Shifting to Noncash Gifts of Assets: One Nonprofit’s Success Story

We were delighted to welcome Jackie Franey, Director of Gift Planning Fundraising at The Nature Conservancy, to our recent webinar series. She shared her organization’s strategy and language around shifting the conversation to noncash gifts of assets.

Watch the full presentation, including a helpful Q&A.

*An important reminder: Asking for noncash gifts comes after establishing a relationship with a donor. Very few people wake up and say, “I have an appreciated security, what can I do with it?” First, we have to earn their hearts through our missions and our nonprofit’s actions. Only then can we have specific conversations about the assets that they can use to do the most good.

Jackie shares that The Nature Conservancy changed their philosophy to emphasize the importance of having strategic, wholistic conversations with every donor who was interested in making a major or a principal gift. They even changed their internal jargon from “planned giving experts” to “technical experts in noncash assets and complex gifts.”

Overall, it’s clear that noncash gifts offer an enormous opportunity for fundraisers. Here are three of Jackie’s top takeaways.

#1: Donors’ Wealth Isn’t Cash

From the Federal Reserve, we know that individuals hold their wealth in noncash assets. So when we think about where the majority of dollars are, it’s not in checkbooks.

#2: Dr. Russell James Studied Successful Nonprofits (and Noncash Won)

In 2018, Dr. Russell James published a study after reviewing more than 1 million nonprofit tax returns. His goal? Look at how donors were funding their charitable gifts.

Dr. James found that nonprofit organizations consistently receiving gifts of stocks or bonds grew their contributions six times faster than those receiving only cash.

Noncash gifts also predicted long-term fundraising growth. Organizations raising gifts of noncash assets grew total contributions much faster than those raising only gifts of cash.

A key takeaway: When fundraisers ask for cash, they are asking from the “small bucket.”

(Psst: Dr. James presented his findings in a popular Stelter webinar. You can watch his presentation here.)

#3: Donors Don’t Know How to Be Charitable Without Checkbooks

The Nature Conservancy found that even the donors with retirement accounts and financial advisors didn’t know that they could use these assets to be charitable.

“By assuming that donors know how to give,” Jackie shares, “we miss the opportunity to engage them in conversations around how they can give to our organization besides just funding their gift with cash.”

Watch for Yourself!

Here’s what one webinar attendee said, “Speaker was outstanding. Our staff is much smaller than she has. I still feel we can implement many of the ideas with our school. Loved the data she provided along with her overall perspective on non-cash giving.”

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