Seamless charity

Donors, nonprofits look for ways to integrate charitable giving.

By Todd Cohen

Driven by growing awareness of “philanthropic motive” or “values,” and escalating goals for capital campaigns, planned giving is becoming more integrated into philanthropy, prompting greater collaboration within charities and with donors, professional advisers, consultants and financial-services firms.

To be more effective, for example, fundraising programs “are moving away from silo-based donor relationships to a more seamless integration of major-gift and planned-gift marketing,” says Mike Page, director of planned giving at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Charities also are finding that the best way to serve donors and address organizational needs is to focus on donors’ values.

“When you’re dealing with people one on one, you look at the bigger picture and come up with a strategy for the individual,” says Jane Rae Bradford, director of gift planning at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

“You become part of the family,” she says. “You end up being part of the advisory group around the donor.”

Fundraising professionals increasingly should be focusing on a “triple-ask,” she says.

So in talking to donors about supporting current operations, fundraisers also should prompt them to start thinking about even larger gifts in the future, and encourage them to remember the charity in their will or estate plan.

Developing a fruitful planned-giving program “takes decades,” Bradford says. “It takes time and cultivation and stewardship, but there’s definitely a payoff.”

Charities also are looking for ways to keep donors involved once they have made a gift.

Donor-advised funds, for example, have grown in part because donors are more aware about tools that give them more say in the long-term operation of their gifts, says H. King McGlaughon Jr., professor of philanthropic studies at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

In letter rulings, Bradford says, the Internal Revenue Service has given charities more flexibility to give donors a stronger role in deciding how their donor-advised funds are invested.

A contract between the charity and donor, for example, might call for investing a particular portion of the fund in technology stocks or hedge funds, or even in particular stocks.

Nonprofits also can contract out the job of managing the investment or administration of planned gifts.

“The investment strategy for an endowment is very different than the investment strategy for an 85-year-old or 65-year-old because you’re basing it on life expectancy,” she says. “They may need money more often, or more of it.”

Moving beyond managing charitable assets, a growing number of financial-services companies now provide planned-giving services and support.

The Boston-based Charitable Gift Services unit of Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial Corp., for example, offers technical forums, regional roundtables and an annual conference for its institutional clients, looking at trends, best practices, and legal and regulatory changes.

And in recent years, Mellon has offered clients a customized investment report it prepares that they can send to donors to show the value of charitable funds they create,

“We’re trying to make it easier for our clients to work with their donors,” says Linda R. FitzPatrick, national business manager for charitable gift services.

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