Thirty-six years ago, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 15th as National Philanthropy Day. The purpose of the day is to recognize the impact of philanthropy and those who are active in the philanthropic community. Simply put, philanthropy is an act of goodwill, and thus, a philanthropist is anyone who donates their time, talent and/or treasure to charitable organizations and causes.
Every year, AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Chapters throughout the country gather to celebrate and honor the foundations, philanthropists, small businesses, corporations, volunteers and youth that have made a positive impact in their communities. National Philanthropy Day, like our trademarked methodology, Hyper-Philanthropy™️ celebrates the positive impact we can achieve when we work together toward the common good.
We work with our clients to mobilize the very best of their resources to receive the greatest philanthropic response. We focus on strategy, culture, behavioral economics, and communication in each of our service delivery models. To learn more about Hyper-Philanthropy™️ click here.
For the first time since 2019, THG sponsored in-person events celebrating National Philanthropy Day in Dayton and in Columbus. Out team shared time with our clients and friends and we were inspired by the philanthropic work being done in those communities. We are proud to play a small role where we are privileged enough to do so and we wish our most heartfelt congratulations to the award winners in every community we are honored to serve. Thank you for the positive impact you have on your community and the world.
Giving Thanks to Our Clients
Over the past 35 years, THG has worked with small and large nonprofit organizations throughout the country. From libraries and mental-health facilities to social services organizations and institutions of higher education, it has been our privilege to work with each one of these organizations on everything from strategic planning to feasibility studies and campaign management. This month, rather than focusing the spotlight on one client and, in the spirit of “Giving Thanks”, we want to say “thank you” to all of our clients, for everything they do in their community. We celebrate the good work being done.
From our observations and experiences working with clients, we have developed our trade-marked methodology of Hyper-Philanthropy™. Hyper-Philanthropy™ is about taking advantage of resources within your organization and your community at-large to foster an environment where staff, board members, and community leaders understand the influence each has on the other and the impact of serving the public good through philanthropy.
This experience is supported by four pillars: Strategic Vision; Culture; Behavioral Economics; and Communication. These pillars form the foundation to build and/or enhance the greatest philanthropic platform possible for your organization.
So, to our past, current and future clients “thank you” and continue to strive to position your organization as a Hyper-Philanthropic™ one. Contact us today to learn how you can become Hyper about Philanthropy.
Hyper-Philanthropy™ is About Trust
Melissa Berman, the outgoing president and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, recently stated that trust-based philanthropy represents the future of our field. We couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s the rise of crowdfunding through social-media platforms or the growing popularity of impact investing and renewed emphasis on building long-term sustainability, nonprofits are going to have to rise to address the challenges and opportunities of the post-COVID philanthropic environment by leaning into trust-building exercises and establishing themselves as long-term partners equipped to address systemic problems. Through meaningful strategic planning, careful planning in the feasibility study process, and thoughtful campaign management, THG is able to naturally build trust between our clients and those they serve.
Strategic Vision: While you don’t have to do trust-fall exercises, your Board should spend meaningful time together to both develop a personal rapport and establish why each of them chose to serve on the Board. In doing this work, they will naturally develop an overarching vision of why the organization exists and how it can best carry out your important work. From that point, it becomes simple to develop the type of strategy aimed at enhancing trust within your donors, stakeholders, and the general community.
Culture: It’s vital that your organization deliberately and thoughtfully create a culture which reflects its mission. In doing so, you build cultural competency – essential for building trust.
Behavioral Economics: An organizational commitment to understanding the psychological, social, and emotional factors that influence financial decisions and philanthropic behavior across different demographics and cultures will build trust with not just your donors but with all stakeholders, including, critically, your clients.
We are in the midst of a “generosity crisis,” and we’ve found that Hyper-Philanthropy™️ is one way you can make your organization stand out. Contact us today to learn how you can become Hyper about Philanthropy.
Hyper-Philanthropy™ Mitigates the Generosity Crisis
Less than half of American households donated to charity in 2018, according to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy – that is down from two-thirds of households in 2000. This and other data points, such as the fact that grassroots donors (those who give under $100/year) are also declining at an alarming rate – point to what’s being called a “generosity crisis.”
Two ways THG is working with clients to mitigate the “generosity crisis” are through technology and education.
Technology represents a significant aid to facilitating not just more gifts, but larger ones as well. In a recent post, we cited Artificial Intelligence as a tool that can significantly advance the Moves Management process and help with donor retention. It is more important than ever to make sure your donors are receiving customized messages based on their medium of choice (Facebook, email, etc.) and where their interest lies (success stories, event invitations, personal appeal, etc.).
Regular educational sessions and training for your Board, staff, and best volunteers will always remain important. We encourage nonprofits to hold at least quarterly meetings where your staff and Board cannot just reflect on why they are personally invested in your organization, but also educate the Board on the general state of philanthropy as it pertains to your industry and location, and engage them in Peer Review sessions so they can see how the money is raised and why this is important. There will always be a strong link between an engaged Board and philanthropy.
Knowing how to make good use of technology and requiring Board training is pivotal today when thinking of conducting a feasibility study, a capital campaign, or even just building capacity for a more robust annual fund. These two points go a long way to mitigating the generosity crisis by positioning your organization as a Hyper-Philanthropic™ one. Contact us today to learn how you can become Hyper about Philanthropy!
Staffing for Hyper-Philanthropy
THG has advised multiple organizations on their staffing structure, specifically drafting job descriptions, recruiting candidates, and providing training. We deliver this to establish the organization as a Hyper-Philanthropic partner within its community. Every organization is different with regard to its staffing needs relative to its established resources and philanthropic goals. Understanding that culture is one of the pillars of our model of Hyper-Philanthropy, we integrate staff as an important component of that structure.
Client Spotlight: Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County
Recently, we had an opportunity to implement a cohort model of staffing which was a unique and effective way to enhance the culture of the organization and to serve the expectations of an already hyper-philanthropic community, Northwest Arkansas.
We assisted Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County in its search for two Development Team members simultaneously. While doing so, we identified additional needs in relationship to current resources and future goals, and brought on a third team member. By starting them together, they were able to reinforce each other’s strengths and work cohesively. They developed strategy together. They have worked together for a short period of time, but continue to achieve robust results.
As we continue to assist our clients in a variety of scopes of service, we are continuing to craft this staff model as an optional result of our Organizational Capacity Assessment. Our recommendations often include resource development and we are finding that revealing a potential staff model that reinforce an organization’s vision and culture; and, aligning the day-to-day operations within the development function to that vision and culture; we are able to achieve the effectiveness and efficiency to evoke the hyper-philanthropic response.Contact us today to learn how you can become Hyper about Philanthropy.
Blended Meetings: A Way to become Hyper about Philanthropy
Though it’s been over thirty months since the stay-at-home orders were first issued in March 2020, the experience of virtual meetings has persisted. In fact, THG finds more clients than ever are requesting a blended model of service. Here are some quick insights about why the blended model works, and how you can make the most out of it:
· Touch More Clients: Under the old way of doing things, a consultant might drive or fly to meet one client for a few hours, then drive or fly back, and that was the day. Under the new model of virtual meetings, we can meet anywhere from three to eight clients a day. By being able to offer ourselves to clients face-to-face, virtually, or by phone, we are able to meet our clients where they are. This relates to two key pillars of Hyper-Philanthropy: culture and communication. Some clients enjoy small talk, and love being able to identify what books, photos, or other personal affects we’ve set up in our virtual background. By taking a call from your own home, you’re able to offer a level of intimacy that was previously not considered appropriate, but that ultimately helps forge a stronger connection with some donors and clients.
· More Impactful Client Experiences: Let’s face it – traveling is a hassle. Flights get delayed, traffic and car accidents are a reality of life, and everyone is entitled to the occasional off-day. However, by bringing together a blended model of service, we can schedule more meetings for regular client interaction and, crucially, can ensure we’re showing up 100% every single time.
· Faster Client Experiences: Using this blended model, we can advance a feasibility study within two weeks. You still can’t be in two places at once (at least not until they perfect cloning), but you can take meetings back-to-back across the country thanks to virtual platforms. To bring up another pillar of Hyper-Philanthropy, implementing a client’s Strategic Vision quickly and efficiently is a guaranteed way to keep them moving toward success, and this blended model allows for that.
Ultimately, we believe the blended model of service is here to stay and that it allows firms to advance toward a state of Hyper-Philanthropy. Contact us today to learn how you can become Hyper about Philanthropy.
Recognizing Ethics Awareness Month
As a member firm of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), The Hodge Group stands with AFP members throughout the world to recognize October as Ethics Awareness Month. Celebrated annually, Ethics Awareness month highlights the importance of ethics in fundraising and the impact fundraising has on the world. Simply defined, ethics guide us to tell the truth, keep our promises or help someone in need.
AFP members adhere to the AFP Code of Ethical Standards which outlines a set of values that drive those in philanthropy to commit to highest ethical standards. Among many values, an ethical fundraiser aspires to be trustworthy, honest, accountable and transparent. At The Hodge Group, these ethical standards intertwine with our firm values of Servant Leadership, Inclusion and Excellence in Service.
We agree to be of service to our clients and to lead humbly by offering our own skills as an extension and enhancement of their current structure. We celebrate that every organization has a unique culture with attributes and personas that should be reflected in all aspects of their organizational strategy. And finally, from our very first point of engagement with an organization, we continually strive toward and deliver excellence in our service. Not only are we committed to these values, but we are committed to upholding the highest of ethical standards within those values.
This October, we re-affirm our commitment to our respective clients, their scopes of work, and communities-at-large that we will live and serve under the AFP Code of Ethical Standards.
Client Spotlight: Lutheran Community Services
Lutheran Community Services is a social-services focused nonprofit in Bellefontaine, Ohio that we have been privileged to work with for the past year. Their capital campaign to build a new facility will enable them to serve approximately 50% more people. Having guided them through a feasibility study and the securement of multiple major gifts, including state support, we are honored to attend their groundbreaking this week.
For over 50 years, Lutheran Community Services has served residents of Logan County, OH, living into its mission of “proclaiming God’s love to all people through word, service and action”. They offer a food pantry, thrift store, and hot meals served five days a week. They’ve helped over 100,000 people look their best for job interviews and have served over one million meals!
The work LCS does is so impactful, and we’ve been honored to be involved with their community. We are excited to attend their event on Thursday, and look forward to bringing this already-successful campaign to an even more successful close. You can learn more about them here.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is used in everything these days. Alexa, Google Maps, Chatbots, and even banking assistants to help you invest your resources wisely. So, it only makes sense that AI should be a tool offered to the passionate organization as well. THG uses a prospecting tool that allows our clients access to information that not only exposes opportunities within their current donor pool, but also introduces opportunities to expand that donor pool. We do this with an AI-fueled tool that captures data points from multiple sources, building a profile of a donor that considers their presence in print and social media, any relationships they may have to foundations and corporations, their financial holdings with respect to real estate and the SEC among other inputs, and much more. Here are three ways we use AI to help your organization achieve a state of Hyper-Philanthropy™.
Prospect Identification: Culture and Communication are two of the four pillars of Hyper-Philanthropy™. Each of these pillars is enhanced by the approach we take to prospect identification. After providing us with demographic information on your existing donors and donor prospects, we can determine their philanthropic priorities (culture) and uncover nuances to better speak with them (communication).
Moves Management: Once the above has been accomplished, the donor is identified, qualified, and we are now cultivating them. This cultivation occurs during peer review sessions. During these sessions, THG uses what’s called a “Depth Chart” to place each donor prospect up against a Chart of Standards to ultimately determine project viability at a determined funding level. Looking at this Depth Chart, the potential donor’s entire research file is hyper-linked in an excel spreadsheet so that any insights gleaned through the prospect identification process can be discussed in real time. This makes the peer review sessions significantly more productive.
Operational Efficiency: Donor identification and stewardship is vital to any organization, but these processes take time. THG can help you develop customizable tools to enhance your methods of data cleaning (what’s called a ‘hygiene’ process), donor communication (i.e., newsletters), and, of course, donor research.
Ultimately, by providing predictive analytics on donor prospects, an organization that uses AI is able to better understand donors, constituents, volunteers, and fundraisers. It is a significant investment, though, and that’s where THG comes in. All of our clients are allowed access to these resources, allowing you to conduct a more actionable and efficient feasibility study, capital campaign, annual campaign, and more. Contact us today to learn how you can become Hyper about Philanthropy.
Providing Tools for Architects to become Hyper-Philanthropic Partners
In over thirty years of practice, THG has identified tools that are important to have when considering the relationship your philanthropic project has to the architectural firm that oversees its design and development. When retaining a firm, it's critical to use these three tools to ensure alignment between the community, its expectations of the outcome of the project, and the architectural firm:
Culture: Does the architect truly understand and value the community they’re working in. Culture is a pillar of Hyper-Philanthropy, and it is vital that time be taken to ensure the architect for your project appreciates the community’s culture. Some communities have a very high priority on preservation. Others have an environmental focus, while still others are value-oriented. At the end of the day, the architect has to speak and respect the community’s language while contributing their own vision.
Communication: How an architectural firm communicates with the community is crucial. Just as we stress that communication is the last pillar of building a Hyper-Philanthropic response, it is vital that the architects do not disseminate information before a strategic vision has been finalized and that vision has been tested within the community to ensure a cultural fit. The form, pace, and quality of the information an architect releases, particularly to donors, is important. Their information must be consistent with the information being disseminated through the philanthropic process. This might sound easy, but our experience is that information can often be a powerful tool to accelerate philanthropy, but it can also have the opposite effect.
Availability: Having worked with numerous world-renowned architectural firms and outstanding local firms, we have found the availability and approachability of an architect to the donor community is very important. Whether it’s a world-class performing arts hall or a simple community center, people want to interact directly with the architect so that they can feel their vision is being respected.
In conclusion, there are three questions an organization should consider when speaking with architectural firms: Does the firm reflect the values of your community? Will their information always promote the campaign and its vision? Are the architects available to support the philanthropic efforts of the organization?
Contact us today to see how we can help you get hyper about philanthropy.
Client Spotlight: Stockhands Horses for Healing
It has been our privilege to serve Stockhands Horses for Healing, based in Delaware, Ohio, for over a year now. They are focused on providing equine-assisted therapeutic services to some of our most vulnerable populations, including veterans with PTSD and children with developmental issues.
The concept of equine-assisted therapy fits perfectly with the definition of philanthropy, which comes from the Greek phrase for a “love of humanity.” Human-animal connections are as old as time itself, and the relationship between these horses and the people they serve is humbling to observe. Horses don’t judge children struggling to read, as Stockhands offers a program where children can learn to read alongside a graceful steed. And horses offer mirrors to our emotions, allowing a veteran dealing with PTSD to learn to cope with mental issues in a non-judgmental space that allows them to recognize and modify their behavior.
This mirroring behavior is what makes horses such excellent teachers. We are able to see our fears and strengths in another creature that’s able to recognize something deep within us, and in doing so we can grow our confidence and learn to see ourselves in the horse and examine our behaviors and where they should change as we seek to grow.
Stockhands Horses for Healing is an amazing organization, and we are so proud to count them as a client, assisting them with everything from their annual campaign to a feasibility study. You can learn more about them here.
Philanthropy and Mutualism: Are They the Same?
There are several articles exploring the concept of Mutualism in the September 2022 issue of Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine..
Merriam-Webster defines mutualism as the doctrine or practice of mutual dependence as the condition of individual and social welfare.
Philanthropy is also a practice upon which individual and social welfare are dependent.
Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union and author of Mutualism: Building the Next Economy from the Ground Up (Random House, 2021), says, “I think mutualism is an economic and political system that builds solidarity among people within their community. It starts with a community – that’s the first element. The second is there must be some kind of exchange….and the third is that you have a long-term time horizon, because you’re passing wisdom from generation to generation.”
These elements described align directly with THG’s trade-marked methodology of Hyper-Philanthropy™. Sarah’s described focus on building solidarity and long-term sustainability is critical when considering whether or not to embark upon a feasibility study, a capital campaign, or even just enhancing your annual campaign.
Philanthropy is a system that builds solidarity among people in their community. That solidarity forms a culture which is a pillar of THG’s Hyper-Philanthropic model. Another pillar – Behavioral Economics, drives the exchange element of Sara’s definition of mutualism. The long-term horizon described above aligns with an organization’s strategic vision, which is the third pillar. Finally, when this vision is communicated effectively, the response can impact multiple generations. Communication is the fourth pillar of our model.
The more I read, the more I realized almost without exception that the word “mutualism” in every article could have been replaced with the word “philanthropy”.
Perhaps you’ll agree:
“Once you start thinking in a more reciprocal way, you start to understand that mutualism is not about charity, it’s about human beings’ strengths – our powers, our magic – and that mutualism calls on these to be in reciprocal relationship. Mutualism is about people being very much connected to one another.” ~ Sara Horowitz
Bringing Hyper-Philanthropy™️ to Rural America
THG has practiced regularly in rural America. Although when we think about philanthropy, we may not imagine this part of the country, having grown up in a town in western Nebraska, I’ve observed the unique role philanthropy plays to support this lifestyle. The United States Department of Agriculture defines a rural community as being open countryside with only a few thousand residents. As with other parts of the country, rural America has been hit hard by inflation and the price of fuel, however the migration trend to these parts of our country indicate cost-of-living being the highest consideration toward relocation. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, who has its finger on the pulse of workforce development around the country, recently cited this trend in their January 2022 article, stating, “Americans are moving to rural areas in ever-increasing numbers, reflecting their increased desire to seek out more space, embrace entrepreneurial opportunities, and take advantage of a lower cost of living”.
As we continue to observe more individuals moving to and contributing to these communities, here are some tips we’ve found help when applying our Hyper-Philanthropy methodology:
Communication: In rural philanthropy, to be honest, there is still less dependency, even post-COVID, on virtual platforms like Zoom. To be successful, these platforms have to be supported by in-person, face-to-face contact in managing your campaign. That can be inconvenient sometimes, but it is necessary because of a tradition of gathering for community. Likewise, information is still disseminated in rural communities through word of mouth as much as the Internet, so you have to be very precise when it comes to volunteer messaging.
Behavioral Economics: Growing up in a rural community and working in communities where the hospital serves a radius of over 70 miles, it is rare for anyone in the community to demonstrate wealth or speak of wealth. It simply doesn’t seem to go with the rural value set. There is a common refrain that “nobody’s wealthy.” That said, you would be making a poor assumption if you assumed no one in small towns had money. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in America, contributing 5% of our GDP, and often – although they don’t speak of it – people in the industry are very generous. The other thing to consider is ways of giving. We have multiple clients who’ve included gifts of grain, ranch land, or livestock. Although complex in managing these types of gifts, they can be very significant. You just have to be creative and appreciate the behavioral economics that govern rural philanthropy. THG’s feasibility interview process naturally allows us to uncover these behavioral nuances.
Culture: There are numerous foundations and governmental entities that specialize in investing in rural communities. There is a culture among these outside funders that respects the rural way of life and wants to seek ways to enhance it; you just have to find them. That’s where THG can help.
Ultimately, one must realize that philanthropy is primarily driven by individuals, as evidenced in the 2021 Giving USA report referenced below, and individuals come from all walks of life.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get hyper about philanthropy.
Re-imagining the Development Team
Recently, The Hodge Group had the opportunity to recruit an entire development team for an organization and observed how the team organized itself into a cohort. The goal of any cohort is to build an environment emphasizing collaboration to achieve a specific and common goal.
Recruiting an entire team at one time to form a cohort is not a common opportunity, but building a cohort model for team development is possible with any team size and structure.
The Hodge Group assists organizations with team development several times a year and we have found when onboarding a new team member, establishing a cohort model accomplishes the following:
Leveling the hierarchy.
Inviting full team input into every point of development and execution.
Fostering an environment for mutual accountability.
We don’t prescribe a particular team structure, but ask yourself if you think resetting the resources you have into a cohort model is worth considering. We can help you assess your current goals, the resources you have to achieve those goals, and recommend building toward those goals by hiring, repurposing, recasting, or in any combination that makes the most sense. The goal will be to create a development team cohort that unites individuals with different skill sets and experiences and provides the opportunity for them to learn from one another, grow together and offer one another constructive feedback. This will not only improve their performance on an individual level but can serve as a strong foundation on which to build your organization’s success.
Blocking and Tackling in Hyper-Philanthropic™️ Communities
Hyper-Philanthropy is all about the acceleration of giving through joy. For over 30 years, The Hodge Group has had the privilege of serving communities across America which embody that spirit. These communities are primed to develop sustainable income through philanthropy thanks to a developed appreciation for the role of nonprofits toward enhancing the common good. You can read more about the components of Hyper-Philanthropy here.
While serving these Hyper-Philanthropic communities, we have also recognized unique challenges that should be acknowledged and appreciated. We work with organizations to develop strategies for “tackling” the “blockers” in a Hyper-Philanthropic environment. Some of the blockers we’ve observed include:
Multiple Community Campaigns: Especially in a Hyper-Philanthropic environment, it can be expected that your nonprofit is not the only one gearing up toward a major fundraising campaign. It is in these environments that we find a Feasibility Study to be particularly helpful. During our study process we include research methodology that allows us to organically detect other projects in the community and conduct risk-mitigation strategies in real time.
Political Foresight: When conducting our feasibility interviews, we take an expanded view of what a “stakeholder” is by making sure we include those who may not personally give to the campaign, but whose positive perception of the project is crucial. These political considerations must be taken seriously in Hyper-Philanthropic communities where the major donors and political leadership have mutual expectations of one another toward the outcome of the common good.
Strong Leadership: There is no replacement for influential board and campaign leadership. One person who is well-respected in the community and is passionate about your organization and/or project can ensure the most effective path forward toward success. These are leaders who exist by and for the Hyper-Philanthropic community.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get hyper about philanthropy.
Library Foundations have the power to make your community Hyper-Philanthropic™
Libraries are often public-private partnerships, combining tax dollars with private philanthropy to generate a Hyper-Philanthropic™ response that benefits the entire community. Hyper-Philanthropy is all about the acceleration of giving through joy, and there are four pillars to creating that type of environment in your own community.
In over thirty years of practice and working with dozens of libraries, we have found that those communities that have cultivated powerful libraries through the establishment of a Foundation tend to be Hyper-Philanthropic™ ones that can then benefit the entire community’s non-profit ecosystem.
Libraries serve as a critical resource for cities, towns, and neighborhoods across the country, often called the “living room” of a community. They are one of the only facilities that are 100%free to a public that can rely on the library to provide educational resources, meeting space, internet access, and more. Beyond assisting patrons with finding a good book, librarians provide computer and internet training, assist with job applications and resume writing, and help patrons fill out government forms, including tax and health insurance paperwork. Additionally, the Institute of Museum and Library Services found that almost one-fifth of libraries bring in healthcare providers to offer free limited screening services, and approximately one-fourth of libraries provide free fitness classes to patrons. But this kind of support is only possible when a library is able to build sustainable income through Hyper-Philanthropy™.
While many libraries have “Friends” organizations that conduct book sales and other meaningful community initiatives, fewer can depend on the philanthropic infrastructure that a foundation brings with it. Notably, one of the most important roles of a Library Foundation is to set up a way to accept gifts in multiple formats (bequests, stocks, property, etc.). This allows the library to establish an endowment for ongoing sustainability, creates financial flexibility to pursue program enhancements and, importantly, capital improvements. Other benefits of establishing a Library Foundation include: increased visibility for the library through foundation-financed programs and events; eligibility for grants that are only open to qualified nonprofits; and an expanded base of potential donors.
The Hodge Group has worked with over thirty libraries, helping multiple organizations establish foundations. We’ve learned how impactful developing one can be to creating a Hyper-Philanthropic™ environment to transform an entire community, and we’d love to talk to you about how to bring Hyper-Philanthropy™ to your neighborhood next.
Contact us today to see how we can help you get hyper about philanthropy.
We Are a Values-Driven Organization
Thank you for all you are doing to accelerate philanthropy!
We at The Hodge Group are committed to serving our clients from our platform of Hyper-Philanthropy™. This platform blends an organization’s strategy, culture, behaviors, and communications to invite the most streamlined, enthusiastic, philanthropic response possible.
It has been our pleasure to watch our clients grow from this platform over the last 30 years.
Today, we are just as excited to share with you the news of our own growth!
We are happy to introduce our newest team member, Jenn MacCartney as our Administrative and Marketing Coordinator. Jenn joins us from Youngstown, Ohio and brings with her almost two decades of experience in the non-profit sector. Jenn will be a primary point of contact as we continue to enhance our excellent client service model.
As always, it is our pleasure to serve. We lead with our values, which start with Servant Leadership. At THG this means, “We agree to be of service to our clients and to lead humbly by offering our own skills as an extension and enhancement of their current structure."
The addition of Jenn’s skills will assist us to live fully into this value. Please extend to her a warm welcome!
Winning the Gold in a Community Campaign
Do you have a favorite Olympic event? Swimming and gymnastics are just two of the many sports The Hodge Group has enjoyed watching ahead of Sunday’s Closing Ceremonies.
Many of these athletes trained from the age of four or five, devoting dozens of hours a week to make sure they were well prepared to win a gold medal. It’s inspiring and humbling, and it made us think about how much time a non-profit organization (NPO) must devote to “training” before embarking upon a community campaign if it is to be successful.
The five rings of the Olympics logo represent an unbreakable bond between the participating regions of the world (Oceania/Africa/Europe/Asia/Americas). Together, this contest is the ultimate feat of physical endurance because those rings are linked together. In order to create the best possible philanthropic response, The Hodge Group encourages NPOs to review the below five “rings” as a way to track their “training” and maximize their chances of success before embarking on any campaign:
Strategic Plan: As a first step before conducting a campaign, it is important to understand what your community expects of you, whether or not you’re meeting those expectations, and how additional value can be gained so that your organization and the community can grow in tandem. The Hodge Group offers a proprietary assessment model to learn those things for the sake of building the strongest philanthropic response possible to your strategic plan.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management): A good CRM tracks three kinds of metrics for your organization: engagement (has this individual donated in the past), relationship (how do you know this individual or company?), and administrative (contact information). If you do not have a database to track potential and existing donors, the administrative component of facilitating a community campaign will overwhelm you.
Board Participation: We have had clients lose out on six-figure grants before because they did not have 100% Board participation toward their community campaign. Major donors will also want to know why they should fund a project that the Board is not fully invested in. Before going out into the community to ask for money, it is vital that the Board has “bought in.”
Case for Support: Your campaign needs to develop a physical document that evokes an emotional response from all that good work. That is where a strong case for support comes in handy. This document is used to socialize the project within the community, and is an essential component of the next and final “ring.”
Feasibility Study: A feasibility study is a tool organizations use to assess the philanthropic capacity within their community for a specified purpose. Interviews are conducted with stakeholders to test a community’s appetite for the proposed purpose, and the study provides data that answers the questions, “Is this campaign feasible?” and “How do I best go about having a campaign?” That data can then be used to enhance your organization’s ability to obtain funding.
These five “rings” are all addressed in a white paper available on our website, “The Definitive Self-Assessment List to Review Before Starting a Campaign.” Our website is filled with other helpful white papers as you seek to grow your NPO. Check it out, and if you’d like The Hodge Group to stand with you as your fundraising partner please contact us at email@example.com.
Lessons from Queen’s Gambit
Like much of America, The Hodge Group’s team binged Queen’s Gambit when it came out on Netflix in October 2020. In fact, many of our teammates finished it in one weekend. We also identified one application to philanthropy: the under-appreciated value of having a solid middlegame strategy.
The middlegame of chess begins after players develop most of their major pieces and move their king to safety. At that time, a player needs to recalibrate their strategy so checkmate is inevitable. The more control they have of the board, particularly its center, the better positioned they are for success because they have more room to move. Philanthropically, we align this with a major giving campaign. The “opening” is securing the first 40 - 60% of funding. The king (lead gift) is secured, and the knights and castles (leadership donors) are engaged. Now, it’s time to keep up (or even step up) the momentum and get to a place where checkmate (100% gift goal) is guaranteed.
When THG counsels our clients through major gifts campaigns, we do so the same way as a chess game with a strong middlegame strategy. Often, just like in chess, the middlegame of a campaign is overlooked in favor of establishing a strong opening or holding back in the hopes of trying to guarantee an impressive closing. Recently, we counseled two of our clients through their respective middlegames while each are conducting eight-figure campaigns. Each client moved through their “opening” game effortlessly. So quickly, in fact, that if we hadn’t been watching the “full playing board” for them, the completion of a successful finish would have been threatened. Just like in chess, success with philanthropy can mean planning five steps ahead and understanding the potential response to each of those steps. So, while these campaigns each slowed a bit, by recalibrating their “playing boards” with strong middlegame strategies, they are both now reinvigorated and well on their way to inevitable success stories.
Whoever starts the middlegame with an advance in development and with the command of the center (of the board), has every reason to hope for ultimate success….Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky.
In anticipation of planning five steps ahead, and understanding the potential response to each of those steps, when we are implementing a campaign for our clients (setting up the playing board), we counsel closely toward the following so we can make sure we have a command of the “center (of the board)” at the start of the middle game:
What is the relationship of the private, philanthropic response to the overall capital stack? In other words, over the course of the campaign, what are the other sources of revenue that may influence philanthropy?
How are the lead donors being stewarded? If possible, based upon their interest, engaging them in the continued momentum of giving and including them in subsequent cultivation and even solicitation is impactful (we have observed this twice in the past six months with the impact including the lead donor giving another gift).
Are the feasibility study participants involved in the campaign? Include all of them if possible. Even if they indicated they would not be available as a volunteer and/or donor, often we find once the momentum of a campaign reaches them, there is a shift.
Are the benchmarks of the campaign directly linked to strategic benchmarks of the organization or project? Being able to demonstrate immediate and continuous impact throughout the entire campaign is a significant way to maintain momentum.
How can commemoration and recognition continue to hold high status? Often, the commemorative opportunities are identified only at the beginning of a campaign and it’s difficult to hold high esteem as the campaign unfolds. By thinking outside the box and identifying creative ways to reestablish new opportunities, new interests arise.
Through our continued experience with clients and major giving campaigns, we continue to hone these into a stronger “middlegame” strategy. If you would like assistance as you plan yours, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personifying Your Organization as the Hero/Heroine in a Story of Recovery
Vice President Kim Horton, as part of Donor Search's "Masterminds" series, recently presented about how a non-profit can position itself toward successful, response messaging in our current environment. The presentation is built upon data our firm collected in 2020, when we spoke to almost 1,000 individuals about philanthropy and how it's been impacted by COVID-19, and is supplemented by information gathered from our national partners.
Thirty-five years of experience in philanthropy has taught me that the last ten weeks of the year is the most consequential time for the non-profit sector, as donors respond to increased needs for funding in their communities. Given our current environment, we want to make sure that this generosity continues regardless of whatever else is happening in the world this December.
I hope this finds you safe and healthy as we move into the second half of 2020. As you likely know, Giving USA recently released its numbers which showed that in 2019, Americans donated almost $450 billion to charity. Furthermore, in comparison to 2018, individual giving increased by 2.8%. As good as this news is, most in our industry are deeply curious and even concerned about the outlook for 2020. I am optimistic about this year, and am reaching out to share with you some data The Hodge Group has been tracking, as well as some anecdotal information from our clients.
Americans donated almost $450 billion to charities in 2019. Giving from individuals was up 2.8% compared to 2018. Through the data and our own experiences as practitioners with philanthropists, we are seeing that the American spirit of philanthropy is continuing to soar and thrive.
As we continue to monitor information regarding the not-for-profit sector, the most recent data from a Fidelity Charitable Survey backs multiple data points coming from Indiana’s School of Philanthropy and real-time information we’ve gathered from our clients and webinars across the not-for-profit sector over the last several weeks. Below are six key takeaways from this survey, but we encourage you to go directly to the report here.
The Hodge Group is a national leader in facilitating public-private partnerships. Through our work with dozens of libraries, we’ve seen how private philanthropy can unlock government funding and vice versa. In our experience, the most exciting library projects are successful with a good mix of both public and private support. It was heartening, then, to see this week’s election results in Ohio.
As we all continue to work from home amidst this new normal, we at The Hodge Group feel it's important to celebrate the great successes we're seeing around the country, and there are many. Despite all the bad news on TV, people are proving they are more hyper about philanthropy than ever before. We trademarked that term, Hyper-Philanthropy, because we believe the American spirit of generosity endures and thrives during even the darkest times, and we want to share some of our observations from the last month with you now.
As we settle into a new normal, The Hodge Group recognizes that nonprofits are facing enormous challenges in the current environment. Our team is monitoring best practices in the field, listening to webinars and reading blog posts. We’re also advising clients about a number of new opportunities presented in the current environment, including virtual tours and opportunities for “viral” video creation. Donor communications is no longer about reading the room, you have to be able to read the Zoom.
The Hodge Group recognizes the need to rely on best practice and steady leadership during tumultuous times. That is why we wish to share with you some lessons learned from our experience practicing philanthropic fundraising during two prior significant economic events (9/11 and the Great Recession).
The Hodge Group recognizes the urgency of the philanthropic sector to address the continued issues of income inequality and racism facing America. Philanthropy has always tried to ameliorate these issues, but in recent years the community has redoubled its efforts to address barriers of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA).
A Capital Campaign is a dedicated effort by a nonprofit organization to raise money for a large capital expenditure (like buildings, property, or something physical that is going to last a long time). A capital campaign will have a specific dollar goal to be raised within a specific amount of time.
Hyper-Philanthropy begins with a good strategic plan
The Hodge Group leads organizations towards the strongest philanthropic response possible by tying that response directly to an organization’s strategic plan. Furthermore, we coordinate that plan with the strategic alignment of resources, messaging, and outreach, in order to customize our trademarked methodology of Hyper-Philanthropy™ for our clients.
Driving hyper-philanthropy through new technologies
Experts tell us that the face of philanthropy is changing rapidly. The Giving Institute’s data reveals that individual giving makes up less than 70% of our $400 billion industry for the first time ever, and online/mobile giving rates are up almost three times the rate of overall giving. Despite these changes, though, it’s crucial to remember that the fundamentals of this field remain constant.
Though the economy expanded at a rate of 2% in Q2 2019, there is emerging evidence that economic growth is slowing, causing many to brace for another recession. Considering that our non-profit industry makes up 2% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, we need to pay attention.