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Endowment Building Institute

Benefactor Group Launches Endowment Building Institute

In 2017, Benefactor Group launched the Endowment Building Institute (EBI) in partnership with the Licking County Foundation. The six-workshop series was designed to help nonprofits secure lasting financial support through endowment programs, and to give donors confidence that their charitable gifts will make a difference for generations to come.

12 local nonprofit organizations completed the Institute; afterwards, each group assessed their experience. Below is some of their feedback:

On average, participants rated EBI as “4.9 on a 5.0 scale,”

“EBI was excellent; loved the variety and expertise of speakers”

“EBI made us think about our measurable goals.”

Read on to learn more about the goals and results of the program, and the reasons for its praise.

About the Endowment Building Institute
Each participating organization was asked to commit to all six workshops (each lasting two to three hours) and form a team of three or more—including the development or gift planning director, board member(s), leadership endowment donor(s), and professional advisor(s). The team sat together at round tables to accommodate discussions and exercises.

The sessions featured a variety of Benefactor Group experts. Each team member received an online EBI manual; each team received a copy of Diana Newman’s book, Nonprofit Essentials: Endowment Building. The workshops were generally held monthly, to allow the teams to complete assignments between sessions.

Session outcomes
Workshop content was designed to occur in sequence, with each session building on the ones prior. Each session had specific learning objectives, as described below.

Session #1:  Understanding Endowment & What Endowment Building Requires of the Organization
Taught by: Diana Newman, Nick Miesen, and AJ Casey

  • Understand the definition and types of endowment funds
  • Learn why it is important and ways to build endowment
  • Explore the role of the board in endowment building
  • Develop the case for endowment at your nonprofit

Session #2:  Kinds of Gifts and Necessary Policies
Taught by: Diana Newman and AJ Casey

  • Learn basics about current, deferred, and split-interest gifts
  • Consider your own planned gift priorities
  • Understand the importance of written policies
  • Develop a plan to review or draft policies for the board’s approval

Session #3:  Identifying, Cultivating, Engaging, and Soliciting Donors
Taught by: Diana Newman and Laura MacDonald

  • Learn to identify who is likely to support endowment
  • Understand why donors choose different types of gifts
  • Practice ways to cultivate donors and usher them along the donor continuum
  • Set the stage for savvy solicitations

Session #4:  Caring for Donors and the People They Trust
Taught by: Diana Newman and Nick Miesen

  • Design and implement a legacy society
  • Develop an outreach effort to local professional advisors
  • Set up recognition and stewardship standards
  • Encourage donors to become advocates and ambassadors

Session #5:  Marketing the Endowment and Planned Gifts
Taught by: Diana Newman and J.D. Beiting

  • Understand the core building blocks of an endowment marketing program
  • Define your primary markets for the endowment and their characteristics
  • Understand compelling themes and messages for various markets
  • Develop tactics and tools to reach specific markets

Session #6:  Measuring Success and Building On It
Taught by: Diana Newman and Steve Beshuk

  • Know your organization’s endowment “baseline”
  • Create a strategy map for your endowment
  • Define your objectives and your measures
  • Develop collaborations with other organizational departments

All 12 teams completed the Institute and received “graduation” certificates. Participants filled out surveys to measure their experience of the whole Institute. The overall average rating was 4.9 on a 5.0 scale. Of course, the ultimate results—actual amount of endowment assets—will not be known for months or years in the future.

Representative comments on the survey:

“Great tools to use as we build a plan for endowment.”

“A nice balance of lecture and table discussions; relevant handouts.”

“Making us think about measurable goals.

“It was excellent; loved the variety and expertise of speakers.”

If you’d like more information about the Endowment Building Institute, please contact us at (614) 437-3000 or [email protected].

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