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The Great Giveaway

“Don’t count on any inheritance, because we are going to travel and spend every last dime!”

Jokingly, that came from my in-laws as they were booking a trip to Sacramento and Palm Springs for part of the winter. At every turn, we encourage them to do just that - spend every last dime. They’ve worked hard and they deserve it. But that statement really brought to light a recent “Boston Globe” article written by Robert Weisman as part of his every so often series on the Baby Boomer generation.

Over the course of the next 25 years, Americans are predicted to give away more than $84 trillion dollars. Yes, that is a trillion with a “t.” The majority of this wealth (83%) will likely be passed on to family members and heirs, while only 9% will go to charities. (Cerulli Associates)

Weisman writes that the Baby Boomer generation has played a big role in rethinking and reinventing technology, medicine, science, and even food and I agree with him. As a result of their success, Baby Boomer’s wealth and earning potential has risen tremendously. Pair this with a bull market that is already 10 years old and you create a generation poised to give away a ton of money.

Their financial planners and accounting teams are working to find ways to minimize tax burdens and the donor advised fund is becoming increasingly popular. A donor advised fund may allow families to take a more democratic approach to giving, involving their children and grandchildren in these decisions. Just recently, Cape Fletcher Associates helped a family think more strategically about how they are making charitable contributions and it was so rewarding for us and for the family.

But what does this mean for those of us in the fundraising and philanthropy world?

As we witnessed with the family we were helping and in our own experiences as development professionals, donors want to know who the organization is, why they exist, and how their money is being used. And as the next generation of family members starts to get involved, organizations should think about how they educate and cultivate a family’s broader interest in their mission and work. It’s time for non-profits to double down on messaging and relationship-building principles.

Are your solicitors (staff, board, volunteers) telling the same story? Make sure your case statement and elevator pitches are up-to-date, clear, concise, and consistent. After the gift is made, we have to go beyond the regular acknowledgement letter. Impact reports are critical to building and retaining donor confidence, showing them how their contribution has been put to work at the organization. Sometimes a 45-60 second iPhone video showing the impact with a personalized “thank you” goes a long way.

As we navigate the new year together, consider how you are being a thoughtful steward of your donor’s gifts and then make sure you are telling and showing those donors how important their support really is. Your relationship building with a donor and their family will set you apart from the rest of the market and will go a long way in securing not only today’s gift, but also continued long-term support.

Cape Fletcher Associates

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