Fundraising & Planned Giving

Have you ever paused and taken a moment to truly reflect on your professional journey? Where you started and how far you have come over the years…and reminiscing on that point in time were things ‘got real?’

For me, this turning point was in 2011 during my first few months as a newly minted planned giving officer. It was the equivalent of drinking from at least 10 (some days more) fire hoses. I cannot recall how many times the thought of ‘what did I get myself into’ crossed my mind. You get it, I’m sure.

It was sometime in November of that year when I attended my first West Michigan Planned Giving Group event. Figuring this would be a great way to get my feet wet, network, and get more comfortable with things. Lucky for me, the topic of the presentation was  ‘The 2011 Year-End Tax Update.’

Deer. In. Headlights.

After the program wrapped-up, a good friend and colleague of mine (who just so happened to be a very experienced and well-respected planned giving professional) caught my eye from across the room. She came over my way and said, ‘You look really overwhelmed…are you okay?’. Honestly, I was really embarrassed that it was that obvious – I like to think I have a decent poker face. I will never forget what she said:

‘Don’t worry about all this technical stuff. It will come with time. You do not need to know everything to get started, in fact, you will NEVER know it all. What you need to focus on are building relationships and connecting your donors’ passions with their philanthropy. And remember, there are always people there to help you along the way. You are never alone in this journey; don’t be afraid to ask for support. Just take it one step at a time.’

To this day, I still call her my gift planning guardian angel. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that very moment. From that point on, I was determined to learn all I could about this thing called ‘planned giving.’ I dug into the basics. I built relationships with professional advisors and other technical experts. I likely may have broken the Google search engine with all of my online research. I attended seminars and webinars. I asked questions…lots and lots of questions. And throughout the process, I implemented. I got out of my own way and got over myself. I took messy action. Progress is better than perfection.

The bottom line is that you will never know what you think you need to know to get started in planned giving (or anything in life, for that fact, am I right?). As development professionals, we aren’t expected to be experts in all-things estate planning, tax, accounting, financial planning, wealth management, etc. Instead, we must strive to learn what we can from the technical perspective and then, and most importantly, focus on connecting our donors to the incredible missions of our organizations. The ‘why’ behind their philanthropy (passion and vision) is 80% of the process. The ‘how’ we make that happen (all the technical stuff) is 20%. Provide donor-centric service and get it right with that 80%, you’ll be on an excellent path the majority of the time.

My best piece of advice…just start. Do not wait for ‘the right time’ and do not worry about ‘having to know it all.’ Picking up the phone and simply THANKING a donor who has made the very personal decision to make a planned gift to your organization takes zero technical knowledge – it takes effort and consistency. An expression of your gratitude for their commitment will go a long way. Yes, you will be nervous through those first few conversations and will be anxiously awaiting a super-complex technical question to be thrown your way. But…when that does happen (and it likely will at some point)…don’t sweat it. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, ‘You know, I’m not sure, but I will find out and will get back to you with the best and most accurate answer.’ Be enthusiastic, grateful, and eager to learn. You have more people in your corner ready and willing to help than you would have ever imagined!

And remember, keep it simple at the start. If you aren’t at minimum thanking your donors or presenting them basic opportunities to make a planned gift to your organization (80%+ of planned gifts are simple bequests!)…someone else will.

Now, let’s go…you got this!

Planned Giving Resources

Here are a few of my top planned giving resources that I have in my personal library. Starting with the least technical, these are all top-notch training and reference materials:

There are great resources out there specifically for donors who may need some additional support as they are considering their long-term philanthropy and planning and may or may not be working with a team of their own trusted advisors. If appropriate, you can consider gifting books like these to your closest donors. They are also great resources for development professionals to gain a better understanding of donor perspective:

Finally, if you are looking for an amazing opportunity to truly dive deep and expand your knowledge in the charitable gift planning space, I highly recommend the American College of Financial Services Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®, or CAP®, designation. I’d be happy to share my personal experience with the CAP®. It was the most valuable step, educationally, I’ve taken in my professional career.

Please reach out anytime. Good luck!

Kristin Long MPA, CFRE, CAP®

Lead Foundation Specialist

Spectrum Health Foundation & Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation

Kristin.Long@spectrumhealth.org

616.706.5511

Community in Our Name

Community is Our Name, By Abby Madison Reeg, MA, CFRE

If you work in development for a nonprofit organization, you and your organization could benefit from working together with your local community foundation.

Why do donors support and appreciate the benefits of a community foundation?
• Tangible results
• Trust
• Expert local knowledge, personal service, connections, and understanding of needs and opportunities
• Commitment to improving the community through meaningful philanthropy
• Tax advantages
• Investment performance

A community foundation is a public charity that typically focuses on supporting a geographic area by facilitating, pooling, and investing donations used to address community needs and support local for-impact partners (nonprofit organizations and municipalities). Community foundations offer grant-making programs to improve and enhance the community.

There are approximately 600 community foundations in the U.S. According to a survey by the Michigan Council of Foundations, assets held by the 48 responding community foundations in Michigan range from $4 million to over $1 billion. Community foundations in Michigan grant to dozens of nonprofits with the top three categories including human services, education, and arts/culture/humanities.

Community foundation advancement staff work with donors to create endowed and non-endowed funds that fit with their philanthropic intent. The primary distinction between an endowed or non-endowed fund is that the principal of an endowed fund is preserved forever, with a portion of the earnings available for spending. In contrast, any or all of a non-endowed fund can be accessed. Community foundations offer a variety of giving options to donors and some community foundations may offer unique options that others don’t.

People, organizations, or businesses may give gifts of any size to existing funds at a community foundation (you might have given a gift in memory of a friend or loved one in this way). Donor advised funds are a popular choice for people who wish to donate and grant the funds to nonprofits over time. This acts like a “charitable checking account.” Endowed scholarships are a popular choice for donors who wish to invest in education. Nonprofit organizations start funds to diversify their revenue streams. Every community foundation enjoys the unrestricted gifts that help them rapidly respond to community needs. Finally, legacy gifts may be given to a particular fund or start a new fund. Bequests in a will or trust are the most popular ways donors leave a legacy gift to a community foundation.

Development professionals find it helpful to:

  • Learn from potential donors about their philanthropic intent (what missions give them joy), the general amounts they give, and how they typically give (cash, Required Minimum Distribution from a retirement account, stock, donor advised fund, etc.).
  • Ask donors who make grants from donor advised funds if they would consider supporting your organization’s mission. Many donors grant multiple gifts annually from donor advised funds.
  • Check with your community foundation to see if they have a “for-impact partner wish list.” This list helps fund holders with donor advised funds learn about community needs. Make sure your organization is on the list.
  • Partner with a community foundation to help a major donor start an endowed designated fund for your organization. This is a great way for your organization to create a forever funding stream.
  • If writing a competitive grant, follow the organization’s granting guidelines and take advantage of any guidance opportunities the community foundation staff offers along the way. If your mission and project fits within the parameters, it might be helpful to write an outline of your proposal and review it with the program officer. The grants and program staff will be a helpful resource for you and may contact you if they find a future funding opportunity.
  • Community foundation staff welcome meetings with you, your donor, and their professional advisors if they are considering an estate gift through the community foundation to benefit your mission.

Community is our name. Advancing the wellbeing of our communities is what community foundations strive to do by collecting donations, investing them, and granting to for-impact partners. Connecting with a community foundation will give you more tools for your fundraising tool belt, make a bottom-line positive difference for your organization, help your donors feel great about giving, and make the community a better place.


Abby Madison Reeg, MA CFRE, works for the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation’s Advancement and Donor Services Team. The Grand Haven Area Community Foundation is a place-based charitable grantmaker that cares deeply about Northern Ottawa County.

Reeg has experience leading organizations and growing resources at grassroots and nationally affiliated nonprofit organizations. She is a proud member of the AFP West Michigan Board of Directors and serves as Program Chair.


April 2022 Newsletter


A message from the AFP WM Board of Directors

Spring is here.  It’s a time of growth and we are hopeful for more connection with good weather.  We all look forward to more in-person meetings, connecting with donors, volunteers and with each other.  Many of us  will be attending AFP ICON in Las Vegas May 2-4th.  There are so many great session that will leave us inspired and ready to take on new challenges.  Please follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn to see session recaps and photos. Attend the AFP CFRE Refresher Course via Zoom on September 13th, 15th, 20th, 22nd, and 27th 2022. 

Advance your journey toward CFRE certification through the self-exploration of knowledge and peer exchange of best practices — facilitated by knowledgeable fundraising practitioners — with the AFP CFRE Refresher Course.  

Who Should Attend  
Anyone seeking to earn the CFRE certification – for the first time or to recertify, and who can meet the minimum requirements set by CFRE International by the date of the CFRE Exam. 
CFRE Requirements

Cost  
AFP Members = $300 
Non-Members = $360 
REGISTER

AFPWM Friday Morning Virtual Breakfast Series
First Fridays of the Month from 7:50am-9:00am
The events are free, but pre-registration is required by Wednesday before the Friday event. You will receive the link to the meeting the day before, on Thursday, from Alexa Sorensen 

May 6, 2022
Ten Ways to Kill Your Campaign
Presenter: Keith Hopkins, Hopkins Fundraising Consulting
REGISTER

June 3, 2022
Donor Retention Strategies
Presenter: Janice Fonger, J. Milito & Associates
REGISTERDo you have a topic you’d like to see covered?

Contact Alexa Sorensen or Kent Vanderwood

Scholarships, Scholarships Everywhere!

Membership
AFP West Michigan has membership scholarships available for the seasoned fundraising professional, the young fundraiser who is just getting started in their career and for the college student who wants to learn more about fundraising!  Learn More

Educational Courses
If you are a current or a new member and you want to learn more about the latest fundraising trends and techniques, we have an educational scholarship waiting for you! Learn More

 
Dear AFP West Michigan Member,
 
Each and every day, the important work you do demonstrates that you are a leader in effecting change in our community, making it a much better place for all of us. These three words—Empower, Strengthen, Transform— describe WHAT you do as a fundraiser and WHY you do it.
 
When you give to the BE the CAUSE Campaign, benefiting both our chapter and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, you are investing in the future of our profession and advancing philanthropy for the greater good.
 
The BE the CAUSE Campaign, provides support to several local, national, and international programs that promote the work of you and your colleagues and empower young professionals to join the field and continue the noble tradition of philanthropy. Diversity & Inclusion – Is a pillar of the AFP Strategic Plan, scholarships for people from diverse communities is a priority for the Foundation. Professional Development – Professional development scholarships provide fundraisers and nonprofit leaders with education, training, and leadership development opportunities.

Research – provides an increased knowledge of fundraising, philanthropy, and social innovation, and includes the Growth in Giving Initiative. 

As the Chapter Chairperson for the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – BE the CAUSE Campaign, I am reaching out today to ask you to invest in your colleagues, your local chapter, and the AFP Foundation by donating to the BE the CAUSE Campaign.
 
You can make a donation be visiting: https://afpglobal.org/donate
 
BE the CAUSE reflects your commitment to and passion for our rewarding profession. Together we are creating societal impact.
 
If you would like more information, please visit https://afpglobal.org/be-cause-campaign or contact me with questions.
 
Thank you for your support and dedication to philanthropy in our community!
 
Angela J. Freier
Director of Development, Conductive Learning Center of North America
Chapter Chairperson – BE the CAUSE Campaign, AFP West Michigan

Visit the website for the latest employment opportunities

Summer 2021 Newsletter

A Message from the AFP West Michigan President Steve Ozinga
Upcoming Events!
Keynote Speaker: Lisa GreerThe 2021 National Philanthropy Day (NPD) awardees will be honored at our NPD luncheon on Thursday, November 18, 2021. This event will be virtual and held at mini watch parties. Registration coming soon!

Nominations are open through July 16th
Nominate outstanding achievements by an individual, foundation or corporate philanthropists, fundraising volunteers, and professional fundraisers
Nomination FormNPD-2021-Nomination Information
AFPWM Friday Morning Virtual Breakfast Series
First Fridays of the Month from 7:50am-9:00am
The events are free, but pre-registration is required by Wednesday before the Friday event. You will receive the link to the meeting the day before, on Thursday, from Louise “Punky” Edison. 

Upcoming Breakfasts:
July 9, 2021
Creating Your Post-COVID Personal Development Plan
Presenter: Lon Swartzentruber, Design International

Register

New events added to the website monthly
2020-2021 Mentor and Mentees Celebration

The beautiful backyard of Libby Wahlstrom was the site of this year’s AFP-WM Mentorship Program Outdoor Celebration on May 25. With tacos from El Granjero and chilled drinks, participants discussed their year-long experience during the 2020-21 mentorship program.

The Mentorship Committee is actively recruiting Mentors and Mentees and applications are due August 23, 2021. To learn more about the program and to apply, visit the Mentorship Program page.

From the 20/21 cohort:
“Salina helped me look forward and think about how I can build up my position to have a greater impact.” -Sydney W.

“She [my mentor] helped me identify my long-term career goals as a fundraising professional.” Claire T.

“Being a mentor helps you keep your sword sharp. If you are teaching something, it forces you to live it better each day.” Jim S.

 Thank you to all the mentees and mentors! 
AFP Members, when you give to the BE the CAUSE Campaign, benefiting both our chapter and the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, you are investing in the future of our profession and advancing philanthropy for the greater good.
June 28-30, 2021 : The “Good Takeover” Challenge Match
 
For the first 1,000 donors who donate a one-time gift of $20 or more during the three days of ICON your gift will be matched $10 by Blackbaud!
 
Give by Cell Drawing!
 
One Lucky Winner Each Day Will Receive SIX Months Service from Give by Cell! To enter drawing, make a $50 or more gift by texting AFP to 56512. We will announce a winner every day during ICON.

The BE the CAUSE Campaign, provides support to several local, national, and international programs that promote the work of you and your colleagues and empower young professionals to join the field and continue the noble tradition of philanthropy.Diversity & Inclusion – Is a pillar of the AFP Strategic Plan, scholarships for people from diverse communities is a priority for the Foundation.Professional Development – Professional development scholarships provide fundraisers and nonprofit leaders with education, training, and leadership development opportunities.Research – provides an increased knowledge of fundraising, philanthropy, and social innovation, and includes the Growth in Giving Initiative You can make a donation be visiting: https://afpglobal.org/donate
 
BE the CAUSE reflects your commitment to and passion for our rewarding profession. Together we are creating societal impact.
 
If you would like more information, please visit https://afpglobal.org/be-cause-campaign