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News You Can Use

News You Can Use
Issue 108/December 2011
Thinking Ahead:

What to Consider for 2012

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By Jeffrey D. Byrne
President & CEO

Watch world markets, not just the U.S. markets.

Political fundraising doesn’t match charitable giving.

Will charitable giving top $300 billion for 2011?

As development professionals, we must be on top of many facts all of the time. We’ve got to stay current on affairs of state. We’ve got to watch the markets and understand how to explain them. We’ve got to stay on top of the social and business comings and goings in our respective communities. We’ve got to stay on top of tax and regulatory changes that affect philanthropy. We’ve got to stay in touch with our best donors and keep watch over our prospective donors. We’ve got to work with our Board of Directors in keeping them focused and motivated. The list can go on and on.

When I prepare for meetings with donors, volunteers and nonprofit executives, I take a few minutes beforehand to think about what messages I want to impart for “the greater good.” I think it’s imperative to think ahead and to think critically while interacting with those who lead our nonprofit organizations that do such good work in our communities, our country.

As I think ahead for next year, I’ve jotted down some topics that I believe will be of interest to volunteers and donors. You’ll want to keep abreast of each of these issues because each one is a “live” example of what will be top of mind during the coming year.

First, we know that the U.S. economy isn’t driving the world markets any longer. Oh sure, our markets are important, and the world watches what’s going on in the U.S. However, with the crisis with the Euro and the response with the European Central Bank, we’ll need to watch the European markets — as well as the Asian and South American markets — to gauge our economy in 2012. We can’t just read the ticker of the NYSE or the Dow at closing bell each day. Instead, we are called to think about the impact of the markets worldwide and how that may affect our economy here in the U.S.

Second, as we enter a presidential election year, we should be prepared to address the myth that politicians will take much of our charitable dollars in 2012. Not True! During this election cycle (2011-2012), it is reported that $5 billion will be raised by candidates, candidate support organizations and national parties. Now, that’s a lot of money. However, during that same time period, nearly $600 billion will be given by generous Americans to fund needs through charitable organizations. The $5 billion that we expect will be funneled to elections, when spread over this two-year election cycle, just about matches what we saw in Tsunami and Hurricane relief in recent years; just a small tick in the big picture of charitable giving.

Third, we will watch to learn: Will reports show that charitable giving topped $300 billion in 2011? In 2010, charitable giving inched up to $290 billion after falling 13% over the previous three years in the wake of The Great Recession. While Americans felt the pinch of housing and mortgage losses and watched their savings and income deflate, they nonetheless reached deep into their pockets and giving recovered by 2.3% last year. In 2011, will charitable giving once again top $300 billion? We’ll have to wait until mid-June 2012 to find out when Giving USA publishes the results. However, I’ll bet the numbers will show that Americans were more generous this year than in 2010. All economic indicators are pointing in the right direction. Charitable indicators are inching positively in that same direction.

In any given year, there’s too much to think about and to do. We need to focus our talking points with donors to a few bite-sized chunks that we can articulate and that allow us to underscore our need for charitable support.

I hope these talking points help you as you think about the coming year and your development plans. I’d be interested in what you will be watching as we enter 2012. I welcome your responses directly at I promise to read each response and to use our blog to continue the conversation.

Don’t be shy. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. In the meantime, all of us at JB&A wish you a happy and healthy holiday season – and all the best in the New Year!

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