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Turning Memories into Legacy

July 25, 2017

By Mike Bussey One weekend nearly a decade ago, my wife and I drove 650 miles to a camp in Northern Minnesota to have dinner with our youngest son. John was a camp counselor retuning to camp after leading a group of five young men on a 40-day canoe trip to Arctic Ocean. Camp tradition […]

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Rebooting Endowment Development

May 25, 2017

By Mike Bussey At a recent conference, several sessions and related discussions focused on ways to revitalize, reimagine and recharge stagnant endowment development programs. And for good reason! Although many nonprofits report having endowment funds, that percentage is declining and very few have on-going programs that effectively inform and invite the organization’s best friends to […]

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Just Do It

January 9, 2017

By Mike Bussey This month, the Donor By Design Group is challenging you to take action, moving from resolutions to results. Today’s topic? Stop thinking about endowment and just do it!     In a recent conversation about both proposed capital and endowment programs, a longtime church member noted that many factors go into determining whether or […]

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Where There’s a Will…

September 22, 2016

By Mike Bussey It’s now been five months since Prince passed away at his home in the Twin Cities. The local, national and international response to his passing has transitioned from expressions of loss and grief to controversies and court ruling about the disposition of his estate. Prince’s estate is thought to be valued at […]

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The Long Haul

August 2, 2016

By Thom Peters “Animation is like telling a joke and waiting three years to see if anyone laughs.” – Ed Catmull, Pixar Studios I heard Ed Catmull share this in an interview about the making of Toy Story. His point was that working on the film required a great vision, patience, and the confidence to […]

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Three Lessons from the Death of an Icon

May 11, 2016

By Lora Dow I was as shocked as anyone at the death of Prince, and deeply saddened at the news that he may have died without a will. The fact that his estate will now become part of the public record – and that any potential fight over it will be national news – is […]

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Waiting on Lightning

April 25, 2016

By Lora Dow We’ve all heard the stories. A nonprofit executive is surprised by a windfall gift – a generous check from a donor, either living or deceased, that comes as a complete surprise. It is easy to tell the story as if that gift is like a lightning strike from out of the blue. […]

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Who Are Your Best Friends?

March 24, 2016

By Mike Bussey Thank you for asking, but we’ve already made an endowment commitment to your organization. If you’re visiting with your best endowment prospects, invitations to become members of your legacy society quite often produce this response. And it is gratifying to hear! The challenge is to identify your best endowment prospects – your […]

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Searching for Support

February 9, 2016

By the Donor By Design Team Creating an endowment program – an ongoing conversation about ensuring your mission’s relevance and sustainability for generational impact – is a critical endeavor for all nonprofit organizations, schools and churches. Income from endowment funds can make the difference in challenging economic conditions and can also allow your organization to […]

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Resolution: Treasure People

January 11, 2016

By Journey Johnson My resolution for 2016 is to write, call or visit one friend every day. I have become more reflective and nostalgic in my older age. Each time I reflect on what is important to me in life, it always seems to come back to relationships and people. My hope is to connect […]

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Rollover Opportunity

December 21, 2015

IRA Rollover to Charity made Permanent Nearly ten years after first approving legislation in 2006 temporarily allowing tax-free rollovers from a donor’s traditional IRA to charity, President Obama has signed legislation making this provision permanent. A taxpayer who is over 70 ½ can now make a direct transfer of up to $100,000 from her IRA […]

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Instant Gratification

November 5, 2015

While talking with non-profits about starting or renewing their endowment efforts, I often hear: “We would like to develop our endowment program, but it takes so long to provide any payback. We won’t get any money for years.” But is that really true? In my own experience this concern about a delayed payback is a […]

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How to turn $15 into $90,000

September 9, 2015

By Charley Shirley “Who should we ask?” is often the first question I get as I begin to develop an endowment program with a non-profit organization. It’s a good question, and one we have to answer, but often the person you think is likely to leave your organization $1 million is not the person who […]

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Sowing Seeds, Part II

July 6, 2015

By Lora Dow Conversations around giving can feel tricky for anyone, but I find that the people who struggle with it most are church leaders. Many pastors and lay staff are reluctant to talk about money at all. Those that do tend to focus on immediate operational needs of the church or mission-based outreach. This […]

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Message in a Bottle

June 3, 2015

By Mike Bussey and Lora Dow Many nonprofit leaders want to begin an endowment development program, but are unsure of where to start. They don’t know who might be a good prospect in their community or among their past donors. How can you tell if someone has the resources and the desire to leave a […]

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The Best Storytellers Aren’t Born, They’re Made

March 23, 2015

By Danny Maier This blog recently appeared on the NAYDO (North American YMCA Development Organization) website. We thought you’d enjoy it too, if you’re a Y or any other nonprofit, school or church. Think about great storytellers… from comedians like Will Rogers or Robin Williams, to politicians like Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.* They just […]

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The Value of Stewardship

March 19, 2015

By Jon Simons Upon learning about an amazing $40,000,000 estate gift made to the Westport Weston Family YMCA in Connecticut, another non-profit leader commented to me on how lucky they were to receive such a transformational donation. Having had the honor of working with the staff and volunteers of the Westport Weston Family Y for the […]

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5 Myths About Endowment

March 3, 2015

By Mike Bussey and Lora Dow Recently, we were asked to share a presentation on endowment for NAYDO – the North American YMCA Development Organization. We published this blog on their site as a companion to that presentation, and are sharing it here with our readers. Even if you’re not a YMCA, we think you might […]

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Sowing Seeds

February 18, 2015

By Lora Dow Recently I had lunch with a church pastor. His church has an endowment fund from the sale of property, but it hasn’t grown much since then. Like many congregations, his church could benefit from the income a stronger endowment could provide. To that end, church leaders have worked to clear up the […]

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The First Step

December 18, 2014

By Mike Bussey It’s nearing the end of the year and something is unfinished on your to-do list. It’s something you’ve been thinking about all year, perhaps even for the past several years, and yet you haven’t quite gotten to it. The urgency of operations, annual fundraising, to say nothing of that upcoming capital campaign […]

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What Matters: Endowment

November 17, 2014

By the Donor By Design Team In this episode of the What Matters Podcast, DBD team members Jon Simons and Charley Shirley discuss the role that endowment plays in a not-for-profit or church’s overall development plan. While it’s easy to put off working on the endowment, you’ll be missing out on a huge generational impact […]

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DBD AXIOMS: Interest and Capacity

October 23, 2014

By Bruce Berglund At Donor By Design, we are guided by a series of axioms: Core concepts that shape our work and have proven their worth over and over again. In this new series, we’ll dig into these axioms and clarify how they can help you achieve your development goals. For years I have started […]

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Taking Stock in Your Favorite Charity

September 24, 2014

By Charley Shirley The Great Recession is still fresh to many people, especially for those who lost a considerable amount of their net worth and retirement savings when the stock market crashed. Now the stock market has greatly improved – in fact it has reached new heights. As a result, donations of appreciated securities are […]

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Don’t Neglect Your Family

July 8, 2014

By Lora Dow Part of any fundraising campaign involves the solicitation of gifts from board and staff. Sometimes we call this the “family campaign.” It often comes at the beginning of an annual effort or during the “quiet phase” of a capital campaign. While it’s something we always do, I’d challenge you to consider how […]

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