The Most Important (and Earliest) Fundraising Lesson

My earliest fundraising lesson began in 7th grade when my teacher asked the class, “Do you want basketball hoops or not?”  The answer was easy but getting there was hard.

My school did not have a gym. The closest thing it had to one was a basement. What some kids took for granted at other schools, my school learned to do without until we were given an opportunity to change all of that.

The big question was if we wanted basketball hoops, how were we to raise the money to buy them?

Fortunately, because of  our teacher’s encouragement and a parent who was willing to donate a piece of art, we had the means to hold a fundraising raffle. Quick math told us how many tickets needed to be sold in order to have enough to buy the hoops.

And so the process began.  We had to determine how quickly we had to sell these raffle tickets and who will buy them.  It was clear that my immediate clients would be my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Then who else was the obvious question.

Door to door knocking was the next step. Before I set out for ongoing disappointment and rejection, I knew that I had to have a good pitch. I needed one that was not selfish but compelling. It needed to answer why I am at a stranger’s door asking them to buy a raffle ticket for a painting, who I represent, and what the money is for. I learned that not everyone is there to support my project and not take it personally – early lesson for a 13 year old.

This approach is the one that I have used many times in my life and for every campaign I have undertaken .

The end result of the basketball hoops fundraising was a success due to our persistence. Without our active desire to make it happen, it never would have taken place.

You too have the opportunity to influence change and go after your own “basketball hoops.” It is with the same desire and convincing pitch, that our campaigns either win or lose.  Each of our organizations are worthy, important and deserve the funding they request.  It all comes down to our intense commitment to pursue our organizational and personal goals and objectives.

– Bill

Presentation: Peterborough Estate Planning Council (PEPC)

William Petruck, President of FUNDING matters Inc. is presenting at the Peterborough Estate Planning Council (PEPC) meeting.

Presentation Overview:

Prince died at age 57 without a will. Over 60% of Canadians over the age of 50 do not have a current estate plan and of those with a current estate plan only 4% have a provision for a charitable bequest.

More money is directed to CRA each year from taxable capital gains than is donated to charity. Professional advisors can help shape their clients’ legacy for their families and their communities. Attendees will walk away with the tools and techniques to engage in discussions with their clients.

William’s company created a unique tool called Giftabulator® NOW. It is an Estate, Financial and Philanthropic planning app that will show you how to minimize taxes (everyone’s dream) while making the world a better place. Whether you are a charity competing for donor dollars or a financial professional offering clients a cutting-edge service, Giftabulator® NOW is an invaluable tool that will demonstrate the potential giving capacity of every individual. It is ideally suited for: Charitable Organizations, Financial Professionals, Estate Planning Needs.

CAGP Conference – Scaling New Heights

I am excited to be presenting and exhibiting at the 2016 CAGP conference in Banff from April 6th-8th. My session will be geared towards the discussion with donors and the interests, concerns and fears they have when making either a major or planned gift. The session will be on Wednesday, April 6th from 11:15am – 12:15pm

Please drop by the FUNDING matters Inc. booth #8 and say hi if you are attending the conference. We will introduce you to Giftabulator NOW 2.0 and show you how to make it your major gift and planned giving companion in your discussions with donors.

I look forward to seeing you.

For more information please visit: or

You can also visit the CAGP Conference website here:

Giftabulator NOW 2.0 Alpha Version

I wanted to give you an update on Giftabulator NOW, as we have been making continuous improvements in order to bring you and your donors a tool that is educational and easy to navigate for major and planned giving.

We now have several key organizations who have joined other leading charities on board as we grow each day. Organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Salvation Army, Shevchenko Foundation, Canadore College, and Camosun College Foundation to name a few, are realizing the true benefits of Giftabulator NOW and the importance of putting their donors first.

We’d love to give you a sneak peak with Giftabulator NOW 2.0 the alpha version and get your opinion. Please contact us at or 416-249-0788.

Some of the new features include:

1. French version available
2. More intuitive user interface
3. Videos walkthrough for donors
4. Staff Resources section with videos, sample letters, and much more.

Thank you again for your support. Your feedback is always welcome. Together we can do this.

William Petruck

President and CEO, FUNDING matters Inc.

Mid-Level Donors are Important

I came across an insightful article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy called Making the Most of Mid-Level Donors [hyperlink to article].

The author states, “Mid-level donors are often overlooked at non-profits, even though they are among the most generous and loyal supporters, and may have the potential to give much more if they are treated well. How can your organization attract, keep, and inspire mid-level donors to give more? ”

The reality is that these mid-level donors are the backbone of your organization’s annual funding. The issue is how to convert many of these donors into major gift and planned giving donors. The key is to provide the tools which can illustrate the benefits associated with a larger donation and indicate where the funding can be sourced.

Since most donors give from the “wallet” in the form of a credit card, cheque or cash, the ideal major gift should be sourced from appreciated assets with a taxable capital gain. Why is this important for your donors to know? Illustrating a donation from an appreciated asset with a taxable gain will help the donor understand the benefit associated with a donation in which they will be paying tax on if not used partially or wholly as a charitable gift.

To see more illustrations please check out

Donate to Eliminate

I was encouraged to see the Laura Saunders’ article Tax Smart Philanthropy Made Easy in the Wall Street Journal (click link here). This has been a key element of what we have been speaking to advisors, charities and individuals about in getting their estate, financial houses in order to minimize taxation on their capital gains now and in their estates. Tax planning means that advisors and their clients need to take an inventory of all assets now and over time to ensure that what is left over and taxed can be put to other uses like philanthropy.

The article talks about the increasing popularity of Donor Advised Funds such as those offered by Fidelity, Schwab and Rowe. The other option is for donors give directly to charity and see the impact of their giving. The Donor Advised Fund model is a very smart approach if you are undecided about which charities you may want to leave your money to, and the taxman is not one of your chosen beneficiaries. It is also a wise strategy for future generations who will invariably be approached to give to charity. Imagine having the luxury of helping society with pre-tax dollars.

An important element in smart tax planning is being able to see how lowering taxes can be achieved and what is required. All too often, advisors do not spend the time engaging in these types of discussions for a number of reasons including, lack of knowledge or not having the tools to educate and illustrate these concepts to their clients. Charities are equally guilty of not engaging their members with the information in a concrete manner. That is why, historically, the number of bequests to charities has remained in the 4% to 6% range. Guess who is getting the rest after the family? You got it, the taxman.

The solution to this is Giftabulator NOW, Alpha Version 2.0, an estate, financial and philanthropic planning application on a charity’s website with an easy-to-understand model for approaching donors for major gifts and planned giving.  It shows individuals how much they should give to charity now or in their will to reduce their taxes on various assets. Call it Donate to Eliminate.

Link to Article:

Check out Giftabulator NOW

Building a list of loyal donors

I hear all too often that organizations don’t have prospects to approach for major or planned gifts. So organizations wait and hold events, use direct mail or try out social media. In other words, the status quo in fundraising over the past 20 years is maintained, with social media being a new version on direct mail.

I can honestly say that building a list of people who have been loyal supporters to charities should be relatively easy. It starts with identifying your loyal, consistent donors who have been giving to you religiously over the past five years or more.

Giftabulator NOW is an ideal tool for you and your team to have discussions with donors about large gifts and how they can be constructed. Please contact me for more information.


Why do rich people give?

There are many reasons why the wealthy donate to charity. But you don’t have to be wealthy to give. It is more important to know, from my experience, that wealthier donors give from appreciated assets. That means that they will look at assets like stocks, mutual funds, property or tangible items like art to give to charity. They always hope, like all donors that their donation makes a difference in the lives of others through the organizations they support. They also see that their donation will be coupled in most cases with the tax credits or tax deductions, which reduce the tax owing on their asset(s) from which the donation was made.

The question shouldn’t be why do wealthy people give but how do they give? Wealthy people utilize techniques that are available to anyone who thinks about giving to charity. The first step is to identify where the funds should come from. The easy answer is the wallet, where the donor can write a cheque, make a donation via credit card or give cash. All of these are after-tax donations, which means the person giving the donation has already paid tax on these funds. So when a donation comes from the wallet the donation will cost more than if you had given an appreciated asset.

When a donation is made from an appreciated asset, the person giving the donation should look at the tax owing and calculate how much they should give from their capital gain to reduce the tax and not touch the principle which was used to grow the asset. This is best accomplished with the donor’s tax advisor, financial advisor or in some cases their lawyer.

What happens when the donor knows more than the fundraiser? The fundraiser better be on their A-game.

Imagine this scenario: you’re meeting with a donor about a major gift donation and they tell you they’ve set up a trust fund for their children and are in the process of setting up their own family foundation. The donor then says they like your charity and the work it does. The donor is a very successful owner of a multimillion-dollar annual-earning private corporation. He is also a trained tax accountant and has been growing his business for 50 years.

This might be the ideal donor or your greatest challenge. They have thought through their financial plans but have not included any significant provision for your charity.

I was just in a situation like this, where the donor had a rebuttal to every donation strategy I suggested. This donor was very successful and you would assume that the family has assets in public shares of stocks and mutual funds, which might be a good quick approach to giving if these assets have taxable capital gains. It was met with a tepid response since he was not heavily invested in the markets.

I asked him about considering donating his registered investments since he is in the RRSP age group going into the RRIF age group shortly. He shows some interest and acknowledges that it is a strategy that he had not considered, even though his registered beneficiary is his wife if she were to pass. With this strategy, the charity would receive the proceeds and his estate would not have to pay tax. He indicates changing the beneficiary from his wife to the charity might be of interest.

He revealed that several major multinational corporations had been sniffing around his business in the past few years. If he were to sell his business, the taxable capital gains would be significant and looking at additional strategies that would offset the tax would be very important. I gave him a few options available to help offset the taxable capital gains on his company shares. For example, if he were to sell his business, a donation of private company shares could be made to the charity to help offset the taxable capital gains..

The good news is he agreed to meet with me a few weeks following to explore how charitable giving and a family foundation can be realized to meet the family’s objectives. This shift in discussion was only possible after I was able to illustrate for him how asset growth and the corresponding tax on capital gains can be mitigated by charitable giving.

What is happening with bequests?

Fewer North Americans are drafting wills – that makes getting a bequest that much harder

Based on the stats that 60% of individuals have a current estate plan and of those only 4% have included charity in their estate planning indicates that something is wrong with what charities and professional advisors have been doing.

Most individuals do not understand what a bequest is in the first place. This creates a bigger challenge in engaging these individuals to make a charitable gift as part of their estate planning. Just imagine, you don’t have an estate plan and your financial plan is somewhat clouded. How can you begin the process of even thinking about making a charitable donation of any magnitude. The lack of engagement and information between the charity, the advisors and the donor is a huge obstacle to increasing the number of major gift donors or bequest gifts a charity may receive now or in the foreseeable future.

Illustrating the impact of taxation on assets and how taxation can be directed for charitable purposes should be the responsibility of the charitable executive and the professional advisors. Often, the donor once alerted to the matter of making a sizeable donation by the charity refers the discussion to their financial, taxation or legal advisor for further clarity. It’s getting to this point that takes some work. All charities have a strong case for support and most fundraisers are great communicators, so what happens when it comes to communicating the benefits to the donor associated with their giving? We need to step up and become more literate and comfortable in engaging with donors and other professional advisors in this area. Only then, will we see an improvement and an increase in the number of bequests being made to charity.

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