Philanthropy: It’s More Than Just Money

This past week, Giving USA™ presented its report of charitable giving by individuals, corporations, bequests and foundations.  The extremely positive news was that in 2017, charitable giving was up 5.2% in the U.S.  Each of the donor groups increased its giving over the previous year, with the greatest overall percentage of giving attributed to individuals… whose giving represented 70% of all charitable gifts.

This philanthropy represents the true kindness and generosity of the American people.  When faced with a crisis, a need or the inhumanity of others, Americans step up and demonstrate our caring with both financial and other gifts.  While the classic definition of philanthropy is “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes,” today’s true “philanthropists” are more than that definition; they demonstrate passion and focus on positive change; and they are not solely defined by the amount they give.

What does it take, then, to encourage charitable giving to particular institutions, organizations and issues?  The following are words of wisdom, implications taken from research conducted by The Melior Group in community studies and for other non-profits:

  • Donors must be inspired. A performance, story or (hoped-for future) event can encourage prospective donors to consider gifts.
  • Donors want to be engaged. It is no longer a one-and-done gift:  donors want to feel a personal connection; they want to give time and expertise in addition to money, and to feel that they know the organization.
  • Donors want to make a difference. While donors recognize their role is not to actually solve the problems, they do want demonstration (such as tangible metrics) of the impact their contributions are making.
  • Donors recognize it’s their voices, as well as their money. It is important to consider the critical role of advocacy as a philanthropic mechanism; positive change comes from organizations that work from the inside as well as the outside to improve the lives of others.

Questions?  Comments?  Interested in learning more? Contact Linda McAleer at [email protected] or 215-545-0054 x104.


Research is Essential to Fundraising in the Era of Tax Reform

The Melior Group is pleased to share this special guest blog post written by:
Michele A. Schiavoni, APR, M.S.
Schiavoni Consulting, LLC
Marketing, Communications & Fundraising Counsel
[email protected] 

Nonprofits throughout the nation begin a new era in 2018, in part because of the tax law changes going into effect this month.  Respected sources including Giving USA Foundation and the Lilly Family Foundation project that the overall impact to the nonprofit sector could be a staggering $13 billion loss in individual donations.

Although I do not think the changes in charitable giving are sound public policy, the nonprofit sector has to adapt to survive and thrive.  The unintended consequences of the tax changes have yet to be experienced and when the full impact is felt, we may see corrective action in the future.  But for now, nonprofits have to pivot.  These changes do provide a unique opportunity for worthy, mission-based organizations to take inventory of how they communicate their value to their philanthropic investors.  Research tells us that tax incentives are NOT the prime motivator for individual giving.  Donors tell us they give to causes that align with their passion, and savvy donors are more focused than ever on measurable outcomes.  To remain successful, you must ensure your donors see your organization’s work as essential in a competitive philanthropic marketplace.

Qualitative and quantitative research is essential to position your mission-based organization for success in a post-tax reform era.  Why?  The changes in tax law only tell part of the story. There is a cluster of compelling reasons for fundraisers to bring a new sense of rigor to their strategic planning.  The reality is, prior to the tax law change, the nonprofit sector in America was already evolving; funders have become increasingly attentive to donor’s expectations around accountability.

Nonprofits should take a brand strategy tip from the for-profit sector.  Research is required in order to truly understand how your donors experience your organization.  The closer you align with your donors and prospects, the more opportunity you have for enhancing loyalty and sustaining philanthropic investment.  Consider qualitative research to gain new understanding for how your donors experience and react to your brand.

Engaging professionals to conduct qualitative research such as interviews with your donors, either one-on-one or in focus groups, will provide extensive insights into how your mission is perceived.  This input is essential to fashioning an effective case for support.  The closer you align your organization with your most valued donors, the more effectively you can sustain loyalty and gain the added advantage of growing your donor base.  If you are an educational institution focused on increasing alumni giving, don’t launch new social media campaigns and direct mail strategies UNTIL you have invested in listening to your alumni.  You need to know: what prompts alumni to give; when are the best times for them to convene; what do they want to hear more about from their alma mater?

A second and equally important step is to ensure that your organization’s operating plan measures impact.  The days of counting attendance at events to gauge success are behind us.  Today’s donors want to see the social impact of their investment and this requires a new commitment to measurement and research.  Donors care less and less about transactions and more and more about transformation.  There is no escaping the reality that your nonprofit’s outcomes must be supported by research-based metrics.   Your donors need to understand what you are improving and whose lives are changing because of what you do.  Community impact studies play a critical role in telling that story.   This applies accords the board from arts organizations to shelters.

Research is an essential next step in your nonprofit’s sustainability.   Your efforts will uncover more effective strategies for engaging prospective donors and sustaining relationships with loyal donors.  To thrive in this new era, you must invest in research.

Interested in discussing a research project for your nonprofit?  The Melior Group can help.  Contact Linda McAleer at [email protected] or  215-545-0054 x104.

Rooster Soup Company

Melior Group People of the Moment, Rooster Soup Owners, Open Restaurant

A year ago we heard about Rooster Soup Company, which was clearly going to be more than just a new restaurant opening in Center City. The newest venture of esteemed chefs and restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook aimed to turn the unused parts of the whole chickens purchased by their restaurant Federal Donuts to make chicken stock for a variety of soups to be sold at Rooster Soup Company. Not only do perfectly good chicken parts no longer go to waste, but 100% of Rooster Soup Company’s net profits go to generating revenue for Philadelphia’s Broad Street Ministry, which provides vulnerable Philadelphians with meals and services such as a mailing address, access to free medical care, personal care items, and clothing.

Rooster Soup Company opened today at 1526 Sansom Street. Check out our original blog post to learn more about this exciting new restaurant, and visit the Rooster Soup Company website to peruse the delicious offerings on the menu. We encourage you to try out a meal there, and let us know what you think!



Career Wardrobe Named Melior Group People of the Moment

Career Wardrobe, a Philadelphia nonprofit, calls for people to “imagine a place where every woman in transition can obtain the confidence she needs in order to achieve the next level of gainful employment.”

During its inaugural year in 1995, the then-named “Working Wardrobe” passed out 938 donated suits to women starting their professional journeys. By 2008, the group celebrated its 50,000th client – proving that women across Philadelphia workplaces have felt the organization’s impact. Now in its 21st year, Career Wardrobe continues to build on its mission of helping women break out of the cycle of poverty by providing support that encourages employment and personal responsibility.

This month’s Melior People of the Moment are the staff and volunteers of Career Wardrobe. We at The Melior Group feel a special kinship with the organization as our President and founder, Linda McAleer, currently serves as a Board Member.

Career Wardrobe has helped Philadelphia-area residents for the past two decades through a comprehensive list of services, including:

  • The Boutique
  • Dress and Image Consultation Program
  • Gateway to Success Job Readiness and Blitz Basic Courses
  • Professional Development Certificate
  • Career Coaching
  • Computer Lab for Job Searching and Networking

Through the years, the organization has continually sought to understand the needs of the community and has adapted to meet those needs. For example, just last year Career Wardrobe launched Make it Work for Men, which expands the dressing services to men in transition. A population as diverse as Philadelphia requires different types of programs to achieve a common goal of professional and career advancement.

career wardrobeCareer Wardrobe’s results speak for themselves: In 2014, 67% of women responding to Career Wardrobe’s follow-up surveys within six months of their appointments reported gaining employment and discontinuing their reliance on cash assistance. The impact on Philadelphia’s economy is significant: a $19 million savings for taxpayers in public assistance for benefits alone.

In our view from Walnut Street, Career Wardrobe is providing Philadelphia citizens, workers, and employers with a vital service. As a women-owned business, we are particularly proud to support Career Wardrobe’s mission and empower women in their professional journeys.

Career Wardrobe now has locations in Philadelphia and Bucks and Delaware Counties, and also partners with organizations in Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties. As the organization expands, so will its beneficial impact through the Greater Philadelphia area.

For more information, contact Linda McAleer at [email protected] or 215-545-0054 x104 or Contact Us.

Rooster Soup Company

Rooster Soup Owners Named Melior Group People of the Moment

Rooster Soup Company’s Twitter page asks this question, “What if you could help someone who really needed it, just by eating lunch?”

Rooster Soup Company is not just another restaurant opening in Center City.

It’s not just another place to add to your list of go-to lunch spots.

It’s not just another brick and mortar for Mike Solomonov and Steve Cook to add to their already stellar repertoire.

It’s a chance for every person who walks through the door and places an order to feel as though they are helping someone in need.

This month’s Melior People of the Moment are Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. They are the esteemed chefs and restauranteurs behind some favorite Philadelphia spots:  Zahav, Abe Fischer, Dizengoff, Federal Donuts, and Percy Street Barbecue. Rooster Soup Company is their newest venture, where the concept is to turn the unused parts of the whole chickens purchased by Federal Donuts to make chicken stock for a variety of soups to be sold at Rooster Soup Company, in addition to other menu items.

The benefits of this new restaurant are two-fold: perfectly good chicken parts will no longer go to waste and 100% of Rooster Soup Company’s net profits will go towards generating revenue for Philadelphia’s Broad Street Ministry, which provides vulnerable Philadelphians with meals and services such as a mailing address, access to free medical care, personal care items, and clothing.

Cook and Solomonov introduced their partnership with BSM through a Kickstarter campaign back in the summer of 2014 with the goal of raising $150,000 startup capital for Rooster Soup Company. They have since exceeded that amount. The most recent development in this campaign is the announcement of where Rooster Soup Company will live. According to the campaigns Kickstarter site, Rooster will call 1526 Sansom Street home.

In our view from Walnut Street, the hustle and bustle of Center City is palpable. We, The Melior Group, often find ourselves discussing the familiar faces we see every day or the new ones we have not. To say we feel connected to this city and its people would be an understatement. Combine that connection with our love for a new lunch spot and we’re sold. Because, it’s not what Rooster Soup Company is serving per se. It’s knowing you, the customer, is also serving someone else.


Author:  Emily Nydick

For more information, please Contact Us.

Community Demographics infographic found on ejewishphilanthropy

We’ve Been Featured On!

The good folks at ejewishphilanthropy have published a piece by Susan Levine, Melior’s community study expert. Our post talks about the usefulness of community demographic studies as a tool for future planning.

Take a look at the article here.

Melior’s approach to these kinds of studies is simple, yet powerful: “Understanding the character of the community – its needs, attitudes, and perceptions – in a way that leads to action, will better position communities to ensure their long term futures.”

For more information on our work with Jewish communities, please visit our page on Jewish Community Studies or contact Susan J. Levine, at 215-545-0054 x107 or [email protected].

The Season for Giving

Season for giving: holiday charity gifts

By Elisa Foster

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”  – Nelson Mandela

Maybe it’s the hyper consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Perhaps, it was this touching New York Times article about the realities of homelessness in New York.  Or, maybe it’s because after the recent passing of Nelson Mandela I was overwhelmed with memories of volunteering in South Africa ten years ago.  Most likely it’s a combination of all of these things, but this holiday season I have a stronger than normal urge to give back to my community.

It started a couple of weeks ago when my local Ten Thousand Villages sent me an email about its Fair Tuesday event – 15% of the proceeds that day would go to Maternity Care Coalition, a friend and client of Melior.  So, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to stock up on some of their beautiful handmade, fair trade Christmas ornaments.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt the need to be charitable that day, which has also been declared #GivingTuesday.  According to Blackbaud, a nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday partner, people gave over $19 million in online donations on #GivingTuesday, an increase of 90% compared to last year. While this year’s #GivingTuesday received more media attention and nonprofit participation than last year, Blackbaud’s CEO suggests this drastic increase in donations signals the beginning of a movement towards a more philanthropic culture.

Speaking of philanthropic cultures, Melior’s commitment to philanthropy continues to thrive.  Throughout the year, Melior employees volunteer, serve on boards and make charitable contributions to support a number of nonprofits and charities – and we’re proud to recognize some of these organizations here:

If you’d like to extend the spirit of the holidays beyond #GivingTuesday, I encourage you to donate or volunteer your time to your favorite organization.  For suggestions in the Philadelphia region, check out the organizations listed above and see our round-up of giving and volunteer opportunities below.  Hopefully, this will be our first step to maintaining the spirit of giving throughout the New Year.

If you have suggestions for additional giving opportunities and programs to support, please add them in the comments section below!

Holiday Giving Round-Up