Posted on in Fundraising

How does it add up?

Sure we know our work changes the trajectory of one life, even a bunch of lives…but is the world a better place?

With the past week’s eruption of violence around the world, it certainly seems like things are getting worse, not better. Discouraged, appalled, despairing, furious – the reactions of those of us living in the nonprofit universe run the gamut from upset to enraged.

Is our work, actually, making a dent? 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Board members have many objections to fundraising. From “I don’t like it” to “I’m just not good at it,” every potential undertaking has a reason it might fail.

One of the most common? “If I ask my friends for money, they’re just going to turn around and ask me for the same thing for their own favorite cause.”

The next statement? Inevitably, it’s “So why don’t I just make a larger gift to this organization, and be done with it?”

Not so fast…

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Posted on in Fundraising

Earlier this month, Carnegie Hall announced a new board chair – Robert F. Smith, a private equity titan named by Forbes last year as the second richest African-American (after Oprah Winfrey).

Quite a catch for Carnegie Hall, for multiple reasons – and a welcome relief after the controversy surrounding the resignation of its previous board chair Ronald Perelman.

But there’s one thing about the ascension of Robert Smith to board leadership that really stands out – his route in the door. His introduction to Carnegie Hall was not through a board member, or even a recruiter – it was through a contact of Carnegie’s executive/artistic director, Clive Gillinson.

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Posted on in Fundraising

Big donors need data...

Big donors give from the heart…

Big donors want to be left alone…

Big donors want to get involved…

About the only thing that’s never said about big donors is that they give randomly, with no rationale for their gift.

While nonprofits can hope against hope that a mega-donation will descend from the sky, that’s about as likely as winning the lottery (or even less so).

Now, a NY Times article on mega-donation investments shows how focused a “big-bet” philanthropist (defined as over $10m gifts) can be. 

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Posted on in Fundraising

Fundraising, done right, brings out the better in us.

I was reminded of this last week when working with an organization on “naming opportunities.”

This nonprofit advocates for services to recent immigrants, and is shaping the beginning of a capital campaign to renovate its space.

Of course, the opportunity to name all or part of the Center came up.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone came forward with $1m, we thought, and we’d call it the “Jack Torres Counseling Center” and be done with it?

But there’s another way, we realized, which fills the Center with love… 


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