Not 24 hours after the announcement of the world’s largest gift to higher education, there were those eager to criticize it. “Wait, Is Bloomberg’s $1.8-Billion Donation to Johns Hopkins a Good Thing?” screamed the headline in the November 20th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Michael R. Bloomberg’s gift will enable the University to significantly increase the number of qualified low- and middle-income students who can attend. In his own words, the goal is to “eliminate money problems from the admissions equation for qualified students.” The university will replace loans with scholarships for students, starting in the spring of 2019. The university will also use the money to diversify its undergraduate enrollment, making one in five students eligible for Pell Grants up from the current one in 15 students. That’s a good thing. Critics contend he could have made a bigger difference by giving to programs with a broader reach. He already has done that with his American Talent Initiative (ATI). Through ATI, Bloomberg Philanthropies brought college presidents and higher education thought leaders together to address challenges facing high-achieving, lower-income students. ATI is a collaboration between the Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and a growing number of colleges and universities “dedicated to substantially expanding opportunity and access for low- and moderate-income students.” ATI members all graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years. That’s also a good thing. In addition, Bloomberg Philanthropies supports the CollegePoint initiative, “which provides virtual, high quality college and financial aid advising to thousands of high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students across the United States.” That’s yet another good thing.
Even before New Year’s Day, 2018 looked set up to be quite a year. It started off with the implementation of some significant tax law changes that had the potential to really impact the nonprofit sector including the increase in the standard deduction and anticipated “gift bundling” that may result. In 2018 the U.S. celebrated another record year of philanthropy with Giving USA reporting $410.02 Billion given to charities! At Alexander Haas we remained committed to transforming organizations that transform lives. This year alone we worked with 70+ organizations in 21 states in 50+ communities on campaign planning and execution, annual fund enhancements, major gift program development, staff mentoring and training and even helped a couple of organizations to establish development offices for the first time. We conducted 263+ Campaign Strategy Study interviews with philanthropists to evaluate their potential support for client projects. Our clients included colleges and universities, independent schools, churches, human and animal welfare organizations, museums and performing arts organizations. During 2018 we helped to plan and execute campaigns with goals totaling over $2.5 Billion. Suffice it to say that we have kept busy, as we know you have. Here is looking forward to another robust year of philanthropy in 2019!
Penelope Burk’s second edition of Donor-Centered Fundraising was released this fall, coincidentally, the same year that Crazy Rich Asians, a movie based on the book by Kevin Kwan, hit the big screen. Burk quotes from Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland that in 1975, the top 1% of Americans earned 8% of all income. However, 35 years later, the top 1% takes more than 22% of the income pie. It’s no surprise that while total giving to most institutions continues to rise, the number of donors is shrinking. Many organizations work diligently to acquire new donors, only to see them lapse after the first year. Burk’s latest edition updates the research that she and her research firm started more than 20 years ago. Then, as now, donors continue to state that their needs (in my opinion) are fairly simple and must be met before they are asked to make another gift. According to her research, donors still want to be thanked promptly. They don’t want the thank-you letter to be a listing of the latest accolades or accomplishments of the organization, and strictly forbidden is an overt or veiled request for more funding. After appreciation, donors want to know that their gifts were used appropriately and for a purpose, “narrower in scope than the mission as a whole.” A donor once said to me that he didn’t want his gift to fall into the “black hole of the Excellence Fund, whatever that is.” Equally important is that donors receive a report on the results that the organization has achieved through their gifts. Burk has packaged the above into her Donor-Centered Fundraising approach, to which sophisticated fundraisers pay close attention. Burk’s research is important to note. In 2003, 50% of donors, who [...]
Futures in Fundraising consists of interviews with leading and emerging fundraising, development and nonprofit professionals.
James Hackney, Senior Director of Development for Yale Divinity School, details how previously being a fundraising consultant at Alexander Haas prepared him for his current position and fundraising journey.
Charity Charge Founder and CEO, Stephen Garten joins the Futures in Fundraising podcast to share insight on the new way of giving in 2017.
Founding Partner of the Aspen Leadership Group, joins Futures in Fundraising podcast to share tips for advancing your career in development. Ron explains how the transferable skills from his background in the arts set him up for success in fundraising.