In the last months, I have heard the phrase “challenging times” being used in a variety of contexts. So, I asked myself in what ways are these “challenging times” for fundraisers. In order to add credence to anything I might say, I thought I should begin by defining just what the word “challenge” or “challenging” means.
A few weeks ago, Kim Bhasin and Lance Lambert did a news piece for Bloomberg entitled “The Long, Hard, Unprecedented Fall of Sears.” In 1989, Sears Roebuck & Company was the largest retailer in the United States. The tallest building in Chicago, and at one time, the tallest building in the world bore the company’s name. Once the second-largest retailer in America, K-Mart filed for bankruptcy in 2002 and in 2005 K-Mart and Sears merged to become the Sears Holding Corporation, which is now owned by billionaire Eddie S. Lampert and his company, ESL. According to the article, since the merger Lampert has dismantled the company and in January of this year the company was forced to sell their famous tool brand Craftsman to Stanley Black & Decker.
At one time, Sears led innovation in retail with the introduction of their catalog. Sears empowered consumers with real choices to buy good products at reasonable prices no matter where the customer lived. Sears actually improved living standards, helped lower the cost of living for most Americans and strengthened the buying power of the American middle class.
While Sears still talks bravely about its future and plans to integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping, this decline seems unparalleled in business history.
Congress is currently addressing a number of critical issues which will impact the charitable community. Changes in funding will in many cases, place greater responsibilities on the charitable sector to find additional resources where budget cuts will impact numerous programs. Concerns about healthcare reform are paramount for all of us. Tax reform is another area of similar concern for all charities.
As fundraisers and human beings, all of us understand the importance of belonging. It is about being part of something. In our case, it is about engaging others in our mission, our causes, our ministries. It is about inviting others to feel “one with.” It is about inclusion, not exclusiveness. It is part of the human condition.
Peter Block, in his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging (Barrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 2009) offers several definitions of belonging. The first is “to be related, to be part of something.” The second definition deals with ownership where one “co-owns” the community to which one chooses to affiliate. In the third, he describes it as “a longing to be.” Here he talks about a capacity for deeper meaning and purpose. (p.xii)
Topics: Donor Relationships
On February 16, 2017 over two hundred people from various parts of the country, representing a diverse cross-section of the nonprofit community went to Capitol Hill to speak to legislators about the importance of the charitable tax deduction. The goal of the Charitable Giving Coalition who sponsored this event was to encourage members of both the House and Senate to include the charitable tax deduction as they begin to create tax reform legislation.
Note: At NCDC, we know that learning how to connect and communicate with a younger generation can be a challenge, but that’s why we’ve put together an eBook to help you learn how to effectively engage with millennials in order to raise more money this year — 5 Ways to Engage Millennials and Raise More this Year.
Besides those who flew in for this event, others made appointments to meet with their legislators while they were home for the Presidents Day recess. Still, others wrote letters and made phone calls. The Charitable Giving Coalition will continue to meet and to encourage members of the nonprofit community to speak out on this issue.
As a member of this Coalition who both personally encouraged people to come to the Hill and continues to advocate for the charitable tax deduction, I have been thinking quite a bit about the threat to the charitable tax deduction.
Here are some of my thoughts: