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VIEWPOINT: How to Find Donors, Volunteers, and Employee Retirees Now

By Gerald J. Archibald

Date:

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  — Booker T. Washington

Fifteen months has now passed since the COVID-19 pandemic was officially announced. We have an entire country of individuals, apart from our front-line heroes, who are desperately trying to reconnect and return to life in the “new normal.” The three ideas and corresponding suggestions described further below should not and cannot wait until the second half of 2021. “Now” is the operative word for board and management team members of every tax-exempt organization.

The quotation above from Booker T. Washington is so true. If you live a life of giving to others, you will be happier, and the satisfaction level of being a giver, not a taker, is emotionally gratifying. The feeling is the exact opposite of the Rolling Stones song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” 

Finding donors now

Stock markets are at or near all-time highs. Many individuals of wealth have accumulated an extraordinary amount of disposable income, and virtually every American has been affected by the pandemic crisis. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist, but I do believe that the opportunity to connect and cultivate donors is now.

Please consider the following suggestions

• The Central New York Community Foundation has an extensive array of alternatives that provide maximum flexibility to donors through its various trust-and-estate service offerings and donor-advised funds where individuals can donate a variety of assets, including appreciated securities, stock in closely held businesses, or real estate. 

• If you, as a donor, are more interested in direct contributions for the benefit of organizations that you want to support, now is an excellent time to consider appreciated stock donations that will provide the donor with substantial tax benefits in the form of charitable deductions. We know that the recently passed New York State budget included an increase in tax rates for high net worth and wealthy individuals. At the federal level, President Joe Biden has announced several initiatives that will result in increased federal-tax rates as well. 

• Based on my 48 years of experience in serving tax-exempt organizations, I strongly recommend that you consider making donations to organizations that address poverty, hunger, shelter, and education, particularly those serving city residents and those less fortunate among us.

Finding volunteers now

Those born in the final year of the “Baby Boom” will be turning 65 in 2029. From now until then, about 10,000 people a month, on average, will be retiring from employment and walking away from their careers. If you consider that people born in the first year of the Baby Boom began retiring in 2011, there has been no better opportunity for the available pool of volunteers to be cultivated. After all, many of them want to reconnect with society and possibly support charitable causes. Please consider reaching out to the following individuals or organizations:

• Former employees who have retired

• Retiree friends of current employees

Radio and television public-service announcements and/or community support programming slots

• Digital and social media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, YouTube, etc.

• Rotary, Kiwanis clubs, and other fraternal organizations

Finding employee retirees

The number of retired individuals in New York state has never been greater than it is right now. In addition, there are about 7 million New Yorkers who are eligible for Medicaid benefits. As you may know, the Medicaid program was developed in 1965 as a “safety net” program for supporting the poor, disabled individuals, and those with serious chronic health conditions. We all know that once we started driving around this spring, virtually every employer is hiring due to an ongoing workforce crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and supplemental unemployment benefits. Many tax-exempt health and human-service providers are desperate to fill vacant positions in serving individuals in need.

I believe that the pool of early retirees and Baby Boom retirees represent a significant opportunity for employers. Please consider the following strategies:

1) Offering extremely flexible part-time work schedules that will establish a “float pool of part-time shift replacement staff”.

2) Connecting with Baby Boomers wanting to expand their job satisfaction through a “labor of love.”

3) If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. A number of Baby Boomers and retirees may be willing to donate a portion of their compensation back to your organization. While this may not be a significant percentage of your “float pool,” cultivating just a couple of individuals to fill vacancies while also establishing a new donor relationship would truly be a win-win.

4) Schedule organized-program site tours instead of or in addition to job fairs. I have been amazed by the red-hot real estate market both in our area and throughout the country. People are wanting to get outside and reconnect. There is no better way to ask a Baby Boomer about volunteering or part-time employment than for the individual to see first-hand the impact of their service coupled with the emotional satisfaction derived from a purpose-driven commitment.

5) Go where they go, with direct recruitment activities. In the post-pandemic “new normal,” we’ll see increasingly more gatherings of individuals anxious to re-establish social interaction. And now, in many cases, you can Zoom into book clubs, wine tastings, memorial services, car shows, golf tournament dinners, and many, many more gatherings that are attended by Baby Boomers. 

No one will readily acknowledge that the suggestions provided above represent easy solutions. If the solution were easy, there would be no workforce crisis, and the need for this column would disappear. As management and board members, your leadership in pressing forward to identify unique approaches to solving the workforce crisis is now a necessity.             

Gerald J. Archibald, CPA, is a partner in charge of the management advisory services at The Bonadio Group. Contact him at garchibald@bonadio.com

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