The Best Online Giving Form You’ve Never Seen

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Earlier this week I met with a regional representative of a national high profile ministry. He was expressing a desire to attract more monthly donors while lamenting limited success.

Knowing that his local organization was part of a larger national nonprofit, I suggested we do a quick check of the ease of finding and donating to his specific chapter through the national org’s website.

The good news–he was relatively easy to find.

The bad news–when I made an actual donation for his benefit, it took 7 screens to make the gift. Remember, I had already ‘found him.’ All 7 screens were about accepting and processing the gift; none were to designate my gift to the gentleman in front of me. The website had already done that (one good thing). I was also surprised to see that the gift form had shopping cart language on its face (very 2005).

I would love to see the web analytics on how many prospective donors bail on gifts throughout the various stages–screens–of the process. I can tell you with certainty, that there is some percentage bailing.

Online giving forms need to be:

  1. Simple
  2. Fast
  3. One Screen
  4. Mobile Responsive
  5. Branded and Seamless

They should look like this:

wevegothope donation form

In addition to the attributes listed, this form makes it crystal clear whether the gift is ‘one time’ or ‘monthly’ and leads with the suggested gift amounts the organization is asking for most. It also leads with the eCheck option while making it clear and easy to switch to a credit card gift. (The eCheck is important to offer because folks change their checking accounts less than they get new credit and debit card numbers due to expiration, choice/multiple cards or fraud.)

If your online gift form is more 2005 than 2015, we should talk.


Theatre West | New Client Welcome

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IMG_0804Giving Design is pleased to welcome Theatre West to the Giving Design family!

Theatre West is one of the oldest and most well regarded theaters in Los Angeles. We are honored to help them position their development function to better attract and steward individual donors.


David set to Speak Oct 1, 2015 (Duluth, GA) | Speaking Engagement

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David is honored to speak to the members of the Professional Advisors Committee of the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia.





The following is the Foundation’s announcement:

Our next PAC meeting is going to be very special and one you won’t want to miss. In fact, it is so special we have decided to meet over lunch on
Thursday, October 1st starting at 11:30 at The 1818 Club.  This meeting will replace the meeting previously scheduled for September 24th.

What makes it special? We are going to be joined by David Baker, the Principal of Giving Design, to share with us how working with a community foundation is good for both your clients and you as their advisor. David is a licensed attorney specializing in advising individuals and families on the options for their charitable giving. In addition, David served as a Planned Giving Officer at the Columbus Community Foundation in Ohio, the seventh largest community foundation in the United States. So long story short, he walks in your shoes every day as a professional advisor but also uniquely understands how a community foundation can be a benefit to his client’s needs.

Thanks so much for what you do for our Community Foundation.  Our hope is this time with David Baker will increase your knowledge about how best to engage your clients with the work we do to improve the community around us. So RSVP today to Karyl Kaye,, to reserve your spot for our next PAC meeting on October 1st at 11:30!!!



Save the Storks | New Client Welcome

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Giving Design is pleased to welcome Save the Storks to the Giving Design Family!

Storks HorizontalSave the Storks is committed to refreshing the strategy and optics of the pro-life movement. They have created the next generation of mobile ultrasound–housed in welcoming and stylish Mercedes coaches.

We are excited to come along side Save the Storks and help them serve their donors and clients with excellence. We are switching their database to Salesforce, implementing the same, recreating their online giving forms and integrating their data from both Classy and Paperless into Salesforce.




IRA Rollovers Could Be Back Any Minute | An Urgent Update

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That’s the GOOD NEWS, assuming President Obama signs the Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 (H.R. 5771) which most talking heads think he will do as soon as today.

The TOUGHER NEWS? The bill only extends IRA Rollovers to charity through the end of this year. That’s right, December 31, 2014–about 14 days from right now if you count the holidays.

Again, most commentators I have been reading today think POTUS will sign the bill into law.

What should you do now? Just in case, here’s what I would do:

  1. Dust off your old IRA Rollover promotional materials.
  2. Write the copy for an email blast with three audiences in mind: a) previous IRA Rollover donors, b) donors who have recently turned 70 1/2 years old (this is why you collect birthdays), and c) financial advisors (especially those whose clients have given IRA assets before to your organization).
  3. Pull an email and call list of the folks matching the categories above.
  4. Prioritize your call list with previous IRA Rollover donors on top.

This is worth doing. Sophisticated, older donors follow these developments–especially if they are hoping to NOT trigger an annual minimum distribution and increase their taxable income.

Time is ticking–and this is the FUN STUFF! I’ll send out another post as soon as I hear of the bill being signed.

Email me if you have any questions.


It’s the Most Wonderful Time (And Timing is Everything)

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Roughly 25-30% of all household giving happens between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve according to recent studies by both Network for Good and the University of Indiana Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Further, Network for Good noted that in both 2012 and 2013, 10% of all donations were made on the last 3 days of the year.

With that amount of activity happening in such a short, time-sensitive and time-strained time frame, it’s important to make sure your donors understand certain gifts may require some lead time beyond three days.

In order to secure an allowable charitable income tax deduction for 2014 gifts, donors should be aware of these IRS requirements for year-end gifts:

  • Check—make sure their envelope is postmarked no later than December 31st.
  • Credit Card—make their online donation before midnight December 31st.
  • Stocks & Mutual Funds (in a brokerage account)—start by December 12th to allow enough time for the transfer of ownership to occur. They’ll need to provide their broker or investment professional with a Letter of Instruction authorizing the transfer of the securities from their name into the name of your charity.
  • Stock Certificates (yes, these do still exist!)—must deliver to your “hand” anytime before December 31st or be mailed—postmarked no later than December 31st.
  • Special Assets (privately held company stock, LLC interests and real estate)—start now!
  • Private Foundation—must be incorporated, must secure an EIN (the IRS typically stops issuing EIN numbers just after Christmas), and must open a bank or brokerage account and allow time for funding to be complete before the 31st—start now!

Don’t forget to offer your donors the opportunity for Memorials and Honorariums—it can be their gift for the person on their list who has everything. Also, remind your donors not to leave money on the table if their employer offers a relevant Matching Gift Program.

I’ve always enjoyed this time of year. I enjoy all the holidays, and I enjoy the bustle of helping donors complete their year-end gifts. If I can be of assistance to you or your donors, please reach out.


Appreciating Appreciated Stock | A 4th Quarter Reminder

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If the economy is still recovering, it’s not a good time to talk about gifts of stock or mutual fund shares, right? That may have been true in 2009, but it is definitely not true in 2014.

As the third quarter closed this week, the S&P 500 posted its seventh consecutive quarter of gains. In fact, the index is currently up over 5% for the year. Its 1 year annualized return is just under 15%, and its 3 year annualized return is just under 20%.

Donors with appreciated portfolios can take advantage of gifting stock to their favorite charity in lieu of writing a check. Whether their rationale is:

  • to save capital gains tax in addition to income tax,
  • to re-balance their portfolio’s asset allocation, or
  • simply to make a meaningful gift without impacting their cash flow, a gift of stock could be the perfect gift.

There is plenty of time left in the year to make a stock gift, but waiting until after Christmas is a bad idea. Talk with your donors now about their year-end gift, and ask them if it would be helpful to learn more about the benefits of gifting stock.

I’m happy to be a sounding board for you as you help your donors make smart decisions during this last quarter of the year.


The America Gives More Act of 2014

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The House has passed several provisions designed to encourage charitable giving and consolidated them into The America Gives More Act of 2014 (H.R.4719).

Though unlikely to pass the Senate in its current form, the Bill makes the IRA Charitable Rollover permanent. The best guesses have some of the provisions in some form making it through the Senate after the midterm elections this fall. (At least our hardworking, ever diligent Congress would never delay a bill for their own political purposes.) As Conrad Teitell points out, even if some form of IRA Charitable Rollover becomes available retroactively for 2014, many retirees will have already received some or all of their required distributions. You can see Conrad’s summary of the entire Bill here.

Regardless, professional advisors (financial, legal and accounting) as well as development professionals should be prepared to help their clients and donors take advantage of the opportunity should the Senate and the President make it available.


Don’t Try This at Home

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(or why you shouldn’t guess when making estate planning decisions)

A lady—let’s call her Debbie—recently shared with me an estate and charitable planning decision she had made. She had an IRA and a life insurance policy—both typically pass outside of probate according to beneficiary designations. In this instance, she had elected to give, upon her death, the IRA to her daughter and the life insurance benefit to her favorite charity. The insurance policy and IRA were nearly equal in value.

This is exactly what Debbie should NOT do. Here’s why.

First, when IRA assets are left to another person (instead of a tax exempt, public charity like the library foundation), that person will pay income tax on those assets at their own income tax rates. In our scenario, Debbie’s daughter would get the IRA assets, but would pay state and federal income taxes on all distributions from the IRA. The charity would have received the entire IRA—and paid no tax.

Second, in our scenario, the life insurance proceeds were left to charity. Now life insurance often makes a perfectly good gift, but not in this case when Debbie is trying to make a gift to her daughter as well. The better decision would have been to leave the life insurance proceeds to the daughter. She would have received the entire proceeds free of income tax.

So, our scenario is easily fixed. The better plan—if Debbie wants to maximize the gifts and minimize the taxes—she should leave the IRA to charity and the life insurance proceeds to her daughter.