Advancement Services Report

Provided as a service of Bentz Whaley Flessner

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Middle-Class Millionaire: The rise of the new rich and how they are changing America

Authors Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff have authored a new book titled, The Middle-Class Millionaire: The rise of the new rich and how they are changing America. They write on the rise of middle-class millionaires and how they are becoming more influential and describe how this new group is importantly different from the mainstream middle class and from the traditional wealthy.

Read more about this book.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Upcoming Conference

Datatel Users' Group Conference
Trends in Advancement Services
March 10, 2008, Washington, DC

Bentz Whaley Flessner consultant Scott E. Fendley will present on "Trends in Advancement Services." Learn about the happenings in the world of Advancement Services, and look towards the future on where services is heading in the next 1-3 years.

Conference details


Accelstream to Expand Social Media Capabilities to Kintera Event Clients

Kintera has announced that Accelstream, an online social media provider, has joined the Kintera Connect partner program to integrate enhanced online social media functionality into Friends Asking Friends Kintera Thon, the nonprofit industry's leading online events fundraising software.

Read more of this press release on Kintera's website.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Donations Are Up, But Not From Alumni

The Council for Aid to Education is releasing a report today that documents the "success of colleges in attracting support from alumni, other individuals, businesses and foundations" as well as some trends that could cause concern such a decline in alumni giving. The report expands on some explanations for this decline, including "a number of which are based on demographics and technology, not changing attitudes among alumni."

Read more of this February 20, 2008 article from Inside Higher Ed.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Census Bureau Produces First Comprehensive Atlas in More Than 80 Years

The atlas, with more than 700 full-color maps, is the first general population and housing statistical atlas published by the Census Bureau since 1925.

Featuring more than 300 pages and weighing about 7 pounds, the atlas presents data from 1790 through 2000. It is arranged by topic and grouped into three general themes — who we are, where we come from and what we do. Most maps feature county-level detail for the United States and Puerto Rico.

Census Atlas of the United States is available on the Census Bureau Website. A print version is available for purchase from the Government Printing Office.


What Makes Fund Raisers Succeed

A 2006 study of nearly 600 college and university fund raisers who solicit big gifts found that those who raise the most work for institutions that are more systematic in tracking and applying performance measures.

"Everybody is suddenly focused on this issue," says Bruce Flessner, a fund-raising consultant at Bentz Whaley Flessner, in Minneapolis. "People used to say that it takes money to raise money. Now people want to know if they are getting a good return on the investment."

Full-text article by Holly Hall is avaiable via The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 2.21.08.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

'Slate 60' Recognizes Most Generous Philanthropists of 2007

Slate magazine has announced its list of the sixty Americans who gave the most to charity in 2007. To view or download the complete list, as compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, visit the Slate website.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Fidelity's Gift Fund Surpasses $1 Billion In Donations

Fidelity, the best known donor-advised fund, reported that they gave away $1.7 billion last year, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

Donor advised funds are growing in popularity. They are no longer just for the very wealthy, but are now geared for any sophisticated donor who wants to manage their charitable dollars like investments.

We in the services are need to be absolutely sure that our organizations are following the IRS rules regarding these donations, especially when it comes to pledges. As a reminder, a donor advised fund cannot fulfill the pledge of an individual. You have to be sure that there is no connection between a donors' pledge and his donor advised fund gifts. Also, donors would not be eligible for premiums at many institutions because of their rules and the rules of the fund.

However, the donors need to be treated just as if they gave a regular gift. They need to be properly thanked and stewarded. They just don't need an official IRS receipt.

Be sure that your organization has ways of stewarding donors who give through these funds, and if it does not, then there is no time like the present to create a policy to handle these gifts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Be The Quid Pro Quo Gatekeepers

Almost every philanthropic organization thanks its donors in appropriate ways. Many also give their major donors tokens of gratitude, invite them to events and galas, and fete them in creative ways.

This is all well and good, but often times in thanking donors non-profits run into the IRS' quid-pro-quo rules on contributions. Simple tschotkes are one thing, and are allowable under IRS rules. But the fancy dinners with open bars for leadership donors, the large plaques and the crystal vases often run afoul of the dollar limits set by the IRS.

The standards for this tax year are that the fair market value of the benefits does not exceed the lesser of 2% of the donations or $89, and that for a donation of $44.50, an organization can provide low-cost bearing the logo or insignia of the organization as long as they do not cost more than $8.90.

What many non-profits don't keep in mind is that the IRS does not care if the gifts are for lifetime giving or an annual gift of a certain level. They only care that the donor received something in exchange for their donation.

Donor recognition banquets seem to be the most common violation of quid-pro-quo rules. If a donor is expected to receive an invitation to this banquet, then these fall under the guidelines no matter if others who are not donors are also invited. So if a non-profit holds a fancy dinner each year and invites all donors over $2,500, along with notable prospects, leaders of the community and those that the non-profit serves, then the donors could be subject to the quid-pro-quo rules because they expected the invitation to this dinner.

We, as advancement services professionals, need to be vigilant in monitoring our organizations' compliance with these rules. It is not easy to wear the black hat in the office and keep reminding people about the IRS rules and regulations. Yet, it would be much worse to have a donor get caught in an IRS audit and have a large deduction denied because of quid-pro-quo violations, which also could have serious repercussions for the non-profit involved.

Read IRS publications 526 and 1771 and follow the industry list serves. There is always plenty of discussion regarding these topics.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Few Good Tools: Low-Cost Constituent Databases

The Foundation Center ( is offering a series of articles about the effective use of technology by nonprofits.

Click here to read the first article in the series about organizing constituent data and questions you should as before choosing a database.

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Charities Vie for Prizes in Online Giving Experiment

Stephanie Strom, from the New York Times, reports on grass-roots philanthropy and its use of the Internet to attract donors. She reports that "charities are eager to tap online social networks and virtual worlds, which they see as useful new tools for raising money and inspiring activism."

Read more from this 1.31.08 New York Times article.

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