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Headless Fundraising: Where is the Leadership?

I was invited to speak at a national charity conference with over 800 attendees. I know some of them were Directors of Operations and Chief Executive Officers.

So where the heck were they hiding?

The conference featured something for everyone, topic-wise — from operations and finances to strategies and fundraising philosophy, they had it covered. The conference was a huge success… except for my session, which was on planned giving marketing.  Read on.

Attendees at my presentation were an enthusiastic group, including many young fundraisers. I was glad to see that, because even though planned giving represents the robust future of fundraising, many smaller programs are still weak in this area, and somewhat scared to delve into it. Not to mention even read about it. So I started out with some myth-busting:

“Many consultants, vendors and fundraisers make their living by making planned giving complex and complicated,” I exclaimed. “I’m here to keep it simple it. Because it’s not rocket science, and you should escape from anyone who tells you it is.” In fact, we should all be glad it’s not rocket science since that industry is suffering quite a bit here in the US and in Russia.

In the course of the presentation, however, I asked attendees as I always do what their individual positions were in their organizations, and was a little perturbed and unhinged when I found not a single CEO among them! Can we order some gray matter, please?

I then made a few targeted points:

  • Kudos to all of you that came.  You’ve got a great future.
  • Shame on your CEOs who are not here. They are a bunch of bird brains and please tell them I said so.
  • Your CEOs are showing no leadership in exploring planned giving for your future, or theirs for that matter.
  • There is no way a nonprofit will succeed in today’s or tomorrow’s economy without getting into planned giving.
  • 95% of this country’s wealth is in the form of easy-to-get assets, while only 5% is in hard-to-get cash — what part of that don’t CEOs get?
  • The nonprofits that embrace planned giving are the ones that succeed. The rest become extinct.

Any questions?

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