We have all heard this saying, and it is particularly fitting as we find ourselves in the midst of Easter festivities. Buying jellybeans, chocolate eggs and other basket goodies; baking or buying lamb or bunny cakes, and shopping for dinner fixings including calculating how many pounds of ham per person is needed for Easter dinner (true story – my brother asked me that yesterday… click here for your own ham calculations.) All of these things require planning and forethought. What baskets do I need to fill? What does my son like for treats these days? (Flamin’ Hot Cheetos tops the list, by the way.) Who is coming to dinner? What do I need to buy or bring?
For charities and nonprofits, planning ahead to find and maintain sources of funding can be the most difficult and time-consuming task of all. This constant search for money exhausts resources that could be better spent elsewhere. And, as the economy fluctuates, so do gifts to nonprofits.
The website Planned Giving.com has this to say on the topic:
“If your nonprofit is relying solely on annual giving and individual gifts, you are essentially putting all your eggs in one basket. And if that funding basket gets dropped, it will be hard — perhaps impossible — to recover from the mess. A comprehensive, planned giving strategy can guide your nonprofit through the rough waters. It can be a life preserver for times when sources of one-time charitable gifts are sinking. Planned giving can ensure a consistent, long-term source of funding, and maintaining focus on that revenue stream can help smooth the waves in the future.”
And so, as I juggle the writing of this blog, pulling together resources for a corporate grant due Friday, interviewing a candidate for a Fall internship, getting out an agenda for a Money Smart meeting tomorrow, and acclimating a one-time volunteer to a service project, I am mindful of the many things that fill up our days as nonprofit staff. Often times, it is difficult to think longer term – hard to see past the giant to-do list on your desk. I am grateful to partnerships like the one we have with the DeKalb County Community Foundation, where we are fortunate enough to have an endowment that helps us to sustain our core programming and backroom efforts so we can focus on program goals. I am mindful, too, of our responsibility to continue to grow that endowment, and educate our donors about the choice they have in philanthropic giving – not only in sustaining our annual campaign investments, event sponsorships or initiative investments, but thinking longer term to consider leaving a legacy that will impact our work long after I am involved in the organization.
We are thankful, too, for the upcoming Give DeKalb County online giving day, as it positions our organization in front of potential donors where we can talk about our annual needs and our ongoing strategies for building and sustaining a strong community. Do we have work to do around planned giving? Absolutely. I would venture a guess that most nonprofits do. We will keep our focus ahead on quality improvements, however, and make a commitment to build relationships with key donors and help to plant the seed with a few of them about remembering Kishwaukee United Way in their estate or long term giving legacy. We will push onward toward the goal of the diversification of our revenue “eggs” into multiple baskets. Happy Spring season, all!