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Thank You, 2019!

December 26, 2019
It’s the time of the year for those year-end (and, as a special treat for 2019, decade-end) lists. But while we might not be able to tell you what was the best movie or best album of the decade, we can look back at what the 2010s have meant to us, and what we look forward to in the future.

The world of fundraising has changed a great deal over the course of the decade. The 2010s started in the midst of a questionable economic recovery, which created a need to reach out to smaller donors. The internet helped with crowdfunding through sites like Kickstarter, but it was still a tough time in philanthropy.

However, as the economy recovered, so did the giving. Organizations raised more than $425 billion in 2018, up more than 45 percent from the 2010 number. Online giving has seen an increase as well, making it a great place for small donations in particular – the average online gift was $128 in 2017, and 47 percent of Millennials gave through an organization’s website.

As we end our 25th year, we’re proud to look back on this decade, yes, but we’re thankful most of all. At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., it has never been about us, but about building a business that does a world of good for all. Together, with our friends in the non-profit world, we’ve raised over a billion dollars for charitable causes all over North America.

As we think about our future endeavors, goals, and direction for 2020, and commit to our resolutions, let’s collectively focus on spreading goodwill and fundraising success all over the world. Thank you for a fantastic 2019, and we wish you and your families a very happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Five Reasons Why: Amsterdam

December 18, 2019
Six years ago, Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, ranked eighth in Europe in terms of popularity among tourists. It was behind some of the most famous cities of the Old World – London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona, for examples.

And while those rankings haven’t changed much, the numbers behind them have. In 2018, almost 17 million tourists came to the city in 2018, a massive amount considering that Amsterdam itself has less than a million residents. And those visitors aren’t just Brits looking for a good time in the city’s “coffee shops.” There’s plenty for those interested in art, culture, and history to see.

Looking to send donors to Amsterdam? Here’s five reasons why they should want to go.

…the Art: It shouldn’t surprise you that the home of the Vincent van Gogh Museum has both tremendous art collections and a host of new artists pushing their mediums forward. Rijksmuseum has a massive archive of works – more than 650,000 pieces! – from creators like Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. The Van Gogh Museum has the largest inventory of works by the painter in the world. On the more modern side, the Moco Museum has an exhibit of Banksy’s street art, and small galleries throughout the city are wonderful stops along walks.

…the Cycle Culture:
There are more than 320 miles of dedicated cycle lanes in Amsterdam, and more bicycles in the city than people. Visitors would be remiss to not set out on a bike ride to see the city at ground level. Rental bicycle shops are plentiful, and there are even motorized bikes for those who might not have the stamina of a two-wheel regular.

…the Canals: Often considered some of the most beautiful views in the city, the three main canals that form four half-circles in what UNESCO named a World Heritage Site in 2010. Those canals have been a sort of outline along which the city has built for more than 300 years. Plenty of cities have been described as “the Venice of the north” before, but in few of those towns are the waterways as important as they are here.

…the Architecture: The houses along those fantastic canals are often from the 17th and 18th centuries, but there are plenty of interesting buildings throughout in the city. That includes Amstelkring, a “hidden” church in the “red light district,” preserved to look like it did in the 1700s, and Oude Kerk, Amsterdam’s oldest church and a Gothic stunner that sits practically next door.

…the Beauty of the Netherlands: With buses and trains able to take visitors around the country, the city makes a great home base for tourists who want to take in all of the sights. From the country’s national parks to the world-famous windmills of Kinderdijk (and, really, all over Holland), beauties both natural and man-made make for wonderful adventures – and jealous friends and family back home.

On Giving

December 12, 2019
The end-of-the-year fundraising sprint has begun. Non-profits all over the country are sending out email blasts, running raffles, holding galas and doing everything under the sun to get the final donations of the year during what is traditionally America’s most giving year; an estimated 30 percent of donor gifts come in December, much larger than the share of any other month.
But rather than zoom in on what to do to supercharge your fundraising this month, or even look at year-end donation trends as a whole, let’s go back to basics: Why do donors give? And what do their donations mean to us, both in the non-profit sector and as a society as a whole?
For your supporters, there are plenty of reasons to give. For some, especially at this time of year, it might be tax-related, like to offset income somewhere else. While it might not be the most romantic of notions, it certainly helps boost that year-end budget.
But for the vast majority of donors, the biggest reason to give is the cause. The non-profit world in America is indispensable, and one of the reasons is that it does more to zero in on one particular problem, one riddle to solve, better than any government agency or free-market for-profit company. Your supporters want to help right that wrong, to be a part of the solution. And they’ll help through any vehicle they can – direct donation, silent auction bids, raffle tickets, and plenty of others.
Of course, in order to donate, they want to know that yours is the non-profit to which to give. Your track record, your history of success, can be the most eye-catching element of your appeal.
And what do charities do with that money? In 2015, the non-profit sector made up almost a trillion dollars of the U.S. economy (more than five percent of the overall total. More than a trillion dollars of revenue went to the more than 38,000 non-profits in the health sector – what would America’s health care system look like without charity? Three in ten donations went to religious non-profits; if churches could not declare themselves non-profits, how many would be able to stay open?
Of course, charities should be measured less by the money they draw and more by the good they do. Food banks (here and abroad), refugee resettling, water testing, animal protection, and so many more good works are made possible by giving. The world is a better place because of the work done by non-profits around the worlds, filling in the gaps created by neglect in one form or another.
For some, fundraising is a little more of a chore than a joy. But without auction committees, board members reaching out to donors, and every other action taken in pursue of funding, charities couldn’t do their work. Giving – and motivating giving – is where it all starts.

Why Holiday Travel?

December 04, 2019
When it comes to travel, December is best known for going home. Clichés like “home for the holidays” and “home is where the heart is” get worn out on local news broadcasts, and local bars fill with returning out of-towners for drinks and mingling with faces from the past.

But today, trends are changing. Now, many are seeing the end of the year as a prime opportunity to get out of town to travel somewhere new. And with those trips come fundraising possibilities, by auctioning off one of our no-risk travel packages at your gala event.

The key is coming up with the right one, and this is where talking to big donors before an event is important. Some may already have a destination picked out, which makes your job easy. Others, though, may have a reason to travel, but not a place to travel. For those less decisive, ask them why they want to go on an excursion over the season. We’ve got some suggestions, based on the most common answers.

If your supporters want to travel…

…for culture: No matter the weather, it’s tough to find a time of year during which New York is not an attractive option. Broadway often hits its peak attendance during the holiday season, but our VIP packages for shows like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Hadestown” not only get your donors through the door, but also can let them dine with some of the stars! Stay away from patio seating, though.

…for education: There’s only one day out of the year on which the Smithsonian museums of Washington, D.C. are not open, and it’s December 25. But other than allowing for a Christmas Day break, these institutes welcome guests throughout the season. For families in particular, it’s hard to run out of amazement walking from exhibit to exhibit, building to building, along the National Mall. The kids (and the parents, too!) will learn a lot in an atmosphere that still feels far from school.

…for sun: Miami can be rough on tourists during the summer, with high temperatures and humidity. But by the time December rolls around, the daily temperature averages 76 degrees, and only loses about ten degrees at night. In addition, December is one of the city’s driest months, with only seven days on average featuring rain (compared to 18 days in September). For the sun-starved, it’s an oasis.

…for shopping:
Beverly Hills is synonymous with designer stores, and our trips to the city-within-a-city includes gift cards for one of several favorite shops. During the holiday season, those stores are filled with pre- and post-Christmas sales, meaning those vouchers go a lot further in terms of purchasing power.

…for nature: They’ve got big coats, and they’re not afraid to use them. If you’ve got donors who are the sturdy, outdoorsy types, the winter wonderland of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies should be on their holiday lists. Skiing and snowboarding are obvious draws, but the tremendous hiking, helicopter tours and gondola rides are breathtaking (and make beautiful backdrops for next year’s holiday cards).