Strategic development consulting for the nonprofit community

Salute to the Helpers

September 21st, 2018

moss+ross is proud to work with nonprofit partners who are on the ground in Florence’s wake.

Our work with clients in the nonprofit sector inspires us every day, and never more so than in the past week as Hurricane Florence has affected our region. We appreciate the expertise and dedication of the agencies involved in relief efforts, and the compassion and caring of the staff and volunteers who step up in times of need.  As Mr. Rogers said, when you see scary things in the news, look for the helpers.

This special post highlights a few of our current clients who serve multiple counties in Eastern NC and are on the front lines of relief and support. We know many of our clients are marshalling resources, setting up collections and planning ways to provide ongoing support to the long term needs of recovery. We’ve seen the impact this past week – major events cancelled, services rerouted and volunteers deployed. We salute you all, and stand ready to help where we can.

Relief Efforts by Current Clients Serving Eastern NC

  1. The Episcopal Farmworker Ministry serves migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Eastern NC farm communities that have been heavily impacted by the storm. See the news article below for more details about their work and information about getting involved in their relief efforts.
  2. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh provides services in the 54 most eastern counties in North Carolina, and serves people of all faiths or no faith tradition. They are working with families affected by the storm to meet their immediate needs and help them recover and rebuild their lives. See Catholic Charities Disaster Relief Services for information on how to help.
  3. SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals serves patients and families from throughout the state, with most guests coming from areas affected by the storm, as shown in this impact map. This client is serving families experiencing storm recovery on top of their serious illness, and support for their mission supports families throughout NC.
Our firm has made donations to these causes, and we know many other clients, particularly those in humanitarian and faith organizations, are coordinating collections, volunteers and fundraising efforts. We encourage you to support them in any way you can.
Recovery and Support for Eastern NC Farmworkers
by Lisa D’Amico, moss+ross interim solutions affiliate
On a typical day, the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry visits a number of camps in Eastern North Carolina where migrant farmworkers live and work harvesting crops and tobacco. Usually, the Ministry provides support in the form of clean clothing (free of pesticide exposure), heavy duty work gloves (to prevent Nicotine Sickness), and water bags to those too far in the field to access water. They provide ESL classes, immigration services, hold a Sunday worship service for the farmworker community, and much more.

But these aren’t typical days. Hurricane Florence has been here with her unprecedented amount of rainfall and flooding. The areas in Eastern North Carolina served by the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry were hit hardest and are surrounded by local rivers, now overflowing their banks.  The focus of the Ministry these days is that of recovery and support. Some camps are flooded and workers are stranded without food until the water subsides. Many workers are in shelters where they need food, water and sanitation supplies.

Residents in the area need direction and assistance with finding resources or applying for federal assistance (if they are legal residents), and the Ministry is helping to provide that information and support. The Executive Director is working to secure funding so the Ministry can not only assist in this disaster relief but also support its ongoing mission of ‘Serving Christ in the fields, on the farm, and at home.’

As the days and weeks go on and the area starts to recover from this devastating storm, the Ministry will go back to its usual day job – that of providing direct services to the farmworkers who help put the food on our tables.

If you would like to help this great work continue, please click on the donate button or send a check to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, P.O. Box 160, Newton Grove, NC 28366. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Lariza Garzon at lariza.garzon@gmail.com. Your donations are so appreciated year-round as the Ministry supports the farmworkers, but especially now! Thank you!

Second New Business Division Announced: m+r interim solutions

June 21st, 2018

by Mary Moss

Our firm’s goal is to strengthen nonprofit capacity in numerous ways. Last month, we announced the creation of a new business division focused on communities of faith. More than 30 representatives of this rich fabric of faith in the Triangle recently attended two different workshops to learn about our new services.  Attendees stuck around well after the presentation to brainstorm how they were going to use new ideas and knowledge gleaned about preparing for a capital campaign, and how we could help bring those ideas to life.

Today, just a little over a month later, Susan and I are delighted to unveil a second new business division for moss+ross.  After almost 10 years of serving more than 150 nonprofits, we are proud to introduce m+r interim solutions to this community.  Clients often call to ask if we can help with interim staffing to bridge a staff departure, work on a special project or fill a temporary need.  Over the years, we have answered the call, and a variety of clients to whom we have provided interim staffing is listed below.  Recognizing that interim staffing solutions are an ongoing need with our clients, with deliberate care and intention we have recruited some of this area’s most skilled professionals to serve as affiliate contractors. We stand ready to help you solve whatever staffing problems and opportunities come your way, planned or unplanned.

We have built our firm on integrity, listening well, and being responsive to community needs.  We believe m+r interim solutions will help you keep your momentum when the unexpected arises.  The article below outlines details and contact information to learn more about our services.

Current and Former Interim Clients (recent clients in italics)

Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance

Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County

Center for Child and Family Health

Duke School

Duke University Development

Durham Arts Council

East Durham Children’s Initiative

Episcopal Farmworker Ministry

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

North Carolina Opera

Public School Forum of NC

Ronald McDonald House of Durham

SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

Triangle Land Conservancy

UNC Global

UNC Institute for the Arts & Humanities

UNC School of Social Work

Urban Ministries of Durham

Wake Habitat

WakeEd Partnership

Wesley Foundation

 

m+r interim solutions: Personnel Services for Nonprofits

June 21st, 2018

by Lizzy Mottern, Director, and LisaCaitlin Perri, Co-Director, m+r interim solutions

Triangle-area nonprofits that need hands-on professional help with leadership, fundraising, grant writing, communications, database support, and more can now call on moss+ross for interim personnel services.

Our new service, m+r interim solutions, provides our clients with talented professionals on cost-effective, short-term contracts to:

  • Fill gaps due to planned and unplanned personnel absences
  • Support temporary project needs, or
  • Assist during peak workloads

moss+ross affiliate contractors are highly qualified, experienced nonprofit professionals who work as interim members of a client’s staff.  moss+ross develops the scope of work and contract with the client, manages the client relationship, and provides oversight to the affiliate’s work. Affiliates are guided by moss+ross best practices and understand moss+ross expectations for delivering high-value service to clients.

m+r interim solutions roles include:

  • Executive Director
  • Director of Development
  • Gift Officer
  • Development Associate
  • Database/Data Processing
  • Grant Writer
  • Communications/Marketing
  • Events Coordinator

moss+ross understand the needs, opportunities, and challenges of area nonprofits. The firm has often provided onsite interim services to clients, and the new m+r interim solutions business unit is a response to client requests for expanding this service.

moss+ross is accepting inquiries from clients who need interim personnel services, and also from potential affiliate contractors who are interested in working on short-term assignments for moss+ross clients. Please contact us through our website

Expanded Focus on Faith Communities

May 22nd, 2018

Expanded Focus on Faith Communities

by Susan Ross

Listening to the inspiring words of the Most Reverend Michael Curry on Saturday at the Royal Wedding reminded the world (or at least the two billion of us who watched) that there is power in love to help, heal, lift up, liberate, and show us the way to live.

At moss+ross, we believe the work we do with our nonprofit partners helps to extend this power of love to neighbors throughout our communities. During the past decade, Mary and I have grown the firm to include 18 associates, enabling us to respond rapidly and effectively to our partners. To our original core business of campaign management and fundraising counsel, we have added capacity in executive search, strategic planning, data management, research, and other important areas.

Today we announce an expanded focus on faith communities, knowing that effective fundraising is critical to achieving their missions. moss+ross has helped raise more than $35 million for church, synagogue and diocesan campaigns, and we look forward to becoming even stronger partners in this realm.

We have brought on additional consulting associates to lead our work.  Senior Associates Wes Brown and Patrice Nelson, both ordained ministers with long records of community and church engagement, will direct our faith communities work. In this newsletter, Wes shares his expert perspective on how congregational fundraising is different from other nonprofit efforts.

moss+ross will offer a morning workshop on May 30 and June 13 about planning and running successful faith community campaigns. It is designed to be of interest to both clergy and lay leaders, and there is no charge though space is limited (sign up info is below).

We are excited about expanding our services to partner with Triangle-area faith communities in achieving their fundraising goals.

moss+ross Workshop

Triangle area clergy and lay leaders are invited to join moss+ross
for breakfast and conversation at our upcoming workshop:
“Campaigns and Congregations”Wednesday, May 30 or Wednesday, June 13
(Select the date that’s best for you.)
Breakfast buffet at 8:30am. Workshop 9am – 11:30am.
No charge, but space is limited.

Hilton Garden Inn RTP, TW Alexander Room, 4620 South Miami Blvd. in Durham. Exit 281 off I-40.

RSVP to wbrown@mossandross.com

Fundraising and Faith Communities

May 22nd, 2018

Fundraising and Faith Communities

by Wes Brown

Faith institutions require financial support for leadership, facilities, education, and mission outreach. Yet, many congregants insist that their giving is “between me and God,” and often the pastor or other spiritual leader does not know who gives how much—a very different situation from that of most nonprofits or educational institutions. Fundraising is necessary but often uncomfortable and difficult.

Most non-profits employ staff specifically to manage fundraising efforts, but this is generally not the case for faith communities. While faith leaders know and love their people well, they are seldom experienced in managing campaigns, addressing family financial matters or discussing planned giving options. Members enlisted as campaign volunteers are reluctant, without good training, to approach fellow congregants about generous giving for fear of crossing personal boundaries. And there can be incorrect or inflated assumptions about the charitable capacities of a few prominent members.

A congregation is held together by deep religious beliefs and traditions. It has a strong sense of purpose and mission. It is multigenerational, it meets regularly, it engages professional clergy and enables the ministries of lay persons in activities of worship, education, and service—caring for a parish reaching well beyond its formal membership. The gathering and use of financial resources is a spiritual matter. God’s perspective is abundance rather than scarcity. The Hebrew Bible emphasizes the giving of alms and the responsibilities of tzedakah (charitable giving) as a moral obligation for all. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks about money more frequently than any subject except the kingdom of God. The term “stewardship” describes the proper perspective about money and possessions for members of faith communities who are inclined to reflect the generous priorities of God.

Thus, when the need arises for financial resources beyond the annual budget—for new or growing programs, additional staff, building expansion or repair—congregations may benefit enormously from professional fundraising wisdom and guidance. The team at moss+ross understands that a congregational campaign must be grounded in theological perspectives with appropriate messaging to tie the vision for ministry with the financial goal. Experienced and consistent oversight, a thorough analysis of capacity and readiness, development of a compelling story, training of confident and committed leaders, and close counsel from the campaign launch through celebration are as essential to faith communities as they are to any other organization. Participation becomes a privilege and the result is joyfully transformative.

Join us for one of the upcoming workshops as we share some of the tools needed for a faith community campaign.

moss+ross Workshop

Triangle area clergy and lay leaders are invited to join moss+ross
for breakfast and conversation at our upcoming workshop:
“Campaigns and Congregations”

Wednesday, May 30 or Wednesday, June 13
(Select the date that’s best for you.)
Breakfast buffet at 8:30am. Workshop 9am – 11:30am.
No charge, but space is limited.

Hilton Garden Inn RTP, TW Alexander Room, 4620 South Miami Blvd. in Durham. Exit 281 off I-40.

RSVP to wbrown@mossandross.com

 

Who Are Your People? Find out in eight easy steps.

April 10th, 2018

Who Are Your People? Find Out in Eight Easy Steps

Written by Mary Moss

When growing up, this was one of the most often heard questions coming from the generations above.  I can remember not having a good answer for it.  I didn’t have “people” that I thought were description-worthy.  Frankly, I had no idea who “my people” were:  they were just a sister, grandparents and some distant cousins, so why did people keep asking me “who were my people”?  A few times I answered “Criminals who came over from Ireland” to much laughter.  As it turns out, once I got older and more comfortable with this question, I realized that those asking just wanted to know more about me; the question was not meant to be intrusive but a friendly colloquialism that invited conversation and connection.  In a nostalgic moment now and then, I wish I knew my own people better.

Little did I know that I would spend a career that in one way or another explores this very same question.  In all aspects of advancement work, from direct fundraising to alumni affairs to grant writing, the very first questions we ask about any organization are (1) who is supporting you already; (2) who else might want to support you; and (3) who can connect the dots between your organization and this other group.  It sounds pretty simple, right?  Not!

Understandably, life is so busy in the nonprofit world that organizations develop routines that do not allow time and space to examine these questions.  Staff are multi-tasking and so busy going to meetings, worrying about the next event, or getting a mailing out the door that they have not stopped to ask the basic questions above:  Who are these people?  Who is coming to the party and how can we know them better?  Who is going to open this letter, and what would be memorable and motivating?  We find that many organizations take for granted their consistent supporters and do not thank them or steward them properly.  Current donors are not asked to move up in their investment for fear of losing the current one, and because it is easier and faster to keep doing work the same way.  The thought of getting new people engaged is overwhelming:  Creative thoughts become buried under deadlines and routines.

At moss+ross, we take you back to the basics to stimulate creativity and new approaches.  Whether through a feasibility study, campaign counsel, an assessment, an executive search, or a board retreat, we begin our work with you examining these basic questions.  Who are your people, and how can you know them better?  We encourage you to consider these eight steps to success, and we promise you will know your people better than you do now.

Eight Successful Steps to Know Your People

  1. Set aside staff and volunteer time to take a deep dive into your database.  “Put your creative on” when you are looking at names!  Be curious.  This is not boring work; it is essential and fun work.
  2. Consider wealth screening to know as much as you can about your people. moss+ross offers this service, and we would be happy to talk about prices.
  3. Segment who has been giving consistently for five years or more, and make a plan for them that involves personal outreach from staff and volunteers based on levels of giving and potential.  Ask them to lunch; get to know them; listen.  Tag them in your database.  When they come to the party, have a special plan for them.
  4. Develop a pool of people who dropped off your list six to ten years ago.  Create messages that will bring them up to date and encourage re-engagement.  Ask who knows them, and how they can reconnect?  Tag them in your database.  At the party, seat this group with seasoned supporters who can tell the story.
  5. Look at who has never given.  Why are they in your database?  Repeat the steps in number four and consider eliminating names based on sound reasoning (they were one-time memorial gifts, have not given in 10+ years or more, etc.).  Again, tag them in your database.
  6. Make an effort to add new names to your list.  Work with volunteers to see who is not in the database.  Plan targeted meetings that will stimulate thoughts, perhaps looking at Triangle Business Journal’s Book of Lists, or annual reports of other organizations.  Tag the new names in your database and make a plan for personal introductions.  Don’t just ask board members to submit names of their friends, because you will be met with a blank stare.
  7. Don’t forget to ask.  If you are going to do all this work getting to know them, you will need to know the right moment to ask for a new or increased gift.  In your mailings and conversations, discuss the mission, identify the need and raise the sights of your donors with an appropriate ask.  Use gift levels as motivations to increase support.
  8. Track your results.  Be bold and creative with your segmentation.  Test some different messages within these tiers just to see if one resonates better and pulls in more donors than another. It does no good to segment and create new messages if you do not track the results.  Have fun with it!  Once this type of activity becomes your new normal, you will see better results.

If you need help with this process, just let us know.  We enjoy spending our days doing just that.

 

moss+ross associate news

April 8th, 2018

moss+ross associate news

We are delighted to recognize the outstanding work of our associates as they assume these new titles.
 
Wes Brown:  Senior Associate and Faith Communities Director
Kim Glenn:  Senior Associate and Managing Director
Jeanne Murray:  Senior Associate and Communications and Marketing Director
Patrice Nelson:  Senior Associate and Faith Communities Co-Director
Fred Stang:  Senior Associate and Executive Search Director

Guest Post: Giving in an Age of Tax Reform

December 16th, 2017

Republished with permission from Duke University’s Blueprints Blog

Six Considerations for Giving in an Age of Tax Reform:
How the current tax reform climate may impact charitable giving

by Jeremy Arkin
Assistant Vice President of Gift Planning, Duke University

In recent weeks, both houses of Congress have passed major tax reform bills. While the House and Senate plans differ in many respects, they share several provisions in common that are likely to become law later this year with the signature of President Trump, and some of those provisions would have an impact on the tax benefits of charitable giving.

Some of our donors have asked whether they should make gifts in this calendar year, under the current tax law, that they had planned on making in future years. If you have similar questions, perhaps these thoughts will be helpful to you.

Six considerations for charitable giving in preparation for tax reform:

1. Don’t panic!  Let’s see what Congress actually passes and President Trump signs into law.

2. Consult your financial advisor. If you’re working with a CPA or financial advisor, give that person a call to discuss how potential tax changes might affect your personal decision-making. Remember that the devil is in the details.

3. Consider making a charitable gift before 2017 ends. Both houses of Congress have proposed increasing the standard tax deduction to be as high as $24,000. If that change becomes law, many taxpayers will no longer itemize their deductions, losing the chance to deduct charitable gifts. If you think you’ll be in that camp, consider accelerating gifts into 2017 to take advantage of the itemized deduction this year.

4. Start thinking about your philanthropic priorities. If it turns out that accelerating gifts into 2017 makes sense for you, be ready with some ideas about the charitable gifts you’d like to make.

5. Explore a donor-advised fund. If you are considering accelerating significant gifts into 2017 for tax reasons, you may want to establish a donor advised fund at your local community foundation or with a national financial institution such as Fidelity or Vanguard.  A donor advised fund would allow you to make tax-deductible gifts in one year, and put off the decision about which nonprofits will benefit from your gifts until a later year.

6. If you are age 70½ years or older, remember the charitable IRA rollover gift option. This provision has not been a major point of discussion in the tax reform debate, but it bears noting here nonetheless! This technique allows a taxpayer to direct up to $100,000 each year from an IRA to a charity. This transfer satisfies the taxpayer’s required minimum distribution and the amount rolled-over will not be included in the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income for the year (potentially lowering Medicare premiums and making other tax-breaks more available).

Happy Holidays from moss+ross

December 15th, 2017

Treat your donors like family … and they will keep coming back
by Susan Ross

I had 20 at my house for Christmas dinner.  As always, the family meal marked the passage of time, with a core group of regulars bookended by loved ones missing and by promising new relationships.

Why do we value these celebrations so much?  It’s not my food, my decorations, or my presents.  I’d say it is because people find joy in spending their time where they are welcome and where they would be missed if they didn’t show up.

Perhaps our donors feel the same way.

Donor retention is a hot button in fundraising these days, because new studies have shown that we are losing donors in far greater numbers than in the past. Has our preoccupation with major gifts led to a falloff in our rank-and-file donor feeling valued and needed? If so, how can development professionals stem this tide?

My cousin is a busy professional who lives out of town, but she will always be at Christmas dinner, because she knows she is integral to the celebration and that we are all counting on her.  Plus, she knows that she’ll have fun.

Do your donors feel that way about you? Let’s break it down:

Do they think you would be fine without them?  If you only have a direct mail relationship, look for ways to make it more personal.  One of our clients asks every member of the staff (from top to bottom) to call five donors every week, just to check in.  We are great believers that simple phone calls are an under-used tool in fundraising today.

Do they believe you are counting on them? Tell them how important their gift is to your success, not just in a mailer but in ways that feel authentic and targeted to who they are.  A quick personal email checking in at the time of year when a donor usually gives will show that you do indeed notice them, and that this $100 gift matters to you. You can copy/paste a lot of these in an hour, and each one will feel like one-to-one communication.

Do they get pleasure out of the dollars and hours they share with you?  We all make time for things that bring us joy, so help your donors get that feel-good experience from their interactions with your nonprofit. UNC donor and campaign co-chair John Townsend talked about the “transcendent joy of philanthropy” when announcing his fabulous gift this fall.  Donors who are experiencing that kind of happiness by their association with you will never be donor retention problems.  What can you do to be sure they love being part of your great work?

New Senior Associate Wes Brown

December 15th, 2017
Welcome moss+ross Senior Associate Wes BrownWes Brown
We are pleased to welcome Wes Brown to the moss+ross team, following his retirement from Duke University. Wes spent 36 years in fundraising at Duke Divinity School, holding positions from director to associate dean, and is a veteran of three comprehensive Duke campaigns. His first engagement with m+r is with a campaign for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cary. You can read Wes’s full bio by clicking here.