SB2: What We Learned About Attracting Tomorrow’s Donors

December SB2 Panelists. From left to right: Jeff Troiano, Julie Lyman, Jay Clarkson, Veronica Brady, Bob Blalock and SRQ Executive Publisher Wes Roberts.

December SB2 Panelists. From left to right: Jeff Troiano, Julie Lyman, Jay Clarkson, Veronica Brady, Bob Blalock and SRQ Executive Publisher Wes Roberts. Photo credit: Jessica McKnight

Philanthropy is a topic that is often discussed at our monthly SB2 Symposiums – and based upon participation, there’s a reason why! Monday’s sold out audience was treated to a panel discussion of the highest caliber.  SB2: Business of Philanthropy shared the challenges of critical planning that face non-profits in our region with insights from two community foundations and experts representing donors through financial and estate planning.

Mike McMullan of event sponsor Seaside Bank opened the discussion with a defining statement about charitable giving, “Philanthropy is about kindness, consideration and keeping an eye out for what will make a difference in the community.” Our previous SB2 events have focused on charitable giving and the organizations in our area that support worthy causes. Monday’s SB2 explored giving from the philanthropist’s perspective and what non-profits will need to do to continue to retain and develop their donor base.

The December SB2 audience listens to the panel discussion on philanthropy.

The December SB2 audience listens to the panel discussion on philanthropy. Photo Credit: Jessica McKnight

1. Recent challenges for non-profits and foundations:

  • Veronica Brady from The Gulf Coast Community Foundation says. “After the Great Recession, we had to stimulate people to feel comfortable giving again. We wanted to make philanthropy available to everyone. Not everybody can give money, but involving them with a cause is just as critical.”
  • The geographic location of the Sarasota and Bradenton area lends itself to part-time residents and individuals relocating to our community. With a potential donor base that resides and gives in another region, there is an untapped potential of donors that need to be reached with our organization’s messaging and missions. “People like to give their dollars where they spend their time,” says Jeff Troiano of Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen.
Jay Clarkson of CS&L CPAs answers a question as Julie Lyman of The Community Foundation of Sarasota listens in.

Jay Clarkson of CS&L CPAs answers a question as Julie Lyman of The Community Foundation of Sarasota listens in. Photo Credit: Jessica McKnight

2. What are donors looking for?

  • All of our panelists agreed on one element: transparency is king. “Donors used to write a check to give. Now donors are more of investors than donors. They want a sense of transparency and want to know where the funds are going once they donate,” says Julie Lyman of Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
  • Jay Clarkson of CS&L CPAs was asked about the financial statements of non-profits. “Generally, donors are looking for organizations where 85% of the budget goes to programming, leaving 15% to overhead and support services. But every organization is different and the financial breakdown depends on the year and many other factors.” Clarkson also added “measuring the outcome of programs and investments is also key. Sharing that information with donors is important.”
  • About donor trust, Julie Lyman of The Community Foundation of Sarasota says, “The role of the Community Foundation is to perform necessary due diligence to be sure that the donated funds go to the right place. We provide protection to our donors so that they don’t have to worry.”
Moderator and SRQ Magazine Executive Publisher Wes Roberts leads the panel discussion.

Moderator and SRQ Magazine Executive Publisher Wes Roberts leads the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Jessica McKnight

3. Knowledge is power.

  • When family foundations make plans to give to worthy organizations, it is easy for the more established organizations to take the lions share. According to Bob Blalock’s of Blalock Walters P.A., “with some large estates, their giving choice goes to what they know. Some smaller non-profit organizations end up getting overlooked for that reason. It is important to find out from the foundation what the end goal of donating the money is.”
  • Veronica Brady also talked about the donor’s motive. “Non-profits are all about listening—listening to the donor and not being afraid to ask questions. Sometimes donors that we expect to understand the most effective ways of giving really don’t. It is our job to ask questions, make suggestions and to think a little differently.”

If Monday’s SB2 could be summed up in one quote, it would be from Veronica Brady,  “When it comes to giving, follow what makes your heart sing.”  We couldn’t agree with that statement more. The business of giving is not always clear or easy—but it is always important.

Special thanks to our sponsors for their support in bringing this and other important topics to the forefront of our community: Event Sponsor Seaside Bank, Bradenton Series Sponsor IMG Academy and Sarasota Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs.

Representatives from Seaside Bank, the December SB2 event sponsor.

Representatives from and guests of Seaside Bank, the December SB2 event sponsor. Photo Credit: Jessica McKnight

To view photos from the December SB2, click here. Don’t miss out on next month’s Sarasota symposium on January 22nd SB2: Boomers and Caregivers-The New Retirement, visit www.srqsb2.com to purchase your tickets today!

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