Did you know that 33 percent of annual donations occur between November 1 and December 31? Additionally, more than 50 percent of nonprofit organizations receive the majority of their funding at the end of the year. While the holiday season sparks important charitable giving vital to the success of many organizations, it still cannot stand apart from the year-round philanthropic support necessary to enhance the lives of the people and communities we serve as senior living organizations.
For example, as part of its not-for-profit mission of service, Asbury Communities strives to provide a home and care to all residents, even those who have outlived their financial resources. For these needs, each community turns to Asbury Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that secures philanthropic support to enhance the quality of life for older adults served by Asbury Communities. Central to Asbury’s mission is Benevolent Care, or the discounting of fees and payment of certain expenses, for residents who have exhausted their assets through no fault of their own. The ongoing program of seeking support by Asbury Foundation for Benevolent Care helps ensure that each community benefits from giving.
Whether a senior living community operates a fully staffed charitable organization or is seeking to implement an annual giving program, the funding of charity through philanthropy requires a strong foundation of support.
Clarify the benefit
From the outset, leadership must take ownership of advancing philanthropy, setting the stage with a clear definition of how it will support the organization’s mission. Bring senior leadership and the Board of Directors together to clarify what aspects of the community will benefit from philanthropic support and what will have the most impact to the organization’s mission. For Asbury, giving is reinvested back into their mission to enhance the lives of people they serve and to help those who otherwise would not be able to afford particular services.
Structure the staff
Whether an organization has a Foundation Board of Directors or establishes a subcommittee of the operating board, there must be a group singularly focused on advancing philanthropy for the community. From a staff perspective, employ an individual who owns development of the program as opposed to sharing responsibility at the management level such as Marketing or Communications. Split responsibilities often result in Development being shortchanged. Do consider adding directors at the local level that can provide support in connecting with donors in specific community markets on a regular basis.
The key to a successful giving program or philanthropic initiative is effectively communicating your case for support—to your residents, associates, and the people in the surrounding community. A variety of strategies can help raise awareness. Sharing real stories of the impact that giving has had on an individual or family can create deep impressions. Asbury features Donor Stories on its website and on YouTube, which help showcase the direct benefit of giving back. Conducting fundraising special events may seem counterintuitive to raising money cost effectively. Special events typically cost a dollar to raise two dollars. However, a signature event such as a concert, auction or dinner party gathers many people together at once in a fun, entertaining venue where your story can be shared and a sense of community is created to support your case. Events also provide an entrée to further individual discussions with current or prospective donors.
If giving back and social accountability are a part of your organization’s mission or vision, take the steps to embark on a comprehensive philanthropy program. Structure and provide staffing resources, and incorporate annual, major, and planned giving, special events, and capital campaigns. And always allow donors the option to give both small and large gifts—every donation helps get the organization one step closer to fulfilling its mission.
Doug Myers serves as the President and CEO of Asbury Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that secures philanthropic support to enhance the quality of life for older adults served by Asbury Communities. He is involved in the area of developing and directing fundraising initiatives, as well as overseeing the strategy of both initial and ongoing campaigns. He can be reached at DMyers@asbury.org.