Welcome to the LACGP Newsletter. This e-newsletter is sent out on a monthly basis. The e-newsletter provides links to this page. Please see below for the items that appeared in the January 2021 issue.

Looking Ahead

with Patience Boudreaux and Michele Bignardi

To kick-off 2021, LACGP president and president-elect, Patience Boudreaux and Michele Bignardi, sat down for a zoom conversation to reflect on the year that was 2020 and focus on the positives they’re carrying forward into 2021.

Patience: Michele, you’re one of my favorite people and have been ever since we co-chaired the Western Regional Planned Giving Conference together. That experience is one where you must adapt rapidly to challenges… some fairly good training for what we all faced in 2020, right? What’s your overarching reflection on last year?

Michele: As 2020 wore on, I tried to keep positive thoughts. I have long admired, and tried to adhere to, the sentiment of the Brian Tracy quote:

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”

P: Whoa – that’s deep. You just leveled up on me…

M: This quote has helped me focus on “the positives” we received from the Great Pandemic of 2020. In these early days of 2021, many of us are mapping our new year’s strategy. For example, many of my clients reported stronger giving in 2020. What opportunities do you see ahead? 

P: You’ve pinpointed something important there – by looking for positives, we are more likely to develop plans for 2021 which will allow us to capitalize on these positive since this year, so far, looks a lot like 2020 2.0. For myself, while I didn’t see an increase in documented bequest intentions, I have seen an increase in stock and DAF giving. My strategy for 2021 is to shift more of my focus towards encouraging and assisting donors to make gifts of appreciated assets because real estate and stocks are at highs right now and our institutional needs for current funds are heightened. We’ll still invest effort in having conversations about bequests, but much more of our energy will be on outright gifts of complex assets.

M: I think that is an excellent approach. I am always amazed that even the most successful people need reminders that they can make gifts in a more tax efficient manor – particularly with appreciated assets. What work strategies are you going to build on in 2021 regardless of how or when then physical distancing orders remain in effect? 

P: I’m not wasting my time making any plans for in-person interactions until July at the earliest. In some ways, this has freed me up to consider how else I might spend my travel budget and time. I’m hoping to double-down on stewardship touches that help donors deeply understand their faith in us is meaningful: coordinating highly-custom impact reports which I haven’t had the time coordinate in the past, legacy society virtual events that connect distant donors to executive leadership, and finding special ways to show we care about them as people. Aaron Levinson shared that he sent his donors freshly baked cookies early in the pandemic and he received some of the warmest response he’s ever heard from… I’ve been percolating on how to replicate this ever since.

I’m interested in your thoughts on a different topic – what workplace practice or expectation do you hope is gone forever?

M: That is a great question. I read that if we just go back to old practices, we will have missed the benefits 2020 provided us. For example – how important is that in-office meeting? Is there a better use of time? Can we accomplish the same goals and make it more time efficient? I think we should develop some checklist before we say “Mandatory In-Person Attendance.”

P: All good points. Thinking about LACGP in 2021, I’m putting deep thought into our strong record of providing networking and support at our General Membership meetings. I feel like we’ve done a good job incorporating networking into our virtual meetings. I also think virtual meetings make attendance more approachable for many because of the reduced expense and you don’t have to factor in a drive when you consider attending… since I commute in from the Inland Empire, this has been a significant benefit to me and others. While I’m eager for the day we can meet in person again, I suspect we will retain an element of virtual programming.

M: I agree. LACGP is focused on professional development – what are the most significant career development opportunities the 2020 pandemic gave us?

P: I have been excited about opportunities we have to bring in speakers from across the nation. Normally, this is something that’s only possible for WRPGC, but we’ve been able to do this for general meetings and stand-alone webinars in the pandemic. In December, we welcomed the board chair of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners, Kent Weimer, for an interactive webinar on tackling problematic gifts. He’s from Dallas and in the past our speaker budget wouldn’t have allowed us to bring him in for a group of less than 100 people. We’ll feature Avery Tucker Fontaine of BNY Mellon at our January general meeting and in March we’ll have Bill Stanczykiewicz of Indian University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy in conversation with Katrina Pipasts of Northern Trust. These speakers bring a national perspective that pairs well with the profile of our gift planning community and I’m glad we’re able to bring them to our membership at a time when so many of us are seeking insight at a 30,000-foot level.

M: We’ve been so positive and I’m proud of us for that!

P: Given your background as a consultant for a variety of types of nonprofits, I’m interested in what you think the biggest lessons of the 2020 pandemic are for the nonprofit world in general and gift planning in particular?

M: One of the most interesting “meetings” I had was with a potential donor and her three children – two of whom were in New York. Five separate Zoom windows. That meeting would have never happened pre-pandemic. Over the course of the last 10+ months, I have seen of my clients’ donors and leaders become much more comfortable with new technology. If grandma wants to see the grandkids – she better accept Zoom, right? And I will admit, I am closer to that demographic myself. The length of this “safe in place” phase gave people time to get comfortable and even master new technology. We now have an opportunity to touch more of our planned giving prospects, so let’s build this into our cultivation and stewardship strategies.

P: Totally agree! I love this opportunity to focus on the positives, but I do wonder what your biggest losses from your pre-pandemic work routine are and how are you doing to address this in 2021?

M: Listening to podcasts while sitting in traffic, particularly on the 405. I think our haste to schedule all our available time to Zoom and other virtual meetings did not allow us to incorporate the mandated down-time provided by our daily commutes. In 2021, I am going to more purposely schedule “thinking time.” This would have been the time I thought of as wasted in traffic but now I know I was using it quite effectively to plan my next meeting or next workday.

What do you hope stays in place post-pandemic?

P: More flexible work options is the answer I’ll commit to, but the more relaxed dress code that’s come with work-from-home is the answer I suspect I’ll be thinking about once we enter our new normal. 

M: To-go drinks for me!

Four reasons for offering Charitable Gift Annuities (CGAs) and how to begin marketing for them

By Andy Ragone

Why Charitable Gift Annuities

1. The number of CGAs will increase. In tandem with the immanent wealth transference of the Boomer Generation—which is expected to run for some 25 years to the tune of $50 Trillion—the first of the Baby Boomers will likely demonstrate an interest in Charitable Gift Annuities as they turn 75 years of age in 2021. This comes at a rate three times greater than that of their Silent Generation predecessors.

Incidentally, 75 years of age just happens to be the sweet spot for charitable gift annuities. Many charitably minded Boomers may also need steady and/or supplemental income, making CGAs (in some cases, many CGAs for each individual) ideal for their financial situations. Those needs will likely grow with the swarm of so many new 75 year olds.

2. CGAs are number two! Based on a marketing study conducted by the American Council on Gift Annuities in late 2019, the study discovered that CGA closed gifts outnumbered other life-income giving models by 4:1. While bequest giving continues to dominate the planned giving universe, Charitable Gift Annuities run second.

What makes CGAs so attractive?

In 2019, according to the study, the average immediate CGA was $70,000 (Deferred CGAs were $60,500). Conversely, a standard Charitable Remainder Trust averaged at $860,000. Due to the simplicity of setting up a CGA compared to a CRT, the fact that a CGA is much more accessible to the average donor, and that a CGA gift is immediately received and documented by the sponsoring charity, CGAs have become an attractive planned giving option. 

3. Donors often have more than one CGA. Through ongoing and personal stewardship, gift planners have repeatedly helped the same donors with multiple CGAs over time.

4. CGAs may offer both tax relief and a hedge against fluctuating markets. With lower return rates for short term money markets, stock or CD options, CGAs offer fixed payments, sometimes with better return rates. While the primary reason for considering a CGA is to have an impact on one’s favorite charity, the tax deduction, potential capital gains bypass benefits, and supplemental income certainly sweeten the deal. CGAs can offer win-win solutions for both donors and charities alike.

How to start marketing for Charitable Gift Annuities

The need for marketing never ends. I think I just heard some of you sigh with that statement. Marketing efforts can always be tweaked, tested and improved upon. With more than 80% of those over the age of 65 now using online tools for their primary communications, digital marketing has become the dominant form of marketing. While print still has an important place in our marketing efforts, it will continue to take a back seat to online marketing for the foreseeable future.

That said, let’s focus on a simple online and print strategy to promote your CGA efforts.

A planned giving website is a hub for donor due diligence

While donors often consider CGAs after having conversations with the planned giving officers from their favorite charities, websites that explain the benefits of CGAs, how CGAs work, and provide calculator tools allow donors to conduct their due diligence while validating the recommendations of their gift officers. Gift officers can orient donors to their websites during their visits while encouraging their donors to return and learn at their own pace.

Drive donors to your site

Having only a website will not be enough to satisfy your marketing needs.Websites often lay dormant unless there is active marketing that creatively leads prospects to the sites themselves. One-on-one conversations, Zoom meetings, eblasts, enewsletters, blogs, social media posts, videos, and even print materials can help drive donors to a planned giving website. That said, each marketing platform will require content having a level of creativity, inspiration, and simple clarity to interest donors well enough to take a next step.

Don’t panic!

“Ahhhhh… Andy, I’m just one person trying to make all of this happen. What would be a helpful and sustainable approach for marketing for CGAs” (or any other gift model for that matter)?

Have a sustainable marketing plan

The challenge here is two-fold: First, marketing can easily become a full time job… and for many… it is. Gift planners often find themselves struggling to give attention to marketing—though in the back of their minds, they know marketing to be a critical component for their own lead generation. Second, marketing can be done in a variety of ways, so it’s often difficult to figure out where to start and consistently give one’s attention.

As a place to start, I recommend sending CGA eblasts to your existing and prospective Legacy Community members, say about four times/year. These eblasts should provide enough beneficial content to motivate donors to take their next steps. However, be careful not to give too much detail on the eblast itself. Instead, provide a link to a landing page having more detailed content on your website to further guide donors in their research.

As a general rule, we want our emails to be simple, clear and motivating. When receiving an email, most recipients skim without looking at the details. If it’s interesting enough, they may “click-through” to learn more. On a side note, sharing success stories from other donors who have used CGAs, and in many cases, donors who have repeatedly used CGAs, is helpful.

Along with an eblast once a quarter, I recommend following up with a print piece to the same audience—perhaps a simple post card, having a similar look and feel as your eblast and a simple web address (URL) that will direct recipients to the same landing pages as your eblast.

Once donors arrive on your site, the next logical question to ask is, “Okay… Now What?” For those who have landed onto your website by way of an eblast, you should be able to locate the email addresses of the donors who clicked-through from your email to your website’s landing page on your email server’s analytics pages. Monitoring their increased interest should eventually move them along your moves management process where next steps are in place.

One consideration is to offer a downloadable brochure to help capture email addresses from those who landed on the page and add them to your future stewardship efforts.

Why start with your legacy community donors first and foremost? For those who have left bequest/beneficiary designation commitments to you, some who enter into their senior years may find it beneficial to reduce their tax burden and supplement their income with CGAs. These donors have already determined that you are likely to be the most important organization in their lives—otherwise they wouldn’t have left you in their estate plans. They already KLT (Know, Like, and Trust) you, so upon hearing that you might be able to help them accomplish a concern about income and tax relief, they will be interested in learning more from you.

A survey can help

An online and print survey can be beneficial to determine donor interests in learning more about CGAs. The follow up is every bit as important. Phone contact as well as having a follow up explanation piece and call to action will provide your donors with next steps that match their levels of commitment.

Let’s wrap this up

Charitable Gift Annuities can be ideal for those turning 75 or older, which happens to be at the front end of the Baby Boom population wave this year. CGAs provide a win for donors as well as a win for the charities they support. They are relatively easy to facilitate, and they will require consistent marketing to help get the word out. 

Job Hunting in the Era Of Covid

with Kimberly Jetton

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives in many different ways. We asked Kimberly Jetton, who recently took over as Executive Director of the Orange County Catholic Foundation, how these strange times affected her recent job search.

If you’re able to say, what prompted you to do a job search during a global pandemic? Was this something you jumped into willingly, or was it more by necessity?

Pandemic or not, philanthropy does not stop and development is one area that seems to have constant turnover. I had been keeping an eye out for the right opportunity to present itself, and fortunately, I was contacted by a recruiter for my current position. I was passively looking for about a year.

Any tips on the actual search process for a job during a crisis like the one we’re in? Is it basically the same as in “normal” times?

For me it was the same as any other time I was looking. Because I was already in a position I loved, I could take time to find the next good fit.

What about the interviews? Are they all virtual and online? If so, that must have been kind of strange.

The initial interviews were all online and it was not the best format for me. I believe in meeting in person, as you learn so much about someone just by meeting them in person. It takes more effort to connect to someone online. There are other distractions that are not present when you are meeting fact to face. For my final interview, I did meet with three individuals in person (socially distanced) and it was so much better to do so. I was able to build a rapport unlike what we are capable of online. I hope that even with the ease and simplicity of conducting online interviews that it does not become the new normal.

Did you find that employers took longer to respond to your resume? Or maybe there were shorter wait times (for an interview, for example) because it was easier to assemble an interviewing committee (if applicable) online and not in person?

As I was going through a recruiter, I did not find that the whole experience timeline was any different from in person or online in this case. The process was about three months, which I find to be good for a nationwide search. However, after securing this new job, I was finally sent an answer to an application I had submitted about 11 months earlier at a university. That was a ridiculously long time for a reply.

I would imagine there are fewer available jobs right now as there have been layoffs and cutbacks. Is that true? Is it affecting all levels of positions, or just certain levels?

There is a hiring freeze at my former employer, and they were in the middle of a capital campaign which they paused. Because of that, at least 10 staff members solely working on the campaign were put on hiatus. I think capital campaigns are suffering, but current need for other programs has only increased. I am still seeing jobs listed so perhaps the entry level jobs may be less available than before but leadership positions are still open.

Any overall lessons you can share about the process?

There are still many jobs to be had in the development world, and if you can, stay employed until you find a new position. Reach out to recruiters and introduce yourself, so that if and when a good position comes their way, you will be one of the first to know. I found my last two positions by chance, and people that I had made connections with.  Relying on online applications is a last resort; it all comes down to your circle of influence, so work to make it as big as possible.

Final Call for LACGP Survey!

LACGP encourages everyone to complete the National Standards for Gift Planning Success Survey. The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners developed these standards as a part of an effort to create benchmarks for a thriving gift planning program. If you enter "LACGP" as the group code when completing the surveys, LACGP will receive a composite report of our community's results so that we can identify areas where our programming can help meet the needs of our community.