CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Of the $306 billion contributed to charity in the U.S. in 2007, according to Giving USA, living individuals gave 75 percent, with another 13 percent donated by individuals through bequests or family foundations.
Corporate giving, in contrast, accounted for only 5 percent of giving.
Yet in Charlotte, many nonprofits have relied too heavily on corporate support and failed to actively cultivate individual donors, says Chris McLeod, vice president of The
Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust and chair of Leave A Legacy-Charlotte Region.
With the economic crisis hammering current income, she says, nonprofits can develop a pipeline for future support by engaging donors and encouraging them to make planned gifts, or those that are deferred or involve assets other than cash, such as stock, art or real estate.
While many people believe planned giving is a charitable vehicle only for wealthy people like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, she says, “everyone is capable of making a planned gift to charity, and usually it’s the most significant gift you can make in your lifetime.”
Leave A Legacy, an initiative of the National Committee on Planned Giving launched in Charlotte about 10 years ago that aims to promote planned giving among fundraising professionals, donors and nonprofit board members, now is stepping up its activities in the region.
The group has hired a new director and plans to double the number of educational programs it sponsors each year, McLeod says.
Under Robin Rogers, who is the new director and formerly worked for Bank of America, the group plans roughly eight sessions, including one on April 22 on “Planned Giving 101” and another in May focusing on the faith community.
The May event will feature:
* Bill Williamson, an investment adviser with Afton Capital who led an effort at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church that over six years secured promises of planned gifts expected to total $8 million, and Ellison Clary, a public-relations professional who worked on the effort.
* Dale Allison, administrator at Myers Park Presbyterian Church, which just completed a $30 million campaign that included significant planned gifts.
* Phil Warshauer, executive director at Foundation for the Charlotte Jewish Community, who is helping to develop a kiosk at the Levine Jewish Community Center that will recognize any donor who has made an endowed or deferred gift to any Jewish organization in Charlotte.
Many local nonprofits have invested years in cultivating donors, McLeod says, yet the economic crisis is limiting those donors’ ability to make current gifts.
So if they fail to talk about planned giving with those donors, nonprofits are “missing an opportunity to build a pipeline of major gifts that are virtually recession-proof,” she says.
And while many nonprofits are not comfortable asking for money, she says, they can use planned giving strategies to “ask passively” by inviting donors to consider their organization and its long-term needs and impact on the community.
When nonprofits use that approach to engage donors, she says, “many people will be inspired to make a planned gift.”