#GivingTuesday in Orlando and Throughout Central Florida

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. It’s a simple idea.

  Is your organization planning an activity for #GivingTuesday?

We want to help your nonprofit promote its event or activity!

We would like to help you promote your activities and what you are doing. Here’s what you can do to take full advantage of all the promotional opportunities of #GivingTuesday:

  1. Register with the national #GivingTuesday website as a partner organization. This way the worldwide organization will list you on their website and you will receive information directly from them. Visit http://www.givingtuesday.org/join/
  2. Register with the Rollins College Philanthropy Center. This may seem redundant but this way we can help you promote your activities right here in Central Florida. Your activity will also be listed on our website of Central Florida specific activities happening that day. Visit http://pnlc.rollins.edu/?page=GivingTues_activity
  3. Follow #GivingTuesdayCFL on social media:

When promoting your #GivingTuesday activities on social media, include hashtags for both the worldwide event, #GivingTuesday and the Central Florida activities, #GivingTuesdayCFL.

 You can also join the #GivingTuesdayCFL e-mail list at http://bit.ly/1uiZMoQ for additional information and resources.

If you are located anywhere in the Central Florida region; Orlando, Winter Park, Sanford, Kissimmee, Celebration, Apopka, Altamonte Springs, Maitland, anywhere in Central Florida, sign up and let us know about your plans for #GivingTuesday!

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Taking Planned Giving to the Next Level

With today’s financial demands squeezing charitable organizations’ budgets, many organizations are exploring opportunities to expand their methods and maximize prospects. Planned gift campaigns are frequently mentioned as a likely resource. However, staff professionals are challenged with limited resources to invest and sustain a long term commitment into a program where benefits may not be immediately realized, and Board members and others may not understand the process of securing these types of gifts. As a result, many some development directors have failed to incorporate planned giving into their annual development plans.

So, where to start?

Commit to a program. Begin with a simple plan with quarterly increments. Start with educating others about what planned giving is (and is not!). Planned giving is a service that, when properly done, can have a lasting effect on your organization. Planned giving is transformational for all parties!

Does it really begin with the Board?

Board members can be active in the process of identifying prospects, and perhaps even approaching the organization’s founders. Board members have roles as do staff professionals! While more sophisticated, traditional planned giving programs are staff driven, in small to medium-sized charities, CEO’s, development officers, and even other on staff have developed close relationships with prospective planned giving donors. E.g., a Board member may be the first to know that a certain individual is selling a business for a profit that will realize capital gains. If that individual is an established donor to your charity, with proper planning and communication, the donor can save taxes while making a transformative gift to your charity!

What do we need first?

Begin with creating the RIGHT plan designed specifically for your organization. Next, incorporate these activities into the multi-year fund development plan with measurable goals. Empower the organization and others through successful implementation.

Learn the strategies, techniques, resources and best practices at the upcoming session: Taking Your Planned Giving to the Next Level by Peggy Calhoun, ACFRE. Held on October 15th, participants will begin to understand and adopt the steps needed for success.

For more information or to learn more about Peggy Calhoun, please visit www.MillerCalhoun.com

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The Ice Bucket Challenge for Boards of Directors

The Ice Bucket Challenge for Boards of Directors

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 2.56.46 PMUnless you have absolutely no access to social media, you have probably seen more than you wished to see of friends, family, celebrities and folks you don’t even know dumping buckets of ice water over their heads. Though its origins are disputed, the great financial beneficiary of this summer’s icy trend is the ALS Association. So far the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $100.9 million dollars for ALS compared to the $2.8 million raised during the same period last year.

But, now what? How will they handle this windfall? Will they be like so many lottery winners who turn a bonanza into a tragedy by not using the money wisely? The key to success for ALS is whether or not their board of directors is up for the true ice bucket challenge.

We have all imagined what we would do if we won the lottery. At your next board meeting ask members to take a few minutes to imagine what they would do if your organization was the next big winner of a social media challenge.

How will we spend the money? – What goals are in our strategic plan? The University of Michigan study When Promoting a Charity May Hurt Charitable Giving by Robert W. Smith and Norbert Schwarz (2012) found that if the goal of a campaign is raising awareness, contrary to popular wisdom, the charity raises less money than if the stated goal is to change a problem. What will the long-term effects of the ice bucket campaign be on the organization’s ability to raise money?

Should we create an endowment? According to their January 2013 financial statement the ALS Association had just less than a million dollars in restricted assets. They spent 47% of their money on research and patient and community service, an additional 32% on public and professional education and a 21% on fundraising and administration. What should be their spending priorities going forward?

How do we thank all the people who have donated? The ice bucket challenge had over 3 million donors. How will they be able to thank all those who gave? Will they be able to build a relationship with these donors so that they give again or will they move on to a different cause?

How many people know more about our mission and the problems we are trying to address? Do you know more about ALS than you did when the campaign began? Are they now closer to rallying people to support their efforts to find a cure or assist those who have this terrible disease? Can you even say what the letters ALS stand for?

As a board of directors, having a large amount of money suddenly donated to your organization is a wonderful problem to have. If they have discussed how to manage, invest, and spend donations, your board won’t be all wet when the donations stop.

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Recap of Leaders Series Lunch: Hear from the Experts

Leaders Series Lunch: Hear from the Experts! Image courtesy @RollinsCollege

Leaders Series Lunch: Hear from the Experts! Image courtesy @RollinsCollege on Twitter.

The Philanthropy Center was happy to host a social media panel discussion on Thursday, August 7, 2014. Panelists discussed their use of social media in their nonprofit organizations.

Panelists included Denise Bealin, Director of Development and Communications at United Arts of Central Florida; Maria Shanley, Online Services and Communications Manager with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida; and Jennifer DeWitt, Social Media Manager at Rollins College.

A common theme in comments from the panel was about creating engaging content. From pictures to hashtags, creating content that engages the audience is a way to increase interaction with the various communities and not just one-way communications.

Crowdfunding sites were a popular topic as well with United Arts’ Power2Give resource in addition to sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and others. The panel discussed the opportunity to use these sites to promote specific campaigns or goals as a way to attract new donors. Also, they said it was important to keep your goals realistic, especially if it’s your first time using a crowdfunding site.

Panelist Maria Shanley from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida commented on the ability to compare Facebook likes with donors. She provided a link to a blog post by John Haydon with details about how you can do this: http://www.johnhaydon.com/2014/04/18/donors-use-facebook/.

The importance of an editorial calendar was also stressed. It’s important to schedule social media posts to coordinate special events, fundraising campaigns, program awareness, and advocacy.

Almost all social media sites were mentioned during the panel with the main focus being on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The importance of sites like LinkedIn, Pinterest, blogs, and others were brought up for their importance in specific instances, but the panel agreed on what they considered the three most important social media sites for their organizations.

Social media and its role in #GivingTuesday was also discussed. This new event started in 2012 is a huge opportunity for nonprofit organizations. Social media plays a key role in driving traffic for #GivingTuesday. If you aren’t familiar with #GivingTuesday, you can visit the #GivingTuesday website for more information. You can also join the Central Florida #GivingTuesday e-mail list which will provide information to organizations about what is happening in our community for the event.

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Follow-up questions to the webinar, What Every Nonprofit Needs To Know To Comply With Florida’s New Laws on Fundraising

Below are follow-up questions to the Philanthropy Center webinar, What Every Nonprofit Needs To Know To Comply With Florida’s New Laws on Fundraising.

Prepared by Justine Thompson Cowan, Cowan Consulting for Nonprofits, PLLC. Email: cowan@cowannonprofits.com

What is the statute that governs fundraising and where can I find it?
The Solicitation of Contributions Act (hereinafter the “Act”) begins at Section 496.401 and can be found here:


Is a museum exempt as a member-based organization?
The exemption for member-based organizations under the Act is very limited. The term “member” has a number of common meanings, but for the purposes of this statute, a member is someone who is assessed dues or fees and has a role in the governance of the organization. In addition, fundraising by the organization is limited to its membership. In non-legal terms, you might think of a member-based organization as some sort of “club”, a professional trade organization or perhaps certain homeowners’ associations (provided that they meet all of the statutory requirements).

While I do not know the structure of your museum’s membership, based on my general understanding of museum memberships, it is unlikely that you are exempt. I would assume that you seek donations from members of the public, and do not allow your members to have any actual control over the governance of the organization.

Here is the language from the statute that describes what is needed to be exempt:

  • A member would have certain “privileges, professional standing, honors, or other direct benefit [sic] of the organization in addition to the right to vote, elect officers, and hold office in the organization.”
  • The organization “limits solicitation of contributions to the membership of the charitable organization or sponsor.”
  • Membership “does not include those persons who are granted a membership upon making a contribution as a result of a solicitation.” Instead, the member paid “bona fide fees, dues, or assessments . . . [where] membership is not conferred solely as consideration for making a contribution in response to a solicitation.”

Does your comment about the Florida legal requirements that you must provide the “amount that can be deducted” upon request include goods and services rendered?
As you may recall, I made a statement that the requirement contained in the Florida Solicitation Act that a nonprofit is required to provide the “amount that can be deducted” may be at odds with IRS guidance. I was referring to a particular situation –  an individual donates an item such as a computer and the organization provides a receipt. Based on IRS guidance, the nonprofit should not be valuing that computer for tax purposes. Instead, the nonprofit should provide a description (but not the value) of non-cash contributions. However, as indicated by the question posed, it is equally true that IRS guidance states that, if the organization provides goods and services, the nonprofit should make a good faith estimate of the value of those services.

The point of my comment is to be aware that there may be a contradiction in the duties stated by the state and the IRS. Standard practice is to follow IRS guidance on how to acknowledge different types of donations which can be found here:


If we have donors in other state, will we have to pay solicitation fees in all of those states?
Each state has its own laws and requirements for fundraising. You will need to check with the state where you would like to conduct fundraising. Fortunately, many states allow an organization to file a “Unified Registration Statement” which can make this process easier. More information about this can be found here:


Does the signage requirement for receptacles apply to “cash” donations?
The signage requirement only applies to receptacles “used to collect donated clothing, household items, or other goods for resale.”

What about crowdfunding such as gofund.me – is that covered by the Act?
There are no exemptions for crowdfunding. As such, you would need to analyze the fundraising activities as was discussed during the presentation. There are exemptions for some of the activities that you typically see on crowdfunding sites (e.g. raising money for an individual), but those activities would have to meet the requirements described in the statute, something that was not addressed in detail during the presentation.

Can you set up one form that all board members can sign indicating compliance with the Conflict of Interest Policy?
Yes, the statute merely requires “annual certification” that “shall be submitted to the department with the annual registration statement.” It does not prescribe a particular format for these submissions. With that said, it is possible that in the future, the Department of Agriculture may create a form for these types of submissions.

View the blog post What Every Nonprofit Needs To Know To Comply With Florida’s New Laws on Fundraising July 2014.


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