Licking County Foundation

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As winter thawed into the spring of 2017, Licking County Foundation (LCF) went in search of a partner with which to create an Endowment Building Institute—a series of workshops designed to help nonprofits increase endowment assets. The institute was an opportunity to educate the community, expand the development expertise of local nonprofits, and highlight LCF as a destination for donors and nonprofits to come together. In addition, LCF would be able to build on the success of a past endowment institute.

Connie Hawk, Director of the Licking County Foundation, found that partner in the team at Benefactor Group. Leading the project was Diana Newman, the Executive Vice President of Benefactor Group, who has over 25 years of experience in planned giving, endowment building, and leveraging the diversity of donors. Ms. Newman brought with her the expertise of the Benefactor Group team – Laura MacDonald (President), AJ Casey (Of Counsel), J.D. Beiting (Consultant), Nick Miesen (Senior Consultant), and Steve Beshuk (Vice President).

The institute brought together 12 Licking County nonprofits; the average annual budget of these organizations was just under $4.2 million. Each group brought its unique needs, concerns, and questions to the table.

Over the course of almost a year, LCF not only educated the institute participants, but also built a community of colleagues. The result: stronger nonprofits—and a community that could support one another long after the conclusion of the institute.

The program was divided into six sessions. Between each session, participants worked on assignments and read selections from Nonprofit Essentials: Endowment Building, written by Ms. Newman. Brief descriptions of the sessions are provided below.

Session One: Understanding Endowments and the Case for Support
Session Two: Kinds of Gifts and Policies

To kick off the Endowment Building Institute, the first and second sessions covered the fundamentals of endowments. (What are endowments? How does the board need to be involved? What kind of policies and procedures do we need?) With these essentials established, participants then moved to the “investment prospectus” of the endowment – the case for support. This case must substantiate the capability of the organization, differentiate the organization from its peers, and tell stories that resonate with prospective donors.

Session Three: Engaging Donors
Session Four: Caring for Donors and Advisors

Once an organization has established an endowment and the supporting policies, the focus shifts to the donors. The next two sessions focused on those donors and their advisors. From prospect identification to moving a donor along the “donor continuum,” the Benefactor Group team outlined ways to engage and steward donors throughout the relationship.

Session Five: Marketing Endowment
Session Six: Measuring Success  

The final two sessions focused on marketing and measuring success. Through appropriate audience identification and marketing strategies, nonprofits can develop compelling messages and increase donor engagement. Through appropriate metrics, nonprofits can measure cost and benefit, and monitor the fund as it grows.

If your organization is interested in bringing an Endowment Building Institute to your area, please reach out to Benefactor Group at (614) 437-3000.