Blurbs and Reviews
Accompany Steve on his journey in pursuit of the donor-focused fundraising we all claim to espouse. Enlightened fundraisers can use his book as a guide to crossing over from traditional gift planner to courageous champion, starting with one donor and one gift.

Alexandra P. Brovey, JD, LLM
Senior Director, Gift Planning, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System Foundation
Past President, Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York

A unique, personal, smart approach to the charitable giving process—a refreshing look at how to make the right decisions, have the right conversations to result in the right gifts. I know that my students will be encouraged (maybe even required) to read this book.

Davida Isaacson
Fundraising Consultant, Educator

This book contains what’s missing in CFRE education on "planned giving." Thought- provoking, creative, practical examples that enable you to put the ideas into action. These gift design principles will help gift officers step out of their silos and into twenty-first-century fundraising for major impact.

Eden Graber, CFRE
Independent Consultant in Fundraising and Marketing Communications
Former Director of Development, New York, American Committee for Weizmann Institute of Science

Steve Meyers encourages us to bring down the institutional silos that limit the real potential of donors and institutions. He illustrates specific donor-focused techniques that have educated and inspired more meaningful and rewarding blended gifts. His "apps" should be in all our tool kits!

Andrea Hill
Senior Director of Individual and Major Gifts, Food Bank For New York City

Steve’s book provides a dramatic, holistic, inspiring donor-centric approach to fundraising to guide both donors and development professionals on how to make miracles happen.

Lisa Lager
Philanthropic Advisor
Board Member, Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York

All who engage in encouraging and inspiring charitable giving have a great new resource in Personalized Philanthropy—both seasoned professionals and those just beginning their careers in fundraising. Steve and I think alike. I like what he has written, and I think you will too.

David Dunlop
Senior Development Officer (1959–95), Cornell University

Steven Meyers’ Personalized Philanthropy demonstrates gift-planning vehicles that cross the artificial lines of annual, major, and planned gifts. This original approach benefits charitable organizations and helps advisors such as gift planners, attorneys, certified public accountants, and financial planners put donors first. I highly recommend it.

William A. Snyder, Esq.
Attorney and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Miami Law School Graduate Program in Estate Planning

A must for beginners to advanced professionals. Fresh perspective helps boards and bosses give successful programs their due and influence to tear down silos. In fact, "Counting, Numbers, Value and the Big Picture" is worth the price of the book just for this chapter alone!

Margaret M. Holman
President, Holman Consulting
Author and Adjunct Professor, NYU
President Emerita, Philanthropic Planning Group of Greater New York

What possible benefits would Personalized Philanthropy have for me, an estate planning lawyer for over fifty years? Many! This book is not just for fundraisers, but for lawyers, financial planners, and other advisors seeking innovative approaches to serving client needs in clear and dramatic ways.

Peter J. Strauss
Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law, New York Law School Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
Fellow, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

As a wealth manager, and having worked on behalf of charities, I can tell you Personalized Philanthropy is a breakthrough whose time has come! As competition for private wealth clients increases, these matrix-busting personalized gift applications will make all the difference.

Kenneth Bierman
Senior Director, Wealth Management, BNY Mellon

In Personalized Philanthropy, Steve gives us the gift of a new way to design philanthropic strategies. He shows us a way to focus on donor goals first and institutional needs second. This should be mandatory reading for every family wealth advisor.

Timothy J. Belber, JD, AEP
Author, The Middle Way: Using Balance to Create Successful Family Wealth Transition Plans

I like this book. It certainly matches my experience and observations.
Jonathan G. Tidd, Esq.

Rebecca Rothey in Planned Giving Today

"Meyers encourages us to push ourselves, to own our practice, and to personalize it."
"I believe that to be successful, we fundraisers must find our own language for communicating with donors within the context and confines of the institutions we represent. To learn to do that requires that we engage in sometimes scary, often messy (as the book’s author emphasizes) conversations that push the limits — not only what donors are willing to consider, but how much we are willing to explore all possibilities with them."
Download Rebecca’s full review here
About the reviewer, Rebecca Rothey.
Rebecca Rothey, CFRE, CAP® is Johns Hopkins University and Medicine’s director of gift planning and senior philanthropic advisor. Rothey graduated summa cum laude from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. She is past president of the Chesapeake Planned Giving Council, on the boards of Creative Alliance and Baltimore Estate Planning Council, and a member of the Editorial Board of Planned Giving Today.

Steve Leimberg on Personalized Philanthropy

"May well revolutionize the way charities raise large amounts of money in the future."
The author of this groundbreaking book, Steven L. Meyers, PhD, is vice president of The Center for Personalized Philanthropy at the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science. His book Personalized Philanthropy, may well revolutionize the way charities raise large amounts of money in the future. His outside-the-box mind makes possible the previously un-imagined.

I usually bend over a page in a book when I want to come back to (or steal) an idea or concept. When I finished reading this book, almost every page was bent over – most with X’s to high light concepts I wanted to share with others.

Let me put it another way:
As I was growing up, my father repeatedly gave me lessons and told me stories that he hoped I’d learn from. Many times, he said to me,
"Only a fool learns from his own mistakes" and followed that with...
"A wise man learns from the mistakes of others!" One day he told me of "The Smartest Man in the World."
"It wasn’t the man who created the cash box nor the man who invented the adding machine.
It was the man who put them both together and called it the cash register!

It got me thinking about the new suitcase I own. How long was it that we moved clothing we were taking on a trip in a trunk and it took two people to grab it by the corners? And then, someone added leather handles. And years later, someone else added two wheels and an expandable handle and called it a suitcase (must have been an inventor attorney – the same person who invented the brief case). And then someone added four wheels! And I always wondered, why did it take so long to make these improvements and why were we so oblivious to what could be a blindingly simple, workable, and elegant solution?

Steven Meyers takes readers interested in innovative philanthropy through this same thought process – shaking us and making us ask – over and over again – "It’s obvious! So why didn’t we see that solution – before?"

Meyers shows us what’s wrong with our philanthropic large gift raising thinking – and empowers us to break out of the tyranny of the traditional. His book should be purchased – and read – over and over – by development officers, would be and current philanthropists – and by every estate and charitable planning attorney, CPA, insurance agent, financial planner, and wealth manager who is willing to work with an open mind and create what Meyers calls "The right gift, for the right purpose, for the right donor." These are donor-focused (fully engaging with the donor’s needs or desires) integrated, full spectrum holistic gifts.

Meyers three jaw-dropping simple/powerful moving beyond convention concepts of "Virtual Endowments," "Equity Gifts," and "Step-Up" gifts are game changers.
Here’s one example:
Most of us, when we purchase a home, don’t have all the cash necessary (or if we do, we may have a better alternative use for it) to plunk down the money and move in. So we obtain a mortgage and pay off the principle over time. We don’t have to wait 20 or 30 years to "move in."

Meyers suggests that the same principle can be applied to a person who wanted to have a chair in her name, say at Villanova Law School, or have a library room named in her honor at, say at the Library at Fernandina Beach, Florida. Assume she could not – or did not want to - make the outright gift today of (let’s assume, $1,000,000) necessary to establish the endowment.
Suppose she had given the Villanova Law School or Fernandina Beach Library $1,000,000 today – and the charity had invested it – and withdrawn 5% each year as its "spending rate." It would have $50,000 a year to spend.

Now suppose, going back to our real life example, the potential donor didn’t give $1,000,000 today – but instead committed to giving annual gifts equal to the spending rate of $1,000,000, i.e., she committed to giving $50,000 a year for the rest of her life. And she simultaneously committed to a "balloon gift" of $1,000,000 at her death (perhaps through assets she owned or maybe even better, funded with life insurance the charity would own on her life and that she would pay for).

In other words we link two gifts ((1) a multiyear pledge for annual gifts based on the life expectancy of the donor in the amount of the spending rate the charity would have used had it received the endowment up front and (2) a separate pledge or contact to include a gift by bequest or life insurance contract of the original endowment amount) under an umbrella plan.

Knowing that this irrevocable combination pledge will accomplish essentially the same overall benefit as an immediate gift of the lump sum, the Law School or Library could recognize and honor the donor today – and the donor would have the immediate pleasure of seeing and realizing with certainly the impact of her gift.

So simple, so elegant, so workable! It’s like putting the cash box and the adding machine together and making a cash register – or putting four wheels and handles on a trunk and making it into a suitcase.

Like so many concepts in this book, you’ll say to yourself, "Why didn’t we think of this – before?"

1: The Two Cultures of Fundraising: Crashing Your Matrix
2: Matrix-Killing Apps of Personalized Philanthropy
3: Radically Rethinking Endowment: Examples
4: Beyond Conventional Solicitation: Personalized Best Practices
5: Counting, Numbers, Value, and The Big Picture
6: Being the Change and Making Your Own Shift

Personalized Philanthropy can be ordered through

About the Author - Steve Leimberg
Stephan R. Leimberg is CEO of Leimberg and LeClair, Inc., an estate and financial planning software company, President of Leimberg Associates, Inc., a publishing and software company in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Publisher of Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI )which provides e-mail based news, opinion, and information for tax professionals.
Review originally appeared in LISI Charitable Planning Newsletter (June, 2015) at Copyright 2015 Leimberg Information Services, Inc.

Bruce Bigelow Perspective in Partnership for Philanthropic Planning [PPP]

A Must-Read: Steve Meyers on Personalized Philanthropy
Posted on May 28, 2015; Reviewed by Bruce Bigelow

"Should result in bigger and better gifts, in more engaged donors, and in richer relationships over many years."

Personalized philanthropy is the fundamental principle of Steve Meyers’ new book, Personalized Philanthropy—Crash the Fundraising Matrix (CharityChannel Press).

As he so aptly suggests, just as holistic medicine has moved to treat the entire person over a lifetime, so should holistic philanthropy characterize the new paradigm of charitable fundraising. Steve encourages us to move beyond transactional fundraising, in which we focus on the institutional needs of the moment, to a process in which we engage our donors in building a life plan for their philanthropic aspirations. We should move, he posits, from fundraising as negotiation to fundraising as collaboration, in which the donor is a partner in an on-going, sometimes unpredictable but fully organic process.

Steve presents us with three new ways of thinking about fundraising, all of which should result in bigger and better gifts, in more engaged donors, and in richer relationships over many years.

· First, he suggests a new organizational paradigm, in which all fundraising staff are engaged with donors and the traditional silos of annual fund, major gifts and planned giving, should no longer determine who acts and how we interact with donors. All members of the development staff should see their associations with donors as part of the evolving life-long process; everyone should understand the on-going conversation with the donor; and everyone should be aware enough of the range of giving opportunities (even though the technical aspects of some of those options may remain the purview of experts) to keep the donor conversation going over time.

· Second, he calls us to adopt new processes, especially in the ways we count, report, and acknowledge gift commitments. When Steve and I served together on the PPP Task Force on Counting and Reporting Gifts, we, along with our colleagues from around the country, developed a new perspective on counting that focused on the donor and on building transparency into the reporting process. Steve views this new counting process as so fundamental to his new ways of thinking that he reproduces the entire PPP report as an appendix to his narrative. More and more, this new paradigm has come to characterize fundraising campaigns, and Steve’s continued eloquent focus will move the process still further toward universal acceptance.

· Finally, he gives us a set of three new and quite flexible techniques, his "killer apps." These new ways of thinking about donor commitments allow us as fundraisers to work with donors in new ways, to help donors to realize their long-term objectives even as we work with short-term resource limitations. These "apps" are by no means exhaustive, but they demonstrate in concrete and easy to understand ways how personalized philanthropy can work for the betterment of all.

Steve gives us practical tools and a clear conceptual model. His book is, as a result, both an inspiration and a guidebook. His suggestions build on his own significant experience and his understanding of the new trends in charitable fundraising. Even though my own philosophical approach to fundraising closely mirrors Steve’s, he reminds me of why I find myself drawn to personalized philanthropy and how I can enhance the relationships with donors. We can all learn from his insights, and in the process become more effective fundraisers and build more meaningful relationships with our donors.

About the Author:
Bruce Bigelow is founding partner of Charitable Development Consulting, LLC, and a leader in the gift planning profession for 30+ years. He was a co-founder and president of the Chesapeake Planned Giving Council. He has served as NCPG (now PPP) conference chair and chair of the Research Committee. He has supervised two national gift planning research efforts. Bigelow was chair and chief author of PPP’s Guidelines for Counting and Reporting Charitable Gifts. ­­

Director of Philanthropic Services, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation

I am going through the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation and just completed your book "Personalized Philanthropy - Crash the Fundraising Matrix" and loved it! It is a book and a concept I would like to share with my colleagues, professional advisors - and donors. I hope to get you out to the Pacific Northwest to address this concept at our Philanthropy Summit in the future.

5-Star Reviews from

This book is superb.
Verified Purchase
This review is from: Personalized Philanthropy: Crash the Fundraising Matrix (Hardcover)


By Susan on September 14, 2015
Steven, I am halfway through your new book, as part of the last semester of the CAP program, and I have highlighted nearly everything!

As someone who has been seeking to redeploy into non profit fundraising with transferable skills from other careers and life experience, I have found your words inspirational and grounding.

Wanting this last career chapter to be truly satisfying across all fronts, and being somewhat concerned that many prospective places to work are more traditional in their approach to development, I have embraced your ideas and have clarity about the kind of fundraiser I would like to be.

This note is to thank you for putting your experience and ideas out there to germinate. They have found fertile soil with me. Now to find places near me with open positions and similar soil to plant myself.

As a former Certified Fundraising Executive, I worked in the planned giving field for a dozen years. Because I wanted to do what was best for the donor, rather than mainly raise money for my nonprofit employer, I went on to earn my Certified Financial Planner™ credential and establish my own independent financial planning firm. In my comprehensive planning work, I emphasized assisting charitably inclined clients to define and accomplish important philanthropic goals. In my role as a CFP® I was free to start with a donor’s love of mission rather than the nonprofit’s need for money. What a freeing concept! Steve Meyers nails it with his personalized philanthropy approach! This is the way I wanted to do gift planning work 20 years ago . . . but that was not possible back then. I hope all gift advisors can embrace the concepts outlined in this book. Steve’s three "killer apps"—virtual endowments, philanthropic mortgages, and step-up gifts—are wonderful strategies for various planning scenarios focused on the donor. In my current work as a speaker, author and mentor, I inspire widows in transition and their advisors. This includes legacy planning work. Indeed, I will introduce Steve’s practical ways that clients can achieve new levels of significant engagement with their favorite nonprofits. This book is a great resource for gift planners, financial advisors, attorneys, consultants, and individual donors. (His colorful little drawings are fun, too.)
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ByTimothy Belberon April 27, 2015
Dr. Meyers has written a book that should be on every advisors book shelf. He provides clear insights and explanations of both what philanthropy has been and what is possible going forward in a more meaningful way.

ByRandy Foxon April 2, 2015
This is the type of visioning of philanthropy I’ve been looking for for 25 years. Planned Giving Design Center [PGDC] contributing author Steve Meyers has crystallized his game changing thinking into a user friendly manual for an entire new way of thinking about philanthropy. Steve has transcended the common concepts of major giving and planned giving, combining and transforming into a totally new methodology. Advisors and non-profit professionals can all benefit from Steve’s advanced, yet simple methodologies.

No, we don’t need to discard our old tools. They will serve us well. But, crashing through the Fundraising Matrix, may be more effective and raise more money, faster and with more donor satisfaction and engagement. A crash course is recommended for all.

ByPhilip B. Cubetaon March 11, 2015
I teach philanthropy at the American College for Financial Services to both fundraisers and advisors. I will be assigning this book to students in GS 859: Gift Planning in a Nonprofit Context, as the culmination of their studies. The book takes nonprofit gift planning to a higher level, one that client advisors find compelling. The take away point is that nonprofit's can lead with high capacity donors by helping the donor achieve the donor's dreams through the nonprofit, with staged gifts that add up to a significant program or naming opportunity over time. Instead of thinking of donors as the ATM to be tapped for annual, major and planned gifts, in isolated "asks" over time, the book suggests we aggregate lifetime giving into a coherent plan to achieve impact, via umbrella gift agreements and coordination with the donors financial and estate plans. That may sound abstract, but the book is written in colloquial English, with wonderful hand drawn illustrations. If you are a financial advisor working with philanthropic clients, or a major or planned gift officer with a nonprofit, you and those you serve will greatly benefit from your engaging with this book.

Personalized Philanthropy: Crash the Fundraising Matrix