Free Webinar – 7 Fundraising Secrets Every Board Member Should Know

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This webinar is especially for board members of nonprofit organizations or anyone who finds themselves—possibly even inadvertently—wearing the “fundraiser hat.”

If you’ve ever said, “I can’t ask for money!” or you serve on a board struggling to meaningfully participate in an organization’s fundraising efforts, this webinar is for you.

Share with your fellow board members and join us! Seats are limited. Register here today:



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IRA Rollovers Piggy BankIt only took Congress 9 years to get it right.

After being first offered for the 2006 and 2007 tax years, the I.R.A. Charitable Rollover has been made permanent. This is much better news than in December 2014 when Congress extended the giving incentive for a less than generous 14 days.

On December 18, 2015, the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (H.R. 2029) which included the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act). The PATH Act made I.R.A. Rollovers to Charity available for the remainder of 2015 but also extended this planning opportunity indefinitely.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • I.R.A. rollovers can only be done by I.R.A. owners who are 70 1/2 or older.
  • The rollover must be made to a qualified public charity. (No, donor-advised funds are NOT qualified under the provisions. Pretty much every other charity is qualified.)
  • The rollover is limited to $100,000 per year.
  • The I.R.A. owner donor can split the $100,000 among multiple charities.

Just as in the past, the benefit to the donor is that the amount directly transferred to charity is not recognized as taxable income to the donor. The rollover also counts against the donor’s required minimum distribution from their traditional I.R.A. The donor does not receive a charitable income tax deduction for the rollover.

Now what?

If you’re a donor and meet the qualifications above, consider using an IRA rollover gift each year to reduce your taxable income.

If you’re a development professional make sure to educate your more senior donors when you’re visiting with them about the benefit s and ease of IRA rollover gifts. This gives you an opportunity to serve them without an urgent ask. Also, make sure you include IRA rollovers when marketing gift opportunities throughout the year. If you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help!




Cyber Monday is Dead.

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Maybe not quite dead yet, but hear me out.

All of the stats I’ve reaCyber Monday is deadd over the weekend indicate that Christmas Cyber Shopping began in earnest on Thanksgiving day. MarketWatch reported that the earliest numbers from the Adobe Digital Index showed that “e-commerce sales totaled $1.73 billion on Thanksgiving Day, with 57% of traffic coming from mobile devices.”

If you’re old enough to know the history of Cyber Monday, you understand why it will soon “not be a thing.” Shortly after Al Gore invented the internet and AOL told us we had mail, retailers rushed to turn the web into a sales channel. Twenty years ago (can you believe Amazon is 21 years old?) only movie theaters, gas stations and Waffle Houses were open on Thanksgiving day. Black Friday was firmly entrenched as a cultural “must do” that carried over to Saturday and Sunday as retailers kept their doors open longer and longer.

Back at home, our dial-up internet and desktop computers were simply not suited for hours upon hours of online anything. After a weekend full of bricks and mortar shopping, white collar employees would go to work on Monday and finish off their Christmas list in the new world of online shopping compliments of their employers’ hi-speed internet and at the expense of the day’s productivity.

But that was then. Now most of us carry smart phones with better internet connectivity the average home had 10 years ago.

What does all of this have to do with charities and fundraising?

Your donors and prospective donors are the same people that spent nearly 2 billion dollars online after they downed their Thanksgiving feast. They aren’t the folks that fought live and in person for vegetable steamers at Walmart Friday morning.

If you’re in the fundraising business, you need to consider and invest in your online giving experience like it’s an additional Annual Fund Officer. The time is gone when it can be an afterthought or something you know needs reworking but you keep pushing it further down your to-do list.

In the same article, MarketWatch also reported that on Thanksgiving day, “emails from retailers drove 25% more shopping than last year and contributed to a huge mobile shopping day.” Your 2016 goals need to include: 1) create more legitimate and compelling ways to collect email addresses of donors and prospects, and 2) make sure your online giving experience is mobile friendly.

We know online giving continues to grow year over year. If yours isn’t, it’s time to figure out why. If you’d like a few guidelines and want to see a great example of a mobile friendly, effective online giving form, check out my previous article The Best Online Giving Form You’ve Never Seen.



The results are in, and they’re not pretty! (Your Board needs help)

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The infographic tells the dire tale.

Board Giving InfographicWe asked participants how many of their board members had introduced at least 1 prospective donor to their organization yet this year. The answer wasn’t surprising. Very few board members have been engaged in the development process. The good news is that there is still time. We have just under 3 months left to make a difference. (Hat’s off to the 32% who were pulling their weight!)

Further concerns:

  • The percentage of board members not making an annual gift of any amount to their organizations is unacceptable.
  • More than half of the organizations responding do not have job descriptions for their board members.
  • Nearly 3/4 of the organizations have not had a board retreat since 2013.

If your board doesn’t have a job description yet that clearly set expectations around their personal giving and relational fundraising, it’s time.

If your board hasn’t met for a retreat in over 2 years, it’s time.

I’m not sure how we can expect boards to be engaged in relational fundraising if the expectation is never set and agreed to and they have never been encouraged or equipped to participate.


Does Your Board Run Away From Fundraising?

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Walking Away from Fundraising

One of the challenges executive directors share most often with me is their frustration with their board members and their lack of participation in fundraising for the organization.

While it’s true that the age and size of an organization will determine distinct roles and responsibilities for its board, the need for meaningful engagement in the development function is a universal board member responsibility. If you’re a board member of a nonprofit, you should be eager to live this out in two distinct ways:

  1. You should be giving financially to the organization you serve, and
  2. You should be introducing others in your peer group to the opportunity to support the organization you serve.

Fundraising Starts with the Board

I often hear, “But I’m giving my unique professional expertise to the organization. That should be good enough.” Let’s be clear—it’s not. If that’s your view, you probably should consider whether you should be taking up a seat. Most corporate and private foundations require 100% financial participation of an organization’s board before they will consider the organization for a grant. It’s about credibility. If you’re truly passionate about a mission, you’ll give to it. You’ll give your time, your talent, your treasure—and you’ll give your influence.

Giving your influence—sharing the mission your passionate about with your family, friends and colleagues—is often the next hardest thing to do. Certainly the executive director and development staff (if any) should be providing compelling entry points for new donors as well as stewarding existing donors with a plan for major gift cultivation and solicitation. However, their work is twice as effective if done in concert with your leveraged influence.

What does that look like? Every board member should agree to introduce a number of their extended family, friends and colleagues to the organization they serve each year. This is as simple as hosting them for lunch or coffee with the executive director or development staff. If your organization has an annual gala, pay for the tickets for your top prospects each year and start there. The lunch can be a follow-up.

“But I don’t know all the details. I can’t remember how many people we serve or even exactly how we do it or what it costs.” That’s why you bring the executive director with you. Each board member should be able to give a meaningful answer to the “Why are you involved with this organization?” question. Let the org’s staff do the heavy detail lifting.

Once you have that first lunch, you’ll find your own commitment strengthened—and you may even have fun.


The Best Online Giving Form You’ve Never Seen

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Earlier this week I met with a regional representative of a national high profile ministry. He was expressing a desire to attract more monthly donors while lamenting limited success.

Knowing that his local organization was part of a larger national nonprofit, I suggested we do a quick check of the ease of finding and donating to his specific chapter through the national org’s website.

The good news–he was relatively easy to find.

The bad news–when I made an actual donation for his benefit, it took 7 screens to make the gift. Remember, I had already ‘found him.’ All 7 screens were about accepting and processing the gift; none were to designate my gift to the gentleman in front of me. The website had already done that (one good thing). I was also surprised to see that the gift form had shopping cart language on its face (very 2005).

I would love to see the web analytics on how many prospective donors bail on gifts throughout the various stages–screens–of the process. I can tell you with certainty, that there is some percentage bailing.

Online giving forms need to be:

  1. Simple
  2. Fast
  3. One Screen
  4. Mobile Responsive
  5. Branded and Seamless

They should look like this:

wevegothope donation form

In addition to the attributes listed, this form makes it crystal clear whether the gift is ‘one time’ or ‘monthly’ and leads with the suggested gift amounts the organization is asking for most. It also leads with the eCheck option while making it clear and easy to switch to a credit card gift. (The eCheck is important to offer because folks change their checking accounts less than they get new credit and debit card numbers due to expiration, choice/multiple cards or fraud.)

If your online gift form is more 2005 than 2015, we should talk.


Theatre West | New Client Welcome

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IMG_0804Giving Design is pleased to welcome Theatre West to the Giving Design family!

Theatre West is one of the oldest and most well regarded theaters in Los Angeles. We are honored to help them position their development function to better attract and steward individual donors.


David set to Speak Oct 1, 2015 (Duluth, GA) | Speaking Engagement

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David is honored to speak to the members of the Professional Advisors Committee of the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia.





The following is the Foundation’s announcement:

Our next PAC meeting is going to be very special and one you won’t want to miss. In fact, it is so special we have decided to meet over lunch on
Thursday, October 1st starting at 11:30 at The 1818 Club.  This meeting will replace the meeting previously scheduled for September 24th.

What makes it special? We are going to be joined by David Baker, the Principal of Giving Design, to share with us how working with a community foundation is good for both your clients and you as their advisor. David is a licensed attorney specializing in advising individuals and families on the options for their charitable giving. In addition, David served as a Planned Giving Officer at the Columbus Community Foundation in Ohio, the seventh largest community foundation in the United States. So long story short, he walks in your shoes every day as a professional advisor but also uniquely understands how a community foundation can be a benefit to his client’s needs.

Thanks so much for what you do for our Community Foundation.  Our hope is this time with David Baker will increase your knowledge about how best to engage your clients with the work we do to improve the community around us. So RSVP today to Karyl Kaye,, to reserve your spot for our next PAC meeting on October 1st at 11:30!!!



Save the Storks | New Client Welcome

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Giving Design is pleased to welcome Save the Storks to the Giving Design Family!

Storks HorizontalSave the Storks is committed to refreshing the strategy and optics of the pro-life movement. They have created the next generation of mobile ultrasound–housed in welcoming and stylish Mercedes coaches.

We are excited to come along side Save the Storks and help them serve their donors and clients with excellence. We are switching their database to Salesforce, implementing the same, recreating their online giving forms and integrating their data from both Classy and Paperless into Salesforce.




IRA Rollovers Could Be Back Any Minute | An Urgent Update

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That’s the GOOD NEWS, assuming President Obama signs the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (H.R. 5771) which most talking heads think he will do as soon as today.

The TOUGHER NEWS? The bill only extends IRA Rollovers to charity through the end of this year. That’s right, December 31, 2014–about 14 days from right now if you count the holidays.

Again, most commentators I have been reading today think POTUS will sign the bill into law.

What should you do now? Just in case, here’s what I would do:

  1. Dust off your old IRA Rollover promotional materials.
  2. Write the copy for an email blast with three audiences in mind: a) previous IRA Rollover donors, b) donors who have recently turned 70 1/2 years old (this is why you collect birthdays), and c) financial advisors (especially those whose clients have given IRA assets before to your organization).
  3. Pull an email and call list of the folks matching the categories above.
  4. Prioritize your call list with previous IRA Rollover donors on top.

This is worth doing. Sophisticated, older donors follow these developments–especially if they are hoping to NOT trigger an annual minimum distribution and increase their taxable income.

Time is ticking–and this is the FUN STUFF! I’ll send out another post as soon as I hear of the bill being signed.

Email me if you have any questions.