© 2018 V
Power Campaign Staff Meetings
With Wine and Cheese
By Daniel Lindley
If you’re looking to boost your capital campaign, informal
weekly meetings at your boss’s home over drinks and snacks
might be the way to go.
It seems to have worked for Meredith College (Raleigh,
NC), which launched its Beyond Strong campaign in 2012.
Since the campaign began, donations have soared, ranging
from $7.6 million to more than $18 million a year, pushing the
campaign to within $1 million of its $75 million goal.
Employee participation has leaped from 26 percent to 72
percent, and development staff turnover has decreased.
The meetings have played a “large role” in the campaign’s
success, says Jo Allen, president of the women’s private college.
Once a week at her campus home, Allen and her staff
strategize, brainstorm, discuss problems, get to know one
another and donors better, and have a little fun, too.
“Even in the sillier moments, there have been some
interesting ahas,” Allen says. “For us, it becomes a way of
thinking about what-ifs and different possibilities.”
Attendees chat and laugh over wine, soft drinks and snacks
in the sunroom. “Out of the office, you lose the sense of the
president’s suite,” Allen says. “It really gives people permission
to say, ‘Let’s explore that further,’ or ‘That doesn’t work,’ or to
push back on things and say, ‘I think you’re all wrong.’”
Even informal meetings need a few guidelines, however.
The group is limited to four or five regular attendees. To show
respect for busy schedules, start and stop times are firm. At
the end of the meeting, everyone leaves with a to-do list, like
calling donors. They report on their “homework” at the next
Meredith’s “Tuesdays with the president” get-togethers
typically run from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and include the president,
vice president for advancement, associate vice president in
charge of the campaign and assistant campaign coordinator.
Other members of the 20-person advancement staff are invited
for 30-minute visits for topical discussions as needed. A gift
officer might give the scoop on an important donor, or the
communications coordinator might seek input on a new
Because visits with donors typically take place in homes,
meeting at the president’s house also offers a good location for
role-playing. In addition, everyone picks up tidbits about
individual donors’ personalities, likes and dislikes. For
example, two alumnae appeared to have similar backgrounds
and interests, but one fundraiser revealed they were actually
bitter rivals. The group decided not to seat the pair at the same
table at an event.
Any nonprofit could benefit from its leaders meeting more
informally with development staff, Allen says. “The higher up
the person, the more important it is that they be part of this
conversation. It’s an important signal not only for the
fundraising team but for donors as well.”
Source: Jo Allen, President, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC.
Phone (919) 760-8511. E-mail: email@example.com.
Consider the Advantages
Of Charitable Remainder Trusts
Charitable remainder trusts are a solid choice for donors
wishing to make significant future gifts to charitable
“Charitable remainder trusts can diversify the
investments of prospective donors without the loss of
capital due to capital gains taxes and therefore create
excellent options for both donors and charitable
institutions,” says Calder Sinclair, president of Sinclair,
Townes and Company (Marietta, GA).
Sinclair states that several advantages are available to
donors through charitable remainder trusts, especially for
people who are retired or living on fixed incomes:
❑ The prospective donor can establish the charitable
gift and also retain control of the assets for the rest
of his or her lifetime.
❑ The gift instrument allows the donor to establish the
trust and enjoy more income for life.
❑ The capital gains taxes, that the donor would owe if
appreciated assets were sold, can be avoided in whole
or in part when the assets are donated to a charitable
plan, providing life income.
In addition, according to Sinclair, charitable
remainder trusts and deferred payment charitable gift
annuities have many of the advantages, without the
disadvantages, for donors of qualified retirement plans
such as 401(k)s, and 403(b)s, including the following:
1. Income tax is not assigned on the part of the value
(charitable portion) contributed to the charitable
remainder trust or the charitable gift annuity.
2. Income is deferred until sometime in the future.
3. Donors can control when payments begin,
particularly with flexible deferred-payment charitable
4. There are no annual minimum distributions related to
charitable remainder trusts or charitable gift annuities.
5. The distributions do not face the disadvantage of
being taxed as ordinary income at the instrument
recipient’s highest marginal tax rate, and charitable gift
annuities distribute both ordinary and tax-exempt
income for the rest of the annuitant’s life expectancy.
6. Most charitable remainder trusts distribute ordinary
income, but long-term capital gains income and
tax-exempt income are possible.
7. With both charitable remainder trusts and charitable
gift annuities, the balance left in the plan at the
donor’s death is not subject to federal estate tax, and
the designated charitable institution receives what is
left in the plan.
Source: Calder Sinclair, President, Sinclair, Townes and Company,
Marietta, GA. Phone (770) 988-8111.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.sinclairtownes.com