MarketSmart + The Giving Institute

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Zach Shefska is Chief Operating Officer at MarketSmart. Outside of the office, you'll find Zach behind either a pottery wheel or flight controls of a Piper PA-28 airplane.

In case you couldn’t tell from the title of today’s blog post, we have some exciting news to share with you! MarketSmart is the newest member of The Giving Institute.

MarketSmart joins the Giving Institute

Founded in 1935, The Giving Institute has served as one of the most influential and important organizations advancing leadership and ethics in philanthropy and fundraising in our sector. The Institute, comprised of its member firms, strives to educate and engage members in the ethical delivery of counsel and related services to nonprofits through research, advocacy, and best practices. It’s with much excitement that today we’re able to say MarketSmart is a part of this esteemed institution!

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One of the most notable outcomes of The Giving Institute is their foundation’s annual Giving USA report (and related research). The report, first published in 1955 as a public service, provides the most comprehensive annual overview of philanthropy in the United States.

Through their research partnership with The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Giving USA is able to provide annual estimates on nearly all philanthropic giving (with a few exceptions, donor-advised fund giving being one of them) within the United States.

Over the years, our team at MarketSmart has worked tirelessly to advance research in the nonprofit sector. Whether it be our 2017 study on major gifts (if you haven’t already, contribute to the 2020 report!), or our creation of Live Benchmarks to provide daily updates on key giving metrics, we’ve always put data first. This is especially true when it comes to the solutions we develop for our customers. Our team takes no short cuts when it comes to rigorous analysis and experimentation. At the end of the day, we realize that at MarketSmart we aren’t “all-knowing,” and nine out of ten times, we’re going to look for data to assist in our decision making process. We’ve found it’s simply better that way (albeit a bit more challenging).

Our ethos of Engagement Fundraising, coined by our founder, Greg Warner, echoes through all chambers of MarketSmart. Putting the donor first, acknowledging some of the failures of traditional fundraising tactics, and providing real (data-driven) recommendations for how we can advance giving, are all at the core of why MarketSmart wanted to be a part of The Giving Institute.

A recent study conducted on behalf of the Chronicle of Philanthropy and AFP found that 51% of fundraisers plan to leave their job within two years. We also know that donor retention rates hover near 40%. What other indicators do we need to suggest that the way we (nonprofit organizations, their vendor partners, and consultants) raise funds needs to change? There is of course the 40 year trend of charitable giving as a percentage of GDP that is flat at ~2% each year. Maybe that will be the straw that brakes the camel’s back?

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This is why MarketSmart applied to The Giving Institute. We know our opinions aren’t always the most liked, and on occasion we say some things that may be a bit contrarian, but at the end of the day, each and every member of our team comes to our office with one goal in mind — how can we help nonprofits raise more money at a lower cost. Our approach is rooted in research, donor-centricity, and common-sense. We so appreciate the opportunity to bring those qualities to the table at The Giving Institute, and look forward to furthering the conversation among some of the most well respected firms in our space.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Giving Institute, Giving USA, or MarketSmart, please take a look at the following resources:

And, if you haven’t already, please consider contributing to the 2020 Major Gift Benchmark Study. This collaboration between DonorSearch, AFP, APC, and MarketSmart, is largest study of major gifts fundraising in our sector, and you have a chance to be a part of it!

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