Traditionally, Americans have supported charities not only for tax breaks and a vague sense of “giving back,” but also for a variety of other financial, emotional and social reasons. Understanding what motivates donors and how their motivations vary across demographic groups can help your not-for-profit more effectively reach and engage potential supporters.

Money Matters
Asset protection and capital preservation traditionally have motivated many wealthy individuals to make charitable donations. And certain strategies — such as gifting appreciated stock or real estate to get “more bang for the buck” — may be particularly appealing to donors who make charitable giving a piece of their larger financial plans.

But high-income donors sometimes have less-obvious financial motivations, such as a wish to limit the amount their children inherit to prevent a “burden of wealth.” Warren Buffett, for example, plans to leave the vast majority of his wealth to charity rather than to his children. As he told Fortune, wealthy parents should leave their children “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.” To appeal to these kinds of donors, you may want to offer to work with the entire family so that they can begin a multi-generational tradition of giving.

Social Considerations
Research by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University has found that younger donors — those between 20 and 45 — as well as wealthier and better-educated individuals are more likely to want to “make a difference” with their gifts. Those with lower incomes and a high school degree or less often donate to meet basic needs in their communities or to “help the poor help themselves.”

Donors of all stripes are motivated by the perceived social effects of giving. Research published in American Economic Review reported that donors typically gave more when their gifts were announced publicly.

Similarly, numerous studies have found that people are more likely to give — and to give in greater amounts — if asked personally, particularly if they know the person making the appeal. These donors may want to make an altruistic impression, and some may seek the prestige of being connected with a well-established and admired not-for-profit “brand.” Such individuals are more likely to buy pricey tickets to annual galas or join a not-for-profit’s board to meet and socialize with others in their socioeconomic group or business community.

Get — and Keep — Their Attention
There are probably as many motivations as there are donors, and most people have more than one reason to support a particular charity. To get — and keep — donors’ attention, perform some basic market research to learn who they are.

Communication breakdowns between a not-for-profit’s accounting and development departments can lead to confusion, embarrassment and even financial problems. Here are three ways your organization can facilitate cooperation between these two critical functions.

1. Recognize Differences
Accounting and development typically record their financial information differently, which is why they can produce numbers that vary but nonetheless are both correct. Development may use a cash basis of accounting, while accounting records contributions, grants, donations and pledges in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Let’s say a donor makes a payment in March 2018 on a pledge made in December 2017. The development department will enter the amount of the payment as a receipt in its donor database in March. But accounting will record the payment against the pledge receivable that was recorded as revenue when the pledge was made in December. Receipt of the check won’t result in any new revenue in March because the accounting department recorded the revenue in December. Both departments’ figures for March 2018 (and for December 2017) will be accurate, but they’ll disagree with each other.

2. Establish Policies and Procedures
Your not-for-profit should try to reconcile its accounting and development schedules at least monthly. It also needs clear protocols for communicating important activity — or both departments, and your organization, could experience negative consequences.

If, for example, development fails to inform accounting about grants on a timely basis, the latter won’t be aware of the grants’ financial reporting requirements and could forfeit funds for noncompliance. If the accounting department doesn’t record grants or pledges in the proper financial period according to GAAP, your organization could run into significant issues during an audit, which could jeopardize funding.

3. Require Regular Communication
Schedule meetings so that accounting representatives can educate development staff about the information it needs, when it needs it and the consequences of not receiving that information. For its part, development should provide accounting with ample notice about prospective activity such as pending grant applications and proposed capital campaigns.

Development should also present status reports on different types of giving, including gifts, grants and pledges. This is especially important for those items received in multiple payments, because accounting may need to discount them when recording them on the financial statements.

Two-way Road
The activities of your accounting and development departments directly affect each other, so careful coordination is essential.

Fiscal sponsorships occur when an established charity provides a kind of legal and financial umbrella to a charitable project that lacks 501(c)(3) status. This type of arrangement can benefit both groups. But before agreeing to be a sponsor, be sure you understand how these arrangements work and the risks involved.

Mutually Beneficial
In a fiscal sponsorship, the 501(c)(3) sponsor is legally responsible for the charitable project. It acts as employer to the project’s paid workers and manages all of its funds. Donations and grants are made directly to the fiscal sponsor, thus qualifying their donors for a charitable deduction (if the donors itemize deductions and other applicable requirements are met).

It’s easy to see why small charitable projects seek fiscal sponsorships. Such relationships can provide much-needed infrastructure and fiscal management to a project. By making it possible to receive charitable donations, sponsorships can make more funds available. Plus, associating with an established charity can enhance the project’s credibility.

These arrangements benefit sponsors, too. A sponsorship can provide greater exposure for the 501(c)(3) organization, possibly resulting in new donors for established programs. When you choose a project that shares your mission and basic objectives, it can enhance your own program offerings with minimal monetary outlay. Although a sponsorship isn’t intended to be a source of income for the sponsor, nonprofits often charge a nominal fee to offset their overhead costs.

Prime Candidates
Projects that can best benefit from a fiscal sponsorship generally include those that are:

  • Too small to have staff or much infrastructure,
  • Temporary or periodic,
  • Waiting to secure 501(c)(3) status, but that want to operate sooner, or
  • Based outside the United States.

When you find a good candidate, make sure you thoroughly discuss each partner’s expectations and roles. Mutually agree on start and termination dates and decide which group will make decisions about what. Because nothing causes conflict like money issues, be sure to decide on the sponsorship charge (up to 10% is typical), how disbursements will be handled and who will handle audit and reporting requirements.

Both parties must understand the key responsibilities in the relationship. First and foremost, the fiscal sponsor is responsible because the project and its sponsoring nonprofit are legally one entity.

Consult Advisors
Keep in mind that any fiscal sponsorship involves some risk to your organization’s finances and reputation. So it’s important to discuss your plans with legal and financial advisors before entering into one of these arrangements.

A not-for-profit’s growth stage generally starts two or three years after formation and continues until maturity at around age seven. This period comes with a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to refine and expand, but these “adolescent” years can pose challenges as well.

Board Shifts
Perhaps the most common marker of a growth-stage not-for-profit is changes in the composition and focus of its board of directors. Boards usually continue to be active in operations to some degree, but also must begin to work on strategic matters — the policies, planning and evaluations necessary for long-term sustainability.

Founding board members may move on at this stage. The result could be a larger and more inclusive group of individuals, preferably with a wider range of skills, talents and backgrounds. Boards also can establish committees at this time.

Staff Expansion
As demand for services builds and you expand programming, staffing needs increase. Adding to staff in the growth stage will help avoid burnout. Your not-for-profit should design a clear organizational structure and hire experienced managers.

You should also develop formal job descriptions. Employees will now be expected to work under formal systems, following policies and procedures and in a more efficient manner. Your organization’s executive director is still the primary decision maker, but he or she may not have time to be as involved in every area.

Mission Adjustment
You might want to adjust your not-for-profit’s mission during the growth stage. Changed demographics or economic developments could make it appropriate to revise your organization’s purpose.

You can home in more intensely on a subset of the original mission or shift focus to another area. For example, a literacy organization that started out helping native English speakers improve their reading skills might expand to include teaching English as a second language. The charity may then develop a strategic plan to incorporate the changes to its mission.

Funding Augmentation
Growth-stage organizations are generally in a more comfortable financial position, with less uncertainty. You may have developed good relations with key funders, but there are still obstacles in securing necessary funding (and cash flow) to support current programming. To maintain growth, you’ll need to diversify revenue sources, manage cash flow and develop solid budgets. We can help you.

Most charitable not-for-profits have a never-ending need for volunteers. But finding new ones can be time-consuming — and volunteer searches aren’t always successful. Here are recruitment ideas that can help your not-for-profit.

Look Nearby
Is your not-for-profit familiar to businesses, residents and schools in the surrounding community? People often are drawn to volunteer because they learn of a worthwhile organization that’s located close to where they live or work.

Start to get to know your neighbors by performing an inventory of the surrounding area. Perhaps there’s a large apartment building you’ve never paid much attention to. Consider the people who live there to be potential volunteers. Likewise, if there’s an office building nearby, learn about the businesses that occupy it. Their employees might have skills, such as website design or bookkeeping experience, that perfectly match your volunteer opportunities.

Once you’ve identified some good outreach targets, mail or hand-deliver literature introducing your not-for-profit as a neighbor and describing your needs. Consider inviting your neighbors to a celebration or informational open house at your offices.

Fine-tune Your Pitch
By making your pitches as informative and compelling as possible, you’re more likely to inspire potential volunteers to action. Specifically, explain the:

  • Types of volunteer jobs currently available,
  • Skills most in demand,
  • Times when volunteers are needed, and
  • Rewards and challenges your volunteers might experience.

When possible, incorporate photographs of volunteers at work — along with their testimonials. And make it easy for people to take the next step by including your contact information or directing them to your website for an application.

Reach Out to Your Network
Develop a system for keeping those closest to your organization — major donors, board members and active volunteers — informed of your volunteer needs. These individuals often are influential in their communities, so a request from them is more likely to get people’s attention. They may even frame a request for assistance in the form of a challenge, with the solicitor being the first to volunteer their time or funds, of course.

Remain in Pursuit
No matter how precise or thorough your initial recruiting efforts, remember that one-time or sporadic efforts are insufficient to attract a steady supply of volunteers. To get the resources you need, make volunteer recruitment a continuous process that draws on several strategies.

PR tips for nonprofits

For most nonprofit organizations, there’s no such thing as too much good publicity. If you’re struggling to get enough attention from media outlets, follow these tips:

1. Seize the day. Raise your nonprofit’s profile by putting out news releases regularly rather than just occasionally. A variety of events, such as the addition of a key staff member, an operational milestone, a new grant you’ve received or the kick-off of a fundraising campaign, can warrant a press release.

2. Target the right media. Go beyond simply sending out news releases and become familiar with potential media targets. Focus on outlets that are most likely to use your press releases — for example, local newspapers that have a section devoted to community news. Get to know assignment editors, their key sections and special features, target audiences, and publication and broadcast schedules. By taking the time, you can pinpoint the most suitable outlets for your news.

3. Time your news. When it comes to good publicity, timing can be everything. You might increase your odds of coverage by submitting requests at the start of a new publication cycle. Another tactic is to host an event or release an important announcement on a typically slow news day. For example, daily newspapers and local television stations may be particularly receptive to requests for coverage on Sundays.

4. Make it local. Providing a local angle on an issue of national importance will increase your appeal to the media. Whenever possible, offer an expert source from your organization who can talk knowledgeably about the local impact of a national story. By positioning yourself and your organization as an authority and noting trends and other interesting items, you can grab the attention of reporters and editors.

Getting your nonprofit in the news in a positive way broadens its exposure, enhances its credibility and enables you to spread the word about your mission to potential donors — all free of charge. It just takes a little strategic planning on your part.

Hi, my name is Byron Hebert, and this is another quick Tool Time update by PKF Entrepreneur Playbook. What I want to talk to you today about is the sustainable competitive advantage and strategic planning.

A lot of people talk about strategic planning but they really don’t know where to start. Where you start is with your sustainable competitive advantage. What is that one thing about your company that separates you from your competition? That’s what you want to focus on. That will drive your marketing; the promise that you’re going to make to the marketplace about what your company can do.

That, in turn, will drive your operations so that you can deliver on the promise you’ve made to the marketplace. Now what drives that? That’s driven by your people, your innovation, and money.

Let me give you an example right here in town. Mattress Mack, a great entrepreneur. His sustainable competitive advantage is if you buy today he delivers tonight. Well, that is his marketing. That is the promise he makes. Everybody’s heard that. His operations have to support that. You go to his business, you buy a mattress today, he’s going to deliver it that very day. I assure you he will do that. So as soon as that purchase goes in, someone is loading that on a truck and trying to figure out the logistics of how to get to that to you by the end of the day.

So think about that, how that, that will operate in your business. Use your sustainable competitive advantage to drive your marketing, your operations, and then people, innovation, and money to drive your operations as well.

All right? Thank you. This is Byron Hebert. This has been another quick Tool Time update brought to you by PKF Texas Entrepreneur Playbook. If you’d like to learn more about the Mind Shop Tools and how we can help you in your business, please call PKF Texas.

Russ: This is the PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook. I’m Russ Capper, this week’s guest host, and I’m here at the Gulf Coast Regional Family Forum with Del Walker, Tax Practice Leader at PKF Texas and one of the founders of the event. Welcome to the Playbook Del.

Del: Well welcome Russ, thank you for having me. Thank you for being here in with us today.

Russ: You bet. Well tell us about the event.

Del: Well this is an event that the vision kind of came together about 4 years ago for this when I was in Chicago and I was tending something – a situation where family members and advisors came together sharing best practices, learning from one another in an environment and developing business relationships. The thought was why can’t Houston? Why not now? And – a little show, but 4 years later we’re here today. Today’s event was an overwhelming success with guests from around the country, around the state, here in Houston – 170 strong at the Houstonian – comprised of family members, the folks that work for family members in the office and their advisors. We’ve had a great day today; very interactive, great panels, great speakers so.

Russ: Okay, and these are actually all high net worth families, right?

Del: That is correct. They’re either affluent families or their affluence is still concentrated in a family business between the two from that standpoint.

Russ: Okay, and they get together at this even and learn about things that are important to people who fall into that category.

Del: That are relevant, exactly. Topics of discussion ranged today in terms of what is going on in trends across the country in what we call an SFO – a single family office – or an MFO – a multi family office. We talked about issues of security, the world we live in today through the net obviously has greater challenges, especially if you have things that you’re concerned about. We had several panels very relevant to the city we live in; we had a great panel on energy, we had some great folks that are operators in the energy space backed by private equity as well as folks in the investment banking business and analysts from the energy space was in there initiating very lively discussion relevant to all of us here.

Russ: Absolutely. Well in fact that was something that I wanted to question you about is that the kind of doldrums that the energy’s in, which means Houston’s in now, is that good for the event or bad for this event?

Del: You know, that’s a great question because people ask me how did we end up having this – when we defined success for this event initially we thought we were hoping to get to 70 or 80 people, which was a significant increase over last year, and we did 100 over that. And people said why. I think we reached out to people nationally and so there’s a growing trend that people realize where Houston’s place is in the national picture of the country as well as from a commerce standpoint – it’s clearly known it’s one of the top 2 cities in the country for commerce. And I think when times are like this Houstonians – I found it here – Houstonians engage; they want to come together, it’s always been a very inclusive city versus exclusive, but I think these times bring people together. They want to come together and talk and network and see if we can find a path forward out of this. That’s my take away from it.

Russ: Ok, and this is going to continue to be an annual event?

Del: Yes, this is our second year and our goal is we’re already talking about next year and Target probably in the next 90 days we’ll probably make an announcement on save the date for next year, figure out who we’re going to be targeting to join us from an organizer standpoint and talk to our attendees about what we think is relevant from a content standpoint next year because obviously we can’t groundhog this, right, and just do it again, we need to find out what’s relevant and timely a year from now. So we’re very excited but the goal is the make this an annual, reoccurring event that’s part of the fabric in what goes on in our great city.

Russ: Okay Del, well thank you very much for sharing that with us and have a good rest of the event.

Del: Well thank you, appreciate it.

Russ: You bet.

Del: Take care.

Russ: You bet. And this is another Thought Leader Production brought to you by PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook.

Karen: This is PKF Texas, Entrepreneurs Playbook, and I’m Karen Love hosting cofounder. Today I’m here with Andy Ray, a principal in our entrepreneurial advisor’s services team. Welcome to the Playbook Andy.

Andy: Thank you for having me.

Karen: Well listen, today what I’d love to talk to you about is why do you feel like the mid-market is a great way to affect change?

Andy: Mid-market is a great way to affect change just in the fact that the mid-market has the size to change. They can change very quickly, and just the fact that they’re going through so many cycles of growth from their early days into their scalability phases up through all the way to getting financial help, and getting into that investor ready position. It’s all about change in the mid-market. It’s also a great way to develop people, which is also a change element in and of itself.

Karen: Well those are very interesting points about the mid-market. So tell me what are some of the other challenges you had dealing with mid-market companies.

Andy: The big challenge you have with mid-market companies is that as they do grow they can lose some of that nimbleness, some of that entrepreneurial spirit that they had going through that startup phase.

Karen: Right, because they just get too big to do that.

Andy: They get too big. Secondly, the have trouble sustaining change efforts. They have trouble really cementing the things that make them great as they get through their growth cycles, and then the third problem they have, or the third challenge they have is really retaining, and training talent that they get in the business. It gets to be a very transitory market sized company.

Karen: So without the right consulting that you could provide, I could see why that would be a challenge. Would you come back and talk to us more about that?

Andy: Absolutely, I’d love to.

Karen: Wonderful, well thank you. I appreciate that. Well this has been another thought leader production brought to you by PKF Texas Entrepreneur’s Playbook. So please tune in for another chapter.

Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper with The BusinessMakers Show and I’m here to talk about the 13th annual Houston CPA Society Energy Conference, and I’m joined by Brian Baumler, Audit Director and head of the energy practice at PKF Texas, and Chair of the conference; Brian, good to see you.

Brian: Good to see you too, Russ. Thank you.

Russ: You bet, and also David Butler, the Manager of Energy Valuations at HSSK, the Vice Chair of the conference; David, good to see you as well.

David: Glad to be here, Russ.

Russ: Ok, tell us about the conference.

Brian: Well Russ, as you know this is the 13th annual conference we’ve had. Attendance has over the years has grown substantially. The focus of the conference is really geared towards energy and energy related businesses, focusing on really trends in the industry and where things are going. It’s going to be an interesting dialogue this year with the change in the economics going on in the space here recently. It’s focusing on both upstream, midstream, and also downstream perspectives on what’s going on in the industry but also introduces the CPA profession by offering up a number of the Big Four representatives and the energy practices that they lead.

Russ: Ok, who should attend and why should they attend?

David: I think anybody who’s involved in accounting, or finance, taxation, and even valuation ought to attend because this, first and foremost, is a conference for grownups. We’re not going to sugarcoat things, we’re not going to give you a rosy crystal ball that will assure you that everything in the future is gonna be fine. We don’t know that. What we do know is that the industry is facing some pretty significant challenges; we’re seeing a lot of resilience and creativity, and how companies manage their call structure and how they manage their drilling program and so forth. So, that’s the sort of thing that people should expect to hear and hopefully they’ll be able to take some of that back to their jobs, and we’ve made sure that we’re covering topics in financial reporting, SEC reporting, taxation, as well as the interaction of the energy industry with the capital markets.

Russ: Ok. When is it and where is it?

Brian: Well, it’s actually going to be held this year on Tuesday, August 25th, 2015. It will be at the Norse conference center located over in the City Center.

Russ: Ok. So I guess when you said a while ago it’s been growing every year just like the industry has, but I suspect also that this whole cost accounting thing could be real important this year, and to think the event is really well attended, right?

Brian: Absolutely. Last year we were very fortunate, we were sold out. We had about 325 attendants, in attendance; represented across both the industry spectrum as well as a number of the representative CPA firms and practices in the energy space here in Houston and we’re expecting at least that this year.

Russ: Ok, sold out, wow. Ok, so how do you register?

Brian: Well, I think you can register in a number of different ways. One is, you can go to the website at; register online. There’s also a form you can download. You can go ahead and fill out the form and send that in. It’s $300 for non-members, $250 for members and if you want to send a small group then we’re offering also some discounts for small groups. You can also call directly and use your credit card online; it’s 713-622-7733.

Russ: Ok, Brian, David, thanks a lot; August 25th, Norris Center, City Center.

David: Absolutely.

Brian: That’s correct Be there.

Russ: Be there.