National Capital Gift Planning Council is so grateful for the support of our generous sponsors. Our Sponsor Spotlight series highlights their valuable contributions to the planned giving industry and the numerous ways they may be of service to our members and those in their professional networks.
Creating the World You Wish to See
A conversation with Nathan Stelter, President, The Stelter Company And Gayle Union, NCGPC
NCGPC: Tell us about Stelter. What are your company’s values? Have your company’s values shifted, adapted, or shone brighter in the face of COVID-19?
Nathan Stelter (NS): Honestly, it was very fortuitous that we launched some brand new values in January 2020, as the excitement and passion around them helped us navigate the early onset of the pandemic. Unlike our previous values which were your typical business jargon (i.e., teamwork, leadership, etc.) these values came from within as they were actually created by staff and strike the chord of who we are as a company — We Advocate, We Collaborate, We Resonate, We Create, and We Celebrate. They can be seen here, The Stelter Company Values.
NCGPC: How has COVID-19 affected your business operations and how have you adapted?
NS: We were actually in very good shape when everything hit the proverbial fan in March 2020, as a large road construction project in front of our headquarters in 2019 ironically pushed our operations team to institute an extensive disaster recovery plan, which enabled everyone to be up and running at their homes within 4 hours of announcing the move to staff on Friday, March 13, 2020. I’m so proud of the work the Stelter team has done on behalf of our clients in 2020 and now 2021… Our staff hasn’t missed a beat!
As it relates to our client’s planned giving marketing programs that they’ve entrusted to us, it was critical that all marketing be viewed through the lens of the pandemic. In fact, prior to sending our staff home to work remotely, our Editorial Director, Client Services Director and Creative Director all bunkered down for two days in a makeshift “war room” and personally reviewed all our clients’ content and rewrote everything to be more sensitive to where folks’ mindsets were at the time. We literally pulled projects off the presses because it would have sent the wrong message. How would an email with the subject line of “giving is contagious” been received in the midst of a pandemic? Language like “end-of-life decisions”, “passing assets before death”, etc., just wouldn’t do. This helped our clients demonstrate to their donors that they were paying attention to what was going on in the world and responding appropriately. One of the pleasant side benefits of the team’s work is that we had some new clients come out of the woodwork in 2020, in part because they appreciated how we had pivoted to communicate differently.
NCGPC: What do you value most about your relationship with NCGPC that made you decide to continue supporting us during a challenging and uncertain year?
NS: I’m very proud to say that Stelter doubled down on our sponsorship efforts in 2020; we didn’t pause or defer support. We know how critical sponsorship dollars are to all fundraising associations and planned giving councils, and that includes NCGPC. We have a strong personal connection to NCGPC that stems from decades of involvement with the council and not only my participation as a Board member, but participation by two other Stelter colleagues on NCGPC’s board now and in the recent past.
NCGPC: Will COVID-19 change the way your company conducts business in the future? If so, how? What does the future of your business look like post-COVID?
NS: For almost 60 years we’ve prided ourselves on sitting down one-on-one with our clients in their offices and hammering out marketing plans, but, as of now, we’re going to continue to work from home and hold off on moving back into our headquarters until this summer. And while Zoom will likely stay with us in some form or fashion, our consultants are eager for the day they can sit face-to-face again with our clients…nothing can replace that. I will say, that the future is bright for Stelter, as you’ve likely heard the phrase ‘in times of crisis, innovation moves faster,’ I’m excited to share that Stelter doubled-down in 2020 on innovation. These investments included the release of a DAF and QCD widget, new positions focused on the disciplines of data, content, digital and client services, an expansion of our Strategist role throughout Stelter’s client base and aligning our subject matter experts along with subsector specializations. To say we’ve been busy is an understatement. 😉