Your institution’s alumni are thriving, enjoying exciting careers, and eager to re-engage. Your development team is constantly on the lookout for new and improved ways to connect with them and inspire donations to carry their legacy forward. Have you considered stock giving?
Stock giving can be a particularly smart choice for fundraising organizations like nonprofits and schools. Organizations that pursue non-cash gifts grow six times faster than others and build more resilient revenue streams that sustain their work for the long run.
If you’re ready to promote stock giving to your community of donors and alumni, you likely have a few questions. This crash course will cover the background and best practices you need to know to revamp your fundraising strategy and implement your first stock giving program.
Why stock giving?
When donors transfer stocks to your organization’s ownership, you tap into a few significant benefits:
- Stock donations are often quite large and equivalent to a mid-level or major gift. The average gift of stock comes in at $5,000.
- Stock giving provides your alumni with a unique set of benefits that could be highly motivating. Donating stock allows them to avoid taxes that would need to be paid on sales, provides charitable deductions of the stock’s fair market value, and can be a helpful tool for resetting shares at a higher cost basis to maintain their portfolios.
- Non-cash forms of giving tap into donors’ generosity differently than immediate or pledged gifts of cash. Since these gifts won’t affect their day-to-day spending power, donors are more likely to give larger gifts to tap into the benefits themselves (just like with various forms of planned giving).
- Providing another way to give expands your pool of potential donors, some of whom might have flown under your radar and weren’t aware they had the potential to give an impactful mid- or major gift.
Plus, accepting gifts of stock is much easier than you might initially assume. The FreeWill guide to accepting stock gifts reviews the entire process, but it essentially consists of these steps:
- Create a process on your website for donors to initiate the stock donation and provide information about the transfer.
- Direct donors to your brokerage information that they can provide to their own broker.
- Be ready to follow up and acknowledge the gift once received.
- Liquidate the gifted stock.
With this playbook in place, you can begin promoting stock giving to alumni as a new option to consider.
How do you promote stock giving?
What are the specific strategies to employ as you get your stock giving program up and running? Let’s review five fundamentals:
1. Create an intentional giving experience.
The first step in the process is especially important and will set the groundwork for how effectively you can promote and run your stock giving program going forward.
Traditionally, nonprofits publish their brokerage information online for interested donors to provide to their own brokers to initiate a donation. The nonprofit then receives the donated stock, usually anonymously. This presents serious challenges for first thanking and then stewarding their relationship with that donor.
An intentional giving experience should start with donors being directed to a form to provide some basic information about themselves and the gift. This way, your nonprofit has the context it needs to properly thank and build a relationship with the donor.
This simple step makes it much easier to promote your program over time, both before and after a donor makes their first gift of stock. You’ll have a single, easy-to-use landing page to promote, and you’ll have the data you need to funnel stock donors into regular outreach cadences and encourage future gifts.
2. Develop stock giving materials.
Aside from a form for collecting gift information, you’ll need a range of other materials to help promote your program and educate alumni about the benefits of stock giving. These include:
- A dedicated web page about your stock giving program. This page should serve as the go-to online resource for everything donors may want to know about your program, including why it’s a valuable option for both them and your nonprofit. It should also link out to your donation info form (if it’s externally hosted).
- Email streams. Create an email stream specifically to promote stock giving, and target it to your target audience.
- One-pagers. Create printed and digital PDF resources that summarize the essentials of your stock giving program and provide clear next steps for interested donors.
- Social media templates. Develop easy templates that you can use to quickly create new posts about stock giving on your social media platforms of choice.
Once your program is active, continue refining your promotional tactics and collecting new collateral. For instance, donor testimonials are extremely useful for demonstrating to prospects that others have enjoyed giving back through stock giving.
3. Focus your audience approach.
Although many of your alums likely do, not everyone owns stock. You’ll need to segment and focus on audiences more likely to be qualified stock donors to your institution.
Create personas of your target stock donors based on key characteristics like high estimated net worth, length of relationship with your organization, and generational cohort. Then sort donors based on these personas to develop more focused lists of donors for initial outreach.
Your top prospects should receive one-on-one communication from your development team, but your broader lists can be funneled into automated email cadences that keep stock giving on their minds. But don’t forget to expand beyond these segments sometimes, too: One of the biggest benefits of non-cash giving like stock and crypto donations—as well as planned giving—is that they can reveal under-the-radar sources.
4. Learn how to discuss stock giving.
Clearly articulate the value of donating stock both for donors and your nonprofit is essential. Keep these best practices in mind:
- Outline the key benefits and impact of stock giving, and use them to anchor your discussions and messaging.
- Tap into the power of social proof by collecting donor testimonials and highlighting them on your website and in social media posts.
- Acknowledge that stock giving might be new to your donors. Aim to educate them on all their options rather than assume that they already understand how the process works.
- Use straightforward language. It can be easy to get caught up in financial jargon, but clear, direct word choices will always be more impactful.
- Don’t conflate stock giving with annual giving to avoid cannibalizing your annual fund. Instead, frame stock giving as a special event.
As you prepare to reach out to your top stock giving prospects, compile a playbook of best practices for your team to reference. Refine them over time as you learn what works best for your unique community of alumni and donors.
5. Establish a promotional cadence.
With stock giving tools in place, a range of educational and promotional materials ready to use, audience segments, and best practices for discussing stock donations, you’ll be in great shape to launch your new giving program.
To keep it running smoothly, take an organized approach like you would for other prospects your development team engages with. This means establishing regular outreach cadences for your top prospects and tracking touchpoints over time.
For your broader segments of potential stock donors, create marketing calendars or campaigns that consist of email streams plus a mix of other forms of outreach, like a yearly phonathon or donor testimonial social media push. And while you won’t want to promote stock giving on all your communications to donors, it can be helpful to add a few integrated mentions of stock giving across your newsletters and other messages in addition to standalone campaigns.
Stock giving is a valuable opportunity for organizations of all shapes and sizes but especially for educational institutions whose alumni have thriving professional careers.
Approach stock giving as you do other types of development fundraising by using the right tools, creating the right resources, and targeting the right audiences. Keep in mind stock giving’s unique set of benefits and the logistics of the donation process, and you’ll be set up to succeed.