Marketing, Education, Tools


Interested in hosting a webinar with us? Please inquire. We can also host a special presentation to your group. We have over 30 topics and 6 presenters we can partner with.

  • Presenters and Topics

How to make an EPIC fundraising ask: The story principles of successful major gift requests

Want to make an EPIC fundraising ask? Start with an EPIC story for your prospective donor hero. This presentation looks at the science and the story principles behind powerful major gift requests. We’ll look at fun examples from the hero’s journey archetypal “guiding sage” characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Morpheus, and Gandalf the Grey. But beyond the fun stories, this presentation dives into the phrases and strategies that work in the real world to make a compelling fundraising ask.

How to talk to people about wealth in ways that inspire major gifts of assets: The science and the sentences

Wealth is not held in cash; it’s held in other assets like stocks, bonds, real estate, and IRAs. Research shows that shifting donors to giving from their wealth (assets), rather than just from their cash (disposable income) can lead to transformational donations. But how can we actually make this happen? Talking about someone else’s wealth can be scary! In this presentation, Professor James walks through the step-by-step process that makes these conversations simple, easy, and stress free. You don’t need to be a gift planning expert to inspire major gifts of assets. You just need to attend this presentation!

Using behavioral science in fundraising communications: What experimental research tells us about the right words and phrases

In this presentation, Professor James reviews experimental results from research showing what works – and what doesn’t – in fundraising communications. These results reveal the core principles behind effective fundraising messaging. We’ll look at what the research found, what it means, and how to change your communications to make them more effective.

How to ask for an estate gift without fear or anxiety: The science and the sentences

The idea of legacy gift fundraising makes sense. But it feels a little uncomfortable, right? So how do we actually DO this? What, specifically, do we say? In this session Professor James reviews, step-by-step, the most effective ways to ask for an estate gift for your nonprofit. Connecting experimental research and academic theory with dozens of simple, practical examples, this presentation gives you both the “Why” and the “How” of the words and phrases you will want to use.

Using storytelling in major and planned gifts fundraising: New findings, ancient origins, and practical tips

Connecting with the donor’s life story in the right way can be a powerful trigger for major and planned gifts. But how do we do that? Professor James shows how understanding the ancient origins and the latest research findings leads to simple, effective, practical techniques that anyone can use to more effectively encourage major gifts and gifts in wills.

Socratic fundraising: Using questions to advance the donor's journey

Fundraising often focuses on making "the ask." But appreciative inquiry uses questions throughout the relationship to help the donor discover their own reasons for making a transformational donation. Professor James starts with the "why" from research, theory, and experience and then moves to the "how" of exactly what questions to ask, in what order, and for what purpose. You'll leave with a deeper understanding of major gift decision processes and plenty of real-world "magic" questions to try out right away.

Gifts of wealth and the psychology of the massive donation

Big gifts are different. The messaging is different, the structures are different, and the psychology is different. Professor James reviews the scientific research, experimental findings, and theory that underlie the most effective practices for encouraging these transformational donations. You’ll leave with an understanding of both the practical fundraising “how” and the research-based “why” of raising large donations. When you are ready to “go BIG” with your fundraising, this is the presentation for you!

Top 10 legacy fundraising strategies from scientific research: National data & results from the lab

After fifteen years in academic research (plus more than a decade in frontline planned and major gifts fundraising), Professor James brings together scientific results from economics, neuroscience, psychology, demographics, and other disciplines to present the ten most important and effective strategies for increasing fundraising success in planned gifts. Beyond just “war stories,” this presentation gives you a deep understanding of what works – and why – in effective legacy fundraising.

Raising major gifts of assets in the aftermath of Covid-19: New strategies for a new world

The new world has brought new challenges and new opportunities. There are new laws, new economic circumstances, new attitudes, and new communication concerns. In this presentation, Dr. James reviews the “why” and the “how” of raising major gifts of assets in this setting. You will leave with practical examples of new conversation scripts and new planning techniques that work in today’s environment.

Special charitable financial planning opportunities for [Insert Current Month] 2022

Pandemic, market fluctuations, interest rate changes, SECURE Act tax law changes, extended portions of the CARES Act — the changes never seem to stop! But with change comes opportunity. This combination of circumstances has led to some attractive opportunities for clients with charitable interests. In his presentation, Dr. James reviews the strategies available to help clients take advantage of these special one-time opportunities. Additionally, he will share his latest decision-making research results revealing the words, phrases and conversation strategies that are most effective in communicating with donors during times like this.

Selling to the CFO: How to get your leadership to support planned gift fundraising

Planned giving conferences are great! We all celebrate how important planned giving is. But then we go back to the office. And budgets get cut. And other responsibilities get added to our plates. Before we sell planned giving to donors, we’ve got to sell it to our organization. This presentation shows how. We’ll look at real-world financial data to warm the heart of any CFO. We’ll cover the stories and the statistics that will get your leadership invested in planned giving.

New results from 100 years of national data on charitable bequest gifts

Understanding how to be effective in legacy gift fundraising starts with reality. How are these gifts made? Who makes them and who doesn’t? When do they get added or dropped? Who is your competition? Where does the money really come from? Who should I be talking to? When should I be talking with them? This presentation answers these question by reviewing the most pleasant, and the most painful, realities of charitable estate giving across 100 years of data.

Top 10 charitable planning strategies for financial advisors under the new tax law and the SECURE Act: Helping your clients and your business with charitable planning

This session gives the top approaches to helping your clients and growing your practice using charitable planning with special tips related to the new tax law. Participants will learn how to provide tremendous benefit to clients, while improving their own assets under management, with charitable planning. Topics include gifts from retirement plans, gifts of appreciated assets, the use of private foundations, and life insurance.

Why cash is not king in fundraising: Results from 1 million nonprofit tax returns

This research tracks the fundraising growth of hundreds of thousands of nonprofit organizations over six years to identify what predicts current and long-term fundraising growth. A key predictor is whether the nonprofit effectively pursues gifts of assets (e.g., stocks, bonds, real estate) rather than gifts of cash. This presentation reviews these comprehensive results, investigates the psychological and practical aspects of why gifts of assets are so critical for high- growth fundraising, and discusses strategies for effectively pursuing these important gifts.

The hidden code of end-of-life decisions: What legacy fundraising can learn from decision- making in life insurance, annuities, estate planning, and healthcare

Death is different. When it comes to making decisions involving end-of-life, people respond in unusual ways. In this presentation, Professor James brings together scientific and demographic research from a range of end-of-life decisions to uncover remarkably consistent principles of what works in persuasive communication. Understanding this “hidden code” will change the way you think, and talk, about legacy giving and planned giving.

Using donor surveys in planned gift marketing

A number of organizations have experienced remarkable success using the donor survey. In this session, Dr. James reviews the scientific research, academic theory, and real-world practical applications of how to use donor surveys to identify prospects, increase interest in planned giving, and even measure the success of your overall marketing efforts.

Back from Fantasy Island: Counting revocable estate gifts

Spending in planned gift marketing has, by far, the best return ratios of any category of fundraising. But, there is a problem; the money arrives only after a long delay – and sometimes doesn’t arrive at all. How can we address this problem in a way that incentives fundraisers – and chief financial officers – to do the right thing? In this session, Dr. James reviews the advantages and problems of a variety of approaches to counting including a brand new approach.

Words that work in major and planned gifts fundraising: Statistical analysis of the words and phrases that encourage planned giving

What words increase interest in making a bequest gift? What job titles work best for donors? How should you describe a complex gift to generate the most interest? This presentation shares results from a series of surveys uncovering the words and phrases that work best to encourage interest in planned giving. Dr. James begins with an overview of the neurological processes that drive charitable decision-making and explains how these processes link to the survey results on optimum word choice. Learn practical, scientifically-based approaches that will increase your effectiveness in communicating about planned giving.

Wills that won’t: A 25 year national study of charitable planning additions, deletions, and ultimate estate transfers

This session reviews results from a national longitudinal study tracking charitable estate plans among older adults across many years. Participants will learn about new and emerging trends, and how to best take advantage of them. Additionally, this study tracks the post-mortem estate distributions for over 12,000 decedents whose lifetime planning was tracked across many years. Learn what was really important, and what wasn’t, in generating actual dollars transferred to charity, and how this information can improve your results in marketing to potential bequest donors.

Baby Boomers and planned giving: A very special generation or just typical old people?

In this irreverent and entertaining session, Dr. James reviews nationally representative data on Baby Boomers and their planned giving. Beyond simple statistics, this session demonstrates how these demographic realities, and age-related psychological factors, should change how and when you communicate planned giving information to Boomers. If you want a session based on hard data that goes beyond "just so" stories with obligatory pictures of Woodstock, Vietnam, and Neil Armstrong - then this is the place for you!

Inside the mind of the planned giving donor: What neuroimaging and experimental research reveal about donor motivations

Reporting results from his research at the Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute, Dr. James reveals the latest insights into how donors engage in charitable bequest decision-making. These findings come together to reveal the deep processes of donor decision-making in planned giving. Not just an academic presentation, this session presents practical, effective, and tested approaches to encourage generosity among planned giving donors.

Important year-end charitable giving strategies

The end of year is when donors often make their biggest charitable giving decisions. This presentation reviews ways to give smarter at the end of the year that will encourage donors to consider larger gifts. Dr. James will not only look at the technical aspects of wise strategies but will also cover the right words to use when discussing these strategies with donors. Charitable strategies will include gift bunching, retained life estate deeds, qualified charitable distributions, the advantages and pitfalls of IRA checkbook gifts, charitable beneficiaries of qualified plans, “phasing in” the qualified business income deduction, giving appreciated assets rather than cash, the “charitable swap” (donating old shares and immediately purchasing identical replacement

shares), grantor charitable lead trusts for income tax planning purposes, non-grantor charitable lead trusts for estate tax planning purposes, charitable remainder trusts, and charitable gift annuities.

Putting research to work in your planned giving program

(Note: This combines shortened versions of “Selling to the CFO: How to get your leadership to support planned gift fundraising” and “New results from 100 years of national data on charitable bequest gifts”) Before we sell planned giving to donors, we’ve got to sell it to our organization. This presentation shows how. We’ll look at real-world financial data to warm the heart of any CFO. Plus, we’ll look at the numbers that show how to get the most dollars in the door. We’ll cover the stories and the statistics that will get your leadership invested in planned giving and your donors invested in making transformational gifts.

[Donor Presentation]

Smarter Ways to Give — Top Tax Tips

New laws! New regulations! New rules! It can be hard to keep up with all the changes. In this plain language, practical presentation, Professor Russell James, J.D., Ph.D., CFP® (Director of Graduate Studies in Charitable Financial Planning at Texas Tech University) gives you the latest tips on the smartest ways to give in the years t0 come. You’ll learn the best tax-wise strategies for making the biggest impact with your giving. This presentation will cover charitable strategies including the “charitable swap” for appreciated securities, IRA checkbook gifts, qualified charitable distributions, gift bunching, double-counting with the qualified business income deduction, and many other ways to avoid income, capital gains, estate and gift taxes.

Introduction to Planned Giving

Life Income Gifts

Holding Successful Board Meetings

To come

Planned Giving Marketing:

You Don’t Need to Learn Another Language to “Get” Planned Giving

This high-energy presentation motivates participants to take real-world action steps. Attendees will leave invigorated and armed with new and practical ideas they can use to promote planned gifts and build broader awareness. Plenty of examples from the serious to the outrageously creative.


How To Identify Drivers of Trust to  Strengthen Relationships

We focus on twelve “Trust Levers” applicable during any economic cycle. We will show you how to measure strengths and weaknesses of your communications to develop an optimal strategy to relate authentically to raise more and larger gifts.

"Trust is the currency of transactions. Relationship equity is built on trust."

  • Presenter PowerPoint files, Handouts, Video

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