Philanthropy is the Best Investment
for Nonprofits

Increase Giving by Shifting Efforts from Disposable Income to Assets

Practical applications based on research by Dr. Russell James and experience by Dr. Eddie Thompson

Large gifts have always come with lots of instructions.  Donors use gift instructions to further their values and goals through your organization, not to restrict the mission of your organization.  When donors give with instructions, their gifts will be larger.

Suggestion #3:  Encourage Gift Instructions to Increase Giving

Often, nonprofits discourage gifts that seem too restrictive and limit how the organization can use the gift.  But we should encourage these conversations.  From a donor’s perspective, these “restrictions” are just detailed instructions on how their gift will further the donor’s values and goals through your organization.  As a gift officer, the goal is to match their values with the organization’s mission. 

Large gifts have always come with lots of instructions.  If you are not embracing gifts with instructions, you are losing out to others who are.  Two studies in the 1800’s show that a majority of large gifts even then were “restricted” with instructions on how the funds were to be used.  Now, more and more wealthy people are turning to private foundations since they can ensure their gifts will be used exactly how they wish. 

The Thompson & Associates’ planning process encourages donors to articulate their values and goals in the context of their wealth.  The culmination of our process (and the point when donors get excited) is the discussion about the charitable component of their plan.  This is when a donor can dream big with how they wish to help others.  How a donor wants to help others becomes the gift instructions.  Likely because donors can visualize how their gift will be used, the gifts tend to be large.  The average gift amount for each person/couple who plans with us is over $600,000. 

People like to know exactly how their gifts will make a difference.  When you provide details of how you will restrict the use of their gift, donors will give larger gifts.  So, be prepared with specific sample instructions for how gifts can be used like scholarships or naming opportunities.

Suggestion #3:  Embrace conversations about gifts that come with instructions.

Dr. Russell James’ Research: Wealthy people tend to give assets with detailed instructions.

Thompson & Associates’ Experience:  The average gift amount for those who plan with us is over $600,000, often designated for a specific purpose.

Fundraising Tip: Gifts increase when you allow instructions, so prepare sample instructions for an ask (like scholarships or naming opportunities).

Proven Data Behind These Suggestions

Dr. Eddie Thompson and Dr. Russell James recently recorded a webinar about selling philanthropy, and planned giving specifically, to nonprofit CFOs.  This insightful session and several great resources related to this subject are available to you below.

Dr. Eddie Thompson, FCEP
Founder and CEO
Thompson & Associates

Dr. Russell James, J.D., CFP®
Professor & Director of Graduate Studies in Charitable Financial Planning
Texas Tech University

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