list in the program brochure. They get the special seats, and the special parking and all kinds of special perks. But where would organizations be without their loyal annual donors? And how well are YOU showing smaller donors appreciation for their enduring and much needed gifts?

On the flip side, do we as donors give the small gift even if a large one is not within our capacity, and do we understand how much it means to offer this support? Do we bring along other small donors to the cause, knowing that a multitude of small gifts can become a very big one? Multiple gifts of under $100 often add up to critical operating support for many organizations.

Every small gift helps to establish the community of support for an organization. It tells them who is paying attention and values their work. And every organization needs to let their donors know, all their donors, how much this support is appreciated.

As an individual, look around you at the causes you care about, at the good work being done and the problems being solved and please share your generosity at whatever level is comfortable for you. Let the people and organizations spending every day in the trenches of these important issues know that you are paying attention and that you appreciate their efforts. Let’s all celebrate the Season of Giving.

We Now Offer Nonprofit Evaluations as a Stand-Alone Service!

Before you give generously it is important to know that your donations are used ethically and effectively before giving big. But conducting proper due diligence would be a full-time job.

That’s why we’re here.

Rodman & Associates now offers our independent and rigorous nonprofit evaluations as a stand-alone service, providing you the insight you need to make educated and confident giving decisions.

Expert evaluations are especially critical if you’re a:

  • current donor asked to consider a much larger gift
  • business assessing several potential nonprofit partners
  • current board chair or invited to join a nonprofit board of directors
  • donor who knows one of your grantees needs operational improvements

Our PhD researchers dive deep into strategy, finance, leadership, and impact. The resulting assessment and recommendations illustrate the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to inform your level of involvement.

Contact us today for sample reports and pricing.
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The Real Story Ends In The Land fill

It is well documented that after Hurricane Maria warehouses near the ports of Puerto Rico remained full of diapers, bottled water, clothes and canned goods, with no easy way for those items to reach individuals in need. After all, in the middle of a disaster, who is going to unpack and sort those assorted goods and ensure they are delivered, in a timely manner, to towns without electricity, phone service or paved roads? The sad fact is that after a disaster receiving countries and aid organizations are left to pay out of pocket to store, or dispose of, unneeded or unused donated items. This is often referred to as the second disaster.

So why do people still donate hard goods when cash is so much more efficient?

Most donors cite the impersonal feel of cash along with a concern that their money might be syphoned off before it reaches those most in need.

Finally, a solution! ShelterBox ships shelter boxes containing a tent, thermal blankets, water purification system and other supplies for a family to survive after a natural or manmade disaster and the organization has found a way for donors to track each ShelterBox they sponsor. Every box comes with a unique identifier that can be tracked from end to end.

Headlines today consist of back-to-back hurricanes in the U.S., a tsunami in Indonesia, Japanese mudslides, and super typhoon Mangkhut in Guam and the Philippines. Won’t you join Rodman & Associates in helping?

Increasingly, Women are Leading U.S. Philanthropy

Women and Philathropy

Here’s the facts, according to a recent comprehensive study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University:

  • Women are creating and controlling wealth at a higher rate than ever before. Women control more than 51% of private wealth in the U.S. The IRS reports that 43% of the nation’s top wealth holders, those with assets of $1.5 million or more, are women.
  • The influence of wealth held by women is increasing. According to Forbes, women are set to inherit $28.7 trillion over the next 40 years in intergenerational wealth transfers. At some point in their lives, 90% of all women will be solely responsible for their own or their family’s finances.
  • Research supports very real gender differences in giving. Women across all income levels are more likely to donate to charity than men, with single women donating more than single men by a margin of 9%. Female-headed households not only were more likely to give, but also tended to give nearly twice as much.

A 2013 U.S. Trust study on Women and Wealth found that women’s perspectives on wealth are shaped by their experiences, upbringing, outlook and goals. One reason is that their socio-economic status has risen over the past several decades along with increased access to education and income – two key predictors of philanthropy. Women report that the hesitations they may have about giving are less related to wealth preservation and heirs, and more about the charities under consideration. A lack of knowledge about the charity, a fear that their funds won’t be used wisely and concern that their giving will result in an increase in solicitations are factors. Along with the growth in women’s assets and capacity, their volunteer efforts in fund-raising and board participation, and growing employment presence in the nonprofit sector, has increased informed awareness of the social, economic and political issues that influence society.

Margaret May Damen, co-author of Women, Wealth & Giving: The Virtuous Legacy of the Boom Generation notes that women are starting to realize that “in order to inspire the next generation, they need to be good examples.” She further adds that women want to be involved in a charity before they make the decision to give money, they expect greater transparency, and they will follow through with a project. To Ms. Damen, it is no surprise that men and women approach money differently. “I think women see money as a means to an end and men see money as a commodity to exchange,” she says. “It’s a different mindset.”

When is enough, enough?

Many parents of college students grapple with how much their children should work—and contribute—toward their living and tuition expenses.  These parents recognize that not having work experience during college affects their child’s future job prospects and compensation offers.  Most families of wealth struggle mightily with how much to provide their offspring.  As Warren Buffett famously put it: Give your kids enough to do anything they want, but not enough to do nothing.

What is money for?  What is our obligation to the younger generation? And when is enough, enough?

Determining an inheritance amount for heirs is difficult, and understanding how others have moved forward can be enlightening. How would you like your heirs to use an inheritance?

To fund their retirement?

To pay for their and/or their family’s education?

To buy a home, or start a business?

Philanthropic Advisors at Rodman & Associates work hand-in-hand with families to consider these and other questions.

Are you ready to start the conversation?  Contact us today!

The Expanding Philanthropic Conversation

Aligning Conversations with Client and Donor Needs

Several studies have been conducted by financial institutions recently to assess their clients’ philanthropic activity and needs. The results tell us that the philanthropic conversation is expanding in America, and that donors, as well as potential donors, want to have meaningful conversations about their giving. Here are some of the findings:

  • In a U. S. Trust study of high net worth clients, 67% now discuss philanthropy with their advisors, up from 55% in 2013. Most clients report they would like these conversations to occur sooner in the client-advisor relationship.
  • Donors report tax advantages are not their primary reason for giving, and 76% report that they would not change, or will increase, their giving as a result of the 2017 tax law.
  • The primary reasons for giving among high net worth donors are a passion for the cause, a desire to impact their community or the world, and a desire to give back.

These statistics offer a clear signal to both advisors and nonprofit leaders that they must engage in conversations deeper than “the ask”. Donors, and potential donors, want to have substantial discussions about their philanthropy. They want to learn more about various ways to give, receive support in identifying significant needs, and have access to data that allows them to evaluate the causes they care about.

Charitable giving through a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) is also growing substantially. After many years of a rising stock market, more donors are electing to utilize a DAF to dedicate appreciated assets to charity, while avoiding capital gains. By contributing non-cash assets that have been held for more than a year, rather than selling the assets and donating the proceeds, individuals can potentially increase the amount available for charity by up to 20%. Schwab Charitable reports that stock transfers now represent 74% of all contributions to donor advised funds held by the firm and, during the last fiscal year, 50% of existing DAF account holders made additional contributions to their Fund.

At Rodman & Associates, our mission is to support individuals, families, companies and nonprofits in finding ways to engage in more effective philanthropy. Let us help you, your clients and your donors identify and achieve these philanthropic goals. Together, we truly can make the world a better place.

Drowning in Donations: one nonprofit’s struggle to keep up

Recently Americans spontaneously donated more than $20 million to a Texas based nonprofit to reunite migrant families separated at the border. The $20 million grew out of the most recent social media campaign to go viral, and that money equals approximately 3x the organization’s annual budget.

With the very best of intentions these donors were reacting to a heart wrenching situation. Yet, is their gift getting the desired results? The facts are the receiving nonprofit is not able to absorb the money easily and it is struggling to deliver on its mission. In a US News and World Report article the group recently acknowledged that the organization is “really making these plans as we speak and trying to figure out how best to utilize the unexpected windfall”.

Strategic philanthropists will take the time to do research and to develop a proactive strategy to achieve their goal. They make charitable “investments” and track those investments to determine whether their desired impacts and goals are being achieved.  Are you ready to change the way you give?

Author and Philanthropist Shares Her Best Advice with Austin Woman Magazine

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Joy Selak lightheartedly laments that everyone she meets immediately shares his or her entire life story with her. Even though she’s at times taken aback by the quick vulnerability, it’s easy to understand why people feel so comfortable with her. She exudes the calm and peace of someone who has been through great trials and triumphed on the other side.

Selak started her career in education before becoming a financial advisor, a position she never thought of leaving. After chronic illness interrupted her corporate career and idyllic island life along the coast of Washington, Selak found her purpose in philanthropy.

When she and her husband moved to Austin in 2001, she quickly started volunteering, serving in a variety of roles at Zach Theatre, Mindpop and A Legacy of Giving. She currently serves as a philanthropic advisor for Rodman & Associates and is adapting a play she wrote into a novel.

Selak’s impressive list of careers—educator, financial advisor, entrepreneur, writer, philanthropist—infuses her outlook with a maturity, grace and wisdom that allow her to see the nonprofit sector holistically. Here are her top tips for those looking to get more involved.

Do some research before you commit to philanthropy.

“[Ask yourself,] ‘Where is my deepest passion?’ ”

Support social media.

“A wonderful way to support nonprofits you believe in would be to give them a budget to bring on a social-media consultant and a communications consultant, and let them work to tell that organization’s story in a powerful, simple, immediate way.”

Consider your past pain.

“People come out of [trauma]often with vigor and hearts for others. Ignoring it or pretending it didn’t happen or being angry about it—none of it will serve you. Once you’ve made peace with it, you can use it.”

Get your kids involved.

“When you start young like that, it is your identity. I don’t think you could not be sensitive to the needs of others. I don’t think you could not try to find ways to help.”

Believe you can make a difference.

“Don’t discount the impact one human can have on another human. Know you’re just wrong if you think it’s insignificant. It’s not.”

Story and Photo by Courtney Runn.

Philanthropy USA: Record Giving, but is this all Good News?

Several recent news articles and reports have announced that 2017 was a record year for U.S. philanthropy, citing a robust stock market and strong economy as drivers. For the first time, charitable giving exceeded $400 Billion, up 5.2% year over year. The articles also noted giving increases across all sectors, except international affairs, with more than 6% increases in gifts to:

  • Education
  • Arts, culture and humanities
  • Health
  • Social needs and benefits
  • Animals and the environment.

We’d like to zoom in a little more on where the giving came from and where it went. To start, gifts to foundations represented the biggest increase in 2017, up 15.5% and totaling $46 Billion. And while the amount of individual giving by Americans has risen, the share of Americans donating to charity is falling. Between 2000 and 2015 this percentage has gone from 67% to 56%. The amount of disposable income dedicated to philanthropy is also declining, from 2.4% in 2000 to 2% today. According to Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Many nonprofits have turned their focus to attracting more big gifts.” She also notes that “while wealthy people are keeping giving overall at record sums, the number of Americans who actually donate has dropped precipitously.”

In fact, the 10 largest donations totaled $10.2 Billion, more than double the $4.3 Billion from 2016. And of these 10 gifts, the 4 largest went to the donors’ foundations. These assets represent tremendous philanthropy and will be disbursed according to foundation guidelines and priorities, but they are not direct gifts to charity. Of the remainder, the next 5 went to various Universities, and the 10th to the Nature Conservancy.

There is some cause for concern that while giving by the extremely wealthy is increasing, giving across America, as a percentage of the population and as a percentage of disposable income, continues to decline. When nonprofits rely more and more on fewer and fewer large donors, the lack of donor diversity creates risk and economic downturns pose an even greater risk. Further, we have yet to see how the standard deduction in the new tax law will affect charitable giving in the months and years to come.

We encourage our readers to continue to directly support the needs in your communities and the world. Give to those needs that touch the hearts and minds of you, your family and your employees. Your giving matters—as the needs of the many are not all being met by the generosity of the few.