Colleges and universities strive to identify that donor who will be so passionate about the mission that he or she is inspired to provide a transformative gift. Some universities refer to these benevolent individuals as unicorn donors, an apt name, as they may be as rare as, or perhaps as elusive as the mythical creature. In 2017, institutions of higher education received more than $1.8 billion from America’s wealthiest donors according to The Chronical of Philanthropy. It is no surprise that the list of top donors to higher education includes Bill and Melinda Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Charles Butt. All made substantial contributions in 2017 to educational institutions. Giving by the wealthiest donors to higher education declined in 2017, primarily because $900 million, given by Penny and Phil Knight in 2016, produced a significant spike that year. One institution in the Southeast, North Carolina State University announced such a transformative gift for its College of Textiles this past fall. A $28 million gift, from alumnus Frederick “Fred” Eugene Wilson Jr. and the Wilson family will fund an endowment for the College. The College is now known as the Wilson College of Textiles. As is often the case, this gift did not arise by accident, but through active communication with the donor and a genuine willingness to connect the donor with the opportunities and needs of the institution. Mr. Wilson’s grandson, Rede Wilson, 2016 alumnus, responded to a direct mail appeal six months after graduation with a $1000 gift. When asked why, he said it was because the dean asked him. The dean had been one of Rede’s professors. The development office was quick to connect Rede with his grandfather, who had given $10 million to High Point University. Michael Ward, Senior Director of Development, asked Rede to serve [...]
Among the most pressing and relevant issues faced by museums and performing arts organizations today is the diversification of their leadership, staff and audiences. This has long been an important topic in the field, but the dialogue around these issues has taken on new significance in recent years. While attention is most often paid to societal or moral considerations around diversity, intentionally representing and serving more inclusive communities can also yield other important benefits over the long term. Public and private funding organizations, board members, and donors are increasingly requiring that institutions’ leadership and audiences reflect the communities they serve as a condition for funding. Civic cultural plans adopted in recent years throughout the country – from New York to Dallas, from Boston to Oakland – celebrate diversity and inclusion and suggest that future funding decisions will be evaluated in the context of organization’s commitment to these values. A recent report by the Mellon Foundation indicates that concentrated efforts have led to improvements in the diversification of upper-level staff members in art museums over the past several years, but that there is still work to be done. Likewise, a new program launched by the American Alliance of Museums funded by the Ford, Mellon and Walton Family foundations shows that issues of diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion on boards will continue to be a focus among major funders of the arts in coming years. As your organization contemplates issues such as these, several suggestions may be helpful to consider: Authenticity is Key There is a natural tendency during challenging budget times – or when ambitious development officers are determined to do whatever it takes to reach their goals – to paint an artificial picture of an institution’s priorities or achievements to meet a donor’s or funding organization’s objectives in an attempt to [...]
Before Jack Welch retired, he was quoted as saying, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” The start of a New Year is the perfect opportunity for nonprofit leaders to vision cast (or recast) for their staff, volunteers, and donors. Without a vision for where you’re headed, your philanthropic goals are likely to go out the window with your New Year’s resolutions … sometime in late March. Casting vision for your nonprofit can be tricky. Your staff, board, and volunteers believe in the mission but can get burnt out from the day-to-day challenges of serving with a nonprofit. Show Gratitude The New Year is a great opportunity to remind each of your board members what you appreciate about the unique gifts they bring to the table – and not just the financial ones. Whether it’s their organizational skills, relational skills, financial prowess, or technological proficiency, each of your board members was brought on for a specific reason. The same goes for your staff and other volunteers. They are likely going above and beyond because they believe in the mission of your organization. Yet, they are probably being given very few resources to make everything happen. That can be the exhausting reality in the nonprofit world. Simple gifts, handwritten thank you notes, or a festive party they don’t have to organize or clean up after can go a long way in boosting morale, reconnecting the team, and demonstrate your gratitude. Paint a Bigger Picture People give to charities for emotional reasons, not rational ones. But even the most devoted donors can lose sight of the reasons they choose your organization over another. Be diligent in painting a vivid picture for them of their impact. For example, don’t just ask donors to sponsor [...]
Colleges and universities strive to identify that donor who will be so passionate about the mission that he or she is inspired to provide a transformative gift. Some universities refer to these benevolent [...]
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.