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 Sapna Varghese

Director of Advancement Research 



Sandra Nicholes

Prospect Researcher 301.445.1952


Bethany Jones

Office Clerk


Letter from the Director

Dear Colleagues,
The end of 2018 is approaching and November is one of the most popular months for making year-end asks. To add to the excitement, a global day of giving falls in November - #GivingTuesday! Falling on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday has increasingly become a major alumni engagement and fundraising event at higher education institutions. In this newsletter, I would like to share some tips that will ensure you have a successful #GivingTuesday, as well as bring your attention to the 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy. Due to the upcoming mid-term elections and the impact of new tax laws, this year-end may provide some new insights for fundraisers.  
November 27 has been designated as #GivingTuesday this year. An article from npEngage suggests some great strategies higher education institutions can employ. The initial step in planning a #GivingTuesday is setting goals, determining communication strategies, and sharing the campaign with the right team members. When using various social media and online communication methods, it is vital to make the most of trending topics at your institution. Pick causes that impact and connect with donors directly. Campaign resources that already exist, such as social media ambassador tool kits, real-time reporting on tracked gifts, and targeted emails to constituents or your donor base should be used to ensure a successful #GivingTuesday event and to encourage donors to participate. Finally, separate your campaign strategy for #GivingTuesday from all your other campaign messages while ensuring that your strategy still aligns with the bigger branding campaigns at your institution.
The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy is the result of a collaborative research study by the U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. This research provides in-depth insights on the giving and volunteering practices of wealthy individuals in the United States, and includes a population study of 1,646 high net-worth households. Fundraising professionals may learn trends shaping a changing philanthropic landscape from this report. There are eight major themes identified in the study about wealthy donors' giving in 2017:
  1. Charitable giving remains important to high net worth (HNW) households.
  2.  Women are at the forefront of philanthropic engagement and impact.
  3.  Giving is being shaped by a diverse universe of donors.
  4.  Impact matters.
  5.  Those with a higher degree of knowledge about charitable giving are more likely to have a giving strategy.
  6.  Donors have high expectations of the organizations they support.
  7.  A majority of wealthy donors plan to maintain giving levels, despite recent tax law changes.
  8.  Confidence in nonprofit organizations' ability to address social and global issues remains strong.
Good luck on your year-end strategies to support your fundraising goals.  As always, please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!  
Best Regards,
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team

Did you know that Baby
Boomers control at least 70 percent of all disposable income and that they are planning on transferring an estimated $30 trillion through their wills and estate plans in the next few decades? This is referred to as the Great Wealth Transfer and puts fundraisers in a unique position. Now more than ever, nonprofits must develop bequest or planned giving initiatives to position themselves to receive these assets from loyal and new donors. However, the Great Wealth Transfer presents unique challenges for fundraisers.  This article from NonProfitPro  explores those issues and suggests some important tools that may be useful for fundraisers.

Opportunity Insights, a policy and research institute based at Harvard University, recently received two $15 million grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The institute also received $3 million in support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and from the Overdeck Family Foundation. With funding from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the institute created the Opportunity Atlas, which uses census data to map economic mobility by neighborhood. The variety of funders behind the institute is interesting--according to Inside Philanthropy, "All are grantmaking outfits bankrolled by living donors who've been huge winners in an economic system that's under growing fire for generating historic levels of inequality." Historically, these donors have shied away from supporting policy work that encourages more broadly shared prosperity. Their support is a sign that times are changing. Wealthy philanthropists are aware that the American Dream is in trouble and are responding in big ways. Read more here.

What should a researcher do when learning about a prospect's layoff, divorce, criminal charge, or other life event that may negatively impact philanthropic capacity? This blog post by Bentz   Whaley Flessner (BWF) suggests three helpful tips when faced with these situations. First, BWF suggests that institutions should put a system in place that allows fundraisers or researchers to attach capacity rating flags when hearing negative news about prospects. Fundraisers or researchers should then review these flags with leadership. Institutions should also have clear guidelines on how they store this information based on their organization's policies around storing protected health information or personally identifiable information. Lastly, your institution will want to have a process in place that alerts key people such as supervisors, gift officers, and vice presidents about the information and where to find it. 

According to The Washington Post "Wealthy donors who have given at least $1 million contributed 74 percent of the $1.1 billion that has flowed this election cycle into super PACs." Who are these donors that are contributing so greatly to the 2018 elections? On the top of the list are Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who gave $112 million to two super PACs that aim to help Republicans retain their hold on Congress. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, has pledged up to $100 million to help Democrats. In third is Tom Steyer, a San Francisco-based hedge fund founder who supports the Democratic Party. Read the full list here.

A blog post by Philanthropy News Digest breaks down some current trends in philanthropy. Some facts to note: in 2017, $410 billion went to charitable causes. The largest source of this figure was from individuals to congregations, followed by grants from private foundations, followed by bequests to universities, hospitals, and other tax-exempt organizations. In 2016, of the $69 billion awarded by foundations in the USA, 30 percent went to health-related causes or organizations and 25 percent went to education. Economically disadvantaged people and children and youth benefit most from foundation giving in this country. In 2016, 39 percent and 20 percent of grant dollars went to these groups, respectively.