JGA Blog

Dan Schipp

Dan Schipp brings three decades of experience in institutional advancement in higher education to the JGA team. His early career included teaching junior high social studies and working in community planning and development in southern Indiana. Before joining JGA, Dan, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, enjoyed a long career in institutional development with Saint Meinrad Archabbey and School of Theology. Clients value Dan’s quiet, calm and thoughtful demeanor as they navigate difficult challenges.

Recent Posts

A Crisis of Faith: The Ripple Effect of Declines in Giving to Religion

January 13, 2021

There is a multi-dimensional challenge facing churches in America that has me concerned, and I think you should be as well. Given my background, it should not surprise you that I am concerned about this matter. (Prior to joining JGA as a senior consultant, I spent twenty-five years working in development for a religious institution, and during my twelve years with JGA, I have worked with more than fifty faith-based organizations.) The challenge is related to several troubling trends in the current U.S. religious landscape. As I will explain later, I think you also should be concerned . . . whether or not your fundraising is for a religious-affiliated organization.

My concern is threefold: 1) Giving to religious organizations as a percentage of total philanthropy is declining substantially; 2) participation in congregations is at a historic low; and 3) the changed religious practices brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic could have a continuing, long-term impact on congregations.

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Campaigning During A Crisis: How to Adjust and Plan

June 25, 2020

The nonprofit world, just like the world in general, has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing crises over the economy and race relations in the US. All of us involved in philanthropy are working to determine our course in the choppy and unchartered waters.

Recently JGA sponsored a webinar aimed at casting a guiding light on moving forward with a fundraising campaign in the midst of these challenges. The webinar, Campaigns and COVID-19: What the Pandemic Means for Your Campaign, brought the perspective of four guests representing organizations at different stages of campaigns: planning; leadership gifts/quiet phase; major gifts/public phase; and campaign closure.

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Giving USA 2019: Implications for Religious Organizations

January 28, 2020

According to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, American giving reached $427.71 billion in 2018, an increase of 0.7 percent in terms of current dollars but a decline of 1.7 percent from 2017, when adjusted for inflation. Even adjusted for inflation, charitable giving reached its second highest level ever in 2018, second only to 2017. Thus, 2018 is seen as a very strong but complex year in terms of philanthropy.

What this Means for Religious Organizations:

Giving USA reports that giving to religion declined to $124.52 billion in 2018 (a 1.5 percent drop in current dollars and a 3.9 percent drop when adjusted for inflation). This is the first decline for the sector following seven years of positive or flat growth. Still, it remains the largest philanthropic subsector, receiving 29 percent of all charitable gifts in 2018. It is notable that for the purposes of the Giving USA report, religious organizations include congregations, missions, religious media, and other related organizations. Even with this narrow definition, giving to religion comprised 29 percent of charitable donations in 2018. If all houses of worship and religiously oriented charities (e.g., schools, hospitals) were included in this category, up to 75 percent of all charitable giving could be considered religious in nature.

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Are You Taking Advantage of Challenge Gifts in fundraising?

May 07, 2019

Challenge gifts are a mainstay of most nonprofit fundraising programs for one very good reason . . . they are effective! For decades nonprofits in all sectors have utilized challenge gifts to incentivize giving to achieve a variety of goals.  Their effectiveness has not waned.  They work in any number of situations.  They work with all generations.  Leveraging giving has universal appeal!

Although fundraisers can provide numerous anecdotes of how challenge gifts have stimulated giving, formal research also has shown that challenge gifts attract donors and increase contributions.  One study conducted by Daniel Rondeau and John List in 2008, Matching and Challenge Gifts to Charity:  Evidence from Laboratory and Natural Field Experiments, revealed that challenge gifts attracted 23% more donors and increased total dollar contributions 18%. 

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Giving USA 2018:   Implications for Religion

October 04, 2018

According to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017, total charitable giving in the United States grew by 5.2 percent to $410.02 billion in 2017. This marks the highest total amount given in the 40 years Giving USA has tracked this data, both in current dollars and when adjusted for inflation.

What this Means for Religious Organizations:

Giving to religion continues to capture the largest percentage of philanthropic dollars (31%) of all subsectors by far, despite having the slowest positive growth rate at 2.9 percent in 2017. This is a continuing pattern of slow growth over the past several years. With total giving of $127.37 billion last year, charitable giving to faith-based organizations continues to grow overall, despite a national trend of decreasing affiliation with and attendance at religious institutions. Among the major Protestant denominations and Catholic and Jewish faith traditions, all have experienced the downward trend in affiliation and attendance. Interestingly, research shows that any form of religious affiliation increases an individual’s average annual charitable contributions overall.

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Good Stewardship is the Key to Donor Retention

January 31, 2018

Have you looked at your overall and new donor retention rates lately? If your organization is like most other nonprofit organizations, there is ample room for improvement.  According to the 2017 Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report, the average overall donor retention rate for the nearly 11,000 nonprofits participating in the study was 45%. The average new donor retention rate was 23%. 

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As noted in the AFP report, for the past 10 years, the average overall donor retention rate has been less than 50%.

How can your organization move the needle on donor retention?  A good place to start is with donor stewardship.

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Developing Your Fundraising ‘Swing’: Lessons Learned from Rowing

March 16, 2017


“When you get the rhythm in an eight, it’s pure pleasure to be in it.  It’s not hard work when the rhythm comes – that ‘swing’ as they call it. I’ve heard men shriek out with delight when that swing came in an eight; it’s a thing they’ll never forget as long as they live.”

 - George Yeoman Pocock, as quoted in The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

The book, and accompanying note, arrived shortly before Thanksgiving. It came from a chief advancement officer to express gratitude for being part of the leadership team of a successful campaign and to bring closure to the work of that team. 

I expected it to be a book about leadership or vision or philanthropy, but I was wrong. It was a book about rowing! It was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, a #1 New York Times bestseller about the crew of working class boys from the University of Washington (UW) who, against all odds, competed for the eight-oar gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

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Giving USA 2016: Fundraising Implications for Giving to Religion

November 10, 2016

According to Giving USA 2016, total charitable giving in the United States grew by 4.1 percent to $373.25 billion in 2015. This marks the highest total amount given in the 40 years Giving USA has tracked this data, both in current dollars and adjusted for inflation.

A few weeks ago we looked at the implications for higher education and healthcare organizations from the Giving USA data. This week we will focus in on the faith-based sector and look at the implications of this latest data on giving to religion.

 What this Means for Religious Organizations:

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Building a Systematic Approach to Major Gifts Fundraising

July 07, 2016

Over the years, JGA has often been asked to help nonprofit organizations move from a transactional fundraising model – focused heavily on direct mail and special events – to a long-term sustainability model. The latter approach is based on building donor relationships that encourage and create meaningful opportunities for philanthropic investment in an organization. A key to success in this relationship-building, major gifts-focused model is a formal prospect management approach.

How do you put in place such a system?  What actions need to be taken to formalize an ongoing program of major gifts fundraising?  The following are four fundamental steps in implementing a systematic approach to major gift development:

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Using Naming Rights in Fundraising

January 19, 2016

A common practice among nonprofit organizations -- the offering of naming opportunities to donors – is seemingly receiving increased scrutiny. In the past fifteen months, for example, The New York Times featured an op-ed article on revising the way tax law treats naming rights and The Wall Street Journal ran a story on how naming rights can go wrong, focusing on a legal battle over a gift made by country singer Garth Brooks.

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